Some sites provide a long list of dates that are supposed to be preditions of the "end of the world". Russell is almost always listed amongst them.
Below are dates produced by James Randi for which he claimed that Russell predicted the end of the world.
Randi states concerning 1874:
1874 A date calculated by Charles Taze Russell of the Jehovah's Witnesses (which see) for The End.
The REAL truth: Before 1874, Russell, who was never a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses, had no interest in time dates; thus before 1874 Russell was not at all predicting the end of the world. Russell, in 1876, however, accepted Barbour's conclusion that Jesus had returned in 1874; the date 1874 did not originate with Russell himself.
Another states concerning the above:
1874 - End of the World Charles Taze Russell
ANOMALIES Note: This date appears to be an error on James Randi's part. This is in fact the date on which Charles Taze Russell made a prediction, not a date he predicted. It was on this day that Russell predicted that Jesus would return to Earth in the year 1914.
And one states concerning 1914:
Russell taught his followers ... the return of Jesus in 1914.
The Real Truth: Charles Taze never predicted anything at all concerning the date 1874. Up until 1876, Russell had no interest in prophetic time prophecies. It was in 1876, two years after 1874, that Russell read N. H. Barbour's time prophecies, and Barbour's statement that Jesus had returned invisibly in 1874. Russell had evidently already concluded prior to 1876 that Jesus, having sacrificed his human flesh, would not return in the flesh.
Russell, having no interest in time prophecies in 1874, made no predictions in that year concerning any dates, not even 1914.
Russell never predicted at any time that Christ would return in 1914. In 1874, he held no expectations regarding 1914 at all.
In 1876, two years after 1874, Russell accepted Barbour's conclusion that Christ had returned in 1874. From 1876 onward until he died in 1916, he believed that Christ had already returned in 1874, so he held no interest in any expectation that Christ was to return in 1914 at all.
Randi States concerning 1881:
1881 Those who delighted in measuring the various passages of the Great Pyramid of Giza, presumed to be the tomb of Cheops, calculated that all would be over in 1881. Careful remeasuring and some imagination gave a better (but not much better) date of 1936. That was improved upon by other students who decided upon 1953 as the terminal year. Further refinements and improvements of technique are still being made. If we get a new date, we'll let you know.
The real truth: We do not know of anyone who calculated the date 1881 simply based on measurments of the God's Witness in Egypt. We do know that neither Barbour nor Russell were expecting the end of the world to come in 1881; the very fact that they both believed that the Gentile Times would last until 1914 shows that they were not expecting any "end of the world" in 1881.
Randi states concerning 1914:
1914 One of three dates the Jehovah's Witnesses promised The End. The others were 1874 and 1975.
In reality, there were no "Jehovah's Witnesses" before 1914. Russell, however, especially from 1904 onward, was not expecting the "end of the world" in 1914; indeed, due to the prevalent teachings about the "end of the world", Russell proclaimed that he did not believe such. Although he disclaimed belief in "the end of the world", he did, before 1904, believe that the kingdoms of this world would be all be gone by 1914, which could be interpreted as being the end of the world. In 1904, however, ten years before 1914, Russell came to realize that 1914 was see the beginning, not the end, of the time of trouble. Thus, he was no longer expecting the end of all Gentile Time Kingdoms in 1914.
Another provides the following:
1914 - Judgement Day Watchtower/Jehovah's Witnesses
Branch 1998, Rubinsky 1982:118, Randi 1995:265
The real truth: There was no "Jehovah's Witnesses" organization in the days of Russell. Russell did not believe in such an organization.
Russell made known his expectations, but he stated that his expectations were his own surmisings, and that were not to be considered inspired nor prophecy -- certainly not infallible.
However, Russell was not expecting "judgment day" itself to begin in 1914, although he was expecting (at least from 1904 onward) the "time of trouble" to begin in 1914. For however long the time of trouble was to last, Russell was expecting Satan to abyssed at the close of that time of trouble, and for the blessings of the second judgment day for the world to begin after Satan was to be abyssed. Please note that the two main things that Russell was expecting for 1914 was that the Gentile Times would end, Jesus would begin to rule amongst his nations, and the nations would become wrathful, that is, that the "time of trouble" would begin at that date. Russell was not expecting the "end of world", Christ to return, or that all Gentile Kingdoms would suddenly disappear in 1914.
By stating "judgment day", however, without explaning what Russell believed about "judgment day", most readers would falsely assume that Russell was expecting the end of the world in 1914.
Regarind 1918 and Russell: There had been for many years before 1914 several dates after 1914 suggested by various Bible Students; most of these were based on parallels (some were saying that the Gentile Times would end until sometime in 1930s). Nevertheless, various dates were being suggested as to when the possible end of the "time of trouble" after 1914 might be, and Russell sometimes presented the arguments for a date, or made reference to those dates. One of these dates was 1918. Just before he died, Russell suggested 1918 as a possible date for the end of the harvest; however, in the same article he stated that there is no time limit set for the garnering, so he certainly was not expecting the "end of the world" or the "judgment day" was to begin 1918.
Although we do not know of any expectation by him (or anyone else) that the day of judgment was to begin in 1918, one could possibly conclude that if the harvest were to end in 1918, then possbily Satan may be abyssed at the same time, and the judgment of the world would begin, although although Russell's words printed in 1916 concerning 1918 certainly would not suggest that view.
The book, The Finished Mystery, makes more positive statements concerning 1918 than Russell stated, but that book was not written by Russell, and he should not be held responsible for the claims presented in that book.
However, as far as the "day" in which judgment was to take place, Russell believed until the day that he died, that the "day" had begun in 1874. The first resurrection, the resurrection of the spiritual seed of Abraham who are such because they belong to Christ, would have to take place first before that seed could begin the blessings of the heathen in the judgment day of the world. Additionally, he believed the Jews would have to be restored to Israel, and that Satan would have to abyssed, before the judgment day blessings of the world would begin. -- Isaiah 2:2-4.
We are not with the JWs, and will let them address the statements concerning the dates made by Rutherford and others after Russell died. However, we consider that Russell was never associated with an organization such the "Jehovah's Witnesses," since Russell was a non-sectarian, and did not believe in such an organization. Among many other works, the owner of this site has studied Russell's works for over 45 years. We believe that, for his day, his works came the closest to the truth, although there is a lot that he wrote that we may disagree with.