Shut Door Chronology
Compiled by Brother Anderson
||Great Disappointment. Christ fails to return on the date
predicted by William Miller.
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
||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).
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."
||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.
||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.
||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."
||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
"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)
||James White published "A Word to the Little Flock." In it
- 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
- 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."
||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)
||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)
||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)
||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
(Present Truth, August, 1849).
||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).
||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)
||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..."
||Ellen White states: "The mighty shaking has commenced."
(Present Truth, April, 1850)
||The "shut door" is cracked open a little further to let the children of the
saints enter: "As they [little children] were then  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).
||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)
||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)
||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).
||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."
||Ellen White writes in a letter regarding the Present Truth
"...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)
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!
||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)
||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)
||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."
||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)
||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)