Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Chapter 13—A Sketch of Early Adventist History
Mrs. White and the Shut Door—Part I

The next charge to be considered, that Mrs. White taught that the door of mercy was closed on October 22, 1844, can be intelligently discussed only after the presentation of a historical sketch of the Millerite movement and the beginnings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Such a sketch follows. EGWC 161.1

In the early decades of the nineteenth century there developed almost simultaneously in different lands an awakening of interest in the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus Christ. In America this awakening took definite shape as a religious movement, with William Miller as its leader. Contrary to the fanciful stories circulated by enemies at that time, and grown larger and more fanciful through the years, this Advent movement in America, known generally as Millerism, was not wildly fanatical. On the contrary, the evidence is undebatable that it was constituted of sober men and women, some of them well educated, who longed for the appearing of our Lord from heaven, and that it was directed by equally sober leaders who largely were drawn from the ministry of various religious bodies. EGWC 161.2

The true essence of the movement was not the preaching of the day of Christ’s coming, but the reviving of the long-neglected doctrine of the literal, personal, visible return of our Lord as the goal of Christian expectation and the one and only remedy for the tragedy of a sinful world. * EGWC 161.3

So far as the time element was concerned, the major prophecy on which William Miller and the movement rested, was that found in Daniel 8:14: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” They rightly believed, as the great majority of Protestant prophetic interpreters before them had believed, that in symbolic prophecy a day stands for a year, and that therefore this particular prophecy deals with a period of two thousand three hundred years. They also believed that this time period began 457 B.C. But due to an error in reckoning they first calculated that it would end not later than the spring of A.D. 1844. They also believed, but wrongly, that the cleansing of the “sanctuary” meant the cleansing of the earth by fire, that is, the final judgments of God climaxed by the coming of Christ. EGWC 161.4

The parable of the ten virgins, set forth by our Lord in Matthew 25, was also prominent in their preaching. They considered it to be not simply a parable but a prophecy that was to meet its fulfillment in the events clustering around the Second Advent of Christ. The parable tells of an eastern wedding, and of ten virgins who, with their lamps lighted, were waiting according to Oriental custom, for the bridegroom to come, that they might usher him in to the wedding. The record says that while the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept, and that at midnight a cry was heard, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Then all the virgins bestirred themselves. The five who had oil in their lamps went in with the bridegroom to the marriage, and “the door was shut.” The five foolish virgins, who had failed to fill their lamps, went off, instead, in search of oil. When they returned and sought admittance with the cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” the Lord answered, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” EGWC 162.1