Friday, June 23, 2017

Jonas Wendell’s 1870 Presentation

In 1870, at age eighteen, he cautiously attended a presentation by the famous Adventist preacher, Jonas Wendell. Wendell focused on what Russell considered to be rational, logical matters relating to Biblical prophecy and chronology, drawing attention to the future date of 1874 as the supposed date for Christ’s return.

We have seen this statement or similar statements repeated, even among the Bible Students. However, as stated, we cannot verify this with what Russell actually wrote, and what he did write would seem to contradict the thought that Wendell spoke on  the Lord’s return in 1873 (later changed to 1874) that night. Russell did say that Wendell aroused his interest in Christ's return, as he stated, "though he first awakened my interest on the subject, I was not a convert, either to the time he suggested nor to the events he predicted. I, in company with others in Pittsburgh, organized and maintained a bible class for the searching of the Scriptures, meeting every Sunday."

Thus, Russell states that up the 1876,
we persistently ignored time and looked with pity upon Mr. Thurman's and Mr. Wendel's ideas. (The latter was preaching the same time as Bro. Barbour; viz: The burning of the world in 1873.) We regarded those ideas as unworthy of consideration.See:
wherein Russell describes those years.

Some leave the idea that Russell around 1869 or 1870, by having chanced upon Wendell’s presentation, came to be believe at that time that Christ’s return was to be in 1873/4, which definitely disagrees with what Russell himself stated in the supplement to the first issue of the Watch Tower in 1879, for in that supplement he plainly states that he did not accept the return of Christ as related to 1874 until the year 1876, and this was two years after 1874.

The concern is that the statements that are often being presented leaves the impression that Russell, due to coming to believe that Christ was to return in 1874, had his faith in the Bible restored, which does not appear to be the true case as he states. Many also make it appear that Russell became a follower of Jonas Wendell around 1869, which is definitely not true. While we suppose that it is possible that Wendell have have been speaking on some aspects of  the Lord’s return, it should be evident that Russell did not accept Wendell’s views of Christ’s return in 1873 (changed to 1874) until 1876, two years after 1874. Up until 1876, as he stated, he “persistently ignored time and looked with pity upon Mr. Thurman’s and Mr. Wendel’s ideas.”

Many often also go on to misrepresent what happened in 1876, when they make it appear that he then came to believe that Christ's return is invisible because of the word "parousia", and Barbour's explanation of that word. While usage of the word "parousia" in the Bible does support the that his parousia beginning before the world recognizes that presence, Russell states this is in agreement with his conclusion which he had reached around 1872, about two years before 1874, that is, that since Jesus had sacrificed his flesh for sin, he was not raised in the flesh, but in the spirit, and thus Jesus returns in the spirit, not in the flesh.

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