Can the End of the Age Be Computed by the Year-Day Theory? -- By: Roy L. Aldrich

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 115:458 (Apr 1958)
Article: Can the End of the Age Be Computed by the Year-Day Theory?
Author: Roy L. Aldrich


Can the End of the Age Be Computed by the Year-Day Theory?

Roy L. Aldrich

[Roy L. Aldrich is President and Instructor in Theology at Detroit Bible Institute, Detroit, Michigan.]

The question of the validity of the year-day theory has been raised by the appearance of LeRoy Edwin Froom’s exhaustive history of prophecy called The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers. This four volume work of about four thousand pages contains the results of years of study and research. Froom is recognized as the outstanding historian of the Seventh-Day Adventists. He has produced a work which traces the history of prophetic interpretation in great detail from the early church to the advent awakening of the nineteenth century. In the final volume emphasis is placed on the historical background and origin of the Adventist movement. Many helpful charts have been included which give the principal prophetic interpretations of expositors at a glance. All the material is carefully documented and should prove interesting and helpful to both the student of church history and prophecy.

However, it would be naive not to recognize frankly that The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers is a monumental defense of Seventh-Day Adventism. The author seeks to create the impression that the historical stream of orthodox prophetic interpretation culminates in Seventh-Day Adventism. Doubtless this is why his history terminates with the advent awakening of the nineteenth century and omits over a century of the most vital development of the understanding of prophecy.

The purpose of this article is to discuss the validity of only one of the Adventists doctrines—their year-day theory of prophetic interpretation. This theory is a simple formula by which days are interpreted to mean years in certain time prophecies. It is thought that by this device the end of the age and the time of the coming of Christ can be computed.

It should be made clear, as Froom points out, that this theory was not originated by the Seventh Day Adventists, but only accepted by them from others. It should also be noted that many others have used this theory to predict the return of the Lord and the end of the age, especially during the periods of the two world wars.

However, the Seventh-Day Adventists have made the year-day theory the very keystone of their structure. It was by using the year-day theory that William Miller and others predicted the return of the Lord in 1843 and again in 1844. Froom frankly calls the aftermath of this period “the bitter disappointment.” However, the year-day theory was not abandoned but cherished and fitted into a new doctrinal pattern. “The bitter disappointment” was...

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