The United States in the early nineteenth century was one of Christian history’s great moments of sectarian creativity. The religious entrepreneurs of a newly democratic society rebelled against the proliferation of denominations by creating new movements of their own, from Utopian communities to apocalyptic revivals. The most notorious such movement, the Millerites, forecast the end of the world for 1844 - in the most modern, rational and compelling terms. This lecture will explore why Millerites believed the predictions, what effects they had, and how they responded to the ‘Great Disappointment’. And it will look at how two very different but almost equally successful modern Christian movements, the Seventh-day Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, emerged from the wreckage.
No reservations are required for this lecture. It will be run on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Doors will open 30 minutes before the start of the lecture.
Alec Ryrie is Visiting Gresham Professor in the History of Religion. He is also Professor of the History of Christianity and Leverhulme Major Research Fellow at Durham University.
His first series of lectures as Visiting Gresham Professor in the History of Religion will be delievered under the title The History and Legacy of Protestant Christianity.