Friday, October 20, 2017

Photo Drama Handbill


Currently on ebay
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Fantastic-Photodrama-of-Creation-Advertising-Card-WATCHTOWER-Jehovah-ORIGINAL-/372109175128?hash=item56a36f6958:g:e8AAAOSwKytZHiP~

Can you help pin this down?



            Stroup [Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1945, page 8] wrote: “Even some of Russell’s own followers came to consider him as ‘this boldly-conceited teacher,’ whose claim to divine inspiration surpassed that of the Bible writers; in 1909 twenty-nine believers seceded because of it.”
            He cites J. Burridge’s Pastor Russell’s Position and credentials and His Methods of Interpretation, page 20. Nothing like this appears on page twenty or anywhere else in Burridge’s pamphlet. From where does the quotation “boldly-conceited teacher” come?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Updated Preface. Still a work in progress ...

Comments please:



Introduction

...


            Criticisms have been few. Some continue to believe that Russell was a Mason, part of a conspiracy seeking world domination. If he was, he was very ineffective. Though this conspiracy theory is dying a slow death on Internet boards, we readdress this in appendix one. Despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, some continue to assert that Russell was an Adventist. We think the evidence presented in volume one is plain. Those who reject it should do so on the basis of some evidence other than speculation about what ‘might have been.’
            Zoe Knox wrote a largely positive review but added this suggestion: “Schulz and de Vienne make little attempt to connect their work meaningfully to research on nineteenth-century American religious history, which they might have done by, for example, considering what was unique about the emergence of the Bible Students as compared with other ‘American originals.’” We think we made the most significant connections in volume one, but her comment has led us to reflect on the current approach to American religious history particularly by British writers. Frankly, we thought the elements of American religious history so obvious that we did not need to address them. We were wrong.
            For the last three quarters of a century the approach to so-called American Originals has been based on a flawed often superficial understanding of America’s religious journey. Cultic growth is seen as a phenomenon primarily of the last half of the 19th Century. Christian Science, Watch Tower faith, Latter-day Saints, grew in this period. The growth of fringe sects continued into the early 20th Century giving us Pentecostalism. In the minds of sociologists and some historians, they all developed out of similar causes. Sociologists especially feel it is obligatory to make a cursory comparison between “Russellism” and other “new religions.” Some give us a ‘compare and contrast’ essay similar to that I might assign to middle school children.
            Andrew Holden believed that Christian Science and the Watch Tower movement arose from like causes, and he believed that Watch Tower movement was connected to other 19th Century religious movements: “The Witnesses were founded at a time marked not only by great social unrest but also by the birth of a number of other world-renouncing movements.”[1] Without clearly adopting any of the current interpretations of millenarianism, he uncritically adopted a generalized social-crisis view.[2] This omits key elements in the development of Watch Tower and similar theologies. 
            When applied to Watch Tower faith in the Russell era, the term “American Originals” is misleading. Watch Tower faith owed its existence to British prophetic expositors and to colonial and post colonial era writers. It is neither uniquely American nor solely the product of the 19th Century. Magazines such as The Literalist and The Christian Observer conveyed to American readers British millenarian thought. Many of Zion’s Watch Towers earliest adherents were first or second generation immigrants from the United Kingdom. This is true of J. H. Paton, and it is true of Russell and his father. You will find other examples in this volume of Separate Identity. The first adherents not living in the United States were found in the UK [which then included all of Ireland.] and in Canada among the British descent population.
            There are two broad strands to American cultic development. [We’re not using ‘cult’ in the pejorative sense.] Christian Science, despite its name, is an outgrowth of American fascination with eastern religions. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s Theosophy derived from similar sources. Spiritism drew European and American interest. These and many smaller sects derive from the impulse to combine ‘science’ with eastern and other non-Christian philosophies. These belief systems were and are characterized by a belief in ‘secret, higher knowledge.’ In America, transcendental philosophers such as Emerson and Thoreau drew on Hindu religion to create a vague amalgamation of Unitarianism and eastern religion into a philosophy of life, thus becoming the step-grandparents of esoteric sects. Hermetic, esoteric, and Rosicrucian thought characterized some of the German sects in 1690s Pennsylvania.[3] The sole effect on the Watch Tower movement was Russell’s brief flirtation with eastern religions, all of which he rejected. Russell rejected Christian Science, Theosophy, New Thought, and “Mind Cure” as: “all outside the Church of Christ, because in no sense do they profess the essence of Christian doctrines.”[4]
            The Watch Tower movement grew from different roots. Adherents did not seek hidden knowledge open to only a few elect. They sought understanding of Scripture that should be open to all. In this sense they were part of a broader ‘Restoration’ movement seeking a return to New Testament belief and practice. Sociologists, especially Marxist writers, point to a purely secular foundation for millenarian belief. A sense of social deprivation is the reason millennialist beliefs are adopted. This is questionable. More than questionable, it is wrong, replacing a spiritual quest with purely secular causes. Secular crisis and disenfranchisement theories do not work. Name a historical period without a social crisis or lacking class disenfranchised. Millennialist belief derives from New Testament doctrine. Expressing it is an attempt to adhere closely to the New Testament.
            Some writers contrast Watch Tower theology with “orthodoxy,” accepted main-stream belief. This presumes that the writer’s orthodoxy is the standard by which others should be guided. A modern example is Walter Martin, the darling of many in the anti-cult movement, but whose own belief system was unorthodox when measured by evangelical and reformed faith. The faiths by which orthodoxy was measured in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were seen as harmful sects in the 17th Century and some of them as late as the 19th Century. Methodists consigned Lutherans to hell. Lutherans replied in kind. Anglicans oppressed separatists. Our distant ancestor, James Chilton, a Separatist, was excommunicated by a church court for furthering a ‘private burial.’ He and those with him rejected Anglican funeral rites as ‘popish.’ Later in Leyden he and his daughter were attacked by a rock-throwing mob. Today the descendant Congregational churches in America are mainstream and a measure of orthodox belief.
            From 1607 through the end of the 19th Century, American religion was an expression of European belief systems, primarily British and German with a little French Huguenot thrown in. The three primary Protestant strands in the colonial era were the established church [Church of England], Separatists, as represented by the Pilgrims and their descendants, and Puritans of New England. Additionally there were a small number of Jewish and Catholic believers and later an influx of Scottish Presbyterians. The British roots of American religion are millennialist. Successive waves of British immigrants brought their millennialist beliefs with them. Other than the Anglican faith, the rest were seen as harmful, unorthodox sects, persecuted for their beliefs. Through a sometimes politically fraught and painful process, they became ‘orthodox.’
            Ruth Bloch’s analysis was that, judging only by “the clerical authors of most millennial publications,” most colonial era millennialists were Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Baptists.[5] While we believe this is largely true, Anglicans also explored last-times and millennial themes.
            British   Millennialism did not originate in a vacuum. It was heavily influenced by Continental belief systems, many of which were, when first expressed, considered heretical. American millennialist belief owes its existence to a multifaceted trail of believers going back to Wycliffe and his associates, and from there back to the Apostolic era. Wycliffe is remembered for his opposition to simony and clerical corruption. He sought reform not separation. Later he rejected key Catholic doctrines including transubstantiation. He saw the Papal system as the anti-Christ, and it is here that we touch on his millennial beliefs. If the anti-Christ was developing in the world, the final judgment was near. As H. Grattan Guinness wrote: “Wycliffe ... regarded the Redeemer's appearing as the object of hope and expectation to the Church.”[6] Wycliffe’s Bible translation came from his desire to make the pure word available to the many.
            Some attribute to Wycliffe a tract that seems to date from 1356. Entitled in its modern printing [1840] The Last Age of the Church, the tract condemns the simony prevalent in the Catholic priesthood.[7] The author, whomever he was, believed the church was in its third age, the fourth and final age impending.[8] Within the 14th Century the final judgment and destruction of the Papal antichrist would occur. Spence, in his monumental history suggested that:

The “Last Age of the Church” was, no doubt, inspired by the awful plague, the Black Death which had so desolated England a few years before, and the effects of which, in the emptied religious houses, in the thinned ranks of the clergy, in the distress and confusion which were the results of the fearful visitation, had stirred the minds of many devout men, who in the crushing calamity thought they discerned the woes which were to usher in the “last things.” The “Last Age of the Church” contained stern denunciations against the clergy, especially the holders of the more valuable preferments, as well as an interpretation of the recent miseries as heralding the approaching termination of the world.[9]

            Spence put cause and effect in reverse order. The tract’s author saw in the events of the age proof that the last-days impended. He interpreted events in the light of scripture because he believed the Bible’s apocalyptic ‘signs’ were inerrant divine words giving men of faith certain guidance. If it wasn’t Wycliffe, we do not know the social status of the tract’s writer, but we know that of others in this era, and they were not disenfranchised or swayed by social crisis, but were seekers. They wanted true insight into the scriptures and a return to pure Christian belief as revealed in the Bible. Wycliffe stated that his goal was a return to pure belief: “I anticipate that some of the friars whom God shall be pleased to enlighten will return with all devotion to the original religion of Christ, will lay aside their unfaithfulness, and with the consent of Antichrist, offered or solicited, will freely return to primitive truth, and then build up the Church, as Paul did before them.”[10] He and his followers wanted “the return of the clergy and the Church at large to the Christianity of the apostles.” This represents both the causation and the goal of prophetically based belief systems.
            The Lollards, Wycliffe’s followers, preached itinerantly, visiting villages and reading from Wycliffe’s Bible translation or from his tracts.[11] Some historians paint the Lollards as common, even peasants. But Lollard missionaries could read. It was part of their mission to read the Bible to those who had never heard it read. These were men educated beyond the normal, not disenfranchised peasants. Eventually, as often happens after a movement’s guiding light passes off the scene, the Lollards went to extremes and were persecuted out of existence. But Wycliffe’s influence did not die with him or the suppression of the Lollards. While Lollards hid themselves, Wycliffe’s influence permeated Europe.
            It is not our purpose to present a comprehensive history of European – particularly English – prophetic expositions. Others have done this with more or less thoroughness.[12] We shouldn’t have to write a separate book to prove our point. Reformist expositors were motivated by a strict adherence to the Bible, and while social issues colored their belief systems, it was this that crafted their millennarian belief. John Knox exemplifies this.
            Knox preached against Roman corruptions, calling the papal system the antichrist. This is part of millennialist belief. The antichrist must be revealed first, then the final judgment. When a Catholic apologist debated John Rough, Knox “fortified Rough with doctrinal arguments,” driving John Annan, the Catholic, “from Biblical grounds and compelled him to take shelter in the authority of the church.”[13] Deciding doctrine on Biblical grounds is the millenarian stance. This is the heritage behind Watch Tower faith in the Russell era. It is not a historian’s place to pass judgment on the success or failure of a faith quest – at least not in most circumstances. But the impelling force behind the broad movement of which the Watch Tower was a part was faith in the Bible’s word.
            Modern speculation about the roots of millennial thought tends to ignore the role of faith. Yet, belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God, inerrant, meant for the edification and guidance of believers, is what impels millenarian faith. Social crisis may color interpretation, but taking the Bible at its prophetic word is the root cause. Believers took 2 Peter 1:19 literally: “ We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.”
            Isaac Taylor Hinton, a Baptist clergyman and historian, writing at the height of the Millerite misadventure, said:

That the application of the facts of history to the predictions contained in the Sacred Word is a work of great interest and importance, few will be disposed to deny; it is one which has engaged the attention of minds of the highest order of piety and intelligence since the period of the Reformation; and every fresh writer has added something to the amount of knowledge which previously existed in this department of Biblical literature. The labors of Mede, Daubuz, Sir Isaac Newton, and others, laid a sound foundation, on which future writers enlarged and improved. Bishop Newton availed himself of their aid, and, by his patient research, produced a work which will ever redound to his honor. He effected all that could reasonably be expected of an author living previous to the great events of the French Revolution, the subsequent shaking of the papal nations, and decline of the Mahometan power. These events have confirmed the general principles, while they have corrected some misapprehensions which are found in his able work. - .

... Bicheno, Faber, Irving, Cunningham, Croly, Keith, and others have written, more or less extensively, on this interesting topic. Most of these authors, while differing on some points, agree in the application of the principal facts of history to the respective predictions.[14]

            Russellism comes from this tradition. It arose from the same causes, not social unrest, but a desire to return to New Testament belief and practice. Each generation of millenarians interprets contemporaneous events in the light of their belief, but the events do not drive millenarian belief. Watch Tower belief in the Russell era is not a religion of despair. It was not an attempt to withdraw from a changing world. It wasn’t an attempt to formulate new ‘truths.’ It was an attempt to assert anew belief in the Bible as the inspired word of God. Millennial belief systems are diverse. From the so-called Dark Ages [They weren’t so dark.] until today, writers on prophetic themes disagree with each other, sometimes quite disagreeably. But the impulse remains the same: The Bible contains ‘end-times’ prophecy; we should understand it. The millenarian movement has always had its extremist fringe. But even there, the impulse is the same.
            Within historic millenarianism we find belief systems very similar to 19th Century Watch Tower faith. No-one should be surprised at this. There are many divergent faiths in America who owe their existence to the same taproot. Philip Jenkins, in his thought provoking Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History¸ wrote: “In terms of numbers, perhaps the largest component of the religious spectrum in contemporary America remains what it has been since colonial times: a fundamentalist evangelism with powerful millenarian strands.”[15] Speculation about the Bible’s prophetic numbers found in Russell era Watch Tower faith is based on millenarian practice, quite common among British expositors, colonial era Americans, and Americans into the 20th Century. If Russell, Barbour and others associated with the Watch Tower in some way speculated concerning prophetic numbers, they based what they believed on the works of earlier millenarians. Russell’s critics accused him of various heresies, among these Arianism. Though non-Trinitarian, he did not teach Arian doctrine. He did, however, owe much to Congregationalists who rejected the Trinity. Many – probably most – of these also taught the near return of Christ and the impending millennial reign.
            Many of Russell’s conclusions came to him through intervening writers. He seems to know little of his belief system’s history. But those he read, who influenced him did. Comparing the development of Watch Tower belief to other sects that developed in the mid to late 19th Century is misdirected and a waste of time. Historians should focus on the roots of the faith they consider. Suggesting that millennialist movements such as The Watch Tower derive from disenfranchisement or social crisis is simply wrong. [We consider this more fully in chapter --.] Suggesting that the Watch Tower was a uniquely American phenomenon of the late 19th Century is equally wrong.
            Another issue we should address, also connected to the social-crisis theories of cultic development, is the persistence in one form or another of Elmer Clark’s description of millennialists and Adventists as “pessimistic sects.” He described ‘premillenarians” as finding “no ground for hope in the social process. They are profoundly pessimistic. Society has been morally deteriorating since the days of Adam and the downward trend must continue until Christ comes to se things right by a cosmic catastrophe.” He claimed millenarian sects lack social consciousness.[16]
            This is very misleading, but it is part and parcel of the push to describe millenarianism as the province of the disenfranchised. Clark and those pursuing this thought believe in inevitable social progress. History tells us of technological progress, but where does it tell us of social progress? Slavery was abolished in western lands long ago. But sexual slavery and physical slavery still exist. We pretend to be shocked when it reaches the news. The idea of inevitable social progress is far less a reality than it is wishful thinking. People are what they are no matter what era we find them. The millennial idea is that good works and good relations with our fellow humans is Godly, but the ultimate solution to man’s ills rests with Christ’s rule. This is not pessimism. It’s an optimistic belief that human ills will be cured.
            Clark’s point of view was colored by his Methodism. Denominationally, they had shifted from a bibliocentric belief system to an emphasis on social progress. Clark maintained that point of view. So to him only socially disengaged individuals, social pessimists, were millennialists. However, Harold Joseph Laski [1893-1950], a Marxist economist, asserted that “it was well known to historians that the Methodist teaching about heaven interfered with social progress.”[17] Laski’s claim wasn’t true when made, and neither is Clark’s similar claim about millenarians, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watch Tower adherents in the Russell era.
            Clark may not have been aware that his idea of religious pessimism derived from
19th Century British homeopathy. His awareness or lack of it does not change its origin. John Hayward, MD, suggested that physical disorders were caused by pessimistic sects: “The power of man's matter [other than the brain] in influencing his mind is of equal importance, and is so well recognised [sic] that various mental operations have been directly referred to bodily ailments, and different beliefs, religious and political views tabulated in connection with their causative disorders, the more pessimistic sects and philosophers being connected with dyspepsias and degenerated liver.”[18]
            Clark was not an impartial observer. He was for nearly sixty years a Methodist clergyman. His work is a polemic in the guise of academic research. As with Hayward, he believed rejecting the theory of inevitable social progress is a mental aberration. The millenarian views expressed by Russell and his associates have their foundation in 17th Century and earlier belief systems. Bloch suggests that millennialists of that era “conceived of history ... as an essentially progressive movement towards and inevitably happy conclusion.”[19] Those who see millenarian belief, including that of Russell and the descendant organizations [ie: Jehovah’s Witnesses and Bible Student congregations] as pessimistic do so because they do not like a blunt characterization of society as defective, and they do not like a theology that puts reliance on God before self.  But it is reliance on the Bible that impels their belief system.
            Hervert Hewitt Stroup is another writer whose book like Clark’s achieved for a while the status of semi-classic in the field. Stroup presents himself as a sociologist, and he was professor of Social Science at Brooklyn College. But he was also a Presbyterian clergyman who cooperated with Lutherans and who was pastor of a congregational church. His The Jehovah’s Witnesses, published in 1945, remains somewhat useful. It is, however, at best sloppy research. Stroup was willing to distort and manufacture quotations and references to further what was anti-sect writing and not a sociological study.
            Stroup wrote that Russell, “in one of his works he likened himself to a ‘Combination Timeclock.’ The course of history now called for the ‘opening’ of the divine secrets which comprised the theological treasure of his movement, and he was the only one who knew the ‘combination.’”[20] This is one of several purposeful misrepresentations. Stroup failed to footnote this for obvious reasons. If an author footnotes something, he should expect that someone will consult the original source. Consulting the original source for this would expose Stroup for the intellectual fraud he was. The original source is one of Russell’s articles written for The Overland Monthly. This is what he actually wrote:

When we begin to get the proper focus upon the Holy Scriptures that we begin to realize our own littleness and the greatness of the Creator – the insignificance and absurdity of our human theories and creeds and the sublime majesty of the Divine arrangement for the children of men. ... Should it surprise us to find that the Almighty has set time ordained from before the foundation of the world controlling every feature of his great Plan of the Ages? It should not. Should we expect that fallen and imperfect humanity will see the advisability for chronological exactness and that the Almighty God should ignore such a matter? Have men manufactured clocks and watches so that they regulate the affairs of life to the very moment in respect to the starting of a train or in respect to the hour in which a timelock would release the treasures of a safe, and shall we, then, be surprised to find that the Almighty Creator has times, yea, set times, connected with the ordering of his great Plan of the Ages? Surely not. Hence our text is quite reasonable in this declaration that God has the time, yea, the set time, for remembering his promises to Israel and for bringing about their fulfillment? Rather this should encourage us, should stimulate our faith and make us more and more obedient to him who speaks from heaven and who tells us that the great clock of the universe is about to strike the hour which will end this present age and introduce the reign of righteousness, the Kingdom of God's dear Son.[21]

           Stroup consciously read into Russell’s words something not there. Russell was among other things a dispensationalist, and this is a restatement of that commonly held belief. He made no claims about himself. (e will discuss what Russell’s self-view was in this era in a later chapter.)
            This is not the only example of contrived quotation found in Stroup’s book. [continue]

Historical Idealism

            Without entangling ourselves in Hegelian and Marxist thought, the restatement of history to suit the theories or theology of an authoritarian group creates a false history. This is not always a purposeful act. Sometimes one writes what he believes to be true as if it were firmly established. This approach plagues researchers. We have met it repeatedly, and all parties – though not all writers – are guilty. This is no less true of some Watchtower writers from the mid 1950s to about 1990. From the 1990s the problem has largely abated.
            We cannot attach author names to most Watchtower articles, but we can give examples of misleading restatement of historical events. We find this in the June 15, 1955, Watchtower:

Why ... do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world-wide advertising of Christ’s return and his second presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur. And since 1914 physical evidences establishing this truth have been pointed to repeatedly in the columns of The Watchtower. The nations continue to ignore this sign and refuse to recognize that a time of judgment is even now in progress.[22]

            Without doubt The Watchtower pointed to 1914 as the date of Christ’s return. But it did so only from 1932. Before 1914, Watch Tower doctrine was that Christ had returned in 1874. The author of this article got it wrong, though we doubt the fault was intentional. He wrote what he believed to be true as if it were true.
            Thomas Daniels, a Catholic anti-sect writer, suggested that the misstatement was purposeful. In proof he quoted from the 1953 Watchtower. As you read the quotation, note that it does not say that early Watch Tower adherents claimed that Christ would return in 1914, yet that is how Daniels represents it:

It was ... not a mere occurrence when devoted men and women began to be gathered out of faithless Christendom from and after the year 1870. God purposed to use them as an organization to do a twofold work. First, they must proclaim that the Gentile times that began in 607 B. C. were due to come to an end A. D. 1914, at which time Jehovah would take to himself his official power and begin to reign in the heavens by his anointed King. So for some thirty-seven years prior to 1914 this proclamation was sounded.[23]

            Daniels claimed that “the Bible Students could not have sounded the proclamation that Christ’s reign would start in 1914 ‘for some thirty-seven years prior to 1914’ since it was taught clear up until 1920 that 1878 was the date for this event.”[24] Daniels here creates his own myth, either misunderstanding or misrepresenting Watch Tower doctrine. Watch Tower belief in the Russell era was that while Christ returned invisibly in 1874 and assumed kingship in 1878, divine rule would not hold sway over the earth until Gentile Times ended in 1914. The 1953 Watchtower article, which appears to have been written by F. W. Franz, was exact in detail.  [continue]
           





[1]               A. Holden: Jehovah’s Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement¸ Routledge, New York, 2002, page 10. We see little of value in Holden’s work.
[2]               For an excellent summary of current discussions of the causes of Millennial beliefs see: C. Garrett: Respectable Folly: Millenarians and the French Revolution in France and England, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1974. Note the first chapter. Though disenfranchisement and social crisis theories concerning the origin of Witnesses and other millennialist sects are usually presented as originating in the middle 20th Century, we owe them to Shirley Jackson Case. [See his The Millennial Hope: A Phase of War-Time Thinking. (1918)]
[3]               Philip Jenkins, Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religons in American History, Oxford University Press, New York, 2000, page 6.
[4]               C. T. Russell: What Think ye of Christ, a newspaper sermon from 1904 republished in the February 13, 1917, St. Paul Enterprise.
[5]               R. Bloch: Visionary Republic: Millennial Themes in American Thought, 1756-1800, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1985, page xiv.
[6]               H. G. Guinness: Light for the Last Days, Second Edition, London, 1888, page 290.
[7]               Title on the manuscript is De SimoniĆ¢ Sacerdotum.
[8]               The first consisted in the Persecutions, the second in the development of Heresies, the third in Simony. The last tribulation was to follow: The Devil at broad noonday – i.e. the Antichrist followed by Christ’s appearing for final judgment.
[9]               H. D. M. Spence: The Church of England: A History for the People, Cassell and Company, London, 1898, Volume 2, page 323.
[10]             A modern English paraphrase found in G. V. Lechler’s John Wycliffe and his English Precursors, Religious Tract Society, London, 1904, pages 352-353. Source of the original is not stated.
[11]             The name was used pejoratively. It was derived from the Middle Dutch lollaert (“mumbler”), which had been applied continental groups “suspected of combining pious pretensions with heretical belief.”
[12]             See among others Froom’s Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers [4 vols.]; H. G. Guinness: Light for the Last Days and his History Unveiling Prophecy, D. Taylor: Voice of the Church on the Return of Christ. We also recommend, though we have minor differences in point of view, Ruth Bloch’s Visionary Republic. A major flaw in social crisis theories is that many writers who advocate them have not read the original material. And among those who have, some failed to get the sense of what they read.
[13]             L. E. Froom: Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Review and Herald, Washington D. C., Volume 2, page 451.
[14]             I. Hinton: The Prophecies of Daniel and John Illustrated by Events of History, Turnbull & Pray, St. Louis, Missouri, 1843, page v.
[15]             Oxford University Press, 2000, page 5.
[16]             E. T. Clark: Small Sects in America, Abindon Press, Nashville, Tennessee, Revised Edition, 1948, pages 25-26.
[17]             J. Ernest Rattenbury, The Eucharistic Hymns of John and Charles Wesley: To Which is Appended Wesley's Preface Extracted from Brevint's Christian Sacrament and Sacrifice Together with Hymns on the Lord's Supper, 1948, later reprint by Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Oregon, page 66.
[18]             J. D. Hayward: Notes on the Treatment of Mental Disorder, British Journal of Homeopathy¸ Vol. 42, No. CLXX, page 350.
[19]             Bloch, Visionary Republic, page 5.
[20]             Stroup, page 8.
[21]             C. T. Russell: God’s Chosen People: X. Zionism is God’s Call, Overland Monthly, November 1910, page 525.
[22]             The Revelation of Jesus Christ, The Watchtower, June 15, 1954, page 370.
[23]             Do not Loiter at Your Business, The Watchtower, April 1, 1953, page 215.
[24]             T. Daniels: Historical Idealism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, the author, no date, page 39.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Also on ebay

Rufus Wendell was Jonas Wendell's nephew and a long-time associate of George Storrs.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/1886-The-HOLY-BIBLE-Rufus-Wendell-REVISED-VERSION-vs-KING-JAMES-Diacritical-/272833039759?hash=item3f861dcd8f:g:bxEAAOSwZrtZqNi7

On ebay

Some of you may be interested, though the price is very high

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Second-Adventists-Terrys-Island-1873-ASCENSION-END-of-WORLD-Art-Print-Engraving-/362129184058?hash=item545094d53a:g:v8QAAOSwPK1ZPZ9F

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bunches of Questions ...



            I don’t feel well, and I belong in bed, but I’m writing this anyway. We sometimes get research questions in the comment trail. A reoccurring one is, “Where can I find that online?” or “Send me a link to that please.” Some things are online. Many more are not. If they’re not on the Internet somewhere, we usually have no way of sharing material with you.
            You are responsible for your own research. My students tended to use me as a living encyclopedia. I learned years ago to respond to questions with: “Where have you looked? What did you find? Where will you look next?” I usually can’t do more for you here. But I have some suggestions.
           Someone asked where they can find books such as those in the video. Ignoring the cost, which is immense, I suggest:
            1. Ebay. Items such as you saw in the archive video show up on ebay. Many of them cost more than a sane person will spend. But let’s assume you’re filthy rich. So currently on ebay you can buy a single page of a Latin Bible published in 1500. The opening bid is 250.00 US dollars. Or you can buy the 1837 reprint of Tyndale’s Bible for a surprisingly low $750.00. Or the 1938 reprint for $600.00
            Rarer Watchtower items show up too, mixed in with the more common material. The full set of Studies in the Scriptures in red binding, pocket edition is on ebay for $850.00. We have that set, and ours includes the first printing of The Finished Mystery. I’d happily sell it to you for $400.00. Not that I expect any takers. The 1910 heart bookmark from the convention that year is on ebay for about $300.00. I have one. Want it? How about $200? Ridiculous, no? But if you want these things, that’s where you find them. Be patient, a lower-priced version may show up.
            We built our research collection when prices were lower, and occasionally we had kind help from interested parties. In the preface posted below, B mentions The Christian Observer and The Literalist. Both show up on ebay, usually for enough money to make one blink twice. But be inventive. Use search terms beyond “Watchtower.” And sometimes you will find a scarce item for cheap. Our red covered What Say the Scriptures about Hell came to us for $5.00 because it was improperly described.
            2. Online book search. There are several. These include
                        abe.com ; addall.com/used ; bookfinder.com and alibris.com

Again, expect to pay for what you find. One of Morton Edgar’s books on the Great Pyramid shows up on bookfinder for a relatively reasonable fifty dollars. But be aware that the online book market is awash with modern reprints. These are sometimes more expensive than an original.
            3. So you don’t want to spend your life’s savings for a book? You’d be happy with a good scan? Search the title put in quotations: “the truth will make you free.” Hathitrust, google books, and other archives have scanned copies of thousands and thousands of books. We expect you to do your own search. Usually, we cannot photocopy things for you. And we’re in the same boat you are. I found this book on ebay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-1836-Athens-TENNESSEE-imprint-Presbyterian-Minister-Prophecies-Beast-TN-/162708495037?hash=item25e22e9abd:g:8rgAAOSwTw5Z3ZZH

I’ve been looking for this book for maybe three years. I want this book. It is important to our research. I cannot afford it.
            4. So ... you can’t find what you want from one of the internet archives? Do it the old fashioned way. Major libraries have their catalogues online. The Library of Congress, the British Library and others allow online searches. If you live in the United States, much of the material in the Library of Congress is available through Interlibrary Loan. However, most of the items you may want to see will not be, and you’ll have to pay very high copy fees.
            Many libraries share their catalogues through the OCLC system. [The Ohio Catalogue of Library Catalogues.] You can access it at worldcat.org . You will need to be inventive, and it won’t take you to a scan of the book you want. It will tell you which libraries, if any, have it. A few libraries will scan for free if your request is small and they think you’re a serious researcher. I always tell them why I want something, what I intend to do with it, and I sign my email with my professional title. That’s a bit of overkill, but it paves the way. Usually, there’s a huge fee. We had to pay fifty-five dollars for a photocopy that I could have made myself for about four dollars. But, then, I don’t live in Georgia, USA. So If you want to see something – be prepared to pay.
            5. Ask. Much of our research library came from smiling sweetly and asking if anyone had something relevant. Big chunks of it were just given to us. Most of my personal copies of The Watch Tower back to 1919 were a gift.
            6. Final thought: If you live in Mexico, Central or South America, expect what you order to be stolen out of the mail. Pay for registered, insured mail. This is true if you live in some areas of Europe, especially Russia and Eastern Europe. The Middle East is hopeless, except for Israel. But mail to and from Israel transits through Italy. If it is not registered-insured, you won’t see it. I do not mean to insult any country, but this is a fact of life.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Temporary Post for Comments

This in very rough draft is an extract of Bruce's preface to volume 2 of Separate Identity. It is here for comment. We need your input. ... So be really nice and leave a comment up or down, critical or helpful. Just comment.



Introduction

...


            Criticisms have been few. Some continue to believe that Russell was a Mason, part of a conspiracy seeking world domination. If he was, he was very ineffective. Though this conspiracy theory is dying a slow death on Internet boards, we readdress this in appendix one. Despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, some continue to assert that Russell was an Adventist. We think the evidence presented in volume one is plain. Those who reject it should do so on the basis of some evidence other than speculation about what ‘might have been.’
            Zoe Knox wrote a largely positive review but added this suggestion: “Schulz and de Vienne make little attempt to connect their work meaningfully to research on nineteenth-century American religious history, which they might have done by, for example, considering what was unique about the emergence of the Bible Students as compared with other ‘American originals.’” We think we made the most significant connections in volume one, but her comment has led us to reflect on the current approach to American religious history, particularly by British writers. Frankly, we thought the elements of American religious history so obvious that we did not need to address it. We were wrong.
            For the last three quarters of a century the approach to so called “American Originals” has been based on a flawed, often superficial understanding of America’s religious journey. Cultic growth is seen as a phenomenon primarily of the last half of the 19th Century. Christian Science, Watch Tower faith, Latter-day Saints, grew in this period. The growth of fringe sects continued into the early 20th Century giving us Pentecostalism. In the minds of sociologists and some historians, they all developed out of similar causes. Sociologists especially feel it is obligatory to make a cursory comparison between “Russellism” and other “new religions.” Some give us a ‘compare and contrast’ essay similar to that I might assign to middle school children. [Grades 6-8 in the USA]
            Andrew Holden believed that Christian Science and the Watch Tower movement arose from like causes, and he believed that Watch Tower movement was connected to other 19th Century religious movements: “The Witnesses were founded at a time marked not only by great social unrest but also by the birth of a number of other world-renouncing movements.”[1] Without clearly adopting any of the current interpretations of millenarianism, he uncritically adopted a generalized social-crisis view.[2] This omits key elements in the development of Watch Tower and similar theologies.  
            When applied to Watch Tower faith in the Russell era, the term “American Originals” is misleading. Watch Tower faith owed its existence to British prophetic expositors and to colonial and post colonial era writers. It is neither uniquely American nor solely the product of the 19th Century. Magazines such as The Literalist and The Christian Observer conveyed to American readers British millenarian thought. Many of Zion’s Watch Towers first adherents were first or second generation immigrants from the United Kingdom. This is true of Russell and his father too. You will find examples in this volume of Separate Identity. The first adherents not living in the United States were found in the UK [which then included all of Ireland.] and in Canada among the British descent population.
            There are two broad strands to American cultic development. [We’re not using ‘cult’ in the pejorative sense.] Christian Science, despite its name, is an outgrowth of American fascination with eastern religions. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s Theosophy derived from similar sources. Spiritism drew European and American interest. These and many smaller sects derive from the impulse to combine ‘science’ with eastern and other non-Christian philosophies. These belief systems were and are characterized by a belief in ‘secret, higher knowledge.’ In America, transcendental philosophers such as Emerson and Thoreau drew on Hindu religion to create a vague amalgamation of Unitarianism and eastern religion to develop a philosophy of life, thus becoming the step-grandparents of esoteric sects. Hermetic, esoteric, and Rosicrucian thought characterized some of the German sects in 1690s Pennsylvania.[3] The sole effect on the Watch Tower movement was Russell’s brief flirtation with eastern religions, all of which he rejected. Russell rejected Christian Science, Theosophy, New Thought, and “Mind Cure” as: “all outside the Church of Christ, because in no sense do they profess the essence of Christian doctrines.”[4]
            The Watch Tower movement grew out of different roots. Adherents did not seek hidden knowledge open to only a few elect. They sought understanding of Scripture content that should be open to all. In this sense they were part of a broader ‘Restoration’ movement seeking a return to New Testament belief and practice. Sociologists, especially Marxist writers, point to a purely secular foundation for millenarian belief. A sense of social deprivation is the reason millennialist beliefs are adopted. This is questionable. More than questionable, it is wrong, replacing a spiritual quest with purely secular causes. Secular crisis and disenfranchisement theories do not work. Name a historical period without a social crisis or lacking class disenfranchised. Millennialist belief derives from New Testament doctrine. Expressing it is an attempt to adhere closely to the New Testament.
            Some writers contrast Watch Tower theology with “orthodoxy,” accepted main-stream belief. This presumes that the writer’s orthodoxy is the standard by which others should be guided. A modern example is Walter Martin, the darling of many in the anti-cult movement, but whose own belief system was unorthodox when measured by evangelical and reformed faith. The faiths by which orthodoxy was measured in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were seen as harmful sects in the 17th Century and some of them as late as the 19th Century. Methodists consigned Lutherans to hell. Anglicans oppressed separatists. Our distant ancestor, James Chilton, a Separatist, was excommunicated by a church court for furthering a ‘private burial.’ He and those with him rejected Anglican funeral rites as ‘popish.’ Later in Leyden he and his daughter were attacked by a rock-throwing mob. Today the descendant Congregational churches in America are mainstream and a measure of orthodox belief.
            From 1607 through the end of the 19th Century, American religion was an expression of European belief systems, primarily British and German with a little bit of French Huguenot belief thrown in. The three primary Protestant strands in the colonial era were the established church [Church of England], Separatists, as represented by the Pilgrims and their descendants, Puritans of New England. Additionally there were a small number of Jewish and Catholic believers and later an influx of Scottish Presbyterians. The British roots of American religion are millennialist. Successive waves of British immigrants brought their millennialist beliefs with them. Other than the Anglican faith, the rest were seen as harmful, unorthodox sects, persecuted for their beliefs. Through a sometimes politically fraught and painful process, they became ‘orthodox.’
            Ruth Bloch’s analysis was that, judging only by “
            British   Millennialism did not originate in a vacuum. It was heavily influenced by Continental belief systems, many of which were, when first expressed, considered heretical. American millennialist belief owes its existence to a multifaceted trail of believers going back to Wycliffe and his associates, and from there to the Apostolic era. Wycliffe is remembered for his opposition to simony and clerical corruption. He sought reform not separation. Later he rejected key Catholic doctrines including transubstantiation. He saw the Papal system as the anti-Christ, and it is here that we touch on his millennial beliefs. If the anti-Christ was developing in the world, the final judgment was near. As H. Grattan Guinness wrote: “Wycliffe ... regarded the Redeemer's appearing as the object of hope and expectation to the Church.”[5] Wycliffe’s Bible translation came from his desire to make the pure word available to the many.
            Some attribute to Wycliffe a tract that seems to date from 1356. Entitled in its modern printing [1840] The Last Age of the Church, the tract condemns the simony prevalent in the Catholic priesthood.[6] The author, whomever he was, believed the church was in its third age, the fourth and final age impending.[7] Within the 14th Century the final judgment and destruction of the Papal antichrist would occur. Spence, in his monumental history suggested that:

The “Last Age of the Church” was, no doubt, inspired by the awful plague, the Black Death which had so desolated England a few years before, and the effects of which, in the emptied religious houses, in the thinned ranks of the clergy, in the distress and confusion which were the results of the fearful visitation, had stirred the minds of many devout men, who in the crushing calamity thought they discerned the woes which were to usher in the “last things.” The “Last Age of the Church” contained stern denunciations against the clergy, especially the holders of the more valuable preferments, as well as an interpretation of the recent miseries as heralding the approaching termination of the world.[8]

            Spence puts cause and effect in reverse order. The tract’s author saw in the events of the age proof that the last-days impended. He interpreted events in the light of scripture because he believed the Bible’s apocalyptic ‘signs’ were inerrant divine words giving men of faith certain guidance. We do not know the social status of the tract’s writer if it wasn’t Wycliffe, but we know that of others in this era, and they were not disenfranchised or swayed by social crisis, but were seekers. They wanted true insight into the scriptures and a return to pure Christian belief as revealed in the Bible. Wycliffe stated that his goal was a return to pure belief: “I anticipate that some of the friars whom God shall be pleased to enlighten will return with all devotion to the original religion of Christ, will lay aside their unfaithfulness, and with the consent of Antichrist, offered or solicited, will freely return to primitive truth, and then build up the Church, as Paul did before them.”[9] He and his followers wanted “the return of the clergy and the Church at large to the Christianity of the apostles.” This represents both the causation and the goal of prophetically based belief systems.
            The Lollards, Wycliffe’s followers, preached itinerantly, visiting villages and reading from Wycliffe’s Bible translation or from his tracts.[10] Some historians paint the Lollards as common, even peasants. But Lollard missionaries could read. It was part of their mission to read the Bible to those who had never heard it read. These were men educated beyond the normal, not disenfranchised peasants. Eventually, as often happens after a movement’s guiding light passes off the scene, the Lollards went to extremes and were persecuted out of existence. But Wycliffe’s influence did not die with him or the suppression of the Lollards. While Lollards hid themselves, Wycliffe’s influence permeated Europe.
            It is not our purpose to present a comprehensive history of European – particularly English – prophetic expositions. Others have done this with more or less thoroughness.[11] We shouldn’t have to write a separate book to prove our point. Reformist expositors were motivated by a strict adherence to the Bible, and while social issues colored their belief systems, it was this that crafted their millennarian belief. John Knox exemplifies this.
            Knox preached against Roman corruptions, calling the papal system the antichrist. This is part of millennialist belief. The antichrist must be revealed first, then the final judgment. When a Catholic apologist debated John Rough, Knox “fortified Rough with doctrinal arguments,” driving John Annan, the Catholic, “from Biblical grounds and compelled him to take shelter in the authority of the church.”[12] Deciding doctrine on Biblical grounds is the millenarian stance. This is the heritage behind Watch Tower faith in the Russell era. It is not a historian’s place to pass judgment on the success or failure of a faith quest – at least not in most circumstances. But the impelling force behind the broad movement of which the Watch Tower was a part was faith in the Bible’s word.
            Modern speculation about the roots of millennial belief tends to ignore the role of belief. Yet, belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God, inerrant, meant for the edification and guidance of believers is what impels millenarian faith. Social crisis may color interpretation, but taking the Bible at its prophetic word is the cause. Believers read, “ We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts,” taking it literally. [2 Peter 1:19]
            Isaac Taylor Hinton, a Baptist clergyman and historian, writing at the height of the Millerite misadventure, said:

That the application of the facts of history to the predictions contained in the Sacred Word is a work of great interest and importance, few will be disposed to deny; it is one which has engaged the attention of minds of the highest order of piety and intelligence since the period of the Reformation; and every fresh writer has added something to the amount of knowledge which previously existed in this department of Biblical literature. The labors of Mede, Daubuz, Sir Isaac Newton, and others, laid a sound foundation, on which future writers enlarged and improved. Bishop Newton availed himself of their aid, and, by his patient research, produced a work which will ever redound to his honor. He effected all that could reasonably be expected of an author living previous to the great events of the French Revolution, the subsequent shaking of the papal nations, and decline of the Mahometan power. These events have confirmed the general principles, while they have corrected some misapprehensions which are found in his able work. - .

... Bicheno, Faber, Irving, Cunningham, Croly, Keith, and others have written, more or less extensively, on this interesting topic. Most of these authors, while differing on some points, agree in the application of the principal facts of history to the respective predictions.

            Russellism comes from this tradition. It arose from the same causes, not social unrest, but a desire to return to New Testament belief and practice. Each generation of millenarians interprets contemporaneous events in the light of their belief, but the events do not drive millenarian belief. Watch Tower belief in the Russell era is not a religion of despair. It was not an attempt to withdraw from a changing world. It wasn’t an attempt to formulate new ‘truths.’ It was an attempt to assert anew belief in the Bible as the inspired word of God. Millennial belief systems are diverse. From the so-called Dark Ages [They weren’t so dark.] until today, writers on prophetic themes disagree with each other, sometimes quite disagreeably. But the impulse remains the same: The Bible contains ‘end-times’ prophecy; we should understand it. The millenarian movement has always had its extremist fringe. But even there, the impulse is the same.
            Within historic millenarianism we find belief systems very similar to 19th Century Watch Tower faith. No-one should be surprised at this. There are many divergent faiths in America who owe their existence to the same taproot. Philip Jenkins, in his thought provoking Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History¸ wrote: “In terms of numbers, perhaps the largest component of the religious spectrum in contemporary America remains what it has been since colonial times: a fundamentalist evangelism with powerful millenarian strands.”[13] Speculation about the Bible’s prophetic numbers found in Russell era Watch Tower faith is based on millenarian practice, quite common among British expositors, colonial era Americans, and Americans into the 20th Century. If Russell, Barbour and others associated with the Watch Tower in some way speculated concerning prophetic numbers, they based what they believed on the works of earlier millenarians. Russell’s critics accused him of various heresies, among these Arianism. Though non-Trinitarian, he did not teach Arian doctrine. He did, however, owe much to Congregationalists who rejected the Trinity. Many – probably most – of these also taught the near return of Christ and the impending millennial reign.
            Many of Russell’s conclusions came to him through intervening writers. He seems to know little of his belief system’s history. But those he read, who influenced him did. Comparing the development of Watch Tower belief to other sects that developed in the mid to late 19th Century is misdirected and a waste of time. Historians should focus on the roots of the faith they consider. Suggesting that millennialist movements such as The Watch Tower derive from disenfranchisement or social crisis is simply wrong. Suggesting that the Watch Tower was a uniquely American phenomenon of the late 19th Century is equally wrong. We consider this more fully in chapter --.


[1]               A. Holden: Jehovah’s Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement¸ Routledge, New York, 2002, page 10.
[2]               For an excellent summary of current discussions of the causes of Millennial beliefs see: C. Garrett: Respectable Folly: Millenarians and the French Revolution in France and England, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1974. Note the first chapter. Though disenfranchisement and social crisis theories concerning the origin of Witnesses and other millennialist sects are usually presented as originating in the middle 20th Century, we owe them to Shirley Jackson Case. [See his The Millennial Hope: A Phase of War-Time Thinking. (1918)]
[3]               Philip Jenkins, Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religons in American History, Oxford University Press, New York, 2000, page 6.
[4]               C. T. Russell: What Think ye of Christ, a newspaper sermon from 1904 republished in the February 13, 1917, St. Paul Enterprise.
[5]               H. G. Guiness: Light for the Last Days, Second Edition, London, 1888, page 290.
[6]               Title on the manuscript is De SimoniĆ¢ Sacerdotum.
[7]               The first consisted in the Persecutions, the second in the development of Heresies, the third in Simony. The last tribulation was to follow: The Devil at broad noonday – i.e. the Antichrist followed by Christ’s appearing for final judgment.
[8]               H. D. M. Spence: The Church of England: A History for the People, Cassell and Company, London, 1898, Volume 2, page 323.
[9]               A modern English paraphrase found in G. V. Lechler’s John Wycliffe and his English Precursors, Religious Tract Society, London, 1904, pages 352-353. Source of the original is not stated.
[10]             The name was used pejoratively. It was derived from the Middle Dutch lollaert (“mumbler”), which had been applied continental groups “suspected of combining pious pretensions with heretical belief.”
[11]             See among others Froom’s Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers [4 vols.]; H. G. Guinness: Light for the Last Days and his History Unveiling Prophecy, D. Taylor: Voice of the Church on the Return of Christ. A major flaw behind the research of social crisis theories is that some, many, writers simply have not read the original writings. And among those who have, some failed to get the sense of what they read.
[12]             L. E. Froom: Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Review and Herald, Washington D. C., Volume 2, page 451.
[13]             Oxford University Press, 2000, page 5.