Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A snippet from chapter 2 of next book. Rough Draft only

Life and Advent Union

            In 1863 Storrs and his associates formed the Life and Advent Union to promote the teaching that the wicked dead would not be resurrected. Storrs was elected president [insert others] and the editor of a new journal, The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom. We do not know if this intentionally echoed the title of Elias Smith’s Herald of Life and Immortality, though we strongly suspect it did. It is important to note that they were united only by this doctrine. Animosity flowed from Second Adventists, including those associated with the Seventh-day sect, and some congregations voted to exclude Life and Advent speakers. However, until the mid-1870s, LaAU speakers participated in the Advent Christian ministry and spoke at their conferences.
The Life and Advent Union was not seen as a separate church. In this era neither the Advent Christian Association nor the Union, were churches in their own right, but associations of people, many of whom belonged to other churches, focused on a particular doctrine. More modern writers, especially polemicists, lose sight of this. Some have never grasped the point. They simply do not understand this era. Their research is shallow, or they parrot what others, equally uninformed, have written. Some slant the story to fit a polemic.  Neither group could fairly be described as a church until the late 1870s.
It is a mistake to see Storrs’ participation as a return to Millerite Adventism. None of those who remained Millerites saw it that way. He did not abandon his Literalist beliefs, but continued to advocate them. There were Adventists in the Union. Most of its adherents came from among Adventists. But some, including Storrs, no longer counted themselves as Millerite Adventists, and a goodly portion of The Herald of Life’s readership came from outside the Adventism.[1] The early advertisements for it focused on distinctively Age-to-Come doctrine rather than Millerite belief. As with most of magazines and papers focused on Christ’s return and more narrowly focused on a specific doctrine, it never achieved a significant circulation.[2]

Advertisement from the January 30, 1864, Scientific American. Note the Age-to-Come phrasing. [photo caption]

            Most Adventists and Age-to-Come believers rejected the doctrine. Horace Hastings wrote and published a tract entitled Retribution to voice his objections. He adopted an argument he found objectionable when it came from hell-fire advocates. Hastings, though widely praised later for his Anti-Infidel Library, was a vain, self-promoter who frequently commented negatively on other’s writing and reasoning ability, and circulated photos of himself to those who admired him. While denying to hellfire believers the claim that “soul sleep” tended to foster immorality, he adopted that argument to refute Storrs and his fellows:

The moral bearings of a doctrine which teaches that to every sinner ‘death is an eternal sleep;’ that they shall not all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one shall not give account of himself to God; that God shall not bring every work into judgment; that there shall not be a resurrection of the, dead, just and unjust; that they that have done evil shall not come forth to the resurrection of condemnation; that no sinner need to meet his blasphemed and insulted God in judgment; that a pistol-ball, a dagger, or a cup of poison, can, in an hour, put the vilest transgressor where neither God nor man can judge him for his iniquities, or punish him for his crimes; that he who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the redeeming blood an unholy thing, shall not be counted worthy of a ‘sorer punishment’ than all, both righteous and wicked, receive in natural death; that there is no cause for ‘a certain fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation’ by those who ‘sin willfully, after’ they ‘have received the knowledge of the truth;’ … the moral bearings, I say, of such a doctrine as this are proper subjects of serious consideration. … A mother, after her youthful daughters had been associated with a preacher who taught this doctrine, told me how they drew inferences of impunity in sin, and security in impenitence, which they could mention and act upon, even though he might not be affected by them. I myself have been met with the same objection, when I have sought to warn unconverted men to repent and turn to God. ‘If we die, and that is the last of us, it is no great loss.’[3]

[1]           This continued to be true into the 1930s. Religious Bodies: 1936, Volume II, Part 1; Denominations A to J Statistics, History, Doctrine, Organization and Work, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1936 (1941 edition), page 41, notes that “a number of people hold the views of the Union who are not enrolled in its organized churches.”
[2]           S. M. Jackson [Editor]: Concise Dictionary of Religious Knowledge, New York, 1891, page 18, estimates that it had a circulation of 1000 in 1890.
[3]           H. L. Hastings: Retribution: The Doom of the Ungodly After the Resurrection of the Dead, just and Unjust, Boston, 1862, second edition, pages 154-155.

1 comment:

roberto.testimonidigeova said...

It would be interesting to know how many subscribers had "The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom" and how many "The Bible Examiner"