God’s Strange Work: William Miller and the End of the World

God’s Strange Work: William Miller and the End of the World

David L. Rowe

Calvinist Baptist preacher William Miller (1782–1849) was the first prominent American popularizer of using biblical prophecy to determine a specific and imminent time for Christ’s return to earth. On October 22, 1844—a day known as the Great Disappointment—he and his followers gave away their possessions, abandoned their work, donned white robes, and ascended to rooftops and hilltops to await a Second Coming that never actually came.

Or so the story goes.

The fascinating story of an intriguing—and little understood—religious figure in nineteenth-century America. . .

The truth—revealed here—is far less titillating but just as captivating. In fact, David Rowe argues, Miller was in many ways a mainstream, even typical figure of his time.

Reflecting Rowe’s meticulous research throughout, God’s Strange Work does more than tell one man’s remarkable story. It encapsulates the broader history of American Christianity in the time period and sets the stage for many significant later developments: the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the tenets of various well-known new religious movements, and even the enduring American fascination with end-times prophecy. Rowe rescues Miller from the fringes and places him where he rightly belongs—in the center of American religious history.

Read the excerpt here.

David L. Rowe is professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University. He has written many articles and is also the author of Thunder and Trumpets.


Paul S. Boyer
— author of When Time Shall Be No More
“Rejecting the myths and stereotypes of popular lore, David L. Rowe in this astute biography employs psychological insight and a wealth of primary sources to present William Miller as a fully rounded human being. While vividly evoking Miller’s distinctive personality, Rowe also convincingly portrays him as a representative product of a post-Revolutionary America caught up in political, social, and religious ferment. I warmly recommend this fine study.”

“This is the definitive study of Miller, one of the key religious figures to emerge in 19th-century America. Essential. (Four Stars)”

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