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Monday, August 10, 2009

George Storrs (1796 - 1879)

Additional Reading:

Millerite preacher and writer, chief proponent of conditional immortality. Born in New Hampshire, he was first a Congregationalist, then a Methodist. He withdrew from the Methodist ministry in 1840 to lecture against slavery. However, three years earlier Storrs had been led, by a small tract written by Henry Grew, of Philadelphia, to search the Scriptures carefully on the question of the final destiny of human beings and on their state in death. After several years of investigation, conversation, and correspondence with certain ministers, he reached the conclusion that human beings do not possess inherent immortality, but receive it only as a gift through Christ, and that the wicked who refuse the gift will be utterly exterminated through fire at the second death. In 1841 he issued An Enquiry: Are the Souls of the Wicked Immortal? In Three Letters, written originally to a friend and published anonymously.

By 1842 he felt impelled to speak out clearly to his small congregation on his views on the nature of humanity. He gave six sermons, which he revised and published as An Enquiry: Are the Souls of the Wicked Immortal? In Six Sermons (Albany, N.Y., 1842).

Soon afterward, convinced that the Adventist positions were correct, he left his ministry in Albany in 1842 to travel and preach the Adventist message. He did not introduce his personal views on the nature of humanity into these public services but, beset with inquiries, he revised his Six Sermons, and distributed them at his own expense. In 1843 the Six Sermons were also published in England. Charles Fitch accepted the doctrine of conditional immortality in January 1844, becoming Storrs’s first ministerial convert. Other ministers followed. But there was opposition. William Miller himself took Storrs to task, Litch issued a little paper, the Anti-Annihilationist, against Storrs’s position, and I. E. Jones protested in a letter to Miller.

In 1843 Storrs started the Bible Examiner in Albany, which advocated Miller’s view of the coming of Christ in 1843–1844. He wrote a small book, in question-and-answer form, also called the Bible Examiner, a verse-by-verse exposition of the leading chapters of Daniel and of Revelation, together with Isa. 55, Zech. 14, and Matt. 24.

An effective writer and preacher, Storrs was one of the most vigorous advocates of the seventh-month expectation, but, immediately after the great disappointment of 1844 he was one of the first to disclaim the movement, attributing it to “mesmeric influence.” In 1845 he embraced “Judaistic” millennial views, that is, the Literalist interpretation (see Premillennialism), according to which the kingdom prophecies were to be fulfilled literally to the literal Jews during the millennium. The Adventists continued to cite Storrs against Storrs on this subject.

In the next decade he accepted the view, advocated first by his associate editor on the Bible Examiner, that none of the wicked dead would be resurrected at all. He became president of the “Life and Advent Union,” organized in 1863 to propagate this doctrine. He later returned to the view of the resurrection of all the dead.

- IMS Media Adventist Library