Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bible Students in Germany during World War 1




Grateful thanks are due to Bernhard who has provided all the information and the graphics in this article on the situation faced by Bible Students in Germany during the First World War.

Recent posts and comments have dealt with how the Bible Students coped with conscription in World War 1. Prior to the war, the Watchtower magazine had given this advice on joining the military. From the Watch Tower for August 1, 1898 (reprints page 2345) CTR wrote:

"If, therefore, we were drafted, and if the government refused to accept our conscientious scruples against warfare (as they have heretofore done with "Friends," called Quakers), we should request to be assigned to the hospital service or to the Commissary department or to some other non-combatant place of usefulness; and such requests would no doubt be granted. If not, and we ever got into battle, we might help to terrify the enemy, but need not shoot anybody."

How could you avoid shooting anyone? Perhaps you could do this by shooting over their heads? In the Watch Tower for July 15, 1915 (reprints page 5728) CTR expanded on this:

"In Volume Six of SCRIPTURE STUDIES, the friends are instructed to avoid taking life. If they were ever drafted into the army they should go. If they could be sent to the Quartermaster's Department to take care of the food, that would be desirable, or into the hospital work. They should endeavor to get such positions. They could not be expected to do service in the way of killing. If they were obliged to go on the firing line, they could shoot over the enemy's head, if they wished."

The problem for Bible Students dealing with this well-intentioned advice would only come to the forefront if and when conscription was introduced. So it came to the fore in Britain in 1916 and in America in 1917 when the draft was introduced. In Germany however, universal conscription was there from the start of the war.

There was a German Watch Tower magazine that gave some details of the situation and also gave the names of many of those involved. The two images below are from the German WT for July and August 1915.




This explains that more than 200 brothers were now in the military and lists many of their names. They are on land, on sea, some in garrisons, some in hospitals. One of them was Max Freschel who we will come back to later.

The numbers increased as the months went by. From the November 1915 German Watch Tower:



Translated it reads:

From our brothers on the field (i.e. battlefield)

“It is of interest to all brothers and sisters to know that there are currently about 350 of our brothers in the military. As a result of close correspondence with many of the loved ones, we receive many evidences of joyful faith and trust and patient perseverance in many difficulties. Some brothers wrote us that they feel strong knowing that so much is being thought of in prayer.”

The article then details the deaths in “the theater of war” of two Bible Students, Fritz Kownatzki from Zollernhöhe, East Prussia, and Johannes Finger from Barmen.  Fritz was 23 and Johannes was 33.

The article concludes: “Both brothers had written to us with expressions of love until shortly before their deaths, from which we could see that these dear ones sought to walk with Jesus ......

Little is known about how individual Bible Students coped with being in the military while striving to adhere to their principles. One experience though is found in the German Watch Tower for June 1915.

In a letter August Kraftzig wrote: “I'm not directly at the front, but in the baggage (stores?) and consequently by God's grace not directly involved in the war.”

Years later in 1938 August became Branch overseer in Austria. He died in the Mauthausen concentration camp in 1940.

As noted above, one name in the lists of Bible Student conscripts was Max Freschel. Freschel was an Austrian of Jewish parentage. (The area is now part of Poland but was then Austria). At the outbreak of war his parents were in Switzerland while he was in the German Bethel. Max chose to stay in Germany, but this meant that, with universal conscription, he was called up for the German army.

In 1915 he wrote to CTR at least twice. We don’t know what he wrote but there is a letter in the German Watch Tower for October 1915 from Fred Leon Scheerer from Brooklyn. Friedrich Leonhardt Scheerer was a German Bible Student responsible for the German foreign work and he translated Max’s letters so that CTR could read them.

Max Freschel moved to America in 1926 and lived for the rest of his life in Brooklyn Bethel. He changed his name to Maxwell Friend. He would become heavily involved in radio dramas for the Society’s Station WBBR, and was one of the first instructors at Gilead School. When dramas were introduced to convention programs from the late 1960s onwards, many readers may remember his voice playing various patriarchs.

His life story appeared in the Watchtower in April 15, 1967, and is well worth reading. However, he skirts over the years of WW1. All he basically says is that when everything was revived after the war in 1919, he was too.



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Posted to Answer a Question from Roberto

This is very raw, not even 'rough' draft, of a chapter currently planned for volume 3. We may include it in volume 2. This is only a few paragraphs from it. It is mostly unfinished. It will not stay up.



Labor Issues


            In this as in everything else, Russell and his associates interpreted current events as fulfilled or fulfilling prophecy. He said that he had been doing that since 1875 which seems perfectly plausible.[1] Russell’s interpretation of social and labor movements derived entirely from Adventist and Millenarian belief. During the Worchester Conference in 1872, organized to examine date specific predictions including Barbour’s, the Paris Commune was presented as a Last-Times event.
            If one looked to social unrest as a sign of Christ’s impending judgment, they were easy to find. A riot or insurrection occurred in the United States nearly every year since 1850. Some were anti-immigrant, some had underlying religious elements, some were over restrictions on liquor and beer sales; many were over labor and social injustices. Most often historians write about difficulties between large employers such as the railroads or meat packers, but the problems extended to small business and farm employment. A correspondent for The Restitution sermonized: “How about the profession of honesty which withholds from your poor neighbor, year after year, the ten, fifteen or twenty dollars due him for labor, under the flimsy plea of hard times, when the price of your tea, coffee and tobacco for one year would more than pay the debt.”[2]
            Wages and working conditions were deplorable. Shop girls turned to prostitution to supplement wages that did not cover their basic needs. The forty-hour work week was a distant dream, worker safety was nonexistent. Labor grievances often turned violent. In April 1859, striking brickyard workers in St. Louis, Missouri, armed themselves and fired on police. Two officers and some of the strikers were wounded. The mob reassembled the next day, and the Army was called in to quell the strike. A pattern of labor violence was established, and it escalated until labor unrest was seen as an element of Last Time events. Russell and his associates saw the Railroad Insurrection of 1877 in that light. world calls as such) is commendable if practiced with a view to paying what we owe.”d more than pay the debt. buisines  ormune
           
Relation to secular society

            They viewed world conditions through the lens of prophecy. It is not an uncommon phenomenon for someone to see the era in which they live as worse than other ages. Writers have quoted Hesiod, Socrates, and Aristotle as believing similarly. However, those quotations are of recent manufacture. As unethical as this is, they did so to support the view point that the current age is worse than past ages. Greeks looked backwards to a Golden Age. New Testament Christians and believers through successive ages look forward to a restored paradise. The New Testament view is that the last days are crisis years. So Russell and his associates looked to contemporary events for proof they were living at the end of the age.
            Their response to what they saw can be parsed into three areas: Christian behavior;  behavior of non-believers; and world affairs.

Christian Behavior

            Christians were to be holy and take the Gospel message to their neighbors. They were to maintain a correct relationship to the state. Russell discussed a Christian’s relationship to governments in 1886. Writing in The Plan of the Ages he said:

Man’s extremity will become God's opportunity,[3] and “the desire of all nations shall come” – the Kingdom of God, in power and great glory. (Hag. 2:7) Knowing this to be the purpose of God, neither Jesus nor the apostles interfered with earthly rulers in any way. On the contrary, they taught the Church to submit to these powers, even though they often suffered under their abuse of power. They taught the Church to obey the laws, and to respect those in authority because of their office, even if they were not personally worthy of esteem; to pay their appointed taxes, and, except where they conflicted with God's laws (Acts 4:19; 5:29), to offer no resistance to any established law. (Rom. 13:1-7; Matt. 22:21) The Lord Jesus and the apostles and the early Church were all law-abiding, though they were separate from, and took no share in, the governments of this world.

Though the powers that be, the governments of this world, were ordained or arranged for by God, that mankind might gain a needed experience under them, yet the Church, the consecrated ones who aspire to office in the coming Kingdom of God, should neither covet the honors and the emoluments of office in the kingdoms of this world, nor should they oppose these powers. They are fellow citizens and heirs of the heavenly kingdom (Eph. 2:19), and as such should claim only such rights and privileges under the kingdoms of this world as are accorded to aliens. Their mission is not to help the world to improve its present condition, nor to have anything to do with its affairs at present. To attempt to do so would be but a waste of effort; for the world's course and its termination are both clearly defined in the Scriptures and are fully under the control of him who in his own time will give us the kingdom. The influence of the true Church is now and always has been small – so small as to count practically nothing politically; but however great it might appear, we should follow the example and teaching of our Lord and the apostles. Knowing that the purpose of God is to let the world fully test its own ability to govern itself, the true Church should not, while in it, be of the world. The saints may influence the world only by their separateness from it, by letting their light shine; and thus through their lives the spirit of truth reproves the world. Thus – as peaceable, orderly obeyers and commenders of every righteous law, reprovers of lawlessness and sin, and pointers forward to the promised Kingdom of God and the blessings to be expected under it, and not by the method commonly adopted of mingling in politics and scheming with the world for power, and thus being drawn into wars and sins and the general degradation – in glorious chastity should the prospective Bride of the Prince of Peace be a power for good, as her Lord's representative in the world.

The Church of God should give its entire attention and effort to preaching the Kingdom of God, and to the advancement of the interests of that Kingdom according to the plan laid down in the Scriptures. If this is faithfully done, there will be no time nor [sic] disposition to dabble in the politics of present governments. The Lord had no time for it; the apostles had no time for it; nor have any of the saints who are following their example.

The early Church, shortly after the death of the apostles, fell a prey [sic] to this very temptation. The preaching of the coming Kingdom of God, which would displace all earthly kingdoms, and of the crucified Christ as the heir of that Kingdom, was unpopular, and brought with it persecution, scorn and contempt. But some thought to improve on God's plan, and, instead of suffering, to get the Church into a position of favor with the world. By a combination with earthly powers they succeeded. As a result Papacy was developed, and in time became the mistress and queen of nations. – Rev. 17:3-5; 18:7.

By this policy everything was changed: instead of suffering, came honor; instead of humility, came pride; instead of truth, came error; and instead of being persecuted, she became the persecutor of all who condemned her new and illegal honors.[4]

[Analysis here]

Social Conditions

            In the early 1880s most Watch Tower comments on social issues reflected events in the United States. Writing in the May 1882 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower, J. C. Sunderlin used social conditions as proof that they were living in the Last Days. Many American intellectuals adopted Darwinism without understanding it. They suggested that evolution meant improvement; the world was improving, and so were the people living in it. Sunderlin disagreed:

The wise (of this world) say the world is growing better and better. Let us look at that for a moment ... . We will ask the questions, and you can answer them for yourselves. Can men leave their buildings open now more safely than formerly? Are there less locks and safes sold? Is there less murder and bloodshed than usual? Are there fewer prisons and convicts, less theft and arson? Are the instruments of war fewer and less formidable, are there less revolvers sold? [sic] Do men, by their actions, show that they love each other better than formerly? Do they legislate to benefit the poor more? Do capitalists make it easier for the laborer? Do they love the laborer (or his labor) and give him a nice, large slice from the loaf? Does the laborer love the capitalist, and do they work for each other’s interest? Are the churches purer and better and less worldly, plainer and more simple, and true and good, so that the worldly man is rebuked by their good works and has he confidence more than formerly in church members? Are there no grasping monopolies; if so, are there less of them, and are they working for the general good of mankind?

            There is much here that is undeniable, though American intellectuals, including clergy continued to parrot the idea of social progress into the 20th Century, often to their embarrassment. One of these was Ephraim Llewellyn Eaton, a Methodist clergyman. Eaton and Russell debated in 1903, and Eaton did not fare well. He published a book in 1911 to defend his beliefs, writing:

Before the birth of Christ the world was a military camp, and wars were waged for conquest and reprisal. The Christian spirit has so far permeated the world that it would not to-day tolerate another war for either of these causes. Japan yielded to the Christian moral sense of the world when she relinquished her demand for indemnity of Russia; and America wrote the parable of the Good Samaritan into the law of nations when it espoused the cause of Cuba. If there shall be any war in the future, its only cause can be fear, distrust, or misunderstanding; and Christianity is rapidly making it impossible for one nation to fear, distrust or misunderstand another.

            Japan did not “yield to the Christian moral sense of the world.” It yielded to political influence. Justifying the Spanish American War as writing Jesus parable into international law seems disingenuous. In any event, the events of 1914 proved Eaton wrong. The entire philosophy of social improvement either by religion or evolution was and is false.
            He was correct. Locks and safes had proliferated. Many were exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in 1876. The official report said:

Viewing the best American safes, with their massive casework, heavy bolts, and ingenious lock-construction, we find a wonderful contrast with the American safe of fifty years ago. What was then called a safe was little more than a box with a hollow frame of heavy sheet-iron, between the outer and inner walls of which was deposited either (so-called) asbestos, plaster, or some other preparation deemed sufficient for protection in an ordinary fire. It was commonly made with corner- and edge-bands, which were riveted with ordinary rivets, and the whole outer surface of the safe, except the bottom, laid at regular intervals with cast-iron knobs, to add to the appearance of weight and strength. The locks were of the plainest character; and it is believed an expert burglar of the present day could enter them with very ordinary tools in a very few minutes. One of these “safes” is occasionally brought to light at public sale, where they are so little esteemed for their powers of protection as to make their price not greatly above that of a wooden box of similar dimensions.[5]

            The proliferation of more secure locks and safe testify to an increase in burglary, not to an increase in Christian morality. Neither was that of arson. Sunderlin would have read many reports of arson and other crimes. A single example will do, since we’re not writing a history of American social troubles. One of the New York papers from the era reported: ““Wednesday, the grand jury presented nine indictments, viz.: Assault with intent to ravish [ie: rape], one; burglary, first degree, one; burglary, second degree, one; burglary, third degree, three; arson, second degree, one; maltreatment of a girl under ten years of age, one.”[6]
            Sunderlin included gun issues as a sign of the last days and proof that the world was not improving. This was the era of wild-west gunfights. They are overblown by media presentations and cowboy movies which owe more to 19th Century dime novels than accurate history. But they did happen. On October 26, 1881, a few months before Sunderlin wrote, Tombstone, Arizona Territory, walked into history over events at the O. K. Corral. But we think this is not what Sunderlin had in mind. Gun violence, especially with a pistol, was much closer to home. In a speech dated to October 20, 1880, Emery A. Storrs [1835-1885], a noted Republican politician and orator, touched on the gang and political violence in New York City, blaming it on corrupt Democrat operatives:

All parties represent some interest. What does that party represent? Not the manufacturing interest. They have sought the destruction of it since 1832. It is not the financial interests of the country. They would overturn our entire system. Is it the educational interest? [Laughter.] That’s a solemn question. I grieve to see it treated with so much levity. [Laughter.] Is it the moral interest? As representatives of great moral ideas, how does the average Democratic procession in the City of New York look? [Prolonged laughter.] I am constrained to think they don't represent any interest. [A Voice – The whiskey interest.”] My friend is mistaken; that’s not an interest. That is a calamity. They represent every single one of the calamities. They represent a stuffed ballot-box; they represent the assassination of revenue officers.[7]

            New York gangs were part of the Democrat machine in the 1880s and full of violence. This is history, not a modern political statement, though similarities to contemporary issues found in Sunderlin’s remarks are self-evident. Civil War Reconstruction, really the military occupation of former Confederate States, ended in 1877. Violence erupted in the South. Democrats were free to reassert political dominance and abuse and marginalize former slaves. At the end of the Reconstruction Era the South was in the hands of Republican voters most of whom were former slaves. Democrats did not end that, couldn’t not end that, without turning to violence. In Alabama, ninety thousand Republican votes were cast in 1872; there were almost none in 1878. Emery Storrs pointed to the cause: “Terrorism did it, fraud did it, the false count and the no-count did it, the flaming cabin did it, the shot-gun did it.” In 1872 there were 41,000, Republican voters in Arkansas, and in 1878 they cast 115 votes. Storrs said: “The shot-gun, terrorism, fraud, violence, did it.”  In 1872 Republicans in Mississippi, Republicans cast 82,000 votes, but in 1878 they cast 1,168. Storrs said: “The shot-gun reduced it; the bludgeon reduced it; the gentle ministrations of the White Leaguers and the Ku-Klux reduced it. His remarks were partisan, made in a political year, but they are accurate.[8]


[1]               C. T. Russell: God's Chosen People - Part II, Overland Monthly, March 1910, page 323.
[2]               J. I . Wince: Christian Conduct and Conversation, The Restitution, May 21, 1879.
[3]               The expression “Man’s extremity will become God’s opportunity” traces back to at least 1629 and is found in Adam’s Works published that year. Defoe used it, and in a 1798 George Whitfield described the phrase as “an old saying.” [An Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in Ireland; to Mr. William Thompson, London, page 8.] It was still in common usage in the late 19th Century.
[4]               C. T. Russell: The Plan of the Ages, Millennial Dawn, volume 1, Tower Publishing, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1886, pages 266-268.
[5]               F. A. Walker: United States Centennial Commission, International Exhibition, 1878. Reports and Awards – Group XV. , J. B. Lippencott, Philadelphia, 1877, page 4.
[6]               Circuit Court and Oyer and Terminer, The Saratoga, New York, Sentinel, October 7, 1880.
[7]               The Great Republican Speeches of the Campaign of 1880, Staten Island Publishing Company, Stapleton, New York, 1881, pages 38ff.  
[8]              

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Saturday, July 14, 2018

To our recent visitor from Green River, Wyoming


You're not welcome here. We will delete any comments from you. Find another site to troll.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Your analysis of this quotation

I need your comments sooner rather than later. Please.



Christians were to be holy and take the Gospel message to their neighbors. They were to maintain a correct relationship to the state. Russell discussed a Christian’s relationship to governments in 1886. Writing in The Plan of the Ages he said:

Man’s extremity will become God's opportunity,[1] and “the desire of all nations shall come” – the Kingdom of God, in power and great glory. (Hag. 2:7) Knowing this to be the purpose of God, neither Jesus nor the apostles interfered with earthly rulers in any way. On the contrary, they taught the Church to submit to these powers, even though they often suffered under their abuse of power. They taught the Church to obey the laws, and to respect those in authority because of their office, even if they were not personally worthy of esteem; to pay their appointed taxes, and, except where they conflicted with God's laws (Acts 4:19; 5:29), to offer no resistance to any established law. (Rom. 13:1-7; Matt. 22:21) The Lord Jesus and the apostles and the early Church were all law-abiding, though they were separate from, and took no share in, the governments of this world.

Though the powers that be, the governments of this world, were ordained or arranged for by God, that mankind might gain a needed experience under them, yet the Church, the consecrated ones who aspire to office in the coming Kingdom of God, should neither covet the honors and the emoluments of office in the kingdoms of this world, nor should they oppose these powers. They are fellow citizens and heirs of the heavenly kingdom (Eph. 2:19), and as such should claim only such rights and privileges under the kingdoms of this world as are accorded to aliens. Their mission is not to help the world to improve its present condition, nor to have anything to do with its affairs at present. To attempt to do so would be but a waste of effort; for the world's course and its termination are both clearly defined in the Scriptures and are fully under the control of him who in his own time will give us the kingdom. The influence of the true Church is now and always has been small – so small as to count practically nothing politically; but however great it might appear, we should follow the example and teaching of our Lord and the apostles. Knowing that the purpose of God is to let the world fully test its own ability to govern itself, the true Church should not, while in it, be of the world. The saints may influence the world only by their separateness from it, by letting their light shine; and thus through their lives the spirit of truth reproves the world. Thus – as peaceable, orderly obeyers and commenders of every righteous law, reprovers of lawlessness and sin, and pointers forward to the promised Kingdom of God and the blessings to be expected under it, and not by the method commonly adopted of mingling in politics and scheming with the world for power, and thus being drawn into wars and sins and the general degradation – in glorious chastity should the prospective Bride of the Prince of Peace be a power for good, as her Lord's representative in the world.

The Church of God should give its entire attention and effort to preaching the Kingdom of God, and to the advancement of the interests of that Kingdom according to the plan laid down in the Scriptures. If this is faithfully done, there will be no time nor [sic] disposition to dabble in the politics of present governments. The Lord had no time for it; the apostles had no time for it; nor have any of the saints who are following their example.

The early Church, shortly after the death of the apostles, fell a prey [sic] to this very temptation. The preaching of the coming Kingdom of God, which would displace all earthly kingdoms, and of the crucified Christ as the heir of that Kingdom, was unpopular, and brought with it persecution, scorn and contempt. But some thought to improve on God's plan, and, instead of suffering, to get the Church into a position of favor with the world. By a combination with earthly powers they succeeded. As a result Papacy was developed, and in time became the mistress and queen of nations. – Rev. 17:3-5; 18:7.

By this policy everything was changed: instead of suffering, came honor; instead of humility, came pride; instead of truth, came error; and instead of being persecuted, she became the persecutor of all who condemned her new and illegal honors.[2]

[Analysis here]


[1]               The expression “Man’s extremity will become God’s opportunity” traces back to at least 1629 and is found in Adam’s Works published that year. Defoe used it, and in a 1798 George Whitfield described the phrase as “an old saying.” [An Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in Ireland; to Mr. William Thompson, London, page 8.] It was still in common usage in the late 19th Century.
[2]               C. T. Russell: The Plan of the Ages, Millennial Dawn, volume 1, Tower Publishing, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1886, pages 266-268.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

An extract -

Yes, I know this is detached from its setting. But I'm posting it as is anyway. We would like your comments. This is a temporary post.

This post has been deleted.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

We need to see these:


Suggestive Outline Notes [Exact title is uncertain], 1882.


Hints to Millennial Dawn Canvassers. 1887.

This is fairly urgent. We need a good photocopy or scan of each. Can you help? 

Hints to Millennial Dawn Canvassers is NOT the same as the later Suggestive Hints booklet.  

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Cedar Point Baptism - 1919


The 1919 date is from the library that owns a copy of this photo. But Bernard points out that this is really from 1922. Herewith another view, courtesy of Bernard. Note the 1922 date:




Monday, July 2, 2018

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Music publishing



A recent article on this blog discussed the Russells’ (father and son) business venture as music publishers in 1872. This was known in Separate Identity volume 1, which reproduced the one known piece of sheet music they published on page 333. It was called The Evening Prayer. The recent article discussed the background of this piece, written by Blessner and Pershing for a local Pittsburgh college.

It is curious that out of all the different businesses CTR and his father tried, this one was still viewed as worthy of mention in a court case over forty years later!

The case was the famous 1913 Russell vs. Brooklyn Eagle trial, generally known as the “miracle wheat” trial. In a review of Russell’s various business ventures, W E Van Amburgh included a music business. The reference is in the transcript on page 320, section 959.


Van Amberg (sic) did not become a director of the corporation until 1901, and this exchange took place in 1913, both events decades after the 1872 music publishing. He would have had no first-hand knowledge of Russell’s stores. Yet out of all of Russell’s past business ventures it is curious that the music store should still be referenced.

Maybe somewhere there is still more to be discovered.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Do you understand this, or have we confused the devil outa you?



            Accordingly, evangelization of the majority of mankind was reserved for the Millennial Age. In what he called “the gospel age,” the age in which they lived, the heaven-bound Bride of Christ was the target of their evangelism. They would be transformed, counted as justified, perfect humans, and then counted as the sprit creatures they would become in fact on their translation or resurrection to heaven:

During this age, as many as now hear (“He that hath an ear let him hear,”) the good news are by it informed that Christ died for our sins, that the price of sin has been paid, and they are justified, if they believe it, and that they can come unto God not as sinners but as righteous persons, and by faith call God “Father.” It is as justified (perfect) fleshly beings that they now call God Father – because in God’s sight restored to the condition occupied by Adam before he became a sinner ... . The next step for these justified beings to take, is to consecrate their justified flesh (being) to God. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice,” present it to God alive, for his service.[1]

            That salvation for the majority of mankind would await salvation until after Christ’s return was not original to Russell. None of his theology was. His belief that the world of mankind came to salvation after Christ’s second advent was an extension of Reform [in this case Congregationalist] theology as represented by Jonathan Edwards [1703-1758] and other American colonial era participants in the first Great Awakening. Edwards’ view of the matter was:

It is very dangerous for God's professing people to lie still, and not to come to the help of the Lord, whenever he remarkably pours out his Spirit, to carry on the work of redemption in the application of it; but above all, when he comes forth, to introduce that happy day of God's power and salvation, so often spoken of.' That is especially the appointed season of the application of redemption. The appointed time of Christ's reign. The reign of Satan as god of this world lasts till then; but afterwards will be the proper time of actual redemption, or new creation, as is evident bv Isa. Ixv. 17, 18, &c. and Ixvi. 12. and Heb. xxi. 1. All the outpourings of the Spirit of God before this, are as it were by way of anticipation. There was indeed a glorious season of the application of redemption in the first ages of the Christian church, which began at Jerusalem, on the day of Pentacost; but that was not the proper time of ingathering. It was only as it were the feast of first-fruits; the ingathering is at the end of the year, or in the last ages of the Christian church, as is represented, Rev. xiv. 14-16. and will probably as much exceed what was in the first ages of the Christian church, though that filled the Roman empire, as that exceeded all that had been before, under the Old Testament, confined only to the land of Judea.[2]

            Edwards thoughts echoed through American Congregationalism into Russell’s day. It is hard to imagine that Russell did not hear preaching that restated Edwards. He accepted it a soundly Biblical.
            With some considerable quibbling and qualification, traditional churches found Russell’s explanation of justification questionable. For William Coit Stevens, objections derived from the non-Trinitarianism behind Watch Tower theology, and Watch Tower teaching that the Bride has a role in the sacrifice of Christ.[3] Current Watchtower teaching strongly resembles Russell’s exposition here, though it rejects any thought of the heavenly Bride of Christ as part of the ransom sacrifice. The key point, however, is that Watch Tower adherents were to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God, doing his will and seeking others of God’s choosing.


[1]               C. T. Russell: In the Flesh, Zion’s Watch Tower¸ April 1881, pages 3-4.
[2]               The Works of Jonathan Edwards, William Ball, London, 1839, Volume 1, page 383.
[3]               W. C. Stevens: Why I Reject the “Helping Hand” of Millennial Dawn, M. G. McClinton & Co., San Francisco, California, 1915, pages 111-112.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Can you help us pin this down?

The March 1882 Watch Tower quotes at some length from The New York Herald. We need the exact issue by date. Anyone?

Never mind, I found it. Jan 29, 1882. 

A "Discussion" on another web site ... Comments, anyone?

I've updated this. Just so you know.

It seems to me that there is a lot of discussion about what Russel was teaching but much of it is left out. In particular, what he was professing would soon occur and the dates he put forward. Much of the focus is on his teachings which do have a lot of Biblical backing for them but little or no discussion on his false teachings. For instance, what exactly was this upcoming 'gospel age' that he was advocating and did he set a date for this or for Armageddon?
As side issues, this presents us with interesting fare. The tracts were free, paid for primarily out of Russell’s pocket and secondarily by contributions to the Tract Fund. The modern Watchtower Society declined to allow us access to the ledger book from this period, which still exists. We do not know why.

Do you have any proof that the tracts were primarily paid for from Russell's pocket primarily? This is especially in view of the fact that you admit to not having access to the ledgers of that time.
It is possible that what was printed in publications about the funding at that time was deceptive, just as the current Watchtower is today. So much discussion is made about the free tracts and little on the publications/bibles he sold.
The tracts served the purpose of advertising and it was through them that individuals were encouraged to purchase more substantial publications.
But in terms of income levels in the 1880s, an immense amount of money was expended to provide evangelizers with free tracts. This gives the lie to the claims of some former-adherents that the Watch Tower was founded by Russell as a money making scheme. It was a money-losing proposition

The fact that the tracts were distributed at no cost in no way proves that Russell was not establishing a money making scheme. In many businesses you've got to create a market who is ready and willing to part with their money for more of your products. Many businessmen expect a loss in the initial years in order to reap profits in the following years. There are various methods that businesses use to encourage people to purchase their products. Providing free samples or advertising in brochures are just two, both methods being used by Russell and who knows what else because there is little discussion about this.
His venture into his Photo-Drama of Creation was another innovative project which he was prepared to gamble on.
The message of God’s Love contrasted with the message of fear preached in Christendom. In Russell’s view God would save the bulk of humanity, in what some call “near-universal salvation.”

I cannot see any substantiation regarding the claim that his message did not include a measure of fear, just as Christendom's does. If the idea is that more humans would be saved under Russell's idea's than under Christendom’s, this doesn't mean you can claim there was no fear being taught through his doctrines. To also claim that all of Christendom were preaching fear is not proven and may well be false.
His passion for individual and public testimony shows through despite his questionable punctuation and grammar. And to his readership it was the passion that mattered. They saw it as founded on Biblical “truth.”

I find this comment intriguing. It would have been more correct to claim "His passion for individual and public testimony shows through despite his questionable teachings of Biblical 'truth'." And then you follow on with a significant comment in saying that it was his passion that mattered to his readers. That seems to be very much the case because his teachings could not hold water on their own.

In conclusion, I find the blog very biased and it seems that the writer has been moved by his passion.
de vienne

Dear Listener, 

You misapprehend the nature of what you read. We do not write either a polemic or defense of the Watch Tower. We write history based on the original documents. What you read is a partial of a much larger work, not even a complete chapter. We deal with Russell’s predictive failure elsewhere. For instance in volume one of Separate Identity we included a chapter entitled Aftermath of Failure. That chapter discusses the 1878 failure. We have another that will appear in volume two [the extract you read is part of vol. 2] that discusses Russellite expectations for 1881. 

You ask about the Gospel Age, calling it “up-coming.” Our text makes it clear that in Russell’s dispensationalist view it was ending. He thought it would end at or near 1914. We deal with that in another chapter. 

Do we have proof that the tracts were primarily paid for by Russell? Yes, we do, and we include a chapter [vol. 2, nearing completion] entitled Organizing and Financing the Work. Put briefly, in the 1880s Russell’s readers were relatively poor due to a series of post-Civil War recessions and depressions. We have some pages from the Watch Tower ledger, sent to us by someone connected to the Watchtower’s writing department and by the Watchtower itself. Most of these list expenses. One lists the major contributors by name and amount. Russell leads the list by far. We include the full text of that page in a later chapter. Additionally, over his lifetime Russell contributed a quarter million dollars to the WTS. WT ‘shares’ were issued if requested for each ten dollars in contributions. The number of Russell’s shares reveals the amount he contributed. He was majority share-holder until his death, and outstanding shares did not pass his in number until near his death. 

Court testimony (Russell v. Russell and Russell v. Brooklyn Eagle] shows that Society publications were sold at a loss or simply given away. The partial chapter you read concentrates on the years 1879-1886. All publications were given away free except for a few remaining copies of Object and Manner which were available in large lots for ten cents. Colporteurs got everything for free, keeping money from subscriptions obtained to defray expenses. In this period there were no “more substantial publications.” Money for Paton’s Day Dawn went to Paton and A. D. Jones, his publisher; not to Russell. Russell paid for copies and gave them away at no cost to those who would circulate them. This was at a financial loss to Russell. 

He offered a few Bibles and concordances at a break-even discount. From 1881 when Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was founded until 1887, the cut off year for Separate Identity, our book, the Society was deeply in debt. A donation of Florida lands by the Russells reduced the debt but did not put the Society in the black. 

You write: “It is possible that what was printed ... about the funding at that time was deceptive.” Historians shouldn’t speculate. And that’s what this is. Ethically, we can’t make things up. We must be guided by available documentation – by that I mean original material, not secondary sources – unless there is a compelling reason to reject the original claims. If you can find proof that the WTS financial statements are deceptive, we will happily include it in this chapter. But ‘proof’ isn’t speculation; it is something in a trustworthy contemporary document. 

In the period on which we concentrate [to 1887] ZWT operated at a loss. Later when forced to open the books in the two court cases I mentioned earlier, it was demonstrated that even Studies in the Scriptures circulated at a net loss. The books did not pay their way. 

By message of “fear,” Russell meant Hell-Fire doctrine. We should clarify that. You wrote: “This doesn’t mean there was no fear being taught through his doctrine.” You mistake current Watchtower practice with Russell era practice. Your statement exemplifies a common logic fault. You presume something was true because you want it to be true. At this point you give us unfounded speculation. Speculation drives research, but alone it is unsound. If you can find in something Russell wrote some form of fear mongering, point me to it. We’ll happily use it in the next volume of Separate Identity.
Simply because the narrowly focused extract from this chapter leads to a conclusion differing from a commonly expressed opposition narrative is no reason to call us biased. We present in footnotes our sources. You have no sources except personal opinion. “Could be” and speculation are not a refutation. Evidence from original sources would be. 

I  should add that admission to the Photo Drama was free, at considerable expense to the Watch Tower Society. So, how does it contribute to your belief that Russell made money off of it?



https://www.amazon.com/Separate-Identity-Organizational-Readers-1870-1887/dp/1304969401



TD 

“Put briefly, in the 1880s Russell’s readers were relatively poor due to a series of post-Civil War recessions and depressions.”
Were these the "Panics" of the latter 19th century? (Crop failures, financial speculation, unemployment, etc.)

de Vienne

Contributions were not as forthcoming as he wished. The January 1885 Zion’s Watch Tower reported on the state of the tract fund for the two previous years, starting with the deficit of $2571.34 that existed at the start of 1883. Expenditures for the period from January 1, 1882 – December 31, 1884, totaled $2,366.10. The fund remained in deficit nearly twenty-five hundred dollars. The loss of ‘two or more’ significant contributors unquestionably affected the work, as did an economic downturn that started in 1884 and continued into the next year. Russell commented on it and its effects:

The opening year finds the whole world in a state of financial depression which will doubtless be worse before improvement comes. Since we are advised in Scripture that the Day of the Lord’s presence will be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, some may be inclined to anticipate too much, too speedily. This is a tendency which all need to guard against. We should not for a moment lose sight of the apostles striking illustration of the trouble of this day, as recorded in 1 Thes. 5:3. From this illustration we should expect spasmodic trouble and distress of nations: and that these will become more frequent and more serious until they reach the climax stated by the prophet, and result in the death of present systems and the delivery of the children of this world into the New and better, the ‘golden’ Millennial age, in which the King of righteousness shall rule and reign Lord of all, blessing all the families of earth.[1]

            The financial depression of 1885 was the culmination of several years of compounding problems in the United States, Canada and elsewhere. Edwin Earl Sparks, a contemporary historian, summarized the complex crisis this way:

The crops of 1883 although surpassing the unfortunate yield of 1881 were scarcely up to the average, and the corn crop fell nearly four hundred million bushels behind. Large quantities of stocks and bonds had been watered by extensions and consolidations which could not be expected to yield immediate dividends, and they declined steadily during the year. Northern Pacific threw on the market in October 1883 an issue of twenty million dollars and created a mild panic. More than ten thousand firms became bankrupt during 1882, a larger number than marked any year since 1873. Causes for the depression were found in over-production, financial troubles abroad, over-railroad building, and capital lying idle because rates of interest were unattractive.[2]

            This dry summary doesn’t contribute as much to our understanding as does Russell’s caution against seeing in the world’s financial travail a prophetic fulfillment. People were hurting financially. Many Watch Tower readers were not well off, and even those who were had to watch their pennies. The basics, food to eat and coal to heat with, were scarce and expensive. Jobs dissipated. A United States government report said:

Out of the total number of establishments, such as factories, mines, etc., existing in the country, about eight per cent were absolutely idle during the year ending July 1, 1885, and perhaps five per cent more were idle a part of such time; or, for a just estimate, seven and a half per cent of the whole number of such establishments were idle, or equivalent to idle, during the year named. . . . Making allowance for the persons engaged in other occupations, 998,839 constituted ‘the best estimate’ of the possibly unemployed in the United States during the year ending July 1, 1885 (many of the unemployed, those who under prosperous times would be fully employed, and who during the time mentioned were seeking employment), that it has been possible for the Bureau to make. ... A million people out of employment, crippling all dependent upon them, means a loss to the consumptive power of the country of at least $1,000,000 per day, or a crippling of the trade of the country of over $300,000,000 per annum.[3]

            If God supported the work, he supported it out of the pockets of believers who were in straightened circumstances. Contributions lagged. With the publication of The Plan of the Ages in 1886, Russell changed his approach to circulating Watch Tower publications. It soon became apparent that The Plan of the Ages would not pay its own way. The volumes of Millennial Dawn were sold at a loss through most of their printing life. This was a result of philosophy and practicality. Russell turned to a colportage to circulate Millennial Dawn and the Tract Society’s books and booklets. The booklets were often given away freely, and the agreement with the colporteurs allowed them as much support from the circulation of books as the Watch Tower Society could manage.



de Vienne:

Dear Eye,

Much of what is written about both men is not exactly true, sometimes blatantly false. But I'd never claim that their belief systems were Biblical or that their personal lives were without fault. Because there is so much written by both sides that is wrong, or incomplete, or misleading, we're taking extreme care to be accurate; to tell the story as bluntly and plainly as we can. We base our work on original sources, some of which have been buried for 100 years or more.

We've found and continue to find material hidden in archives leading us to places where Proclaimers will not take you. We've also found astounding misrepresentation in books some of which are seen as authoritative. And example is a book written in 1945 by a Presbyterian minister who wrote as a sociologist. He manufactured quotations. Following his work to the sources he cites shows him to be pretty much a bloody liar.

Then there is plain ignorance. Watchtower books mention people favorably who never were adherents or who left for other belief systems and they do not tell you that. I think they do not know it. Watchtower 'histories' are unfootnoted except for Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose; I have an instant distrust of something that presents itself as a history that fails to footnote. In fairness, I should observe that there are respected authors who've done the same.

We footnote everything because we want our readers to be able to follow our train. We think those who read our books have working minds. I am never disturbed by someone making a decision off available information.. We want the narrative to be refreshed and accurate. As I said earlier, most of what is out there on the Internet and in already published books is false or misleading. There are exceptions. Zoe Knox's new book is worth a read. It is very expensive, but you should be able to read it via interlibrary loan. The trend among historians now is to question everything. And to dig deeper. No history is without a least minor faults, but Besier and Stokosa's Jehovah's Witnesses in Europe Past and Present, a multi volume work with essays be 'experts' in their field is as close as one comes. If we make a decision based on a group's history, we should verify what we read.



[1]               View from the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1885, page 1.
[2]               E. E. Sparks: The American Nation: A History. National Development, 1877-1885, Harper & Bros. New York, 1907, pages 328-329.
[3]               Report on Industrial Depression, United States Bureau of Labor, 1886, as quoted in David A. Wells: Recent Economic Changes and Their Effect on the Production and Distribution of Wealth and the Well Being of Society, D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1899, page 18.