Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Was Russell Expecting History to End in 1914?

A release, evidently from "Baptist Press", is circulating around the internet entitled, Jehovah's Witness Prediction Spurs Evangelism". Much of this, however, is about Charles Taze Russell. We are not with the Jehovah's Witnesses; we are associated with the Bible Students movement, as was Charles Taze Russell.
The claim is that Jehovah's Witnesses had predicted that "history would end in 1914". There are two things wrong with this. (1) There were no "Jehovah's Witnesses" -- as that term is used related to the JW organization -- before 1914, thus there was no "Jehovah's Witneses' prediction" about 1914. (2) We do not know of any of the Bible Students who were expecting that "history would end in 1914." We know that Charles Taze Russell was certainly not expecting that "history would end in 1914". Most of the Jehovah's Witnesses, however, count Russell as having been a member of their organization; nevertheless, they know very little of what Russell taught and could easily become prey for the deceptions that are being presented by "Baptist Press" and others who misrepresent what Russell believed and taught.
It is noted that the Jehovah's witnesses deny the trinity; we commend their leadership for continuing to deny this doctrine. We certainly see no reason to add such a doctrine to the Bible, especially since the doctrine ends up deny the very basis of the Jesus' atonement as presented in the Bible.
Regarding who Jesus is, see our site:
Jesus and His God
The statement is made that "144,000 people would go to heaven as spirits without bodies after they died." We do not know if the Jehovah's Witnesses teach this, but Russell taught that the 144,000 who are joint-heirs with Christ will be raised, not "without bodies", but with spiritual bodies. Our views, although similar to Russell's, are not entirely the same as what Russell presented. See our studies:
Many do not realize that Charles Taze Russell was never associated with the Jehovah's Witnesses; he was a non-sectarian who did not believe in such an authoritarian organization, nor did he believe in the "Armageddon" message that the Jehovah's Witnesses preach. Indeed, the good news of great joy that will for all the people that Russell preached is almost the opposite of the bad tidings of great woe that will be for most of the people that the Jehovah's Witnesses preach. Many, however, are under the impression that Russell was the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses' organization. It is very misleading to present Russell was the founder of that in which he did not believe, and which he preached against.
Russell's view of Armageddon was that it was to be a period of time in which the people of the nations would be chastised, not eternally destroyed; he certainly did not believe that 1914 would end human history. The quote given of Russell concerning the end of Gentile kingdoms in 1914 was his earlier view, which he had adopted from Nelson Barbour. In 1904 -- ten years before 1914, Russell came to realize that the ending of the Gentile Times would not signify the end of the Gentile Kingdoms, but rather that it would signify the beginning of Armageddon, "the time of trouble". In neither view, however, did ever believe that 1914 would see "the end of human history."
See our research regarding
Russell and 1914:
Russell and Armageddon
A quote is given from Russell's Watch Tower of 1894, with the claim that this was a "1894 Jehovah's Witness publication". The quote is actually from Russell who stated concerning the dates presented in his Studies in the Scriptures: "They are, we believe, God's dates not ours." (Zions Watch Tower 1894 July 15 p.226). There were no Jehovah's Witnesses' publications in 1894, and Russell was not speaking as representing any such organization. He spoke editorially of himself, as "we", in effect, stating that he believed that the dates he presented in his publications are God's dates; unlike the JW "governing body", Russell did not set himself up as central authority to which all Bible Students had to be agree with, and not all Bible Students agreed with him on the dates he presented.
The claim is made that "before 1914 ended, the Watchtower Society began to change its prediction -- first to 1918, then 1925." Before 1914 had arrived, various dates were being suggested amongst the Bible Students relative to when the time of trouble would end (not the end of the world, not the end of human history, not the end of the Gentile Times, nor regarding when Christ was to return). As best as we can determine, the year 1918 had evidently been proposed by someone before 1914, not after 1914 had arrived. The first mention of 1918 we have found is in the September 1, 1908 issue of the Watch Tower, not by Russell, but in a letter that was sent to Russell and was published in the Watch Tower. During the year 1914, we have not found any mention of 1918 by Russell himself. It was not until September of 1916 (not before the end of 1914, as stated in the article) that Russell presented the parallels regarding 1918, with the thought that the harvest (not the end of the time of trouble, certainly not the end of human history) may end in 1918. The year 1914 itself, however, was not "changed" to 1918, since Russell died in 1916 still with the belief that the Gentile Times had ended in 1914, and that the time of trouble had begun in 1914. As far as 1925, that date was being suggested long before 1914; however, Russell himself, discussed that date long before 1914, but rejected the idea that there was anything significant in that date and contiued to believe such until he died in 1916. Russell never held any significance for the date 1925. Thus, the statement that "before 1914 ended, the Watchtower Society began to change its prediction – first to 1918, then 1925", is incorrect. Actually, Russell's expectations concerning 1914 were changed long before 1914 had arrived, since, in 1904, he rejected his former idea that the time of trouble was to end, not begin in 1914, and had come to realize that the ending of the Gentile Times was to see, not the end of the time of trouble, but rather the beginning of the time of trouble.
See our research regarding:
Russell and the "Time of Trouble"
It is stated: "The year 1914 in fact was the beginning of Christ’s invisible, spiritual presence on earth rather than the end of history, they said, a revision from the previous date of 1874 for the invisible presence."
Neither Russell, and as far as we know, none of his associates, were expecting the "end of history" in 1914; from the very time that Russell accepted the date (in 1876) as given by Barbour, he was never expecting the end of human history in 1914. A search of Russell's works shows that he never used the phrase "end of history"; how would he, since he believed that human history would never end? Nor did Russell ever believe that 1914 marked "last generation" before Armageddon; indeed, he died in 1916 still holding to belief that Armageddon, at the least the beginning of Armageddon, had begun in 1914. I also believe that Armageddon as the time of trouble began in 1914 and may yet continue for several more decades. However, Russell did not believe in the JW kind of Armageddon. Russell never claimed that 1914 was the beginning of Christ's invisible presence, nor do we know of any associated with the Bible Students movement today who believes that Christ returned in 1914. Russell, himself, died in 1916 still holding to the belief that Christ had returned in 1874.
Search Russell's Works:
Search Russell's Works for "End of History" -- please note no results are found for the actual quote "end of history"; the results given are "without quotes", meaning that any page in which of any the words are found are given.
Search Russell's Works for "End of Human History" -- Please note that in the only result given, it is not Russell who was being quoted, but rather it was E. L. EATON, D. D, who was pastor of the North Avenue Methodist Episcopal church.
The claim is made that "failed preditions" are serious, "because they ruined people's lives." Contrary to what many have stated, we have found no evidence of anyone claiming that any failure of expectations regarding 1914 ruined their lives; there was no mass exodus from the Bible Students movement regarding 1914. Indeed, just the opposite; the writings of the time showed increased interest in the Bible Students, possibly because of the "great war" in Europe. Again, however, we should note that Russell was not expecting that the world was to come to an end in 1914, he was expecting the time of trouble was to begin in 1914. Nor was he trying to gather as many people as possible into any organization so that they would safe from eternal destruction in Armageddon; indeed, Russell preached against similar teachings of his day.
Regarding the scriptures presented to allegedly prove that Jesus is God (contrary to what Jesus stated in John 17:1,3, and elsewhere), see:
How happy one should be, however, that Brother Russell presented the basic facts from the Bible concerning "the ransom for all", the atonement provided through Jesus' sacrifice. We certainly encourage any of the Jehovah's Witnesses (or anyone else) who are genuinely seeking and searching to worship God (through Jesus) in spirit and truth, to stop serving the body of men who have proclaimed themselves to be Christ's sole representatives on earth, and to come to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, preferable apart from denominational or sectarian ties, so as to see who Jesus really is and what he has done for you and the whole world now suffering and dying in Adam.

No comments:

Post a Comment