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