Archive for the ‘Teaching Religion & History’ Category


The IBMTE and I

May 7, 2009

Post removed while I reflect upon the situation.


Essential Reading for an SDA History Course?

January 19, 2007

In my SDA History course I don’t have a textbook but rely heavily on a series of readings that are discussed in class–approximately one per week.

Here are the readings I’m thinking about for this year. There are some gaps that I’d like filled. Any suggestions. Any suggested alternatives to the ones I’ve listed?

Reading Reports (30%):
A reading report in the form of a written personal response to ten (10) of the following articles is to be handed in at the beginning of the relevant class. Reports will not be accepted at any other time—all students are expected to be present for each discussion class. Reports are to be a minimum of 400 words in length. Reports are not to simply summarize the reading but to RESPOND to it emotionally, spiritually, & intellectually. How does it make you feel? What opinion do you have concerning it? What didn’t you understand? What questions do you have?

“The Disappointment Remembered: The Recollections of Luther Boutelle, Hiram Edson, and Henry B. Bear,” Appendix I in Ronald L. Numbers and Jonathan M. Butler, (eds.) The Disappointed: Millerism and Millenarianism in the Nineteenth Century, (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1993), 209-226.
Carole Rayburn, “Women Heralds of ‘The Advent Near’” Adventist Heritage 17:2 (1992), 11-21.


Everett Dick, “The Cost of Discipleship: Seventh-day Adventists and Tennessee Sunday Laws in the 1890’s.” Adventist Heritage, 11:1 (1986), 6-32.
Dennis Pettibone, “The Sunday Law Movement.” In Gary Land (ed.) The World of Ellen G. White, (Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1987), 112-128.

J. Michael Utzinger, “The Third Angel’s Message for My People: Charles M. Kinney and the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Missions among southern African-Americans,” Fides et Historia 30:1 (1998) 26-40.


Joe Mesar and Tom Dybdahl, “The Utopia Park Affair and the Rise of Northern Black Adventists.” Adventist Heritage, 1:1 (1974), 34-41,53,54.
Roy Branson, “Adventism’s Rainbow Coalition.” Spectrum 28:2 (2000), 36-43.

Roland Blaich, “Health reform and Race Hygiene: Adventists and the Biomedical Vision of the Third Reich,” Church History, 65:3 (1996), 425-440.

Don F. Neufeld, “The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary in Retrospect,” Manuscript: Seventh-day Adventist Biblical scholars, New York, 1979.
Raymond F. Cottrell, “The Story of the Bible Commentary,” Adventist Heritage 18:1 (1998), 26-34.

Ronald Osborn, “A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War,” in Douglas Morgan (ed.) The Peacemaking Remnant: essays and historical documents, (Silver Spring, MD: Adventist Peace Fellowship, 2005), 71-77.
Douglas Morgan, “Adventism’s Peacemaking Heritage,” in Douglas Morgan (ed.) The Peacemaking Remnant: essays and historical documents, (Silver Spring, MD: Adventist Peace Fellowship, 2005), 79-91.

Alberto Sbacchi, “Solusi—First Seventh-day Adventist Mission in Africa.” Adventist Heritage 4:1 (1977), 33-43.
Danieri D. Nserenko, “Mission in Africa.” Spectrum 3:3 (1971), 47-54.

Alven Makapela, The Problem with Africanity in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1996), 285-401.

Stefan Hoschele, “Interpreting African Adventism: In Search of a Paradigm.” In Mision Y Contextualization Gerald A. Klingbeil (ed.) (River Plate University Monograph Series in Biblical and theological Studies Vol. II. River Plate University, Argentina, 2005), 91-112.

There are obvious gaps: education, health (better covered in EGW Ministry & Message class) , church structure/organization, missions, doctrinal controversy. (These topic are covered, I just don’t have readings on them.) What would you include?


The Top Adventist History Books

January 3, 2007

Note that here I’m referring to Adventist in the broadest sense–not as shorthand for Seventh-day Adventist.

Over at the blog: Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub – History, accuracy and education there was a recent post titled “Nominations for top history books”. This got me thinking–what are the top Adventist history books?

Here’s my list (completely personal, limited to English language works, & heavily skewed toward my own interests of Millerism) in no particular order:

  • George R. Knight, Millennial Fever and the End of the World. (Boise, ID: Pacific Press), 1993. A well-written, interesting, generally well-referenced account of the Millerites & the formation of the SDA Church.
  • Gary Land, (ed.) Adventism in America. Rev. ed. (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press), 1998. Unfortunately limited in its focus to the US, it is the best overall history of the SDA church. Suffers from having no content more recent than c1980.
  • Ronald L. Numbers and Jonathan M. Butler, (eds.) The Disappointed: Millerism and Millenarianism in the Nineteenth Century. (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press), 1993.
  • Ronald L. Numbers, Prophetess of Health: Ellen G. White and the Origins of Seventh-Day Adventist Health Reform. Rev. ed. (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press), 1992. Whether you agree with Numbers’ thesis or not, the book is a serious attempt at placing Ellen G. White in her historical and cultural context.
  • David L. Rowe, Thunder and Trumpets: Millerites and Dissenting Religion in Upstate New York, 1800-1850. (Chico, CA: Scholars Press), 1985.
  • Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-over District: A Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press), 1950. [Reprinted in 2006.]
  • Edwin S. Gaustad, (ed.) The Rise of Adventism: Religion and Society in Mid-nineteenth-century America. (New York, NY: Harper and Row), 1974.
  • Laura L. Vance, Seventh-day Adventism in Crisis: Gender and Sectarian Change in an Emerging Religion. (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press), 1999.
  • Douglas Morgan. Adventism and the American Republic. (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press), 2001.
  • Ruth Alden Doan, The Miller Heresy, Millennialism, and American Culture. (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press), 1987.
  • Malcolm Bull and Keith Lockhart, Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-Day Adventism and the American Dream. (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row), 1989. [Second edition released in 2006 by Indiana University Press.] Perhaps more sociological than historical, nevertheless, its one of the most important books on the SDA church.
  • Clyde E. Hewitt, Midnight and Morning. (Charlotte, NC: Venture Books), 1983. The first of a three volume set outlining the history of the Advent Christian Church–another denomination that emerged from the Millerites. Worth reading just for its non-Seventh-day adventist focus. The other two volumes are: Responsibility and Response, (1986), and Devotion and Development (1990).
  • Alven Makapela, The Problem with Africanity in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press), 1996. One of the few books that covers the history of the SDA church in Africa and looks seriously at race within the SDA church. Could have benefitted from further editing.
  • Sylvester Bliss, Memoirs of William Miller. (Boston, MT: Joshua V. Himes), 1853. Despite its age, still the best biography of William Miller. [Reprinted by Andrews University Press in 2005; with an new introduction by Merlin D. Bert; as part of their excellent Adventist Classic Library.]
  • I. F. du Preez and R. H. du Pre, A Century of Good Hope: A History of the Good Hope Conference, its Educational Institutions and Early workers, 1893-1993. (East London: Western Research Group/Southern History Association), 1994. A somewhat idiosyncratic account of the SDA church’s work in the South African Good Hope Conference – the “coloured” conference. One of the few sources of African SDA history.
  • Everett N. Dick. William Miller and the Advent Crisis. (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press), 1994. Dick’s manuscript (based on his doctoral thesis completed in 1930) was to be published by Union College when the General Conference (through the personal intervention of LeRoy Edwin Froom) successfully convinced the college not to proceed. Dick’s study was the first to extensively examine the original Millerite sources and despite its age is a valuable work–and a reminder of the dangers of censorship.
  • Lowell Tarling, The Edges of Seventh-Day Adventism: A Study of Separatist Groups Emerging from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (1844-1980). (Barragga Bay, Australia: Galilee), 1981. A fascinating survey of one of the neglected aspects of SDA history. It’s by an Australian–so it must be good! We could do with a second edition that covers the last 25 years.
  • Isaac Wellcome, History of the Second Advent Message, (Boston, MT: Advent Christian Publication Society), 1874. Despite its age, an excellent account of the Millerites & the early Adventists. Like Hewitt’s books (above), it’s written from an Advent Christian perspective. Especially important is Wellcome’s emphasis on the key roles women played in these movements–most later historians of Adventism have neglected them.
  • Josephine Benton, Called by God, (Smithsburg, MD: Blackberry Hill), 1990. Important coverage of a neglected aspect of Adventist history–the role of women ministers. Available online here.
  • Bruinsma, Reinder. Seventh-day Adventist Attitudes Toward Roman Catholicism 1844-1965. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1994. Excellent survey of the topic.
  • King, Christine Elizabeth. The Nazi State and the New Religions: Five Case Studies in Non-conformity. Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: The Edward Mellon Press, 1982. Contains a chapter on the SDA Church in Nazi Germany.
  • Dunton, Hugh, (ed.) Heirs of the Reformation: The Story of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe. (Grantham: Stanborough Press), 1997. A valuable though patchy account of the history of the SDA church in Europe.
  • Richard W. Schwarz, Light Bearers to the Remnant (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press), 1979. [Revised edition published as: Light Bearers: a history of the Seventh-day Adventist church by Richard W. Schwarz, & Floyd Greenleaf (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press), 2000.] I know it’s the standard textbook, but it just doesn’t excite me. (Confession time–I don’t even own a copy.) It does at least make some attempt to view SDAism as a global phenomenon.

Books that I have not yet read, but am looking forward to:

  • R. Clifford Jones, James K. Humphrey and the Sabbath-day Adventists. (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi), 2006.
  • Catherine A. Brekus, Strangers and Pilgrims – Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press), 1998. Contains a chapter on female Millerite preachers.
  • Eva Keller, The Road to Clarity: Seventh-day Adventism in Madagascar. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), 2005. I have not read this book, but I have read her paper: “Towards Complete Clarity: Bible Study among Seventh-Day Adventists in Madagascar.” Ethnos 69, no. 1 (2004): 89-112. In some ways it’s more a sociological work than a historical one but it gives some interesting insights into the SDA church in Madagascar.
  • Stefan Hoschele, From the End of the World to the Ends of the Earth: The Development of Seventh-Day Adventist Missiology, (Nurnberg, Germany: Verlag fur Theologie und Religionswissenschaft), 2004.

Fellow Australian, Arthur Patrick has an interesting paper “Historians of Adventism: Their Agony, Ecstasy, and Potential” online here. It’s worth checking out, though needs updating.

    On a final note, probably the most powerful history book I have ever read is Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners – Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York : Knopf), 1996. Goldhagen writes brilliantly and I found his thesis compelling. Everyone should read this book!

    I’m interested in your thoughts.


Online Historical Adventist Photos

November 15, 2006

There are a number of sites with databases of historical photos relating to Adventism currently in existence. The most comprehensive are those based at the Heritage Room of Loma Linda University:

  • The first is focused specifically on Ellen G. White and contains over 1200 photos from the Ellen G. White Estate that focus on White, her family, associates, and events & places associated with her life. (The Ellen G. White Estate itself offers only 7 photos on their website.) Access the database here.
  • The second database contains approximately 2,000 photos (with more being added) on a wide variety of subjects. Access this database here.

A third site is that of the British Union Conference (BUC) Historical Archive. It contains nearly 600 photos and may be accessed here. has pictures scanned in from various SDA publications including: J. N. Loughborough’s Rise and Progress of the Seventh-day Adventists (1892), and M. Ellsworth Olsen’s A History of the Origin and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists (1925) here.

The Center for Adventist Research (CAR) at Andrews University has recently established its own database of historical photos online here. OK, great, the more photos available online for research and teaching purposes the better. HOWEVER, to put it bluntly, the CAR approach sucks. As an example, a search for “africa” lists 21 photos—some of them of great interest to me in my research and teaching—such as a picture of students at the first SDA church school in South Africa in 1893. The problem is the database only offers tiny thumbnail-sized photos—so small in fact, that it is difficult sometimes to make out the content of the photo (the picture at right is exactly what the CAR site gives you!)—with the option to purchase a full-sized photo at higher resolution. Now I certainly believe that any photo used for commercial purposes—such as a published book—should be paid for, but to deny church members (not to mention researchers and teachers) like myself, free and open access to such material is just plain wrong. The fees charged are not inconsiderable when converted to currencies other than USD. C’mon CAR, surely you can do better than that!

I have emailed CAR at: and will report back on any reply received.

Just out of interest, a search for “Africa” on each of the above sites reveals:

Loma Linda 1 (EGW): 5 results.

Loma Linda 2 (General SDA): 3 results.

BUC Archive: 18 results. (no search capability): c10 results.

CAR: 21 results (with Moslem/Muslim spelled as Mosleum twice).


Bradford’s More Than A Prophet

October 27, 2006

Graeme Bradford’s latest book More Than A Prophet has caused quite a stir. The Ellen G. White Estate itself has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a notice about its “strong concerns” regarding the book.

Bradford has replied to their statement here. (I’m grateful to the Adventist History blog for the heads-up regarding Bradford’s reply.

I confess that I have not yet read Bradford’s book yet, though I appreciated his two previous books: Prophets are Human and People Are Human. (Prophets are Human was in fact, one of the assigned readings for the Ministry and Message of Ellen G. White class that I taught this year.)

In the area of Ellen White studies I’d also like to recommend:

Alden Thompson‘s book: Escape From the Flames: how Ellen White grew from fear to joy and helped me do it also. (Pacific Press, 2005)

David Hamstra has an interview with Thompson about his book on his now inactive blog apokalupto.

George Knight’s four books: Reading Ellen White; Meeting Ellen White; Walking With Ellen White, & Ellen White’s World.

There was a conference held in the US last year: the Ellen White Summit 2005 & the audio & video recordings are available for download. Particularly worth listening too is the final Q&A session.


Sources for Adventist History #1

October 26, 2006

Thought I’d post some of my favourite sources for Adventist History that are available on the web. Some are well known, some are more obscure. I’d appreciate any suggestions from readers.

Adventist Archives: Contains online issues of Adventist Heritage magazine (no longer being published unfortunately; note too that 16:3 is not available, 16:2 is incorrectly linked in its place); Isaac Wellcome’s History of the Second Advent Message; and the Millerite periodcal The Midnight Cry (Vol. 1–1842); and other sources. Some files are in .pdf, others as Deja Vu files.

The Jenks Memorial Collection at Aurora University (Aurora was started by the Advent Christian Church, also a denomination arising out of the Millerites.) is the premier repository for information on William Miller. However, it does not (unfortunately) have a lot of material available online. They do however have pictures of some of their collection of Prophecy Charts which make interesting viewing.

A short illustrated article on Millerite art can be found here. It is hosted by Cornerstone Magazine.

Historical Documents on Command (H-DOC) is a great collection of documents hosted by Oakwood College. It is particularly focussed on Black Adventist History.

The Willard Library has a large online collection of historical photos of that Adventist stronghold–Battle Creek.

The GC Archives has a magnificent & ever-expanding collection of materials available online. It is fantastic that they have lead the way in this area, making historical documents available to researchers like myself in the more far-flung parts of the globe!

The Journal of Pacific Adventist History has some of its issues available online here. The quality of articles in quite variable, but it is a valuable resource on the history of the SDA Church in the South Pacific.

A brief survey article by Kathy Mandusic McDonnell on the Medicine of Jacksonian America makes interesting reading.