A Feast of Reason The Roots of William Miller s

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Declaration by author, This thesis is composed of my original work and contains no material previously published or. written by another person except where due reference has been made in the text I have clearly. stated the contribution by others to jointly authored works that I have included in my thesis. I have clearly stated the contribution of others to my thesis as a whole including statistical. assistance survey design data analysis significant technical procedures professional editorial. advice and any other original research work used or reported in my thesis The content of my thesis. is the result of work I have carried out since the commencement of my research higher degree. candidature and does not include a substantial part of work that has been submitted to qualify for. the award of any other degree or diploma in any university or other tertiary institution I have. clearly stated which parts of my thesis if any have been submitted to qualify for another award. I acknowledge that an electronic copy of my thesis must be lodged with the University. Library and subject to the General Award Rules of The University of Queensland immediately. made available for research and study in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968. I acknowledge that copyright of all material contained in my thesis resides with the. copyright holder s of that material, Statement of Contributions to Jointly Authored Works Contained in the Thesis. No jointly authored works, Statement of Contributions by Others to the Thesis as a Whole. No contributions by others, Statement of Parts of the Thesis Submitted to Qualify for the Award of Another Degree. Published Works by the Author Incorporated into the Thesis. Additional Published Works by the Author Relevant to the Thesis but not Forming Part of it. Acknowledgements, Thanks to my supervisor Professor Philip Almond for great patience and good advice Thanks to.
the School of History Philosophy Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland for. funding a research trip to the USA Thanks to the staff of the Center for Adventist Research at. Andrews University in Berrien Springs Michigan the Library of Congress in Washington DC the. Archives of the General Conference of the Seventh day Adventists in Silver Spring Maryland the. Vermont Historical Society in Barre Vermont and the Jenks Memorial Collection of Adventual. Materials at Aurora University in Aurora Illinois for their assistance. Above all thanks to my wife Ruth and our daughter Araminta You both light up my life. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the Second Advent movement was a. potent religious force in both Europe and North America Its adherents focused on a specific date. for the literal fulfilment of Christ s Second Advent his return to earth to establish his kingdom In. America the rising prosperity and growth of social democracy of the Jacksonian era evoked a. fervid optimism that for many focussed on utopian visions of America s millennial glory Such an. environment proved fertile ground for the theories of William Miller and his followers the. Millerites who became the largest and most influential early nineteenth century American. premillennial group, William Miller 1782 1849 was a primarily self educated farmer living in upstate New. York who while raised a Baptist became a Deist as a young man Following his participation in the. War of 1812 he first questioned and then rejected his Deist beliefs undergoing a dramatic. conversion experience and rejoining the Baptist Church In order to respond to the questions of his. Deist friends regarding the Bible s reliability and their accusations that the Bible contradicted itself. Miller began a systematic reading of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. While reading Miller became convinced that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. would take place about the year 1843 He began to publicly proclaim this Second Advent. message in 1831 and soon gathered a large number of followers who accepted his message Miller. came to his conclusions because of the particular way in which he approached Scripture seeing. the Bible as a feast of reason and by using a very systematic approach influenced by Scottish. Common Sense Philosophy and based on Historicist principles Miller approached the Bible. rationally and a belief in the Bible s perspicuity literality and truthfulness was at the core of his. hermeneutical approach While he himself refrained from setting an exact date he eventually. accepted the October 22 1844 date predicted by Samuel S Snow When this date passed without. Christ s return the majority of Millerites gave up their beliefs. A minority of Millerites maintained their beliefs in the soon return of Jesus Christ and or the. significance of October 22 1844 These groups developed a variety of explanations for Jesus non. appearance on that date and either reinterpreted the event linked to October 22 1844 or set other. dates for Christ s return The Seventh day Adventist denomination that formally formed in 1860 out. of these Millerite believers was one such group who developed an alternative scenario allowing. them to maintain their belief in the significance of the October 22 1844 date The Seventh day. Adventist Church is now a 17 million strong denomination with a worldwide presence that reads. and interprets the Bible using an approach that owes a great deal to Miller s hermeneutic. william miller hermeneutics seventh day adventist church christianity adventist millerism. Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classifications ANZSRC. TABLE OF CONTENTS,INTRODUCTION 1,Background 1,Statement of purpose 2. A Review of the Literature 2,An Overview of the Contents 10. CHAPTER 1 A History of William Miller the Millerites and the Adventists 12. An Introduction to the Second Advent Movement 12,William Miller 13. The Millerite Movement 21,The Great Disappointment 31.
The Seventh day Adventist Church 37,Sabbatarian Adventism 37. The Role of Ellen G White 40,Organization Into a Denomination 45. The Modern Seventh day Adventist Church 49,CHAPTER 2 William Miller s Hermeneutics 51. Historicism 51,The Year Day Principle 53,Symbols Types 55. Synchronizations 59, Miller s Systematic Approach the Fourteen Rules 60.
A Perspicuous Approach 69,A Literal Approach 69,Scripture Interprets Scripture 71. A Common sense Approach 72,A Spiritual Approach 77. Biblicism 78,Proof texting 83, CHAPTER 3 The Influence of Miller s Culture and Philosophy 86. Christian Revivalism 86,Rationalist Thought Deism 89. Voltaire 94,David Hume 95,Thomas Paine 96,Ethan Allen 98.
Thomas Jefferson 98,Elihu Palmer 99,Deism s Influence 100. Common Sense Philosophy 105,Bibliolatry 113,Biblical Democratization 118. Freemasonry 127, CHAPTER 4 Miller s Written Sources Libraries Books 139. Libraries 140,Miller s Bible 147,Cruden s Concordance 150. The Historicists 153,Joseph Mede 153,Isaac Newton 156.
Thomas Newton 161,George Stanley Faber 162,Other Commentators 163. The British Millenarian Tradition 170, CHAPTER 5 Miller s Influence on Adventist Hermeneutics 173. Sabbatarian Adventism 173, Seventh day Adventism in the Nineteenth century 177. Stephen N Haskell Bible Readings 183,Ellen White 187. Seventh day Adventism in the Twentieth Century and Beyond 197. Historicism 200,Miller s 14 Rules 200,Biblicism 202.
Proof texting 203,CONCLUSIONS 205,SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY 207. INTRODUCTION,Background, The early nineteenth century was a time of religious ferment in America Utopian millennialism. was being promulgated by Charles Finney and other preachers during the Second Great Awakening. numerous Utopian communities had been established including John Humphrey Noyes Oneida. Community while Joseph Smith and the Mormons looked to the establishment of God s kingdom. on earth Also during this period the Shakers proclaimed that Christ had come spiritually in the. person of Mother Ann Lee and Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists were attempting. to perfect human society, One of the more influential figures contributing to this ferment was William Miller a New. York State farmer and Baptist preacher Miller was a premillennialist whose mathematical. calculations focussed on the imminent Second Coming of Christ the biblical Second Advent The. Millerite movement captured the imaginations of a large segment of the American population and. eventually resulted in the formation of several new American Christian denominations The. fragmentation of the Millerite movement following the Great Disappointment of October 22 1844. also marked a turning point in the history of the interpretation of biblical prophecy the end of the. dominance of the historical method for the exegesis of biblical prophecy. The Millerite movement had a large impact on American society of the time Between. 50 000 and 200 000 people accepted Miller s views with up to a million being influenced by. Miller s teachings Merlin D Burt emphasises the significance of these numbers when he points out. that though the population of the United States at the time was just over 17 million the population. in the north east where Miller s labour was largely confined was about 10 million Thus one. tenth of the population in this area were influenced by Miller s teachings on the Second Advent of. Miller arrived at his conclusions because he approached the Bible in a particular way. seeing the Bible as a feast of reason and by using a very systematic approach influenced by. Scottish Common Sense Philosophy Miller utilized an historicist approach to interpretation. approaching the Bible rationally and a belief in the Bible s perspicuity literality and. truthfulness was at the core of his hermeneutical approach. Burt points out that William Miller as the leader and foremost proponent of American. Adventism laid a theological foundation that has remained significant for the Adventist. Joseph Bates A Vindication of the Seventh day Sabbath and the Commandments of God With a Further History of. God s Peculiar People From 1847 to 1848 New Bedford MA Press of Benjamin Lindsey 1848 Merlin D Burt. Historical Introduction in Adventist Classic Library Memoirs of William Miller ed George R Knight Berrien. Springs Andrews University Press 2005 vii, denominations that arose after 1844 2 Of the denominations which have their roots in Miller s. teachings the Seventh day Adventist Church is the largest with over 17 million members The. Seventh day Adventist church retains a number of characteristics associated with its Millerite. heritage including an ongoing expectation of Christ s soon return the interpretation of biblical. prophecy through the lens of Historicism including the prophetic year day concept and an. emphasis on the biblical text s perspicuity and literality. Statement of purpose, A view that Miller s Bible study was conducted in isolation and that his Rules of Interpretation.
were developed completely independently is common in the Seventh day Adventist Church This. view is unsustainable when the historical evidence is examined. This thesis seeks to demonstrate, 1 That Miller s hermeneutics were in fact not particularly original innovative or new. Rather the hermeneutical methods that Miller used were those then in vogue in nineteenth. century America a literal perspicuous historist approach influenced heavily by the. emphasis on human reason and individual freedom present in the ideas of the then dominant. Common Sense Philosophy, 2 That the dominant approach to biblical hermeneutics within the Seventh day Adventist. Church clearly relies heavily on the approach espoused by William Miller and has. undergone little change since Miller first published his principles in 1840 In the twenty first. century Seventh day Adventists continue to emphasise Millerite principles like scripture. interprets scripture the Bible is perspicuous a literal reading of scripture the. harmonization of Bible passages and the need for a spiritual understanding though the. Millerite origin of these principles is rarely acknowledged. A Review of the Literature, Participant memoirs provide the earliest literature on William Miller and Millerism The most. important of these works is the biography of Miller himself Memoirs of William Miller Generally. Known as a Lecturer on the Prophecies and the Second Coming of Christ authored by Sylvester. Bliss and first published in 1853 3 Bliss work was a reworking of Miller s own memoirs. Burt Historical Introduction xv, Sylvester Bliss Memoirs of William Miller Generally Known as a Lecturer on the Prophecies and the Second. Coming of Christ Boston Joshua V Himes 1853 Apollos Hale wrote the first three chapters though Bliss appears as. the sole author in the book s publication details It was recently reprinted by Andrews University Press in 2005 with a. new introduction by Merlin D Bert as part of their excellent Adventist Classic Library. principally his Apology and Defence 1845 4 Bliss allows Miller to speak through long extracts. from his sermons letters published articles and other material and provides a well balanced and. comprehensive albeit very positive picture of Miller and the Millerite Movement Miller s other. main works are his Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology 1841 5 and his Evidence. from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ About the Year 1843 1842 6 James. Andrews University in Berrien Springs Michigan the Library of Congress in Washington DC the Archives of the General Conference of the Seventh day Adventists in Silver Spring Maryland the Vermont Historical Society in Barre Vermont and the Jenks Memorial Collection of Adventual Materials at Aurora University in Aurora Illinois for their assistance Above all thanks to my wife Ruth

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