Shut Door Chronology

Compiled by Brother Anderson


October 22 Great Disappointment. Christ fails to return on the date predicted by William Miller.
  December Most Millerites have returned to their previous churches. Some continue to insist the movement was correct. They teach:
  • Jesus entered the Most Holy Place on Oct. 22, 1844.
  • Jesus fulfilled the parable of the ten virgins where the Bridegroom "enters in" with the five ready virgins.
  • The door of salvation has been "shut" to those who were not part of the 1844 Millerite movement.
  • They are now in a "testing time" and Jesus will come within one year.
  December 11 William Miller writes, "We have done our work in warning sinners and in trying to awake a formal church. God in his providence has shut the door; we can only stir up one another to be patient." (Advent Herald, Dec. 11, 1844).


Jan. - Dec. Ellen White begins having visions regarding the "shut door." One who witnessed her visions in his home, John Megquier, wrote: "We well know the course of Ellen G. White, the visionist, while in the state of Maine. About the first visions she had were at my house in Poland. She said that God had told her in vision that the door of mercy had closed, and there was no more chance for the world." (The True Sabbath, by Miles Grant, p. 70)

Mrs. L.S. Burdick was well acquainted with Mrs. White. She wrote: "I became acquainted with James White and Ellen Harmon (now Mrs. White) early in 1845. . . Ellen was having what was called visions: said that God had shown her in vision that Jesus Christ arose and on the tenth day of the seventh month, 1844, shut the door of mercy; had left forever the mediatorial throne; the whole world was doomed and lost; and there never could be another sinner saved." (The True Sabbath, p. 72).

  February 7 O.R.L. Crosier publishes his understanding of Christ entering the Most Holy Place on Oct. 22, 1844, in the Day Star. Mrs. White later endorses this publication as "true light."
  February 19 William Miller expresses his belief that no sinners have been converted on the earth during the last five months: "I have not seen a genuine conversion since [Oct. 22, 1844]." Voice of Truth, Feb. 19, 1845.
  April Joshua Himes cautions that the "shut door" doctrine prevents believers from "exercis[ing] benevolent feelings towards sinners, with a view to save them, so that that most essential element of the Spirit of Christ, and of Christian character, is annihilated." Morning Watch, June 12, 1845, p. 192.


April 20 Otis Nichols, a believer in Ellen White and a witness to her visions, writes to William Miller: "Her message...encouraged them to hold on to the faith, and the seventh month movement; and that our work was done for the nominal church and the world, and what remained to be done was for the household of faith."
  Fall Joseph Bates meets Ellen and James White. They accept Bates' teaching that the Day of Atonement would last seven years, ending in the fall of 1851. Bates later wrote out his theories:
"The seven spots of blood on the Golden Altar and before the mercy seat, I fully believe, represent the duration of the judicial proceedings on the living saints in the Most Holy, all of which time they will be in their affliction, even seven years; God by his voice will deliver them, 'for it is the blood that maketh the atonement for the soul' (Lev. 17:11). Then the number seven will finish the day of atonement. (The Typical and Anti-typical Sanctuary, p. 10, 1850)


April James White published "A Word to the Little Flock." In it we find:
  • Ellen White has a vision showing the Advent people walking on a path toward heaven. She saw some fall of the path and she wrote of them: "It was just as impossible for them to get on the path again and go to the City, as all the wicked world which God had rejected."
  • James White: "From the ascension, to the shutting of the door, Oct. 1844, Jesus stood with wide-spread arms of love, and mercy; ready to receive, and plead the cause of every sinner, who would come to God by him. On the 10th day of the 7th month, 1844, he passed into the Holy of Holies, where he has since been a merciful 'high priest over the house of God.' "


Jan. - Dec. Many of the Millerites give up the "shut door" teaching by the end of the year. O.R.L. Crosier, the originator of the SDA teaching on the Sanctuary tells of his experience in 1848: "I kept the seventh day nearly a year, about 1848. In 1846 I explained the idea of the sanctuary in an article in an extra number of the Day Star, Cincinnati, O. The object of that article was to support the theory that the door of mercy was shut, a theory which I, and nearly all Adventists who had adopted William Miller's views, held from 1844 to 1848. Yes, I know that Ellen G. Harmon - now Mrs. White - held that shut-door theory at that time."
  Nov. 18 Ellen White implies the sealing was in progress: "The time of trouble has commenced, the reason why the four winds have not been let go, for the saints are not all sealed..." (Joseph Bates, The Seal of the Living God, pp. 24-26, quoting a vision Ellen G. White had in Dorchester)


  Joseph Bates announces the time of trouble has begun: "And now the time of trouble has began..." (The Seal of the Living God, 1849)
  March 24 Mrs. White receives visions in Topsham, Maine, that confirm belief in the shut door: "God gave me two visions while there, much to the comfort and strength of the brethren and sisters. Brother Stowell was established in the shut door and all the present truth he had doubted." (Manuscript Releases, Vol. 5, p. 93)
  June 30 Remarks written down from Ellen White's "vision" in Rocky Hill, Connecticut: "The sealing work will soon be done." (Manuscript 6, 1849, released in 2014 in The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts, vol. 1, p. 177)
  August Ellen White places the Shut Door doctrine as a central teaching of the church, the message of the Testimony of Jesus: "There I was shown that the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, relating to the shut door, could not be separated..."

Later in the same article an angel describes the condition of sinners to her: "My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of soul for sinners as used to be. I looked, but could not see it; for the time for their salvation is past." (Present Truth, August, 1849).

  September A local pestilence is seen as a fulfillment of the end of the world. Mrs. White predicts this pestilence will become widespread: "What we have seen and heard of the pestilence, is but the beginning of what we shall see and hear. Soon the dead and dying will be all around us." (Present Truth, Sept. 1849).
  December David Arnold writes in the Present Truth: "Therefore, we are brought, by the force of circumstances, and the fulfillment of events, to the irresistible conclusion that, on the tenth day of the seventh month, (Jewish time,) in the autumn of 1844, Christ did close his daily, or continual ministration or mediation in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, and SHUT THE DOOR, which no man can open; and opened a door, in the second apartment, or Holiest of all, which no man can shut, (see Rev.iii,7,8,) and passed within the second veil, bearing before the Father, on the breast-plate of judgment, all for whom he is now acting as intercessor." (Present Truth, Dec. 1849)


February 10 The "shut door" is opened a crack to allow in those people who were Christians in 1844 but never heard Miller's message. In her letter to Brother and Sister Collins, Feb. 10, 1850, Mrs. White says "Souls are coming out upon the truth all around here. They are those who have not heard the Advent doctrine..."
  April Ellen White states: "The mighty shaking has commenced." (Present Truth, April, 1850)
  April The "shut door" is cracked open a little further to let the children of the saints enter: "As they [little children] were then [1844] in a state of innocence, they were entitled to a record upon the breastplate of judgment as much as those who had sinned and received pardon; and are, therefore subjects of the present intercession of our great high priest" (Present Truth, April, 1850).
  April James White writes that God's people have already left Babylon [Protestant churches]: "Babylon, the nominal church is fallen. God's people have come out of her. She is now the 'synagogue of Satan' (Rev. 3:9). 'The habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird' (Rev. 18:2)." (Present Truth, April, 1850)
  May James White writes: "But says the objector - 'The door of mercy will not be closed until Jesus comes.' We do not read of such a door as 'the door of mercy' in the Bible; neither do we teach that such a door was shut in 1844. God's 'mercy endureth for ever.' See Ps.cxxxvi; cvi,1; cxviii,1. He is still merciful to his saints, and ever will be; and Jesus is still their advocate and priest. But the sinner, to whom Jesus had stretched out his arms all the day long, and who had rejected the offers of salvation, was left without an advocate, when Jesus passed from the Holy Place, and shut that door in 1844." (Present Truth, May, 1850)
  June 27 Mrs. White has a vision of the soon return of Christ: "My accompanying angel said, 'Time is almost finished. Get ready, get ready, get ready.' . . . now time is almost finished. . . and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months." (Early Writings, pp. 64-67).
  July 29 Miss Sarah B. Harmon, older sister of Mrs. White, in a letter written from Brookfield, N.Y., to Mrs. P.D. Lawrence, July 29/30, 1850, said: "I believe this is the last winter we shall see before Jesus, our great High Priest, comes out. Oh, let us live for God and sacrifice for him faithfully."
  August 24 Ellen White writes in a letter regarding the Present Truth magazine: "...the lines that were being published were written in the Spirit of God, and would rejoice the hearts of the trusting ones, and Satan knew it would hurt his cause because it would be seen by these testimonies that most of the Advent people once believed as we do that there was a shut door in '44. And to have the plain, clean truth come out in the paper . . . would cause many to decide for the truth and to take a firm and unyielding stand for God and His truth." (Manuscript 7, 1850)
  August The "shut door" was opened another crack to let in Herman Churchill, a man who was unconverted in 1844. According to General Conference president George Butler, the Adventists were "quite surprised" a non-believer would manifest interest in their message!
  September Mrs. White announces time is almost finished: "Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected, therefore they think it may continue a few years more. . . I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the Holy Place was nearly finished, and that time can not last but a little longer." (Early Writings, p. 58, ed. 1907)
  December Sister White says that to oppose the Shut Door doctrine is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: "Then I saw the Laodiceans [first-day Adventists].... Dare they admit that the door is shut? The sin against the Holy Ghost was to ascribe to Satan what belongs to God or what the Holy Ghost has done. They said the shut door was of the devil and now admit it is against their own lives. They shall die the death." (Ms 11, 1850, pp. 3, 4)


June 21 Mrs. White's vision at Camden, NY: "Then I saw that Jesus prayed for his enemies; but that should not cause us to pray for the wicked world, whom God has rejected. When he prayed for his enemies, there was hope for them, and they could be benefited and saved by his prayers, and also after he was a mediator in the outer apartment for the whole world; but now his spirit and sympathy were withdrawn from the world; and our sympathy must be with Jesus, and must be withdrawn from the ungodly."
  August 19 Joseph Bates wrote: "We understand that he [Christ] was a Mediator for all the world, ministering in the Holy Place (Heb. 9:26), in the Tabernacle called the Sanctuary, from the day of Pentecost (A.D. 31) until his appointed time, the end of the twenty-three hundred days, or years - the fall of 1844. At this point of time, then, the door was shut against the Sardis church [the Protestant church] and the wicked world." (Review and Herald, Aug. 19, 1851)
  August James and Ellen White publish "Experience and Views," a little pamphlet of 64 pages. No reference is made in this to "A Word to the Little Flock," nor to Present Truth, although all but seven introductory pages of "Experience and Views" is copied word for word from these two publications. All references to the "shut door" were omitted from the publication.


  James White admits the shut door has opened slightly: "While the great work of saving men closed with the 2300 days, a few are now coming to Christ..." (Review and Herald, No. 3, p. 176)

After 1851 - Shut Door Doctrine Disappears

The Shut Door doctrine--which Mrs. White claimed was a part of the Testimony of Jesus--was reinterpreted by the Whites to mean that only those who rejected the 1844 message had the door of probation shut on them. After 1851, the Shut Door doctrine--one of the central doctrines of the early Adventists--disappeared quickly from their writings. Nearly all new Adventists never heard of it nor knew that their prophet had seen it in vision.

SDA Professor Bert Haloviak summed it up well:

"Ellen White's visionary experiences validated the community's understanding of shut-door theology. On at least seven occasions she invoked visions endorsing the shut door. In 1850 she was instructed during a vision to urge her husband to publish the shut-door statements that Millerite Adventist leaders had made in 1844. Given the pre-disapppointment theological perspective of that time, these statements exhibit the most extreme interpretations of shut-door theology. In addition, in 1850 Ellen White received a vision about the Adventist preacher Joseph Baker, a former member of the Christian Connection: 'I saw that Brother Baker must not sink down, that God had a work for him to do, not to feed the dogs, but the starving sheep, feed the sheep, feed the sheep, and my accompanying angel. It was melting weeping time when I related the vision.'"
(Bert Haloviak, "Practical Theology," Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet (NY: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 166)

Category: Shut Door
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