Year of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

History

Department or School/College

Department of History

Committee Chair

Robert H. Greene

Commitee Members

Tobin Shearer, Clint Walker

Keywords

Seventh-Day Adventism, Russia, Bolshevism, Apocalypse, Evangelism, Missionary

Publisher

University of Montana

Subject Categories

Christian Denominations and Sects | History of Religion | History of Religions of Western Origin | Missions and World Christianity | United States History

Abstract

The first Adventist missionaries made their way into Russia in the late 1880’s, where they experienced imprisonment, exile, and sometimes both. The scope of my thesis concerns the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and how Adventist missionaries and leaders endeavored on the Russian Mission. Using the writings, letters, and correspondence of these missionaries, as well as the myriad Adventist periodicals, I explain and analyze the evolution of the Mission from its inception to the end of the Second World War. In what ways did Adventist missionaries or Adventist media outlets abroad understand, explain, or justify the Russian Mission and its hardships? What characterized the Russian Mission through this transitional period? How can we understand the Russian Mission, through the Seventh-Day Adventist Church’s own writings and words, during the imperial period, the revolutionary period, and the early Soviet period? Why, in 1928, did Adventist periodicals stop calling for more evangelical missions and start heralding the second advent of Christ? What is the cause and significance of apocalyptic rhetoric?

The missionaries, proselytizing in Russia during the imperial era, only ever discussed the prophetic potential of the Russian Mission; Adventist periodicals mirrored these sentiments, despite circulating stories of persecution at the hands of the Russian Orthodox Church and the autocracy. Russia’s entrance into the Great War, the consequent Russian Revolutions and Civil War, and the subsequent Volga Famine created an era of uncertainty for the Russian Mission, lasting well into the 1920’s; again, Adventists in Russia and abroad heralded the Mission as an apostolic success. Beginning in 1924, these feelings of hope began to fade, as missionary groups on the ground lost contact and communication with domestic Adventist centers. Instead of the hope-filled calls to Russia, however, outlets of the Adventist media began developing an understanding of the coming apocalypse. By 1928, the activities and goals of the Russian Mission had disappeared, and Adventists came to see Russia as the staging ground for an imminent and personal second advent of Christ.

 

© Copyright 2017 Garett B. Tree