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November 11, 2011


by Dennis J. Fischer

The religious landscape in the early 1840s was very similar among the Millerites, Mormons, and Shakers.  All these groups shared the commonality of having an assortment of prophets, founders or co-founders of various religions,  and shameless visionaries and/or reveries (i.e., Joseph Smith, Ellen Harmon, Ann Lee, etc.).  These cultic groups claimed to have various witnesses who could affirm that their favorite visionaries had actually seen angels and/or conversed with the patriarchs of Old Testament times by supposedly having seen them in a vision. 

William Miller, the founder of the time-setting Millerite movement in the early 1840s, was greatly annoyed by all the excitable female visionaries among his devout followers.  The lunatic asylums, forerunner of our modern mental health centers,  had sufficient documented admissions to clinically label their erratic condition as  "Millerite Madness."  It should not surprise us that the extreme religious fervor of the early 1840s appealed to the emotionally-distraught in unprecedented numbers.

Interestingly, the "angels" always spoke in Old English to Ellen White and Joseph Smith.  Even though Smith and White  did not  speak in Old English themselves, the simple inclusion of angelic statements in Old English made  it sound  more authentic and biblical to many gullible readers. Apparently, their god was unable or unwilling to speak in contemporary English.  When Jesus did not return on October 22, 1844 as William Miller predicted, the desperate, disappointed Millerites were forced to live in Shaker communes to survive the harsh New England winter.  Many devout Millerites had failed to plant family gardens and even sold their homes and businesses to benefit the Millerite movement.  Since men and women were arbitrarily separated in Shaker communes, the poverty-stricken Millerite families did not stay any longer than absolutely necessary for their survival.  

It is noteworthy that William Miller was not as  dedicated to his cause as many of his ardent followers.  When all was said and done, Father Miller still had a nice farm home in upstate New York to enjoy.  All in all, Joseph Smith, Ellen White, and the loyal defenders of Mother Lee published various books and pamphlets that supposedly had the weight of divine law.  In the case of Ellen White, she claimed that all her published writings, even though largely plagiarized,  came directly from the throne of God. She never envisioned the day when computer technology would be able to easily decipher and expose her rampant literary theft. 

Both Ellen G. White (1827-1915) and Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) preferred to be called a "messenger of the Lord" due to the negative connotation of  the title "prophet" in Joseph Smith's troubling legacy. In regard to Charles Russell, whose group became the Jehovah's Witnesses, his gravestone declares that he was the "Messenger of the Lord."  As fate dictated, Ellen White was unable to escape nor rewrite her cultic legacy.  Seventh-day Adventism was born in the Millerite deception of 1844 and officially organized nineteen years later in 1863. Truly, those who are intent upon accurate answers will no longer remain in a toxic-faith system.

courtesy of

Worldwide Chaplaincy Services
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