Perspective: 1844 - Pillar of Faith or Mortal Wound?

October 22, 2015 is the 171st anniversary of the Great Disappointment of 1844.

Similarly to the proto-Adventists of New England on that cold, gloomy day 171 years ago, those modern-day Adventists that actually remember the events of that day are too filled with a mix of hope and sadness: sadness for the delay and hope that the coming of Christ will materialize some day soon.

The fall of 2015 also marks the 35th year after Glacier View, the infamous 1980 meeting that rejected Desmond Ford’s questions about 1844. The events at Glacier View gave birth to DARCOM 2.0, a revamped version of the Daniel and Revelation Committee from the 1960’s that ended abruptly without a consensus. DARCOM 2.0 published a series of books reiterating the traditional Adventist reading of Daniel and Revelation.

But despite the tour de force efforts of DARCOM, 1844 and 1980 continue to unsettle Adventist historians and theologians. For one, most of the materials in the volumes do not deal with the central issues related to 1844 raised by Ford. Some of the published articles were later refuted by our scholars, most of it will not pass muster with outside observers. DARCOM largely ignored the consensus statement voted by Adventist scholars at Glacier view that agreed with Ford on many points.

In many ways, 1980 stands as the second Great Disappointment for thousands of ex-Adventists who hoped the church could show great humility and restraint when faced with the possibility that our interpretation of symbolic prophecy could in fact be incorrect.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

As a result, the Seventh-day Adventist church received a mortal wound that refuses to be healed. According to one study, Australia lost 40% of its ministerial force in the aftermath of the meetings held in that solitary ranch in Colorado.1 The shockwaves reverberated throughout the decade; countless others continued to slip out the back door, unable to come to grips with what they saw as institutional arrogance. Many pastors I know continue to harbor serious doubts about the doctrine. They stopped preaching 1844 a long time ago.

The big question still facing Adventism today is the same that confronted our administrators and theologians in before 1980 and ever since: Can the Adventist Church maintain its doctrinal credibility while it holds on to such a problematic interpretation?

Many think it cannot and do so for a host of reasons. I will summarize the most important ones below.

First, the doctrine of 1844 is based on (some time faulty) translations of the Bible. Our pioneers including Ellen White did not have the hermeneutical know-how to dig much deeper than the linguistic peculiarities of the King James Version. For example, the translation “cleansed” in Daniel 8:14 is questionable, “the sanctuary will be restored” is preferable. Thus 1844 is largely rooted on the proof-text method of Bible study, hashed out by Miller’s personal studies. Many will be surprised to find out that Miller had fifteen ways of arriving at the end of the world around 1843-1844, all based on biblical numerology.2

Second, 1844 as a prophetic marker is heavily dependent on a series of assumptions or presuppositions, which do not naturally stem from the biblical text. Standing tall amid these assumptions is the day-year principle, i.e., the notion that in symbolic prophecy, one symbolic day corresponds to one actual year. Thus the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 equal 2300 years running from 457 B.C. to 31 A.D. all the way to the fall of 1844.

There are many arguments against this so-called “principle,” the main one is that the fact that nowhere in Scripture do any of the authors ever apply such a “principle” to Old Testament prophecy. For example, Luke does not rely on the prophecies of Daniel to vet the authenticity of Jesus as the Messiah, instead he uses Old Testament genealogy. Jesus makes a single cryptic reference to a future fulfillment of the abomination of desolation (Dan 9:27), which appear to apply to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Paul makes no reference to Daniel’s prophecies and instead relies on apostolic eschatology that makes no use of Old Testament time prophecies. Revelation alludes to the prophecies of Daniel, Isaiah and Ezekiel without attempting to interpret them using such a principle.

Consequently, scholars have questioned the impeccable timeline. For one, 457 B.C. does not seem to work as the real date for the decree of rebuilding Jerusalem. The decree of Cyrus in 538-536 B.C. makes more sense in context as the fulfilment of the prophecies of Isaiah 44:28; 45:13. Further, 31 A.D. as the date of Christ’s death is astronomically impossible as the Jewish lunar calendar places Passover on that year either on Tuesday or at the latest on Wednesday, not on a Friday as the Gospel of John clearly states (John 18:28; 19:14).

Third, the book of Hebrews explicitly negates the notion that Jesus has engaged in a two-phase ministry since his ascension, with the final phase to be commenced sometime in the future. Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:12, 25; 10:19 are full of verbal parallels drawn from the sanctuary ritual culminating with the yearly Day of Atonement to explain Jesus’s sacrifice and subsequent activities as the Heavenly high Priest. For the author, Jesus went “within the veil” in the same manner that the High Priest used to go “within the veil” on Yom Kippur. The expression in Greek is the same used in Lev 16. Jesus went “within the veil,” “with his blood,” “once and for all.” This occurred when he ascended to the Father. A. F. Ballenger had been correct all along.

Others have explored all of the assumptions dominating the traditional teaching. See this article for a full treatment.

The bias for interpretative tradition in regards to 1844 is illustrated by an interesting episode I witnessed not long ago. I recently visited a certain Adventist seminary and stumbled upon a class on Hebrews. The teacher was a prominent author of DARCOM and the subject was the “inauguration” of the heavenly sanctuary which the teacher used to justify the fact that, although Hebrews 6 undeniably places Jesus inside the Most Holy Place at his ascension, this entering in the Most Holy Place was merely to “inaugurate” it. In other words, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place at the ascension, inaugurated it, left it and then went in again 1844.

I was disturbed to see that he was presenting views that had been debunked by another Adventist scholar in an exchange they had in one of our printed magazines. Never did he mention his dialogue with the other scholar. I raised my hand and asked him where in the OT do we see blood going into the Most Holy Place in any of the OT inauguration passages. By his reaction, I suspected he knew that there is no such OT passage. He hesitated for a second and then appealed to the book of Hebrews. In other words, the book of Hebrews proves that in the same book Hebrews Jesus inaugurated the sanctuary with blood, even though none of the OT passages mention blood within the sanctuary, let alone the Most Holy Place. I didn’t press the issue and I doubt his students understood the implications of my question. The fallacy of the argument is disappointing, if not dishonest.

This encounter shows me that, at the end of the day, the viability of 1844 as a prophetic marker continues to depend heavily on isolated proof-texts. It seems Adventist scholars who defend 1844 as an unmovable rock are satisfied with finding tiny hooks in a few chosen verses that appear to (albeit remotely) support our position. That is no longer an acceptable way to construct theology.

I have studied this subject at considerable depth for the last several years. But even after having studied this for a long time, I don’t claim to have all the answers. There are things in prophecy that elude the best explanation. I believe this is mostly true of time prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. And as a Bible student, I must resist the temptation of offering a neat and indisputable explanation for these times periods. It’s simply not as clear-cut and our evangelists have made it to be. When in doubt, it is best to let the prophetic text lie in its original, unadulterated state without trying to impose an interpretation on it.

Today, as an Adventist from birth, I live on parallel universes. In one of them, I live in blissful abandon, believing that the neatly concocted eschatological sequence will ultimately vindicate Adventist teaching. This is comfortable, sunny place to which I’m frequently called.

The other universe is the one created by my doctorate in biblical studies, which requires exhaustive study, cogent articulation of ideas and solid proof for any statement purportedly based on Scripture. In this universe, I am constantly called to question theological assumptions and either present strong evidence or place things on a (very) tentative basis. This is an uncomfortable place to be in, a place where questioning takes preeminence over believing. It is most of all, a place where humility replaces interpretative assertiveness.

However, contrary to my Adventist friends from the 80’s, living in the continuous dissonance of these parallels universes has not taken me to a place where I feel I need to reject Adventism. To the contrary, realizing that a certain Adventist interpretation may be incorrect has convinced me that the Adventist Church as successful, modern Christian denomination must have more to offer to the world than a single prophetic interpretation.3 I feel strongly that this movement has a special place in God’s heart and a special mission in the world today. This continues to be my church.

My experience as Bible exegete is that it appears that we have been given in to the temptation to hold on to tradition instead of continuing to study Scripture. We have overstated our case and stretched the evidence in order to confirm our “prophetic identity.” And frankly, that is all 1844 really is, it only massages our corporate ego, it does little for the individual believer. I can believe that Jesus has been my perfect intercessor since the ascension without jeopardizing my standing with God.

Adventism has been pushed into a theological corner where the least question about 1844 gives rise to pious outrage and tearing of garments. “The very foundation of Adventism will be removed!” say strident voices. But this corner is an artificial one. I refuse to believe that Adventism’s relevance hinges on a single prophetic interpretation. I reject the voices who call for the sacking of those who do not accept another’s interpretation of the Bible. God can raise a movement any day without needing questionable prophetic interpretations. We should have the humility to accept that we may have been wrong all along about the nature and timeline of Christ’s priestly ministry in heaven.

I predict that many will see this article and all such attempts to probe problems with 1844 as shallow attempts at removing a colossal doctrinal landmark. But I believe Ellen White had important advice in regards to doctrinal inflexibility when she penned the words:

“There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make an error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.” (Review and Herald, December 20, 1892, italics supplied).

“If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time we knew it." (Testimonies to Ministers, 107).

Is it possible that this time has come and gone and we have missed the boat?

_________________________________ 1 “[S]ocial factors and organizational processes interacted with sectarian beliefs to generate loss of confidence in Adventist bureaucracy, disillusionment with sect ideology, and loss of commitment in ministry, which have contributed to the most rapid and massive exit of Adventist pastors in the movement’s 150-year history.” Peter Ballis, Leaving the Adventist Ministry, 17, 22, 27, quoted by Arthur Patrick

2. See Kai Arasola’s, The End of Historicism, p. 94 available here. The numerological method included the prophecy of Moses, 677 B.C., year of release, the age of the earth, the 6000 year theory, the terminus of the Jubilees to name a few.

3. In the words of Alejandro Bullón at the NAD Ministerial Convention in Austin, July 2015: “There’s no doubt we are the people of God, we do everything wrong and God continues to bless us!”

André Reis has degrees in theology and music and is currently finishing a Ph.D. in New Testament at Avondale College. His thesis is on the book of Revelation.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

"And frankly, that is all 1844 really is, it only massages our corporate ego, it does little for the individual believer. I can believe that Jesus has been my perfect intercessor since the ascension without jeopardizing my standing with God…"
It is time for our church leadership to honestly acknowledge covert and overt missteps. This era of transparency demands such a stance.


What is it about the Adventist psyche, or generational DNA that keeps some tethered to the church, knowing that it has been teaching error from the beginning? Why does one claim that it is the church they love and yet be unable to defend its pillars?

How do those who recognize the fallacy of continuing to have this 1844 doctrine preeminent with their church and continue not only to be a member but teach or preach bringing others into the Adventist system? But those who cannot defend it with the Bible alone, they leave for either their sanity or integrity. The cognitive dissonance required is too mentally and emotionally taxing for many, especially those employees that have left just because of this one FB,

Has anyone calculated the loss to the denomination in both employees and funding that was caused largely by this demonstration of hubris of the G.C. at Glacier View? It is still resonating as this article illustrates and will continue as more and more people discover there is no foundation underpinning this belief.


Adventism is more than a religious denomination. Just like the Jews, Adventism is also a culture and a lifestyle. All our seminal moments are wrapped up and bound by the Adventist identity. You can reject the proof texts but you can’t leave the sense of community. On the surface that may sound like a good thing; but the binds that bind are not what they should be as religious convictions. It’s one thing to be an Adventist because it clearly and honestly takes you to a clear understanding of the gospel; and another to be bound by warm and fuzzy memories of Ingathering at Christmas and Saturday night popcorn socials. It’s not a spiritually honest basis on which to layer your life of faith. It’s based on rationalization and compartmentalization, where we search for reasons other than theology to “not leave”; and can place various parts of Adventism into separate compartments.

I can be hard on the “hangers on” because I’m one of them … but, where else do you go?


We have this Hope that burns within our hearts.
Hope in the coming of the Lord.
We have this faith that Christ alone imparts.
We have this faith in the promise of His word.
We believe the time is near
When the nations far and near
Shall awake and Shout! and Sing!
Hallelujah! Christ is King!
We have this Hope,
This Hope that burns within our heart.
Hope in the Coming of the Lord!

I believe this is what keeps the “hangers on” hanging on.
We may not be able to do what we would like to do.
We may not be able to push Administration in to action at this time.
But our presence keeps the light burning in the Darkness.
The Light helps to give perspective in the Darkness, to maintain a sense of balance to those engulfed in the Darkness.
Hope that in the future the Church will leave the Darkness and embrace the World for Christ. So the World CAN Shout! CAN Sing!
We have Left Movement.
We have Entered Denominationalism with its reclusiveness, seclusiveness, its many fears that have encouraged the shackles of Rules and Regulations.
We do have this Hope of once again becoming a Movement. Breaking the shackles of Denominationalism with it Fears. Hope that it will once again be come a Movement that will go out into the World to love and serve the Lord, to embrace the world for Christ.
This is why those who are “hanging on” continue to hang on.

Mike C. What do you have to offer about 1844? Perhaps you could EDIT your statement and provide us with more information about your credentials.
The Author cannot debate you here.
The Author CAN debate you in the Lounge area, if so chosen to.
EDIT: Actually, in this day and time, does it matter that Christ left the Holy Place, sitting on the Table of Shewbread and moved into the next apartment and now sits on Mercy seat next to the Father and the Holy Spirit? Actually Hebrews says Christ was the Veil through which WE entered the Most Holy Place since around A.D 70 when this was written.
It we look at realistically, it is REALLY each person who judges him/her self by the results of their life and the actions that created those results. All God does is just AGREE with HOW the person Judged him or her self.
EDIT-- Perhaps in our Evangelism, we need to throw out ALL of the Old Scripts, and begin with New Ones that will Embrace the World for Christ, and promote welcoming of His Kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven.


Quoting Ellen White at the end is problematic as those may have been her feelings in 1892, but at the 1905 General conference session she said:

"In the future, deception of every kind
is to arise, and we want solid ground for
our feet. We want solid pillars for the
building. Not one pin is to be removed
from that which the Lord has established.
The enemy will bring in false
theories, such as the doctrine that there
is no sanctuary. This is one of the
points on Which there will be a departing
from the faith. Where shall we find
safety unless it be in the truths that the
Lord has been giving for the last fifty
Review and Herald May 25, 1905 Page 18

And again:

“In clear, plain language I am to say to those in attendance at this conference that Brother Ballenger has been allowing his mind to receive and believe specious error. He has been misinterpreting and misapplying the Scriptures upon which he has fastened his mind. He is building up theories that are not founded in truth. A warning is now to come to him and to the people, for God has not indited the message that he is bearing. This message, if accepted, would undermine the pillars of our faith.”

Manuscript Release 760 page 8

I honor her passion and willingness to speak, but the church today has to acknowledge that not everything she said was, in fact, the word of God to us. Unless we are willing to question her, progress seems impossible.


To mikecmanea

Daniel 8:13 Then one of the holy angels asked another, “When will the daily sacrifices be offered again?” …14 The other answered, “It will be two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings before the temple is dedicated and in use again.” (Contemporary English Version)

After 2300 sacrifices were prevented (at two per day), the BURNT OFFERINGS WERE RESTORED.

No sacrifices were interrupted in heaven. No sacrifices were restored in heaven. Only on earth.

We can profit from debates, but the only reliable way to learn truth is to look for our errors AND LET GO OF THEM.


“Most of the material”?

According to DARCOM’s Appendix E in volume 5, they offered a rather comprehensive review, which was reflected in the completed series:

“After study of Dr. Desmond Ford’s document “Daniel 8:14, the Day of Atonement, and the Investigative Judgment,” the following preliminary report regarding the validity of some of the author’s views is submitted” (p. 217).

They proceeded to address 10 major concerns (quoted as printed):

  1. Methodology

  2. The Day of Atonement in the book of Hebrews

  3. The phrase “Within the Veil” as found in Hebrews 6:19, 20

  4. Year-day principle

  5. Apotelesmatic principle

  6. Use of sadaq in Daniel 8:14

  7. The relationship of Daniel 7, 8, and 9

  8. Antiochus Epiphanes

  9. Saints in judgment

  10. The role of Ellen White in doctrinal understanding

And then in the Consensus Document in Appendix E (vol. 5), 1980’s Sanctuary Review Committee reasserted in summary form our traditional view of “Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary,” touching on these five key points:

I. The Significance of the Doctrine

II. The Sources of Our Understanding

III. The Intercessory Ministry of Christ

IV. The Time of the Judgment

V. The Nature of Judgment

So to suggest that “the central issues related to 1844 raised by Ford” were largely left unaddressed in “most of the materials in the volumes,” sounds extremely naive or simply inaccurate, particularly because DARCOM was specifically setup to deal with Ford’s claims (e.g., vols. 1-4).

Could you please be more precise and identify some of the “central issues” you believe were left untreated in the DARCOM series? And what are “some of the published articles [that] were later refuted by our scholars”?


Oh how I wish the author of this article would debate ME on 1844.

For those who replied to me, I responded to Andre on the Spectrum Facebook page and on my personal facebook mike.c.manea.

1 Like

“The very foundation of Adventism will be removed!”
If this teaching is/was the very foundation of Adventism, then Adventism is not Christian. Jesus, the cross and the resurrection is our foundation, the cornerstone. Nothing else. Whoever fears that our" foundation" will be removed, when we give up 1844, has not understood anything about the true Gospel.


For Adventist theology to continue triumphantly as it is doing, it does not need to solve any of the exegetical and theological dilemmas posed by Dr Ford. It needs only to form committees, hold conferences, introduce some new faces into the discussion, and continue to publish. The very appearance of discounting the “new theology” counts for its actual defeat. Likewise, the passing of time allows for more distortions and spinning of events, as the memories of those who actually attended and discussed and voted become diluted.

The focus has shifted, since Glacier View from specific exegetical puzzles (1980s) to matters of hermeneutics and historical and literary criticism (2000s). Thirty years ago, the fairly uniform shared assumption of historicism joined foes in a single boxing ring. Today such consensus rarely exists, as traditionalists and progressives do not even share the same ring. Common views of scripture and the place of critical studies, as well as larger frameworks of time and space, can no longer be assumed. On one hand, for conservatives salvation history is squeezed into 6,000 years, and on the other, the liberals among us want to understand the God of billions, not the God of seven days or seventy weeks.

All this suggests that from the disappointment of 1980, as from 1844, new lights will continue to appear and guide new generations of scholars and believers. These lights, however, are not usually coming simply from more Bible study but from social sciences, historical and scientific research.

To change the metaphor, we must continue to have faith in the plasticity of faith.


Andre, one of the reasons you’re using Ellen White’s quote here is to argue for a reinterpretation of the day year principle, among other things. But heres the problem: Ellen White, while under inspiration, writing of the future, only works off the Historicist/day year principle. What she writes the Papacy and America will do is a fulfilment of that interpretation. It does not work under any other method. So you cannot then use her in saying we need to re-examine something she received inspiration on. The best you could hope for is to say she was a false prophet. But let us not play these games now.


Btw, Steve, the author is allowed to debate as much as he wishes here, and not only in the Lounge:


While Glacier View is within the living memory of many of us, there have been a number of previous attempts by Adventist pastors and theologians, to point out the error of the Adventist position on 1844 and the Investigative Judgement.

In my opinion, one of the best articulated was E.S. Ballenger, who in 1937 published a comprehensive critique of the Adventist position. See this link for a reproduction:

Reading Ballenger allowed me to see that the whole concept of sin being “stored” in the sanctuary until the Day of Atonement, is a fallacy. Of particular note is that the blood of the daily sacrifices was not taken into the Holy Place, as was claimed by Ellen White. Applying the blood of the sacrifice to the alter always resulted in sin being forgiven, NOT sin being transferred into the sanctuary.

And as Ballenger points out, this Adventist mistake has caused us to view Christ’s sacrifice in a way that is akin to blasphemy. We view the blood of Christ (at least until 1844) as being a medium of defilement, not a medium of cleansing. And this is simply not Biblical. According to the Bible, Christ’s blood only ever cleanses, it NEVER defiles.


Andre, I hear you loud and clear and resonate. I moved on from this many years ago. I fear for you if you are a denominational employee or hope to be.

This is a sacred cow you are barbecuing and you’ll be under a cloud of suspicion and mistrust. Except in the new Adventist denomination or movement which is yet, if ever, to emerge.

I deeply appreciate your clarity and honesty. To contort our thinking to keep certain beliefs at all costs challenges integrity and gives an eternal headache.

Wishing you well. Please keep writing and getting us to think… and surround yourself with people to support and carry you the storms of Adventist orthodoxy, power and ecclesiastic control.



Another of your great articles. Thanks for the time and effort invested to bring us great reading material. It will certainly generate a great conversation in the lounge.

However, it is sad that everything has to spin around EGW and her views. I don’t blame you for quoting her, since I know that the only way to actually have the attention of many Adventists is to use her to prove any point. If only the Bible is used, many will not even pay attention to the issue being discussed.

I believe that Des Ford’s attempt to make the Church wake up to the fantasy of 1844 was actually the last one in SDA history. If the Church did not wake up when the issue was presented with the clarity of Des’ thesis, is will probably never wake up.

It’s obvious that despite the Church leadership’s failure to respond rationally to the debunking of the 1844 fantasy, by Ford, thousands of people understood the issue on a personal basis. And this, personal basis, is the only way that this issue will be clarified IF, and only IF people study the issue by themselves - without the manipulation and distractions usually used by the Church leaders who want to perpetuate the fantasy.

I have found it ironic how many people reject or criticize Ford’s positions without having ever read his Glacier View masterpiece. They are mere parrots parroting what they heard someone else parroting before! And the best way to silence their nonsensical defense of the 1844 fantasy is to ask them, “Have YOU, personally, read Ford’s GV document, in full?” If they didn’t, there is no point in discussing the issue with them. If they did, and still continue to believe the fantasy, there is no point in discussing the issue with them either!

God job André @areis74!


Thanks Gill @gford1 for your post #38 bellow.
I invite you to the Spectrum LOUNGE, where we can continue this conversation following the same essay that is duplicated there, but full discussion is allowed on that site.
It’s here:

I am sure that @JaredWright will gladly arrange for you to ahve access there, though you may need to ask him formally by just posting a request in a post directed at him.

Come, we need you there for a good, constructive conversation!

Since we are at it, please say HI to Des for me.


One simple question: why do we continue to employ teachers in our institutions, when they don’t believe the doctrines of the SDA Church?

Desmond Ford was defrocked and should have been disfellowshipped for leading so many astray. He owes the church an apology. So do those teachers who continue to weaken the faith of their students by planting sees of doubt.


Thank you André Reis for this courageous article.
It seems that many pastors and seminarians have swept this investigative judgement doctrine “under the rug” rather than deal with it.

I do the same, regarding it as “a storm in a teacup” and totally peripheral to the gospel story of salvation, and Christ’s death on the cross for me.

When Adventism is the ONLY Christian body that adheres to this belief, and it appears that even then, only a fraction of us truly believe it, can we state that those not believing IJ will be “eternally lost”?

Were all those who died in Christ, prior to 1844, not saved because they had not magically stumbled on the abstruse cryptic formula for this "non-event?

Similarly, young earth creationism and a six thousand year old earth are so removed from the consciousness of most people alive today or previously deceased, that surely God does not expect adherence to YEC to “be saved”.

My major stumbling block to belief is that six thousand years is TOO LONG,
for “the universe” EGW says has to “vidicate God” before the end can come.
If the “unfallen Angels” and “unfallen beings on other planets” had even a modicum of intelligence and compassion they should long ago have declared victory for God and defeat for Satan!

When Christ states unequivocally in Revelation’s last chapter, “I AM COMING SOON,” (circa 60-90 AD) could He have truthfully made this pronouncement if the 2400 day prophecy was true and His coming had to be post 1844?



I have read GV in full and several other expositions. Des is on the right track. 1844 is simply false and misleading. Time for a serious wake up call.

Ring Ring Ring Ring …


For an in-depth study of the DARCOM series have a look at Roy Ingram’s study at


Simon Peter asked the Lord the same question in John 6:68 “to whom shall we go?”