Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The World Magazine and the Alleged 28 Year Old Prophecy

There is is a reference that is often cited by Jehovah's Witnesses that appeared in the the August 30, 1914 issue of "The World Magazine." The article headline is "End of All Kingdoms in 1914". It mentions an alleged 25 year "prophecy" of "Millennial Dawners" as being fulfilled with the outbreak of war. A quote from the article is: "The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy."

Some have claimed that Brother Russell himself was the author of that article, or that it was written by one of his associates, although they usually use the word "followers." 

To anyone truly familiar with Russell's works, it is very apparent that Brother Russell did not write the article. We are not sure that Russell was ever aware of that article; he never mentioned that article at all. We are sure that he definitely would not approve of many things stated in that article.

We did a digital search through the Bible Students Library collection (which includes all of Russell's known works -- including his sermons -- and much more, including a tremendous amount of works written by other Bible Students as well as authors not associated with the Bible Students) for the phrase "The terrific war outbreak". That phrase does not exist anywhere at all in Russell's works or sermons. We broadened the search to “terrific war” and still could find this phrase in any of Russell’s works. In the whole collection the first phrase only appears in two documents, both written in the last 20 or 30 years. It appears that in general, Bible Student authors for decades after 1914 either did not know of that article, or they chose to ignore that article. (The JW authors, however, have many times reprinted excerpts from that article). Regardless, as far as we can tell, neither Russell nor the Bible Students that rejected Rutherford's "Jehovah's visible organization" ever mentioned the article referred to from "The World" magazine, except in two later publications, both of which were written sometime after 1990.

One of these publications is online at:

The other publication is Soldiers of the Cross, which contains a history of the Bible Students. This used to be online, but at present we are not able to find it online.

The first presents a quote in passing, but it does not give any correction to the use of the word “prophecy”. The second presents a large quote, but also does not give any corrections. We don’t think the authors meant to leave the impression that Russell was a prophet, but we will say that there were Bible Student authors even while Russell was alive who referred to Russell as a prophet, despite the fact that Russell never claimed to be a prophet, and he consistently denied being a prophet. Thus, there may be some Bible Students even today who claim that Russell was a prophet. Of course, Brother Russell (unlike Rutherford and JW leadership) assumed no special authority or control over fellow-believers in his day, and he definitely had no control of how others not associated with the Bible Students referred to him or his expectations. 

As to the "end of all kingdoms in 1914," Russell, in his earlier expectations, was indeed expecting that by 1914 all the Gentile kingdoms would no longer exist, and that peace would come to the world in 1914 or shortly thereafter. This expectation, however, was not a prophecy, but he first wrote of this, not 25 years before 1914, but about 38 years before 1914. Before 1904, Russell had adopted Barbour's view that Armageddon (the time of trouble) had begun in 1874 and it would end in 1914.

The problem is that ten years BEFORE 1914, Russell rejected the idea that the time of trouble had begun in 1914. From 1904 on up to 1914, Russell was no longer expecting the end of Gentile Kingdoms in 1914, but rather he was expecting the Gentile kingdoms would enter into the "time of trouble." in 1904, Russell came to realize that the time of trouble does not end, but that it BEGINS at the end of the times of the Gentiles. See: Beginning of the Time of Trouble – Quotes From Russell

We will say even after 1904, Russell did appear to hold it a possibility that the kingdoms could be gone by 1914 or 1915. More correctly, however, one could say that he was expecting that the time for the end of all kingdoms was to begin in 1914, and that at some unknown time after 1914, all of man’s kingdoms would no longer exist, and then peace would come to all nations under God’s kingdom. Nevertheless, while Brother Russell stated he did not know how long the time of trouble was to last after 1914, he did not expect the time of trouble to last for more than a year. Brother Russell stated:

These 2520 years we believe will expire with October, 1914; at that time we believe the Gentile lease of power will expire, and that the God of heaven will set up his Kingdom in Israel. We do not expect universal peace to immediately ensue because Christ is styled the Prince of Peace. On the contrary, to our understanding the collapse of the nations will be through a fierce strife, "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation," in which "there shall be no peace to him that goeth out, nor to him that cometh in," because God will set every man’s hand against his neighbor. Our belief is that the warfare between capital and labor, emperors and peoples, will be short, sharp, decisive, and bring untold calamity upon all concerned.
"Times of the Gentiles", The National Labor Tribune, July 11, 1909.

The actual subtitle of the article that appeared in The World Magazine reads: 
"Millennial Dawners’ 25 Year Prophecy"

Neither Russell nor the Bible Students would generally refer to the Bible Students as “Millennial Dawners”. This is a label that was and still is often used by those who oppose Russell and the work of the Bible Students. 

The alleged “25 Year Prophecy” is evidently pointing to the year 1889 when the book “The Time is At Hand” was first released. The fact is, however, that Russell and many other Bible Students had already been pointing to 1914 as the end of the times of the Gentiles before that book was published. Russell himself had first pointed to the year 1914 as being the end of the times of the Gentiles in 1876. Russell, however, in his own writings said it was not a prophecy. 

Nevertheless, as best as we can determine, the first to point to 1914 as a possible end of the Gentile Times was was Edward B. Elliott, in his 1844 edition of *Horae Apocalypticae*, Volume 3, page 1429.

Regardless, Russell did not present his conclusions in the book “The Time is At Hand” as being prophecies, as we have already shown elsewhere.

Russell, of course, had no control over what was published in "The World". As best as we can determine, he may have died in 1916 without even having seen that article. If he did know about, it never mentioned it, possibly because it does not properly represent what he believed.

We have not been able to obtain a copy of the full article from “The World”. All have we have are excerpts from or partial scans of the article. Without the whole article, we cannot be sure what all it says.

Nevertheless, the article refers to Brother Russell with the title “Rev.” This Brother Russell would definitely never do. Brother Russell wrote:
In view of these considerations we see how just and wise is the divine rule for abasing the proud and exalting the humble, and how sound our Lord's counsel to his disciples, to cultivate the spirit of humility and to avoid even the appearance of pride. Observing the growth and manifestation of this spirit among the Pharisees, who did all their works to be seen of men, who loved the uppermost rooms at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues, and to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi, he said, "But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren" -- or, in the language of to-day, Be not ye called Reverend Doctors of Divinity, and let there be no distinctions of clergy and laity; for one is your truly reverend Lord and instructor, even Christ, and all ye are brethren. -- Watch Tower, January 1, 1893, page 6.
In speaking of Charles Spurgeon, Brother Russell stated:
His humility as a minister of Christ has shown itself by his refusal to apply to himself the title of Reverend, and his failure to seek and obtain the further title of Doctor of Divinity, both of which are so "highly esteemed among men," but ill-fitted and disapproved in the sight of our truly Reverend Lord, who declares to all saints – "All ye are brethren," and "One is your Master." -- Watch Tower, April 1880, page 5.
See also the following:

The World Magazine article speaks of “Russell’s ‘International Bible Students.’” Again, this is definitely something Brother Russell would not have stated. He would never speak of the Bible Student as belonging to himself.

The article speaks of the publications of the Bible Students as “propaganda.” Russell would never use that word, not of his own writings, nor of the writings or works of other Bible Students.

The article connects the expectations of the Bible Students with "the end of the world" in 1914. Russell was not expecting the end of the world in 1914, and plainly stated such. The idea is evidently related to the statement,
"Look out for 1914!" has been the cry of the hundreds of traveling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country.
We did a digital search for "Look out for" in the Bible Students Library, and not one result was found. There may have been some individual Bible Students who were saying "Look out for 1914!", but Brother Russell's message was not of such nature that would created the a "cry" such as "Look out for 1914!" Unlike the JWs, he was not expecting all unregenerated unbelievers to be eternally destroyed, but he was expecting the time of trouble to begin in 1914, to be followed sometime after 1914 by the Kingdom blessing of all nations.

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