Seventh Day Adventists

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Are they a Cult or Not?

Are they a cult, or are they not a cult? The late Dr. Walter Martin, during the beginning of his ministry, he was claiming that they were a cult, but toward the end of his ministry, he started claiming they were not a cult. Rather, they were Christians with some different and aberrant beliefs.

What do they Believe?

Some of the things that Seventh Day Adventists are noted for. They believe you must worship on the Sabbath, Saturday. They believe from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday is actually the Sabbath. They meet on the Sabbath, and they try to follow some of the Old Testament laws concerning the Sabbath.

They believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel. However, not in the same way as Jehovah’s Witnesses. They believe Michael was the title of Jesus in the Old Testament, but Jesus has always been and always will be co-equal and co-eternal with God.

They believe in three phases of the atonement. The death on the cross is phase one. In 1844, Jesus entered into a time that is referred to as the Investigative Judgment, which is phase two. The third part of the atonement is the scapegoat, who they refer to as Satan. On the day of judgment, Satan will have all of the believers’ sins placed upon him. So Satan actually plays a part in the atonement.

They believe that Ellen G. White is a prophet.

They try as much as they can to follow Kosher law.

Some of them will claim that if you worship on Sunday, you have taken the mark of the beast. You’re part of Babylon. You are the unsaved.


It started with a guy back in the 1800s known as William Miller. He started out as a Deist, but he converted to Christianity in 1816 and he became a Baptist. He also became very involved in the Second Coming, talking about the end times and when Christ would return. This is important because he came up with a theory about when Christ would return that had a very significant impact on Seventh Day Adventist teachings.

William Miller did not start the Seventh Day Adventists. He just had some ideas that Ellen G. White picked up and ended up in their theology later on. William Miller, reading Daniel 8:14, came up with a theory that Jesus would return somewhere around 1843 to 1844. He came up with it this way.

Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain [saint] which spake, How long [shall be] the vision [concerning] the daily [sacrifice], and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. (Daniel 8:13-14)

So William Miller came up with this theory that Jesus was going to return in 2,300 years from the rebuilding of the sanctuary. From the time that Jerusalem was rebuilt. The decree was issued to rebuild Jerusalem in 457 B.C. Then you count 2,300 years into the future and you land somewhere around 1843 to 1844. This lead to the Great Disappointment because everybody was expecting Jesus to return on that day. Like so many failed prophecies about Jesus’ coming on this day or that day. Harold Camping. The Watchtower. In fact, the Watchtower was believing Jesus was going to return on 1844 as well.

He finally came up with a date and declared that it was going to happen on October 22, 1844. He finally gave in to the temptation and laid out an exact day. Several people quit their jobs, sold everything, and they were standing on the roofs of their houses in all white linen with their arms raised and ready for Christ to show up.

We’re not supposed to know the day or hour. Jesus didn’t even know. They’re all standing on the roof of their houses, and Jesus doesn’t come back. That day went down in history as the Great Disappointment.

After this happened, the Millerites, as they were called, those who followed William Miller, broke up. It all fell apart. He stopped pushing his prophecies. He realized that he had played the role of a false prophet. He threw in the towel and gave up on his ministry. But that didn’t stop some of his followers.


Now enter in Hiram Edson. On October 22nd, there was the Great Disappointment. The morning after, October 23rd of 1844, Hiram Edson was walking through a cornfield and he was praying and asking God why this happened. And then he claims he had a vision. He received new light, and in his vision, he was informed that Jesus was not to show up in 1844, but rather he moved from one part of heaven to a different part of heaven. He moved into the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place, to cleanse the sanctuary. Jesus goes into this Most Holy Place and the Investigative Judgement begins, and in this Investigative Judgement, Jesus is reviewing all of the records or heaven. He’s trying to find out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. He must review all of them and complete this Investigative Judgement before he can return.

Hiram Edson was one of the original founders of the Seventh Day Adventists movement. There were three, maybe four, really notable characters in the beginning or foundation of this movement. William Miller just came up with this idea that Jesus was going to return in 1844, and then he stopped his career as a false prophet. He gave that up, and these other characters stepped in, picked up the ball and ran with it.

One of the other people I want to talk about is Joseph Bates. He was a sea man. Joseph Bates also believed in this investigative Judgement. He heard about the Investigative Judgement idea of Hiram Edson and Joseph Bates. He was a strong believer that us New Testament believers should be following the Sabbath. So he was the one who brought this Sabbatarian concept to the Seventh Day Adventists.

He was also the guy who brought in the health conscious attitude to the Seventh Day Adventists. Joseph Bates became known as the apostle of the Sabbath.

Ellen G. White

There are many founders for this group. Ellen G. White being the main one, the most notable one. She does claim to be a prophet and the movement claims that she is a prophet even though she had several prophecies that were false.

Ellen G. White is by far the most influential character in the Seventh Day Adventist movement, and for the most part we’re going to focus on her when we talk about the beliefs in this movement. She’s the one who really got this thing rolling.

Ellen White, born on November 26, 1827. She died on July 16, 1915. When she was young in school, somebody threw a rock at her and hit her in the face. It messed up her nose and put her in a coma for several weeks. The reason I bring this up is because it’s quite possible that some or all of her visions had something to do with this. As later physicians note, they diagnosed her with brain injuries later on in life.

Ellen G. White had many different visions. She uttered some prophecies in these visions. These prophecies turned out to be false prophecies. She did not breathe during the entire period of a vision that ranged from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Her pulse beat regularly and her countenance remained pleasant as in the natural state. She was unconscious of everything transpiring around her, and viewed herself as removed from this world and in the presence of heavenly beings. These descriptions were attested to by several different witnesses.

False Prophecies

Ellen G. White has uttered many false prophecies, and that places her in the camp of a false prophet. Ellen White predicted that Jesus would return in 1845. This ended up going around in the churches. It was the big buzz. She didn’t come up with an exact date, but she said that he would return in June of 1845. That came and passed and Jesus never returned. That was not the only time she predicted his return. She predicted that 1844 he would come back, then 1845, then 1849.

Joseph Bates announced that the time of trouble has begun. In 1850, she said the mighty shaking has commenced, referring to the end, the time of tribulation. Just to round out what she was saying, her husband was also claiming that when Jesus was saying, “Come out her, my people,” referring to Babylon, James was claiming that this departure was already completed. “Babylon, the nominal church, has fallen. God’s people have come out of her. She is now the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” She said, “My accompanying angel said, ‘Time is almost finished. Get ready, get ready, get ready. Now time is almost finished, and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months.’

We see her saying, “I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the Most Holy Place was nearly finished.” So the Investigative Judgement was almost finished back in 1850, and that time cannot last but a very little longer. The sealing time is very short and will soon be over.

Lastly, she also predicted the end would be sometime that all those present and alive during 1856 would not all pass away before Christ returned. She said, “I was shown the company present at the conference. Said the angel, ‘Some food for worms. Some subjects of the seven last plagues. Some will be alive and remain upon the earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus.'” That was in 1856. That’s over 150 years ago.

Soul Sleep

This actually goes back to a Baptist preacher named George Stores. Around 1837, this Baptist preacher read some tract written by a deacon Henry Gru from Pennsylvania. It was about conditional immortality, or soul sleep. The teaching of soul sleep is as follows. There is no conscious part of you that survives death. They see the soul as nothing more than that word for soul, pneuma. They just see it as breath. So when you die, that part of you that returns to God is just your breath. So after you die, that’s it. Lights out. Done. Then, when the resurrection happens, these bodies are resurrected. God breathes the breath of life into them, and fills this being, this body that looks just like yours, with all of the thoughts, memories, of the original person that once was. Then you’re judged, whether for eternal life, or annihilation.

Charles Taze Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, early on, before he had even started the Watchtower, was a follower of William Miller. He was a Millerite. He also subscribed to the teachings of George Store. You could say that Charles Taze Russell was loosely affiliated with the Adventists. He was almost one of them for a while. Then, because he had some disagreements with the editor of this publication, he left the editorial staff of the Midnight Crying Herald of the Morning and started the Watchtower.

The Clear Word Bible

The Clear World Bible is a paraphrase. It is taking the Word of God and producing a commentary of the Word of God. It flows like the Word, but its basically a commentary, because the author will insert their own beliefs right into the text.


After Jesus comes back, there is this great big resurrection, where we all come back to life, the good and the bad, and the good, those who have followed after Christ, who have trusted in Christ, they will move on to everlasting life. Those who have rejected Christ, are going to be annihilated. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they believe in one cataclysmic moment for each person where they are burned up. It might be painful, but it’s going to be a fairly quick judgement, and then they are gone. There is no more conscious torment. They are gone gone, never to come back, never to be seen or heard from again, and their judgement is final. It’s done, it’s over with, and they are simply not conscious enough to worry about it for the rest of eternity.

Shut Door Doctrine

Ellen G. White was also teaching the Shut Door Doctrine. She was teaching that from that moment, October 22, 1844, nobody else could get saved. Jesus is already judging everybody. He’s going through the books and nobody else can be saved. Obviously that is not what Seventh Day Adventists teach now. That Shut Door Doctrine is now being reinterpreted and understood to be concerning the sanctuary, and not the fact that nobody else can be saved. She says in The Great Controversy, “Attended by heavenly angels, our Great High Priest enters the Holy of Holies, and there appears in the presence of God to engage in the last acts of his ministration on behalf of man. To perform the work of Investigative Judgement, and to make atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits. In the day of the final atonement and Investigative Judgment, the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God.”

Investigative Judgement

One of the things that Ellen White said is that Christ is closely reviewing the records in this book, and investigating those who have taken the name of Christ who are entitled to its benefits. That is a very troubling statement. In other words, we have to do all these works. You get the feeling from this Investigative Judgement, and many Seventh Day Adventists feel this way, that it is through their good works that they are able to entitled to take the name of Christ. In other words, Adventists are left with this uncertain feeling as to whether or not their sins have truly been forgiven.


Ellen G. White taught that the scapegoat that you see in the Old Testament on the Day of Atonement was representing Satan. Satan actually takes part in the Atonement of God’s people. Satan actually becomes the sin bearer for the Seventh Day Adventists. That is what Ellen G. White taught. Here’s a few quotes from her. “It was seen also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christ as the sacrifice and the High Priest represented Christ as a mediator, then we have the Scapegoat, which typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed, when the High Priest, by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, will remove the sins from the sanctuary, he placed them upon the scapegoat. When Christ, by virtue of his own blood, removes the sins of his people from the heavenly sanctuary at the cross of his ministration, he will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty. The Scapegoat was sent into a land not inhabited, never to come again into the congregation of Israel. So will Satan be forever banished from the presence of God and his people and he will be blotted from existence in the final destruction of sin and sinners.”

This scapegoat, and the final day of atonement, is phase three, as Seventh Day Adventists see it.

Seventh Day Adventist Terminology

Flesh food – meat

Health Message – Diet and lifestyle teachings of Ellen G. White. Referred to as “the right arm of the gospel,” and used as a form of proselytizing

Great Controversy – Jesus is in a cosmic battle with Satan and humans help Jesus win

Investigative Judgement – Divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844

Pen of Inspiration – The writings of Ellen G. White

Present Truth – The revelations of Ellen G. White and the teachings of the SDA Church

The Testimonies – Ellen G. White’s writing, but in particular a set of nine books titled, “Testimonies for the Church”