Saturday, March 14, 2015

Reply to: Alleged "Dark Secrets" Video

The following was posted in response to some statements being made in a video entitled: "PT1 2015 New Dark Secrets Of JWS." While I am not with the JWs, there were some things in the video concerning Charles Taze Russell and the Bible Students that are historically incorrect and/or misleading.

Judge Rutherford was actually the FIRST, not the second president of Jehovah's Witnesses. Charles Taze Russell was never a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Russell, however, was never the president of the Bible Students. He was the president of the legal entities, which included the International Bible Students Association in England. However, since the term, International Bible Students Association, was also being applied to the Bible Students movement in general, even some Bible Students were mistakenly claiming Russell to be their "president".

Rutherford created the "Jehovah's Witnesses" by REJECTING the core teaching of Charles Taze Russell. Russell did not believe in any such sectarian authoritarian organization as Rutherford created after Russell died. Nor did Russell believe in the new gospel (good news) that Rutherford created. Rutherford began rejecting the basis of the Biblical atonement around 1923 when he introduced his "new light" regarding the second death and the sheep and goats. Eventually, he openly rejected the ransom for all around 1938, and fully replaced it with the bad tidings of great woe that will be for most of the people who do not join his organization.

Barbour had indeed been an associate of Brother Miller. After 1844, he lost interest in the time prophecies until 1859, when a British chaplain encouraged him to reconsider the prophecies of Daniel. He did this and began to realize that Miller was wrong in starting the 1260, 1290 and 1335 days at different dates, and they should all start at the same date. Applying the beginning of all three to 538 AD, this brought end of 1335 days to 1873 (he later adjusted this to beginning 539 AD with it ending in 1874).

About this same time, he also came across the chronology provided by Christopher Bowen, and realized that, from this chronology, 6,000 years from the creation of Adam would end in 1872. He saw that Bowen's chronology, similarly to that used by Miller, disregarded the conclusions of the more traditional chronologies, and that he came to believe that it was more in harmony with the Biblical descriptions of the 70 years of desolation. It was from Bowen's chronology, however that Barbour obtained the date 606 as the date of the destruction of Jerusalem. Believing Bowen's chronology to be more in harmony with the Bible, Barbour adopted Bowen's chronology for his general usage. That chronology, however, was presented in years according the Jewish autumn-to-autumn calendar, which has caused confusion, since this would mean that 606 actually began in the fall of 607, according to our calendar. Having studied John A. Brown's and E. B. Elliott's conclusions regarding the Gentile Times, Barbour adapted this to Bowen's chronology, which brought the end of the Gentile Times  in 1914.

However, the date, 1873/4, is not based on anything that is peculiar to Bowen's chronology.

Some corrections related to historical timings:

In 1873, Russell had no interest in Barbour's expectations related to 1873 or 1874. Russell did not, in 1873, sell his clothing stores, nor did he, in 1873, accept the Second Adventists' date 1873 (or 1874).

According to Russell's own words, he sold his businesses sometime shortly after 1876.

Russell, around 1872 (about 2 years BEFORE 1874), came to realize that Christ's return was not to be in the flesh, but in the spirit, since Jesus had sacrificed his flesh for our sins. (1 Peter 3:18) He did not, however, at that time (1872) have any interest in the dates of the Second Adventists, and thus it was not until 1876, about two years AFTER 1874, that Russell accepted Barbour's conclusion that Christ had returned in 1874. Russell was never expecting before 1874 that the world was going to end in 1873 or 1874.

Neither Barbour nor Russell predicted the world was going to end in 1878. They were expecting the harvest of the church in end 1878, but that was a different matter from the idea of the "end of the world". That Russell was not expecting what one might consider "the end of the world" in 1878 can be seen from the article that he wrote for the October 1876 issue of the Bible Examiner entitled "Gentile Times - When Do They End?" Brother Russell showed in that article that the Gentile Times were to end in 1914; thus he was definitely not expecting "the end of the world" in 1878. One could reason that from about 1876 on, that they had both expected that the world was going to end in 1914, but certainly not 1878, although this does not actually fit what they taught. None of these expectations, however, were prophecies.

Since Russell was never expecting that the world was going to end in 1873, as far as he was concerned, there was nothing for him to apologize related to that date. I do not know of anyone who claims that "Christ came in 1878." We are not sure when Barbour recognized the date 1914 as being the end of the Gentile Times, but Russell accepted that date from Barbour in 1876. While we cannot be certain as to who first presented the date 1914 as being the end of the Gentile Times, we do know that long before Barbour, E. B. Elliott in the year 1844 came up with the date 1914; ("Horae Apocalypticae" [1844], pages 1429-1431.) From Brother Russell's standpoint, however, he was not expecting the "end of the world" to come in 1914. However, to him, the doctrine of the "end of the world" meant the end of the planet earth, which he did not believe. Nevertheless, in 1904, Russell was additionally no longer expecting the end of the time of trouble to be in 1914; rather he began expecting that the time of trouble was begin in 1914. This meant that he was no longer expecting all Gentile Kingdoms to end in 1914, but they would continue to exist for some time after 1914. Although he did not expect the time of trouble to last very long after 1914, he said that there was no scripture that shows how long the time of trouble will last.

Nothing, however, that Miller, Barbour or Russell presented were prophecies, but rather were only conclusions presented based on study of Bible prophecies. Brother Russell himself denied being a prophet, and certainly never claimed that one had to believe in his conclusions in order to be a Christian or to be saved.

Some related material:

Various Views on Bible Chronology

A Sketch of the Development of Present Truth (Charles Taze Russell)

Did Russell Predict the End of the World for 1874?