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Adventists (ădˈvĕnˌtĭsts) [advent, Lat.,=coming], members of a group of related religious denominations whose distinctive doctrine centers in their belief concerning the imminent second coming of Jesus (see Judgment Day). The name Adventism is specifically applied to the teachings of William Miller (1782–1849), who predicted the end of the world for 1843, then for 1844. When it did not occur, the Millerites, or Second Adventists, at a meeting at Albany, N.Y., in 1845 adopted a statement declaring their belief in the visible return of Jesus at an indefinite time, when the resurrection of the dead would take place and the millennium would have its beginning. Later this body took the name Evangelical Adventists. Another and larger branch of the original Adventist group became known in 1861 as the Advent Christian Church. This branch was formed as a result of a controversy over the question of the soul's immortality. The Advent Christian Church has a U.S. membership of about 26,800 (the Life and Advent Union, which was organized in 1863, merged with the Advent Christian Church in 1964). The largest Adventist body, the Seventh-day Adventists, under the leadership of Joseph Bates and James and Ellen White, adopted in 1844 the observance of Saturday as the Sabbath. Formally organized in 1863, they are fundamentally evangelical, taking the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice. Fundamental to their doctrine is their belief in the imminent, premillennial, personal, and visible return of Jesus. The Seventh-day Adventists carry on worldwide missionary work; they number some 13.6 million. Another Adventist group is the Church of God, which was organized as Churches of God in Christ Jesus in 1888 and then permanently organized as the Church of God in 1921; its U.S. membership is around 75,000.


See M. E. Olsen, A History of the Origin and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists (1925, repr. 1972).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



adherents of a Christian Protestant sect whose basic dogma is the expectation of the “second coming of Christ” and “the thousand-year kingdom.”

Adventism arose in the USA in the 1830’s among the petite bourgeoisie. Its founder was a Baptist, W. Miller (1782–1849), who predicted the “coming of Christ” around 1843–44. Contemporary Adventists do not indicate definite times for the “advent” but maintain that it will be soon. In 1863 the most powerful group, the Seventh-day Adventists, split off from Adventists; they celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, not Sunday, and recognize the authority of the American “prophetess” E. White (1827–1915). Preaching the establishment of the “thousand-year kingdom of Christ” only for themselves, the Seventh-day Adventists predict that the “sinners” (that is, all those believing differently) will soon perish by fire. The dogma of the Seventh-day Adventists is permeated with pessimism and leads the workers away from solving the burning issues of the day.

In 1966 there were more than 1.6 million Seventh-day Adventists. Their ruling body, the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists, is located in Washington. In 1966 there were approximately 381,000 Seventh-day Adventists in the USA. The Adventists are an active organization with members in 190 countries—for example, there are 150,000 Seventh-day Adventists in the Congo (Kinshasa; since 1971, Zaire); 100,000 in Brazil, 90,000 in the Federal Republic of Germany, 65,000 in Kenya, and 11,000 in Great Britain. The other Adventist branches are not large.

In Russia, Adventists, mostly subbotniki (Seventh-day Adventists), appeared during the 1880’s among the German colonists of the former Tavrida Province and among the land-starved peasantry of the southern Ukraine, the Don, the northern Caucasus, the Volga Region, the Baltic Region, and in Siberia. In 1908 the Adventists created an independent union. They opposed the October Socialist Revolution of 1917 and during the Civil War fought with the counterrevolutionaries. For a long time they did not accept Soviet power and tried to sabotage its policies. But in 1924 the fifth all-Union meeting of the Seventh-day Adventists adopted an address to the Central Executive Committee of the USSR with a declaration of loyalty to the Soviet system. There are approximately 21,000 adherents of the sect, as well as reform Adventists and Christians of the Seventh Day who have split off from the Seventh-day Adventists, in the USSR.


Klibanov, A. I. Istoriia religioznogo sektantstva v Rossii (60–e gg. 19v.-1917 ). Moscow, 1965.
Lentin, V. N. Adventisty sed’mogo dnia. Moscow, 1966.
Belov, A. V. Adventizm. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.