How did movements that rejected the theological teachings of Hiram Edson and Ellen White understand the events of what is called the Great Disappointment, and how did they maintain an adherence to adventism if they saw there was no return of Jesus as they expected and predicted, especially without the teachings of Edson and White?

  • Suppose someone shows you truths that you can find for yourself in your Bible, and they later tell you about some predictions they themselves have calculated. Should any of their predictions prove inaccurate, would that cause you to stop believing the truths that you yourself had already found in your Bible? Dec 25, 2021 at 2:13

2 Answers 2


I have Mrs White’s book, “The Great Controversy” and the massive tome of renowned SDA writer Uriah Smith, “Daniel and the Revelation” (written circa 1908). However, it's mainly from this link that I got information on different groups developing after "the Great Disappointment" - https://whiteestate.org/legacy/issues-faq-unus-html/#unusual-section-d2 From that site I gleaned these points:

"Many former Millerites were setting various dates for the return of Jesus, with 1850 and 1851 being the latest dates for the end of the 2300-day/year prophecy. Although Sabbatarian Adventists generally were immune from time-setting, Hiram Edson and Joseph Bates advocated 1850 and 1851, respectively. James White kept their views out of Present Truth, the Advent Review, and the Review and Herald.

With several variations, age-to-come exponents, led by Joseph Marsh, O. R. L. Crosier, and George Storrs, believed that the Second Advent would usher in the millennial kingdom on earth during which time the world would be converted under the reign of Christ, with the Jews playing a leading role. This group closely related to the Literalists (British Adventists) who had believed that in the 1840s the literal Jews would welcome their Messiah (Christ) in Palestine, thus fulfilling Old Testament prophecies with Jerusalem becoming Christ's capital during the millennium. The majority of the Millerites had rejected this aspect of their Adventist theology, calling it Judaism. (See Josiah Litch, "The Rise and Progress of Adventism," The Advent Shield and Review, May 1844, p. 92, cited in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Students' Source Book, p. 513.

The first defectors from early Seventh-day Adventists were H. S. Case and C. P. Russell who had, among other concepts, embraced the "age-to-come" theory. See The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, s.v. "Messenger Party." [Emphases mine]

Because the original SDA group had many doctrines other than the time of Jesus' return, people who still believed those other doctrines could claim to still be SDAs, minus acceptance of the reasons given to get round "the Great Disappointment" problem. That is how I understand it, but ideally SDA people who belong to break-away groups should answer your question.


I don't see how you can be a Seventh-Day Adventist and maintain Mrs. White is not a prophetess, and she was wrong about the investigative judgment leading to the soon advent of Jesus. Perhaps SDA's who reject White still want to live under many of the Old Testament dietary laws and Sabbath laws are attached that way.

Its obvious the Millerites mis-interpreted Daniel's prophecy of 2,300 days being years until Jesus returns. The great disappointment came when Jesus didn't show up in 1850-51. Many fell away from the movement including the former Baptist Rev. William Miller who came up with the prediction, realizing he was in error.

But out of this movement was born the SDA prophetess Ellen G. White who claimed to have a vision explaining what happened, that the date was indeed correct, but the event was wrong. She said the date is when Jesus began the "investigative judgment" on everyone's sins, and as soon as Jesus finishes the paperwork, figuratively speaking, on everyone's sins, then Jesus will return. Thus they are called Adventists due to their belief in the soon advent of Jesus.

But that was the mid-19th century. The 20th century has come and gone. And now that we are 1/5 into the 21st century -- how long does it take Jesus to calculate everyone's sins? There is no scriptural support for an investigative judgment. SDA adherents who understand Mrs. White is not a prophetess of God should also question the rest of her theology that is unique to Christiandom.

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