A Separate Identity: Organizational Identity Among Readers of Zion’s Watch ... By B. W. Schulz

by Terry 24 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Old Goat
    Old Goat

    There is no evidence that Russell met Darby. However, Russell mentions Plymouth Brethren and was familiar with their teaching. He was somewhat dismissive.

    The roots of Russell's teaching are in Age to Come doctrine. The chart posted in this thread attached that to Millerism. In fact age to come was the standard approach to prophecy in America from the colonial era. It was called Literalism in the UK, and sometimes it was called that in the US. Literalists rejected any "spiritualizing" of Bible prophecy unless warranted by the Bible itself. So they believed in a literal return of the Jews. Adventists rejected that. Literalism was not a denomination, but an approach to exegesis.

    Russell's congregationalist pastor wrote a pamphlet on prophecy taking the Literalist approach. Russell was prepared by his Congregationalist and Methodist connections to see prophecy through Literalist / Age-to-Come eyes.

    He tells us what he read, sometimes naming the author or their books. Other times we find him paraphrasing the works of contemporaries. So we have a long list of people that influenced him if in nothing else a negative way. None of his doctrines were uniquely Adventist. He rejected Adventism and self-identified as a millinarian. Literalists were as interested in last-times prophecy as were the Adventists. They preceded Millerism by centuries.

    Long before Miller even thought about prophecy, Literalist journals and books flooded the UK, Europe, and America. For instance The Christian Observer, an Anglican journal, was republished word for word in the United States. It frequently dealt with prophetic themes always in Literalist ways. J. Aquila Brown, an English silversmith turned prophetic expositor, wrote at least one article for it in 1810. During the Millerite misadventure The Literalist was published in Philadelphia. It reprinted works by major English and Scottish writers on prophecy.

    Barbour had been an Adventist. Russell suspected he was one. but found their beliefs similar. Barbour wrote back saying he had been one, but was one no longer. People identify Barbour with the Advent Christian Church. He wasn't an Advent Christian. His doctrine, while still an Adventist, was colored by the Life and Advent Union.

    The Life and Advent Union is usually identified with Adventism. In point of fact G. Storrs left Millerite Adventism in 1844. While many LAU adherents remained Adventist, a significant portion of them rejected Millerite doctrine and were united with them only on the basis of a shared view of the resurrection. When Russell met Storrs, Storrs was preaching Age to Come doctrine and vilified in the Adventist press.

  • Old Goat
    Old Goat

    Russell's religious 'home' from 1870 to 1876 was within Age to Come belief. He read The Restitution and continued to do so long after starting his own paper. When The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return was published in 1877 he turned to The Restitution and to The Prophetic Times to help circulate it. They were not Adventist publications. Adventists hated The Restitution.

    Some point to his association with G. Stetson as proof he took up Adventism. This is shallow research. Stetson wrote about his adoption of Age to Come belief. By the time Russell met him Stetson was writing for The Restitution and for a British journal, The Rainbow. His congregation in Edinboro, PA was a mixture of both. But when they had a church conference in 1875, it was only advertised in The Restitution.

    People are easily swayed by what they read on the internet. Above someone cut and pasted the wickipedia article on Barbour. That article was almost entirely written by R. M. de Vienne. Dr. de Vienne will tell you, and does in Separate Identity, that Russell was never an Adventist.

  • talesin

    Fascinating. Russell seems to have been quite purposeful in creating his own sect. For the past few years, I've been learning snippets of the roots of the JW. The more I learn, the more interesting it becomes. Thank you.

  • Terry

    I can't make my mind up as to whether Russell was an intellectual or an obsessive-compulsive with delusions of grandeur. Of course, those aren't the only two possibilities :)

    I'm no clinician, but there is something compulsive at the root of such a mountain of writings as Russell generated over his lifetime.

    How much did he write?

    In my book, The Monorails of Mars, I include this passage:


    "By now Russell’s ministry totaled some 50,000 printed pages, and nearly 20 million copies of his books which had been distributed worldwide. His sermons were printed daily in thousands of newspapers, and his public sermons drew standing-room-only crowds."

  • Finkelstein

    Some times I think Russell was just set about promoting and nurturing his own public notoriety around himself, a person of untold wisdom and intelligence for cracking the hidden secrets supposedly contained in the bible, a theological code breaker.

    He gathered up many ideas from others and put them into his published books ie Pyramidology , inciting interest by the public, who really had much more inherent respect for the bible back then.

    This built up self adoration was something he could have never have achieved by being a simple clothing store owner.

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