Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Divinity

School

Theological Seminary

Program

Master of Divinity, MDiv: Church History

First Advisor

Jerry Moon

Abstract

Problem: Josiah Litch was a leading figure in the Millerite movement from 1838-1844. During this time he developed ideas that would appear again as part of the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of prophecy and end-time events. This present study sought to determine how Litch's ideas developed throughout his life, and how his understanding of the Bible, specifically during the Millerite time period, affected Seventh-day Adventist doctrines. Method: This thesis is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is an introduction. The second is a biographical overview of Litch's life. The third deals with Litch's historical and theological research, and how three Seventh-day Adventist writers used his works. The fourth examines the events surrounding Litch's interpretation of the time periods of Rev 9, and how it affected the year-day principle. The fifth chapter examines Litch's understanding of the pre-advent judgment, and the anticipated fulfillment of elements of prophecy he considered to be yet future. Results: Litch's work influenced the Millerite movement through his research and extensive prophetic writing. His interpretation of the time periods of Rev 9 provided an example of the validity of the year-day principle of prophetic interpretation, and his understanding of the pre-advent judgment developed independently of the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the pre-advent judgment. Conclusions: Josiah Litch helped the Millerite movement to have the extensive impact that it did through his writing, preaching, and pioneering towards the South. In the years following 1844, he abandoned his commitment to Scripture alone, followed tradition with the Albany Adventists, and eventually lost all distinctiveness in his understanding of the Bible, from the emerging dispensationalists. His interpretations generally did not directly affect the development of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, apart from the teachings that had been accepted by the Millerite movement, but subsequent Seventh-day Adventist writers considered his earlier writings authoritative on prophecy.

Share

COinS