Who are Adventists?
Belief in the nearness of the Second Coming of Christ is the essential and distinctive tenet of Adventists. By this definition, Adventists are found in large numbers in most Christian denominations, especially in those that may be classified as conservative and evangelical. While the historic creeds of Christendom affirm the belief that Jesus Christ will personally return at the end of the present age to effect the consummation of redemptive history, Adventists further believe that the prophetic portions of the Bible indicate the imminence of the Lord's return.
Denominations specifically denoted as Adventist today are the Advent Christian Church, with about 33,500 members in nine countries; the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, with 5,700 members in the United States and Canada; and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, with about 1,478,000 members in 200 countries.
The modern revival of Adventist belief is related to the "Adventual Awakening," which took place in America as a result of the lectures of William Miller on Biblical prophecy between 1831 and 1846. Miller persuaded large numbers of people that the probable time of Christ's return was between March 1843 and March 1844. His computations were based on a study of the prophecies of Daniel and the Book of Revelation, particularly the "2300 days" of Daniel 8:14. Although the Adventist bodies that developed from the "Adventual Awakening" dissociated themselves from Miller's time-setting calculations, they endorse the thesis that the prophecies of the Bible indicate that the Second Coming of Christ is relatively near.
The three specifically Adventist bodies practice baptism by immersion. Their study of Bible eschatology, in relation to their emphasis on the Second Coming of Christ, has resulted also in their holding in common the doctrine known as "Conditional Immortality." They reject the idea of the natural immortality of the soul and interpret the teaching of the Bible to be that man as a "living soul" is under sentence of death as a result of the Fall. Immortality, therefore, will be bestowed only at the time of the resurrection upon those who have experienced a faith relationship to Jesus Christ. Corollary to this interpretation of Scripture are the beliefs that the resurrection of the dead is essential to the completion of man's redemption, that death is a state of unconsciousness analogous to sleep, and that the destiny of the impenitent is annihilation.
Advent Christians and the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith observe Sunday as the Christian day of worship and regard the New Covenant as fulfilling and supplanting the Old Covenant, but Seventh-day Adventists observe the Saturday Sabbath and certain other Old Testament requirements. With the exception of the Church of God, which holds a nontrinitarian doctrine of God, all the Adventist bodies affirm the major tenets of conservative Christian theology with respect to God, creation, sin, redemption, the atonement, and the experience of grace.