What You Should Remember About the Waco Tragedy

January 04, 2018

Television specials are being promoted on major networks and cable channels leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Branch Davidian/Waco tragedy in April 2018. It may be helpful for Adventists to have a few facts about the people and events highlighted during these media programs —​ not only for themselves, but to help answer follow up questions from interested neighbors, colleagues and friends regarding the Branch Davidian cult under Koresh.

Here are some important points to remember:

  1. The Branch Davidians have never been part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are an offshoot of the Shepard’s Rod, which split from the Adventist church in the 1930’s after having a disagreement over prophecy. (the link below is a  document that describes this in detail)
  2. They openly recruited Adventist members to join their cult, which some did, and a few died in the tragic Waco fire on April 19, 1993. In all, 86 men, women and children died in the conflagration.
  3. David Koresh (originally named Vernon Wayne Howell) joined the Adventist church in 1979, but was disfellowshipped in 1981 after a short contentious relationship with his local church.
  4. Koresh joined the Branch Davidians in 1982 and became their leader a short time later after having a relationship with their leader, Lois Roden.
  5. The Adventist church bases all of its beliefs on the Bible and not the interpretations of a single person. All biblical interpretations are done by a group of biblical scholars who come to a group concensus after much study and prayer. This prevents one person from pushing the church in a direction of their own interpretations — the method of biblical study and research that led to the Shepard’s Rod splitting from the Church, after their leader’s personal teachings of biblical prophecy were discredited by a group of biblical scholars.

For an interesting discussion regarding some of the background to the Branch Davidian cult and David Koresh, read this document provided from the Andrews University library.