When discussing theology, I've come to realize that not only is personal study of doctrine a necessary component to faith, but it is something that shouldn't be kept to oneself. I want to share my journey, both past and ongoing, into the realm of theology. Through this, I hope that you will gain insight into the Christian faith as a whole. Before reading anything else, I suggest you read the introduction and definitions (found in the pages tabs above) so you may better understand where I am coming from in everything I write. Because many of my posts are on heresies, there is also a page above with a family tree of heresies and links to all the posts I have so far on the topic.
22 October, 2012
Heresy of the Week: Millerism
This week's heresy is one of the eschatology vein. It is what happens you don't take God at His Word ("But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come." Mark 13:32-33) and instead trust on your own cleverness to "know" or "divine" or "prophesy" about God and predict His return.
Millerism is an eschatological heresy of the 19th and 20th centuries. The founder of Millerism, William Miller, a Baptist lay minister, believed he could know through prophetic interpretation the date of the Second Coming (he guessed 1843, then 1844, clearly neither being correct, an event which was called "The Great Disappointment"). He initially kept this analysis to himself, but after sharing with a few skeptical acquaintances, he decided to start preaching and writing about this publicly. His articles were published all over America and even into other countries (such as Great Britain, Australia and Canada) and had a wide readership. After "The Great Disappointment", many left the Millerite movement, returning to their old denominations (most were originally Baptist, Presbyterian or Methodist), while a significant number became Quakers. Still others in the Millerite movement became the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and also significantly influenced the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Bahá’í also credits Millerism for the analysis of Christ’s return and said the timing was right, but the location was incorrect.
William Miller is just one in a long line of those who claimed to prophesy the return of Christ (for a long, but incomplete list, read here). Since the time of Christ, there have been those who have claimed to know when He would come again, and perhaps more disturbing--many who claimed to be Christ who had returned.
Millerism is important, however, because it caused the founding of one denomination (Seventh-day Adventist), and heavily influenced another (Jehovah's Witness). More than most false prophets of the end times, William Miller has had a lasting impact on many today, continuing to lead them astray and to put their faith in the false prophecies of men rather than the Word of God.
Even now, we have those saying it will be on 21 December this year (2012)--funny how that's the same day the Mayan calendar supposedly predicts the end of the world (it doesn't, it is just the end of one calendar and the beginning of another but that's a totally different story). Sounds to me like someone just got lazy with that one. But they have celebrity endorsements! So it must be true... *sigh*
Attempting to predict the return of Christ when we are told very clearly in God's Word that the time is unknowable makes an utter mockery of our faith. It makes other Christians look bad--guilt by association, because it seems the loudest are also the nuttiest.