The Great Disappointment

For those interested in church history things, today marks the 165th anniversary of the “Great Disappointment” when William Miller’s prediction about the Return of Christ happening on October 22nd, 1844 failed miserably. It left a whole lot of disillusioned people. In the wake of the “Great Disappointment” was spawned a new religious order in the Seventh Day Adventists, who taught the return was heavenly, with Christ giving an “investigative judgment” and cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.

Miller’s error was to spiritualize the 2,300 days described in Daniel 8:14 as years and then figure them into a chronology he developed from scripture that yielded for him the October 22nd, 1844 date. Those 2,300 years really speak to the time Antiochus IV persecuted the Jewish nation for 6 years and four months from 17o AD to 164 AD. The cleansing of the temple referred to by Daniel was when the sacrifices were restored by the Maccabees. We know it as Hanukkah.

Miller ignored Acts 1:7, where Christ specifically told His disciples (and us) that it is not for us to know the times or the seasons. Those things are left only to the Lord.


3 thoughts on “The Great Disappointment

  1. On topic: Miller's basic error was in fact that he studied the Bible without actually considering context. His hermeneutical horizon was 19th century America. Thus the prophecies had to speak to him at his moment, and could not be seen as having been fulfilled in the past. Essentially it was the 'me and my Bible in the woods' error. Miller was a man with a fairly basic education who had been converted out of Deism. How he ended up as a Bible teacher is really, REALLY strange.The SDAs are not the only group to come out of 'the Great Disappointment'. Herbert Armstrong, founder of the WWCG, was an Adventist pastor not affiliated with the SDAs, and the Watchtower cult has its roots in Adventism as well. Miller also split the Church he belonged to, which ought to surprise no-one.

  2. Pingback: Studies in Eschatology | hipandthigh

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