Belief in Brief: Seventh-day Adventism

Friday, October 5, 2007 | 1:00 p.m. CDT; updated 7:40 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Kellogg brothers had health in mind when they founded their cereal empire. The two Seventh-day Adventists were just following their religion, which stresses treating the body like a temple.

Beyond its emphasis on health, Seventh-day Adventism centers on the second coming of Christ, or the advent. Followers believe in the Bible and the Holy Trinity like other Christian denominations.

But their reverence of Ellen Harmon White’s works has lead some Christian denominations to question whether Seventh-day Adventism can be considered Christian.


Seventh-day Adventism began to take shape during the Millerite Movement in the early 19th century. Leader William Miller taught that the Bible held clues to the second coming of Christ. His followers called themselves Adventists.

Miller prophesied that the second coming of Christ would fall between March 1843 and 1844. But 1844 passed without the second coming.

Soon Ellen White, an emerging Adventist leader, began to have visions that led to a reinterpretation of Scripture. She taught that 1844 marked the beginning of the “investigative judgment” and not the second coming. Through investigative judgment, God reviews the lives of all believers who have died to determine who is prepared for the kingdom. Then judgment will fall among the living.

White formed a hub of Adventists in Battle Creek, Mich., and in 1860 the growing group of 3,500 members adopted Seventh-day Adventist as their official name.


Seventh-day Adventists emphasize the spiritual gift of prophecy. More than 2,000 of White’s visions shaped her nine-volume “Testimonies for the Church,” which outline the principles and lifestyle practices that guide the church to this day.

On Saturdays Adventists observe the Sabbath, a sacred day of rest that parallels God’s resting on the seventh day of creation.

Adventists begin the Sabbath by attending morning services. They take a noon meal and spend the rest of the day without secular television, music, newspapers, books or other media.

Adventists strongly believe the body is a temple. They are encouraged to abstain from alcohol, caffeine and some red meat. They are also expected to avoid certain movies, television shows and music. Their dress is to be plain, and their children are encouraged to attend Adventist schools or pursue home schooling.


Columbia’s Seventh-day Adventist Church is located at 1100 College Park Drive. Worldwide, there are more than 14 million Seventh-day Adventists, with 1 million members joining each year.

Sources: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance; Beliefnet; Britannica; Adventists News Network; The Religious Movements Project

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