Post 61: Exploring 1888, its context, content and aftermath

Here are some background notes for three class presentations that I made on May 15 and 16, 2012.

In order to understand the epochal General Conference session held during 1888 at Minneapolis, Minnesota, it is essential to survey the background and context of the event within Millerism and during the first forty-four years of Sabbatarian Adventism.

Some of that background is sketched in items that are available on this website,

“Adventism as an Apocalyptic/Millenarian Movement,” posted 20 April 2012.

“Mount Exmouth and Adventist Teaching,” posted 2 March 2012.

“Salvation: Courage to Face the Tough Stuff,” posted 10 March 2012.

In my PhD thesis entitled “Christianity and Culture in Colonial Australia: Selected Catholic, Anglican, Wesleyan and Adventist Perspectives, 1891-1900” (pages 78-94), I suggest that early Adventism may be profiled with the help of these eleven descriptors.

First, Millerism, the millenarian precursor of Seventh-day Adventism, arose amongst the heirs of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation.

Second, and even more importantly for the distinctive ethos which they developed, Millerism and Sabbatarian Adventism were nourished by the apocalyptic literature of the Old and New Testaments.

Third, the sense of immediacy in Millerism and Sabbatarian Adventism was cast in a decidedly pre-millennialist mould.

Fourth, to these formative ideas, Sabbatarian Adventists added a passion for doctrinal reconstruction.

Fifth, the disappointed Millerites who became Seventh-day Adventists were not afraid to break fresh ground if they believed that the Scriptures held what they called “new light.” (Cf. the website item, “Defending and Seeking the Truth,” posted 1 February 2012.)

Sixth, particular portions of Scripture came to have unique meanings for the Sabbatarian Adventists.

Seventh, Seventh-day Adventism developed a concept of world mission destined to disperse it, within the nineteenth century, to most continents of the earth.

Eighth, Seventh-day Adventists exemplified a further characteristic, a self-designation as reformers who would adopt no limiting creeds.

Ninth, Seventh-day Adventists increasingly attempted to develop a theology of history.

Tenth, Seventh-day Adventists accepted the concept that the spiritual gift of a prophetic role was manifested within their midst by the ministry of Ellen G. White.

Eleventh, the Adventists developed institutions (health, education) that gave expression to some of their key ideas.

The Minneapolis event and its aftermath are further discussed in the following articles on

“Landmarks, the Message of the Third Angel, and Salvation,” posted 10 March 2012.

“Perennial Crisis: The Aftermath of 1888,” posted 16 March 2012.

“Interpreting 1888, 1950 to 1980: Thirty Years of Adventist War,” 16 March 2012.

Now that my six May 2012 lectures are over, I may be a bit more consistent with this blog!

Arthur Patrick, posted 25 May 2012