Friday, November 20, 2015

Contemporary Heretical Eschatology (3 of 4)

...continued from part two.

C. The Seventh Day Adventists

By Protopresbyter Fr. Basil Georgopoulos.
Assistant Professr of Theology at the University of Thessaloniki

Adventism is a Protestant teaching with an eschatological character and chiliastic direction, which emerged and developed in the United States in the 19th century, in response to the high expectations that existed in American Protestantism in the first half of the 19th century for the Second Coming of Christ.

The founder of Adventism was the farmer William Miller (1782-1849), who later became a Baptist pastor. Under the enthusiastic eschatological expectations of Protestant offshoots of his time in the United States he began to study Holy Scripture with an emphasis on prophecies.

From his studies and several unsubstantiated biblical chronological correlations, he identified as the day of the Second Coming of Christ to be March 21, 1843. Indeed he disseminated his eschatological beliefs and prophecies with great zeal.

When he was proved to be wrong he recalculated the date of Christ's Second Coming to be October 22, 1844, yet he experienced even greater disappointment when he was again proved wrong. Later he calculated as dates for Christ's return to be the following: December 22, 1845; December 22, 1849; December 22, 1851. Mr. Hutten describes these newer chronological designations for the Second Coming as newer prophecies which aimed to preserve the old ones.

The frustration of such expectations resulted in major disappointment from his followers, that led to its disintegration and the founding of a different Adventist group. The largest of these is the Seventh Day Adventist movement, established in 1861 by Εllen Gould Harmon White (1827-1915), an initial follower of William Miller.

Among the other eschatological heresies of this sect are the following:

1. In contrast to the historical beginnings of Adventism and its series of false prophecies and failed attempts to accurately determine the date of the Second Coming, the movement has since stated that it lives with a strong sense of the imminent Second Coming in time, which is soon, but has not been revealed.

2. There will be no universal resurrection of the dead, but two resurrections that will take place in installments. Adventists claim that at the Second Coming only the faithful will rise, namely the Adventists, and living believers will transform. The second resurrection will take place after the millennial reign for the judgment and ultimate annihilation of the wicked, the unbelievers and the camp of Satan.

3. There are three comings of Christ. The first took place at the Incarnation, the second at the Second Coming when the righteous resurrect, and the third after the millennial reign for the resurrection and condemnation of the unjust.

4. It adheres to chiliastic doctrines. The living and resurrected believers who follow Christ will be snatched into the heavens and will live there during the millennial reign.

5. They do not believe in the eternality of hell. Hell is replaced with the ontological annihilation of the wicked. This ontological annihilation is described as hell or the second death. Then the earth is cleaned, renewed and rebuilt. From the ashes God creates a new world.

6. They reject the unique general and universal Judgment of all people. Instead they speak of four judgments: The first is the Investigative Judgment, which began in 1844 and will end at the Second Coming. The second is the Executive Judgment of the faithful, which will take place at the Second Coming. A third judgement of unbelievers will take place during the millennial reign. The fourth is the Executive Judgment of unbelievers after the millennium.

Source: Orthodoxs Typos, February 6, 2015. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.