Monday, March 20, 2017

JW Claims and Russell's Expectations Regarding 1914

One, in leaving the JW organization, has set forth many of his reasons for leaving that organization. We are not so concerned about all things that he has stated, but we are concerned about statements made pertaining to Charles Taze Russell. We do not entirely blame the author for his statements, since he probably was not very familiar with what Russell actually taught or believed when making the statements.

First, we will say that we are not associated with the Jehovah's Witnesses and do not defend that organization. What many of the Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as most other people, do not realize is that Charles Taze Russell was never associated with, nor did he believe in, such an organization as the "Jehovah's Witnesses." There were no "Jehovah's Witnesses" in the days of Russell. Russell did not believe in the same things that the JW leadership teaches, nor should Russell be held responsible for the JW leadership. Russell did not believe, and he spoke against the idea of "visible" organization such as Rutherford later created. See: What Did Russell Teach About "Organization" As Related to His Watch Tower?

The JW leadership is faulted for making false statements concerning what was being expected for 1914. A quote is given from Awake! 1973 January 22 p.8
Of all men used by God to prophesy, Jesus is outstanding. Based on what he said, along with the words of Daniel and John, Jehovah's witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of "the conclusion of the system of things."
Those who are familiar with what Russell wrote know that it was not until 1904 that Russell came to the conclusion that the time of trouble was to begin, not end, in 1914. This was one decade -- not decades -- before 1914 had arrived. Before 1904, Russell had believed that the time of trouble was to end, not begin, in 1914.

There are also many other statements that have been made that would, in effect, rewrite history.
For instance, in 1954, we find this statement:
Why, then, do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world-wide advertising of Christ’s return and his second presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur. -- Watchtower, July 15, 1954, page 370.
According to this, long before World War I, "Jehovah's Witnesses" had pointed to 1914 as being when Jesus was to return. In fact, as far as we know, no one amongst the Bible Students was expecting Christ's return in 1914. Nevertheless, Russell was not expecting the parousia to begin in 1914; he believed that Christ had returned in 1874. Russell died in 1916, still holding to the belief that Christ had returned in 1874.

One is also left with the impression that the "Jehovah's witnesses" organization had been in existence "long before World War I". In fact, there was no such organization back then -- at least not among the Bible Students; Russell was still preaching against any centralized human authority until the day he died. Russell was certainly not the founder of any kind of organization that he preached against. It is not true, as has been claimed by the JW leadership, that there were "Jehovah's Witnesses" in Russell's day pointing to 1914 at all, since the Jehovah's Witnesses, their organization, and their peculiar beliefs, did not come into existence until after Russell died in 1916.

The JW leadership is faulted for stating that the JWs had predicted the last days to begin in 1914. As far we know, we don't know of anyone who was predicting that the "last days" were to begin in 1914. Russell believed in the "last days" from several different standpoints, depending on what scriptural reference is used. Although Russell expressed the thought several times that we are "in the last days" of the present age, we haven't as yet found any reference in which he definitely set forth specific dates for either the beginning or the ending of the "last days". Russell did point to 1799 as the beginning of the "time of the end," and he held to that view until the day that he died in 1916. If one associates the term "last days" as being the same thing as "time of the end", then one could say that Russell believed that the "last days" had begun in 1799. However, it is not true  -- at least after 1904 -- that Russell was expecting the days of the "time of the end" to be over in 1914. His later views (from 1904 onward) as to when the "time of the end" was to be fully accomplished -- to be ended -- does not give any specific date for its full ending, although several dates were suggested by different Bible Students along this line. Nevertheless, the specific point to be made is that Russell was not expecting the Gentile Powers to suddenly cease to exist in 1914, but that they would continue to exist for an unknown period of time after 1914.

Regarding Armageddon, what many do not realize is that Russell never believed in the "Armageddon" that the JWs preach at all. The idea that Jehovah is going to eternally destroy billions of men, women and children still in the blindness of Satan was totally foreign to Russell's way of thinking, since he believed in the "ransom for all." Thus, Russell viewed Armageddon as a period of time in which the peoples of the nations are chastised, not eternally destroyed. The modern JW viewpoint of "Armageddon" is often projected back on Russell, when, in reality, he did not believe what the JWs teach. He was certainly not expecting the general idea usually expressed by the term "the end of the world", nor was he expecting the JWs' visualization of "Armagedddon" in 1914. He did not believe in either.

Scripturally, one might consider that "Armageddon" includes more than just the battle of the Great Day, for it also includes the gathering leading up to that battle, with the battle itself as a the climax.
Russell, however, did speak of the Battle of Armageddon as "the final phase of the great Time of Trouble." (What Pastor Russell Said, Q:426:3)

The statement is made that "nothing Russell pointed to about 1914 has come to pass." Russell's thoughts concerning what he was expecting in 1914 have been so misrepresented that for many it is difficult to ascertain the truth. Most quotes from Russell's writings are taken from what he had written before 1904, and express his earlier views, and not the views that he had come to believe in 1904, ten years before 1914. Russell was not expecting "the end of all things" in 1914, but rather, at least from 1904 onward, he was expecting the "beginning" of the "time of trouble" in 1914, or soon after 1914, and that the Gentile Times would end in 1914. In 1904, Russell stated: "We now expect that the anarchistic culmination of the great time of trouble which will precede the Millennial blessings will be after October, 1914 A.D." (The Watch Tower, July 1, 1904, page 197, Reprints page 3389) In 1905, Russell stated: "The time of trouble, the awful time of anarchy, to our understanding, commences really there [in 1914], though like the dust of the whirlwind there will be and is now trouble preceding the awful anarchy. As to how long it will last I do not know, but I cannot imagine how it could last long." (What Pastor Russell Said, Q71:1) In 1910, Russell stated: "In the world of mankind, I shall expect a time of great trouble, which the Bible marks out as having its beginning about October, 1914, but I think, dear friends, that it is more important, instead of telling of the time of trouble, to tell about the good things." (What Pastor Russell Said, Q76:1) In other words, Brother Russell was definitely not expecting the end of all things in 1914, but rather the "beginning" of the time of trouble. We believe that he was right, and that we have been living in the period of the "time of trouble" ever since 1914. The climax of the trouble (the battle of the Great Day of God Almighty) has not yet come, however. We also believe that it is true that the lease for Gentile domination ran out in 1914, as he was expecting.  Because of this, we do not believe it is true that "nothing Russell pointed to about 1914 has come to pass." We believe that at least these two events did come to pass, as Russell had been predicting. Russell, however, disclaimed being a prophet, and stated that no one should view any of his writings as "prophecy".

Nevertheless, Russell did not believe that Armageddon would be fought to eternally destroy the unenlightened unbelievers, as in the JW teachings, but that it would rather be for the humbling of the unenlightened unbelievers in preparation for the blessings to be given in the age to follow. While our views are not entirely in agreement with Russell's, we are in general agreement with what Russell stated, as far as the purpose of Armageddon is concerned. Our study on the destruction at Armageddon may be found at: Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?
See also: Russell's Expectations Concerning 1914 - Mostly related to Russell's change of viewpoint concerning the time of trouble, and gives many quotes that show, especially from 1904 up to 1914, what Russell was saying about his expectations.

Beginning of the Time of Trouble - Quotes From Russell - Gives some brief quotes from Russell to show that from 1904 onward Russell was expecting the time of trouble to begin, not end, in 1914.
The JW Organization, Armageddon, 1914, and Russell - Discusses several misconceptions that some have concerning what Russell taught about "organization", Armageddon, and 1914.
Was Russell Expecting the End of World in 1914? - Many may be surprised to learn that Russell was not expecting the end of the world in 1914.
End of the Word in 1914? - An examination of the claim that Russell was expecting the end of the world in 1914.
Related: The Watchtower's Self-Contradiction About the Ransom
Reply to “Witnesses Keeping the Faith”
Pastor Russell - His Life and Times

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