Date of Award

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Church History PhD

First Advisor

Jerry A. Moon

Second Advisor

Gary Land

Third Advisor

Woodrow W. Whidden

Abstract

The Topic

The 1919 Bible Conference was held immediately after World War I during a heightened interest in the apocalyptic and soon after the death of Ellen White. Patterned after the Fundamentalist prophetic conferences of 1918 and 1919, it was arguably the first “scholarly” conference held by Seventh-day Adventists. During a theologically turbulent time, Adventists found the emerging Fundamentalist movement attractive for its biblicist theology, its opposition to modernism and evolution, and the apparent popular appeal of its prophetic conferences.

The Purpose

The purpose of this dissertation is to analyze the significance of the 1919 Bible Conference for Seventh-day Adventist history and theology.

The Sources

This was a documentary study based on published and unpublished sources, most of which were produced by Seventh-day Adventists between 1910 and 1922. The most heavily used primary source was the collection of original transcripts of the 1919 Bible Conference. Although these transcripts are not entirely complete, they are extensive. These transcripts were supplemented by other primary sources that included periodicals, correspondence, and other archival materials.

Conclusions

The 1919 Bible Conference illustrates the polarization in Seventh-day Adventist theology that took place as Adventists grappled with conservative evangelicalism (what later became known as Fundamentalism). Adventist theologians became divided, most notably, between “progressives” and “traditionalists,” both of whom were influenced by the emerging Fundamentalist movement. Some issues were quite controversial at the time, such as the identity of the king of the north in Dan 11, while others such as the covenants and the Trinity would become more important with the passing of time. The topics that had the most lasting effect upon Adventist history and theology were the discussions about Ellen G. White’s writings and their relationship to the Bible. These hermeneutical issues evidenced a theological polarization that continues to shape Adventist thought.

Subject Area

Seventh-day Adventists--History--20th century, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Bible Conference (1919: Washington, DC), Seventh-day Adventists--Doctrines, Seventh-day Adventists--History--1901-1925, Andrews University--Dissertations--Seventh-day Adventists--History--20th century.