A religious denomination that grew from the work of
Other adventists believed that the
today believe that the only prophetic texts awaiting fulfillment concern their church and its ministry. When the Gospel message has been proclaimed throughout the world and the church has grown to its predetermined size, then the end of the age will come. At that time the righteous dead will be raised and together with the righteous living will be taken to heaven, where they will spend the Millennium. While believers enjoy heavenly bliss, Satan will be left on earth for 1,000 years. At the end of this period, Christ will descend with His saints, destroy the wicked with fire, and create a new earth with the as its center. Adventists also teach soul sleep, free will, the deity of Christ, and believer's baptism by immersion. is observed four times a year, preceded by a foot-washing service. The Sabbath, from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, is scrupulously observed. Despite the relatively low economic status of its membership, insistence on tithing has led to the church's being among the leading American churches in per capita giving.
Adventists operate parochial schools from primary through university level. They also insist upon the proper care of the body, abstaining from foods forbidden in the OT such as pork, ham, and shellfish; do not smoke or drink; and conduct an extensive medical program with hospitals and clinics centering at Loma Linda University in California. The church also opposes secret societies, card playing, gambling, and the use of jewelry and cosmetics. “Worldly entertainments” such as motion pictures, television, the theater, and dancing are also avoided by them.
The church operates a sizable publishing industry. Their leading paper, Review and Herald, is one of the oldest continuously published religious periodicals in America. Adventists have a congregational government which is tied to a series of local and national conferences. The denomination's activities are centralized in the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists at Washington, D.C. Sessions of this group consisting of delegates elected from the local conferences meet every four years. Between sessions of the world conference, business is conducted by an executive committee. About four-fifths of the church's 2.5 million members live outside North America.
F.D. Nichol, The Midnight Cry (1944); L.E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers (4 vols., 1946-54); A.W. Spalding, Origin and History of Seventh-day Adventists (4 vols., 1961-62); A.A. Hoekema, The Four Major Cults (1963); D.F. Neufeld (ed.), Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1966); B. Wilson, Religious Sects, A Sociological Study (1970); E.S. Gaustad (ed.), The Rise of Adventism (1974).