Friday, June 23, 2017

Parousia “Didn’t Happen” in 1874?

An author has posted the following on a website:

1897 “Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874,” (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, p. 621). Oops, didn’t happen. Present day JW’s said this was going to happen in 1914. When that didn’t occur, they said it did happen only it was an invisible return.

The first line of the page from which the above quote is taken as well as the title of the page lets the reader know that the page is about Charles Taze Russell. Thus, when reference is made to the JWs, the evident assumption is that it is referring to Russell as allegedly representing the JWs, although actually, Russell never wrote anything at all on behalf of such an organization.

However, the author of the above is evidently very confused, and has not actually investigated the facts, or else desires to misrepresent the facts.

From the way the above is worded, it appears that the author is assuming, or at least wishing to leave others with the assumption, that before 1874, Charles Taze Russell, allegedly representing the Jehovah’s witnesses, had predicted that Christ was to return in 1874, and when that didn’t happen, then Charles Taze Russell, allegedly representing Jehovah’s Witnesses, had predicted that Christ would return in 1914, and then, when that didn’t happen, that then Russell, allegedly represented the Jehovah’s Witnesses, then claimed Christ returned invisibility in 1914.

First, Charles Taze Russell was never a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor did he speak for any organization such as the “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. Russell did not believe in, and preached against, the kind of authoritarianism that Rutherford promoted after Russell died.

Furthermore, we wish to note Charles Taze Russell never predicted Christ to return in 1874. It was not until 1876, two years after 1874, that Russell came to the conclusion that Christ had already returned invisibly in 1874. This has been discussed before, so we give the link to that discussion:

There was no “Jehovah’s Witnesses” organization before 1914, and Charles Taze Russell was never associated with an organization that he did not believe in. Thus, despite the fact that the JWs often project their organization as having existed in the days of Russell, all such references to “Jehovah’s Witnesses” before 1916, or in the days of Russell, are actually invalid. This has been discussed before in the following :

The statement is made that “Present day JW’s said this was going to happen in 1914,” speaking in reference to Christ’s return. This leaves the implication of two false assumptions, (1) that there were JWs before 1914 and (2) that those JWs were saying that Christ would return in 1914. As already noted, there were no JWs in the days of Russell; that organization did not exist then. Furthermore, we do not know of anyone among the Bible Students who was predicting that Christ was to return in 1914. Charles Taze Russell certainly wasn’t; Russell believed until the day that he died that Christ had already returned in 1874. He never spoke of Christ as returning in 1914.

The statement is made: “When that didn’t occur, they said it did happen only it was an invisible return.” This is in reference to an alleged idea that someone representing the “present-day Jehovah’s Witnesses” had been proclaiming that Christ was to return in 1914. Thus, the allegation is that since Christ did not return in 1914 as expected, then they (evidently someone is allegedly supposed to have been representing the JWs) claimed that he had returned invisibly in 1914. The implication is that in 1914, Russell, when he realized that Christ had did not come visibly in 1914, then in  1914, claimed that Christ had returned invisibly. The fact is: (1) Russell, nor anyone else that we know of associated with the Bible Students movement, was claiming that Christ was to return in 1914; (2) Russell had taught ever since 1876 that Christ had already returned invisibly in 1874; he never spoke one word about Christ returning either visibly or invisibly in 1914. Of course, many years after Russell died, Joseph Rutherford did change the date from 1874 to 1914 for the invisible return of Christ, but this change was not because of an alleged failure for Christ to return visibly in 1914. Indeed, it appears to be more related to Rutherford’s desire to use the time prophecies related 1874 to gain support for his new organization dogma.

We, however, have no reason to say concerning 1874: “Oops, didn’t happen!” We believe that the evidence gives us reason to believe that it did happen — that is, that the parousia did begin in 1874. In The Watch Tower, January 15, 1912, Brother Russell stated, “We do not affirm, dogmatically, that He came in 1874, but we say that to us it is the evident teaching of the Scriptures.” This is similar to many other statements that Brother Russell stated over the years. He did not believe that the years 1874 or the year 1914 should be viewed as dogma. Like Brother Russell, we also conclude that the evidence suggests that Christ did return in 1874, but this is not something that we would be dogmatic about.

Russell’s Studies in the Scriptures may be found online at:

Paul S. L. Johnson's editions are online at:

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