Monday, 30 May 2016

Focus on William Miller

The father of Adventism, and hence the Churches of God, was William Miller, an American Baptist preacher active in the 1800s. Know about Willie, know something about the backstory that led to not only Herb Armstrong and the COGs but Seventh-day Adventism and a motley bunch of somewhat related sects which at various stages "cross-pollinated" with the Adventist movement.

Pam Dewey has an excellent discussion on "the Great Disappointment", the inevitable let-down when Willie's prophecies failed dismally, and ties it in with the theory of cognitive dissonance. I found it interesting that Miller wasn't the stereotypical wild-eyed ranter that many assume, and actually moved from a non-controversial Deism to premillennialism over a period of time. Then, as we know, he got caught up in all those confounded numbers in Daniel and Revelation. As do many even unto this very day. Another Willie for example (to wit, William Dankenbring) is currently promoting a new and novel interpretation of the "Seventy Weeks Prophecy" in Daniel chapter 9. Having taking countless pratfalls on prophecy in the past you'd think he would learn to keep his speculations to himself, but alas no. There are lots of dates tossed around in his Prophecy Flash newsletter (affectionately referred to as the Prophecy Flush by some) and long outdated commentaries (Jamieson, Faucett & Brown; Adam Clarke, Alfie Edersheim) are dusted off to back his convoluted logic. You'd need to be a more determined person than me to wade through the schlock in detail but, in the end, Dankenbring determines that 2016 is prophetically significant; fancy that!

But wait, there's more. In the midst of "the week", which the highly knowledgeable Mr. Dankenbring has determined to be a period lasting from 2016 to 2022, the Messiah will return.

Well, it makes about as much sense as 1844 or 1972. The difference is, I guess, that Miller eventually stepped away from prophetic fantasies and number-crunching after he'd made a fool of himself. Our Willie, however, seems ever willing to give it another try.

Maybe he should read Pam's article.


Minimalist said...

I had checked out this interesting piece also recently. The part I liked was when one of the group, Samuel Snow, did a Dankenbring-like recalculation after the Spring failures to come up with a Fall date.

Miller was skeptical at first:
"It took Miller himself an extended time to embrace this new idea, but as the date approached, he finally endorsed it, and joined the majority of his followers once again to wait in anticipation."

This kind of desperation reminds me of stock market rally after the initial October 1929 crash when HOPE briefly returned to the hearts of men. Of course they were whipsawed by another big selloff.

nck said...


The market phenomenon you describe is called a "dead cat bounce" by professionals.
Even a dead cat fallen from the 9th floor is able to bounce hitting rock bottom.


Great article btw.