Thursday, September 30, 2010

The ebay description of our book ...

I know he's trying to sell it, so that mitigates some of the flattery. But this is fun:

Nelson Barbour: The Millennium's Forgotten Prophet, 2009; Fluttering Wings Press, Paperback By Bruce W. Schulz & Rachel De Vienne.

Simply the most detailed information ever compiled about N.H. Barbour.

Detailed historians of Watchtower history have had trouble for many years finding any credible information on this elusive character of Watchtower past. Stated in the official history books of Jehovah's Witnesses over the years, but rarely, if ever detailed as to his life and whereabouts as they related to the influential role he was to play in the early years of Charles Taze Russell much of the mystery is now over with this publication years in the works.

Early historical works such as Royston Pikes, "Jehovah's Witnesses, Who are they, What they teach, What they do" c. 1954 and Herbert Hewitt Stroup's "The JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES" c. 1945 don't even appear to mention Barbour, whereas Alan Rogerson's, "Millions now living will never die" c. 1969 pgs 7-10, A.H. Macmillan's "Faith on the March" c. 1957 pgs 24-28 only give Barbour 3-4 pages of reference at best. Considering what a tremendous impact, in my opinion, he was to have on Russell at a critical crossroad in his history, it's hard to believe a biography or at the very least a detailed article of this man might have been penned at some point. His role in Advent Christian circles as well as Watchtower history seem to have been largely overlooked hence the most appropriate title to this recent labor of love by the authors Schulz and De Vienne.

I cannot stress enough that of all the book-length studies of Watchtower history, this is one of the most detailed and researched. Schulz has been a member of the Watchtower movement for some many years and his family has had historical ties for generations to the early days of this interesting past. His research is adept and the most objective I have ever encountered. He is to be praised for this labor of love that has probably produced less than a few hundred of these "MUST HAVE" books. You wont be disappointed by it's detailed end-notes and accuracy tracing this interesting character and explaining the age old question we inquisitive historians like to ask, "What ever happened to...?"

Find out, whatever happened to Barbour in detail. 176 pages, paperback, like new condition. Filled with nice pictures of key figures and places rarely seen.

Our thanks ...

Our thanks go to Dr. David Miano for his kind assistance in acquiring four rare tracts for us. Help like this is priceless.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Peyton Bowman

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. R. Phillip Stone we now have the record of Bowman's M. E. Church trial. People such as Dr. Stone who take an interest in our project are priceless. Thanks to him and to you all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bethany Faith Cure Home - Pittsburgh

Supported financially by Conley.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Faith Cure

Faith cures and their meaning were an issue among Watch Tower subscribers in the 1880's and into the 1890's. The issue divided Watch Tower readers into three groups. Russell felt the Pink Cottage cures and other faith cures were a sign of the millennium. Conley felt that Christians should actively promote faith healing. Some believed it all from the devil or practiced by charlatans.

Above is George Owen Barnes, responsible for the Pink Cottage faith cures.

Alton Bay Conference

Russell, Barbour, Paton, Adams all attended these conferences in 1877 and 1878.

Misc. Photos

Garr was one of the Elders of The Church of the First Born, the Watch Tower congregation in Louisville, Kentucky.

George W. Jackson was responsible for founding The Household of Faith Church, a Black Second Adventist congregation in Maryland. Peyton Bowman was their pastor.

1917 Christmas Greetings from Russell

Thanks to friends of this blog for the photos.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Voice of the Reaper

A small journal published in Illinois, probably Chicago. Any information would help.

We believe this paper was published by J. B. Adamson. It appears that his full name was John B. Adamson and that his wife's name was Amelia also spelled Emelia. So that makes finding this especially important. Anyone?

We think, but cannot prove yet, that John and Amelia Adamson were from Scotland. That John was born about 1821 and that the moved to the USA in the mid 1870's. This is all very tenuous but it looks as if we're finally on the right track. I'll be disappointed if we aren't. HELP! Please.

Dr. B. A. Garr and Dr. Walter Bell

Benjamin Allan Garr, MD. born in Louisville Ky about 1852/3. Married to an Addie last name unknown. He is named as an Elder in the Church of the First Born in Louisville, Kentucky, and as one of the hosts for Russell's 1904 speach in Louisville.

We have his photo. We need biographical information. Anything will help.

We have no information on Walter Bell at all. Dr. Bell was also an elder in the Louisville congregation. Anything at all will help.

Friday, September 17, 2010


We would very much like to see a four page tract published by Barbour in 1871. Its title is: Alarming State of the World: Can Ye discern the Signs of the Times?

It appears to have been a combination of poetry by a Rochester writer and advertising matter. That's uncertain. We looked in all the usual places and could not find it. Anyone?

Alton Bay

Undated photo - Alton Bay Camp Meeting

Camp Ground Police

Russell and Barbour were at the Alton Bay Camp Meeting, an Advent Christian Association event, in 1877. They were expelled from the camp ground by Camp Ground Police.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Household of Faith Church

This church was founded in 1877 in Blythedale, Maryland. One of the early Watch Tower evangelists was minister there for a period. We have almost no information on this church. One of the founders was a man named George W. Jackson. (1844-1927) Peyton Bowman was minister there sometimes in the 1880's. Anyone?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wish List

1. Bible Examiner 1872-3.
2. World's Hope. We have several years, but we need many more. What do you have?
3. Zion's Day Star / Day Star. We only have one issue.
4. We only have one issue of the semi-monthly edition of Herald of the Morning (June 15, 1878). We need the other issues.
5. Resitution, (Indiana) the issues for 1876-1881. Any.
6. Our Rest and Signs of the Times, also known as Our Rest: Devoted to the Subject of Christ's Second Coming and the Preparation of the Church for That Event. Issues from 1876-1882 are prime interest. Any issue will interest us. Published in Chicago.
7. Barbour: Spiritualism, 1883.
8. A. P. Adams: Bible Harmony.
9. A. P. Adams: Bible Theology.
10. Issues of Spirit of the Word after 1885. Any.
11. F. W. Grant: “Food for Thinking Christians:” A Review of a Tract So Called‎. 12 page tract, 1882.
12. A good photo of Thomas Wilson.
13. Meyer's Millenarian. Any issues
14. Meyer's Atonement. 1885 we think.
15. Newspaper articles that mention local "millennial dawn" meetings published before 1890.
16. A better copy of the Arp Tract. Black and white scan is okay. Our copy is really stained. It does not show up well. We want to use part of it in an illustrtion.
17. Any photograph of an early Watch Tower adherent, preferably from before 1900.
18. The address in Pittsburgh to which the Second Adventist meetings were moved.
20. Has anyone looked through the Herald of Life for references to Russell or the Allegheny Sceond Adventists? That would be issues from 1869-1882.
21. Solid information on the Florida land sales in the 1880's.
22. There are a number of unpublished local history manuscrips detailing the early history of Watch Tower and Second Adventist congregations. We have three of those, and they are marginally helpful. Anyone have any of these? If they touch on the 19th Century at all, they might be helpful.
23. Photo of Joseph Moffitt of England.
24. Photo of John Corbin Sunderlin.
25. Records of Clowes heresy trial.
26. Records of Peyton's heresy trial.
27. A volunteer in Washington, D. C. willing to spend time in the library of congress.

There's more on our wish list, but these things have been way beyond our reach, even if we know where the records or item may be.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm moving this here ...

I'm moving this to a main post because I think it deserves more open discussion. (It's fun, thanks.) And I'm posting it here because Blogger insists I have html code inbeded in my post and won't let me put it in the regular comment trail:

Anonymous said:

A few things you may want to consider (I say this in the spirit of friendly debate--and don't feel obligated to respond--just think about it):

1. I have not seen any evidence that Barbour separated himself from Adventists. In your book, you say that he was disfellowshipped at the Dansville conference. Indeed he was censured at the conference, but this is not the same as being officially disfellowshipped from the Advent Christian Church. It was a local decision. As you know, the timeists and the non-timeists frequently argued, and many non-timeists tried to sideline the timeists. But that doesn't make timeists not Adventist. They are probably more Adventist than non-timeists. And Barbour and his associates continued to call Adventists his "brethren." Moreover, many Adventists continued to associate with him. Barbour did not give his movement a new name either. And the Age to Come Restitutionists, despite not wanting the name Adventist (Joseph Marsh hated denominational names) were still Adventists. So when you say Barbour became one in theology, it merely means he became a different kind of Adventist. And when Russell first read Herald of the Morning, he immediately identified it with Adventism. Why is that?

2. You are right that simply believing in the nearness of Christ's return does not make one Adventist. However, Barbour's chronology was only a slight revision of William Miller's. So that make it Adventist. And Russell's chronology was basically that of Barbour.

3. The idea of the invisible presence is an idea that many Adventists took in the aftermath of the 1844 disappointment, and other Adventists took it after other disappointments. So Russell is part of that tradition. Indeed, Benjamin Wilson, one of the founders of the Church of God, Abrahamic Faith, was an Age to Come Restitutionist, which is an Adventist group. He was a chief influence on Russell and Barbour on the invisible presence idea.

4. When I said that Russell was Adventist, I did not mean to say that he joined up as an official member of put his name on the church roll. I am in agreement with you that his Bible class was not identical with the Adventist group in the area. I was simply addressing the question of whether his theology was primarily Adventist in nature.It is interesting that many people very freely say that Russell was a Presbyterian early in life, but they are afraid to call him an Adventist later. Maybe they are basing this on church membership, but there is more to being part of a denominational tradition than simply being on a membership list.

My reply:

Few Adventists continued to associate with Barbour. Barbour optimistically estimated 1000 interested people. It was probably less. Barbour and his followers saw the New York Conference decision at Springwater (not Dansville, that was a Barbourite conference) as disfellowshipping. Later the Advent Christian Times took the same view, urging its readers to not fellowship with them. The Advent Christian Association did not disfellowship in any other way in that period.

Russell identified the Herald of the Morning as Adventist from the front cover. The illustration was taken from stock Adventist illustrations. Russell wrote to Barbour stating among other things his surmise that Barbour was an Adventist. Barbour’s reply as presented by Russell shows that while he still held to Adventist beliefs they saw themselves as a separate entity: “It also explained that Mr. Barbour and Mr. J. H. Paton, of Michigan, a worker with him, had been regular Second Adventists up to that time [1874].”

After 1874 Barbour identified with Church of the Blessed Hope. Are they Adventists. Ask them. Barbour saw himself as a “true” Adventist. Everyone else wasn’t true to the millerite faith. This has nothing to do with Russell’s own view of self. He saw himself as a non-Adventist believer in the then present Lord.

Barbour borrowed his chronology from non-Adventist sources. There are only so many prophetic periods in the Bible. All chronological speculations are similar because they are based on the same time periods. 19th Century religious magazine are full of prophetic speculation.

Reading articles in the Christian Observer, published before Miller, one finds little difference between it and later Adventist publications. Yet, the Christian Observer was an Anglican paper. There are Presbyterian magazines that followed the same rout in the 1800-1830 period. The Christian Reformer, an idenpendent paper published in New York in the 1820s reads as if it were Adventist. It’s not of course. There is strong reason to think that Russell read Archibald Mason’s Saving Faith and his tracts on the last days. Mason was a Presbyterian. Rachael and I think that Storrs was exposed to A. Fraser’s A Key to the Prophecies.through an American edition published in 1802. Fraser first published in the 1790’s. He wasn’t an Adventist. We aren’t following that trail. Someone else is writing a book on Storrs; we’re going in an opposite direction chronologically.

Similarity in doctrine does not mark one as of that party. As an example, I have read and enjoyed a major portion of German Evangelical and Lutheran Bible commentary from the mid 19th Century. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found many arguments persuasive or illustrative of what I already believed. No Lutheran in his right mind would recognize me as a Lutheran.

If you focus only on Russell’s Adventist influences you ignore most of his history from that period. It is unfortunate that he focused on his close friends. We would like a bibliography of things he read. He never gives us one. Finding that Warleigh was a huge influence was difficult and the end of a long and convoluted research trail. You need to look beyond the obvious. We think Solomon King stands in the background. If he does it is through the filter of someone else. I doubt Russell ever read King’s Two Sermons (Hartford 1810). But some one of his early associates clearly did. Aaron Kinne is in the background somewhere too. We think that’s more than obvious. How one bridges the gap between Kinne and Russell, we do not know. Neither of these men were Adventists. There is a very, very long list of non-Adventist antecedents to Russell’s belief system. Before one writes him off as merely Adventist in outlook, one needs to follow that trail.

Invisible presence idea as Russell held it came from non-Adventist sources. Russell came to it from Seiss. Seiss came to it from Plymouth Brethren and through a small tract published in Philadelphia in the 1820’s with no known denominational connection. There are antecedents to the Brethren. This is the historical trail when it comes to Russell. Even if some Adventists held similar beliefs, we cannot ignore the historical trail.

Russell was baptized as a Presbyterian. He was a church member, belonging lastly to a union congregation organized by Congregationalists. The Presbyterians and Congregationalists had a formal agreement that they would recognize each other’s churches and pastors. He was a recognized member of a denomination, and when he left he requested a church session to formally separate him from the Congregational Church. (We think it was the church on E. Ohio Street, but we are not positive.)

Russell did not join any of the Adventist bodies. He was strongly influenced by Adventists, and adopted many of his ideas from Adventists. Since these doctrines were equally those of many pre-millennialist groups, we need to take him at his word that 1. He wasn’t an Adventist in any formal sense, and 2. He was more strongly pre-millennial in outlook than he was Adventist in outlook. Russell saw himself as following a fourth way. If we lose sight of his self-identity, we lose a major portion of the story.

As I’ve said here before, there is a big difference between saying that Russell was an Adventist and in saying he was influenced by them. Russell’s self-identity is a major portion of his history. We need to respect it or we distort the story.

Did others freely identify Russell as a “Second Adventist.” Yes. His views were strongly similar, even when derived from non-Adventist sources. All that means is that he was influenced by Adventist belief. If we cross the line as historians and say “Oh, Russell was an Adventist,” we ignore his self-identity, distorting the record. Stick to the facts as they can be known. He studied the bible with Adventists. He believed what they believed in key areas. He also read material by others, and in key ways was more strongly influenced by them. He identified more closely with British pre-millennialists, though he seldom give them the same credit. Storrs and Stetson were his close friends. They get credit where other authors who influenced him do not. An example is his heavy dependence on Warliegh, on Dunn, on I. D. Heath. There was a Christadelphian influence too.

Words matter. The more exacting we are with our definition the better is the history we write. It is more faithful to the records we have to say that Russell was heavily dependent on Adventists and others than it is to say he was an Adventist. We can say he was Adventist in outlook. We cannot say, and stay faithful to the records as we have them, that he was an Adventist.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A. P. Adams

Arthur Adams was pastor of the Avenue Methodist Church in Beverly when he first met Russell and Barbour


A brother and his wife took part of their valuable time to make photocopies for us. We could never have accessed this material on our own. The information is breath-taking. While most of it may not add anything but detail, the real story is often in the little details.

One document stands out. We will read and re-read it. It's a 33 page stenographic report of a sermon by Arthur Prince Adams. Other than some sermons by Russell from 1878, we don't have any examples from anyone else - until now.

I cannot thank our volunteers enough. I don't have permission to use their name on my blog, or I'd thank them by name. Excellent!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peyton G. Bowman

John T. Ongley

This Ad appeared in US newspapers in 1907/8

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Moved from Comment Section on an Earlier Post

I've moved this from the comment section to here.

Anonymous said...

I am a different anonymous than the previous comment, but I agree with it. I am not aware of any time that Russell distinguishes between the Adventist congregation in Pittsburgh/Allegheny with the Bible Class. It would make the research easier if he had done so. He does distinguish between them and Wendell, and Adventists in general, but not the Adventist congregation in Pittsburgh/Allegheny. He does not even mention that there was one.

Also, Russell does NOT identify George Storrs or George Stetson as Adventists or Second Adventists. He does not mention that Stetson was the pastor of the Advent Christian Church in Pittsburgh. He does associate Wendell and Barbour with Adventism.

The name Russell, either/or J L Russell, or J L Russell and Son, or C. T. Russell appears regularly and frequently in the WC and ACT in the years 1870-1873, and we know of a specific request of C. T. Russell for literature.

Russell appears to downplay any connection with Adventism. His statement that he did not learn a single truth from Adventism, but yet unlearned errors, appears self-contradictory, and difficult to reconcile with his likely Adventist associations of some kind. Without questioning his integrity or honesty, we might consider Russell to be representative of various factions WITHIN the Advent Christian church at that time, and that their boundaries were fluid, there was tolerance of opinion, and there was a discomfort with the label "Adventist".


B. W. Schulz said...

Simply wanting the study group to be identical with the Adventist congregation doesn't make it so.

In "To the Readers of the Herald of the Morning," Russell mentions the Adventist meetings. Afterwards he says that he and some friends started a study group. Probably his friends included some from the Adventist body. But many of his early friends were not Adventists. None of the directors of the Society once incorporated were previously Adventist, but they were Russell's business and social associates. That Russell describes the Adventist meeting as he
does, and then says that he and friends started a study group is a clear distinction between the two.

We admit that there was overlap. There must have been. But there is no evidence that the study group and Adventist congregation were identical. Of his earliest associates McMillan was Presbyterian; the Smiths were Methodist Episcopal, Blunden seems to have been Presbyterian, W. I Mann was never an Adventist but was Anglican in heritage.

There is no doubt that Russell was influenced by Adventists. More, all of his beliefs were held by some Adventist body or other. Most of them were also held by other protestant bodies.

In "Truth is Stranger than Fiction," Zion's Watch Tower, July 15, 1906, page 213, Russell says he was active in more than one body. "Bible Classes," he calls them. This would cover both entities.

What you want is for Russell to be plainly identified as an Adventist. I think our chapter does that as far as it can be done. He, like Storrs, rejected the name Adventist both on principle and because Adventists were held in disrepute.

This does not mean that the Bible Class was the Adventist congregation. The congregation met every other Sunday. The Bible class met every Sunday. If it was structurally different; if the Study Group included more than Adventists; if Russell attended more than one type of meeting, then they are not the same body. In the 1890 Harvest Siftings article Russell repeats what he said, though in slightly different words, in the 1879 supplement. He mentions the Adventists meeting in the "dusty dingy hall." Then he says that he and a few friends formed a Bible Class.

An informal Bible Class composed of friends, some of whom were not Adventists at all cannot be the same as the Adventist congregation. Did the Russells attend Adventist meetings? Yes. But, there are only two verifiable occasions when they did so. It makes sense that they attended regularly. Was the Bible Class the same as the congregation. No. He distinguishes between them as I've just pointed out. He says he attended more than one meeting or "class." There was more than one body. The Adventist congregation was composed of Adventists. The Bible Class started with his immediate friends, few of whom would have been Adventists. With the exception of Keith, those in his "inner circle" after Paton left were never Adventists.

Now, let me turn this around. You prove they were the same body. Give me documented proof, not mere speculation, that they were identical.

Now to some specifics:

Also, Russell does NOT identify George Storrs or George Stetson as Adventists or Second Adventists.

Why would he? In 1890 when he wrote of his association with them, everyone who would have read the article would have known Storrs and Stetson as Adventists.

He does not mention that Stetson was the pastor of the Advent Christian Church in Pittsburgh. He does associate Wendell and Barbour with Adventism. The name Russell, either/or J L Russell, or J L Russell and Son, or C. T. Russell appears regularly and frequently in the WC and ACT in the years 1870-1873, and we know of a specific request of C. T. Russell for literature.

How would that prove that the Bible Class and the Adventist congregation were the identical? In the same period he read Henry Dunn, and Dunn was not an Adventist. He read J. A. Seiss, who was Lutheran. Merely ordering literature does not make him an Adventist. Actually, the issue isn't the Adventist nature of his belief; it is the identity of the Bible Class.

Russell appears to downplay any connection with Adventism. His statement that he did not learn a single truth from Adventism, but yet unlearned errors, appears self-contradictory, and difficult to reconcile with his likely Adventist associations of some kind.

We don't think so. We address it this way:

Their sense of profound awe and of being "led" into the truth by God's holy spirit explains Russell's conflicting comments in his biographical article. What he heard from Adventists sent him to his "Bible to study with more zeal and care than ever before, and I shall ever thank the Lord for that leading," he wrote, "for though Adventism helped me to no single truth, it did help me greatly in the unlearning of errors, and thus prepared me for the truth." The only way to understand this comment is in the light of his sense of being led by God. God leads one into truth. If it is not God's leading, then one is not in the light of truth. The repeated use of the phrase "we were led" and "I was led" by Russell and others in the movement verifies this.

Russell did not totally ignore Paul's advice to Timothy to recall the persons from whom he learned his beliefs. (2 Timothy 3:14-15) He mentioned both Storrs and Stetson by name, saying that "the study of the Word of God with these dear brethren led, step by step, into greener pastures and brighter hopes for the world."

While they felt God's special leading on their group, it is mere mythology to characterize them as independent searchers who worked apart from the opinions
of others. They were independent in that they did not feel bound by anyone's creed, but they were heavily influenced by others. They read the current iterature, digesting it and debating it. Much of that material was "Second Adventist" in nature, though spread across the entire spectrum of Advent belief. Some of it came from non-Adventist millenarians and pre-millennialists such as Shimeall and Seiss. They did not live in the vacuum some modern researchers suggest.

Without questioning his integrity or honesty, we might consider Russell to be representative of various factions WITHIN the Advent Christian church at that time, and that their boundaries were fluid, there was tolerance of opinion, and there was a discomfort with the label "Adventist".

The term Second Adventist did not refer exclusively to the Advent Christian Association. One contemporary source lists seven bodies under the heading of Second Adventist. Others, also contemporary, add additional groups. I haven't posted the chapter before this one yet, but I can tell you that our research indicates that there were probably three broad groups represented in the one congregation, four if one slices it thinly. There were those who would identify with the Advent Christian Association or the Life and Advent Union. There was at least one individual, a physician, who would more closely identify with Church of the Blessed Hope; there were Restitutionists (Age-to-Come) believers.

You're confusing two issues. One is the question of Russell's Adventist associations. They were real, extended, and influential. The other is the nature of the Bible Class. It was made up of his friends. Some were obviously Second Adventist. However, Conley, who is frequently identified by Witness and anti-Witness researchers as an Adventist, was in fact a millennialist Lutheran. His beliefs made him comfortable attending Second Adventist meetings, but he came into them as a friend and follower of Peters. He attended Peters' Church and was baptized as a Lutheran. He never self-identified as an Adventist, though he was sympathetic.

Several have ..

offered financial help. We usually turn that down. But if you wish to help, the Library of Congress has an issue of Jones' Day Star. We cannot afford the cost. If you are interested in having a copy for yourself it's there. You can find it in their online cataloge. If you decide to get it for yourself, it would be really nice of you to send us a copy. Anyone?

This is a later copy. The name is not Zion's Day Star, just Day Star. Jones' name in the LC cataloge shows up both as A. D. Jones and A. Delmont Jones.

Russell and Pirate Treasure

A fairly recent screed against Russell says: "Charles Tase [sic] Russell and his brother, as late as when we was in his early twenties, used to dig large holes in their yard and other pieces of property, searching for what the believed to be hidden pirate treasure."

This is silly, of course. But does anyone know the origin of this story?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Revised end to chapter on early work in China

Remember to avoid the footnote links. They take you off page. This is what we have. Can you help us elaborate? Anyone?

The work in China did not end with the exodus or death of the three prominent missionaries. A world tour touted as a fact-finding tour to examine missionary prospects was planned for 1912. Advance preparations included assigning someone to oversee a missionary witness and the preparation of special tracts:

Before the four-month world tour by the IBSA committee was completed, Brother Russell had arranged for R. R. Hollister to be the Society’s representative in the Orient and to follow through in spreading to peoples there the message of God’s loving provision of the Messianic Kingdom. Special tracts were prepared in ten languages, and millions of these were circulated throughout India, China, Japan, and Korea by native distributors. Then books were translated into four of these languages to provide further spiritual food for those who showed interest. Here was a vast field, and much remained to be done. Yet, what had been accomplished thus far was truly amazing.[1]

The Chinese tract was entitled Ming Yu Bao. Its circulation caused a stir among foreign missionaries in China. The Chinese Recorder of March 1913 warned: “Large numbers of sample copies of the ‘Ming Yu Bao’ the organ of Pastor Russell in Chinese, are being circulated among the Chinese Christians, accompanied by the statement that the paper will be sent free to anyone sending his address to the publishers. … We should like to warn our readers everywhere of the pernicious teaching which are being promulgated in these papers and the very insidious manner in which truth is mixes with error so as easily to deceive the unwary and unsuspecting Chinese. The results can but be disastrous.” Pastor Russell has been “exposed” by prominent religious journals, the editor of The Recorder sniffed, but to no avail. “We are doubly sorry that he has thought fit to try and sow discord in the ranks of Christian workers in China by the establishment of an agency for the circulation of his literature in this country. It is well that all should be on the lookout.”[2]
Efforts were made to reach English speaking missionaries too. Working through the Pastor Russell Lecture Bureau, something called The Bible Study Club was organized and a paper entitled Bible Study was published. Again The Chinese Recorder protested:

We have received two copies of a paper called “Bible Study,” and inside one is a letter signed “Bible Study Club, V. Noble, Secretary” addressed to “Fellow-servant in a foreign field,” and reading in part as follows: - “We proffer you our little journal free on receipt of a postal card request. Even postage included, the expense will not be a serious item to us,, &c”! This is followed by the intimation that on the reverse side of the letter will be found a place for the addresses of missionaries, which may be entered on the subscription list, ad libitum, but only at their request.”

The Continent, a Presbyterian journal noted for opposing Russell and The Watch Tower sent someone to visit the Bible Study Club offices located in the Metropolitan Building in New York City. The magazine reported:

The office to which Mr. Noble invited correspondents to write is occupied by a business concern of an entirely different character, which reports that “Mr. Noble” simply receives mail at that address. This firm disclaims all connection with him. On a corner of the glass in the door is the revealing line, “Pastor Russell Lecture Bureau.”

Of course “Pastor” Russell has the right to disseminate his writings as far and as liberally as the gifts of his followers enable him, and a certain measure of respect would be due his industry if he always stood out and out for what he is. But a man who so characteristically loves and uses masks, disguises, and misleading evasions is obviously governed by a spirit not at all in harmony with that sort of character which Jesus applauded – the character which comes to the light that its deeds may be revealed.[3]

How successful this effort was is unknown, though it seems to have seriously shaken Protestant missions in China and elsewhere. In 1913 The Chinese Recorder announced the release of a twelve page tract giving extracts of an American anti-Russellism tract in the Chinese language. In February 1914, A. C. Gaebelein remarked on “the appeals for help which come to my office from China India Central America Korea and other places to do something to counteract the poison circulated by Russellism …”[4] Beyond that nothing is known at this time. A gap of some twenty years leaves a blank in our story, the next missionary effort being made in 1933.
[1] Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, Watchtower Society, New York, page 421.
[2] The “Ming Yu Bao,” The Chinese Recorder, March 1913, page 134-135.
[3] Pastor Russell Again, The Chinese Recorder, August 1913, page 469. Quotation from The Continent is taken from this source.
[4] The Coming and Kingdom of Christ: A Stenographic Report of the Prophetic Bible Conference Held at the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, February 24-27, 1914, Bible Institute Colportage Association, Chicago, 1914, page 152.

Early Work in China

I'm rewriting the conclusion to our chapter on the early missionary work in China to accomodate new information. I could use some help with the following:

1. The Watch Tower Society published something called "Ming Yu Bao" in 1913. It was sent to Chinese Christians in the United States and in China "accompanied by the statement that the paper will be sent free to anyone sending his address to the publishers."

What does "Ming Yo Bao" mean in English? Does anyone have a copy of this? Have you even seen one?

2. In 1913 an organization called "Bible Study Club" issued a paper entitled Bible Study. Copies were sent to foreign missionaries, including those in China with a letter signed V. Nobel, secretary. This organization was run by the Pastor Russell Lecture Bureau. We need to see a copy of any relevant material. Anyone?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

odd and ends

I’m working on a chapter detailing the months from January 1876 to August 1876. Most of this has been on the blog in one form or another, and I don’t intend to post this chapter. There are some updates to previously published information. As usual, do not click on the footnote links; they take you off page. Bloger is strange.

On Paton’s baptism:

On March 7, 1858, John Paton was baptized by Elder William Dennison Potter, a Baptist Clergyman from Hadley, Michigan, and he “united with the Almont Baptist Church.” Potter was ordained a Baptist clergyman in May 1839. During the late 1830’s and 40’s he was Agent for the Western Reserve Branch of the American Education Society, and there is a record of him visiting the more significant churches to raise funds for the society. A brief biographical note says he was “known both far and near as a Baptist minister of great strength and eloquence. … He was a good and benevolent man and was esteemed by all who came under the influence of his teaching and example.” Unfortunately, there seem to be no printed examples of his sermons by which to measure his message.[1]

On Paton’s association with Winser:

Paton’s association with the Baptists in Almont was interrupted by religious controversy: “On August 17, 1861, I left that church because of their rejection of Eld. Wisner, their pastor, who preached anti-Calvinistic doctrine. Several of us thought of the casting out of that minister as virtually casting us out, who believed the same way.”[2]

William G. Wisner [1800-1887] is of interest because he planted seeds in Paton’s mind that would bear fruit later. Wisner settled in Michigan in 1839 and became pastor of the Jonesville Baptist Church. He believed that the Bible should be the sole guide to faith, a belief at the heart of Protestant faith, but seldom practiced by any. In 1888, shortly before his death, he wrote: “The Word of God has been my text-book. I have had no other business but to study my Bible, pray and preach as best I could. [I] Have baptized 778 persons. … The Lord has been my strength and helper.”[3] Wisner was a persuasive preacher, one notice of his ministry calling it “a most fruitful one.”[4]

Paton met Wisner in 1858. Wisner lead “an important revival”[5] in Almont and remained pastor until 1860 when he was expelled for opposing predestination doctrine, leading Paton and others to rejected predestination. This would become an important issue later.

On Elder Angell’s invitation to Paton to join the Methodist ministery: We no longer feel certain of our identification of Angell and have deleted it.

We’ve found a really good copy of Paton’s endorsement of a patent medicine

[1] Cemetery records give his birth and death dates as September 25, 1816 – December 9, 1887. He was born in New York and died in Hadley, Lapeer County, Michigan. Biographical note: Portrait & Biographical Album of Genesee, Lapeer & Tuscola Counties, Chapman Bros., 1892, pages 346-350. Ordination date: The Christian Review, September 1839, page 476.
[2] Paton: Autobiography.
[3] Marry Trowbridge: History of the Baptists in Michigan, Michigan State Baptist Convention, 1909, page 274.
[4] Manual of the Churches of Seneca County with Sketches of Their Pastor, Courier Printing Company, Seneca Falls, New York, 1896, page 39
[5] History of Lapeer County Michigan, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers, H. R. Page & Co., Chicago 1884, page 39.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Russell in Boston - 1877

In answer to a question in the comments on an earlier post:

There is very little else in the way of direct testimony that bears on this period. An article in The Salt Lake, Utah, News suggested that “He came into prominence in New England in 1877, on account of his distinct views expressed on the punishment for sin.”[1] The Christian Globe told a similar story, saying that his work centered in Boston at the time.[2] This bit of detail must have come from Russell, but it is frustratingly absent context.

[1] Pastor Russell Comes Tomorrow, The Salt Lake News, June 20, 1911, reprinted in 1911 Convention Report. This was an advanced press release furnished by the Watch Tower Society and published in additional newspapers.
[2] Pastor Russell, The Christian Globe, May 5, 1910, as reprinted in Harvest Gleanings, volume 2, page 797.