Thursday, August 29, 2013

We have a photo

We have a photo with a "watermark" background. Anyone talented enough to remove the "watermark"?

I'm stumped ... maybe you can help

An article in the National Baptist of 1878 says:
We do not hold that we are to live each day as though we expected the Lord to come on that day, any more than we are to live each day as though that day would be our last. If we believed that the Lord was coming to-day, we should take very little trouble about next year’s elections, or about any future event. We believe we are each day to discharge the duties of that day. Practically, and so far as regards our future state, the hour of death, the hour of the Christian’s release, is the Coming of the Lord. This may come at any day, at any hour. And it becomes us to be in readiness for it.
I know I read something in Zion's Watch Tower that addressed this view. Now that I want to use it, I can't find it. Maybe you can.
And ...
The New York Independent, a Congregationalist paper, in the same year wrote:
Their way of considering Christ’s kingdom as visible, physical, and political is intensely Jewish and non-Christian in its character. It proves somewhere a false exegesis – that a doctrine is deduced from Scripture, which is not in harmony with the spiritual nature of the Christian system. There is no deeper truth in the Bible than this: ‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.’ Those who are now looking for such a glorious personal Advent with the succeeding political reign of Christ in Jerusalem, seem to us to dishonor Gospel dispensation.
I have the same issue here. I know Russell considered the charge that his system was derived from the Old Testament and was thus not Christian. I can't find the reference, and I'm out of ideas.
Another ...
The Interior, a protestant magazine, editorialized on the 1878 propheic conference:
This convention gives a new impulse and added respectability to a doctrinal affectation which is much more fashionable, just now, than godliness.
No doubt it is pleasant to one who loves the good things of the world – honor, fame, power, exalted rank – and who is not specially solicitous that others shall enjoy the same to ‘stand and wait,’ as Dr. Tyng said in his address that they were doing, in the blessed hope that the Lord will suddenly come bringing all these glorious things to the, unearned, and damnation to fourteen hundred millions more who sit in the shadow of ignorance.
Russell considered this too, I believe. I can't find his comments on any of these objections. I seriously need some help.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lucinda Storrs

George Storrs' Mother
Original of this Painting is in a Pennsylvania Museum.
Permission to use must be obtained from the Pennsylvania Acad. of Fine Arts

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How sending stuff helps us ...

These paragraphs are derived from material sent by two blog readers, each sending something different, and from a book in our research collection. If we'd had to rely just on our own material, this would not be nearly as detailed.

- "The story is in the details." - B. W. Schulz

Outside observers and antagonists commented on the mixture of doctrines out of which Watch Tower teachings were compounded. They seldom identified the exact sources. After William G. Moorehead, a professor at United Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Xenia, Ohio, pronounced “Millennial Dawn of C. T. Russell a mixture of Unitarianism, Universalism, Second Probation, and Restorationism, and the Swdenborgian method of exegesis” he was parroted endlessly and uncritically. Charles C. Cook suggested more wide ranging sources for Russell’s theology:


It seems as though in his earlier years, in his haberdasher’s shop in Allegheny, when business was dull, or after business hours, Russell had gathered together all the scraps and remnants of ancient errors, such as Gnosticism (know-it-all-ism), Manicheism, Arianism, Sabellianism, Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Pelagianism, etc., etc., and had cast them, one and all, into the fusing-pot of his own great and fervid imagination, and that “Millennial Dawnism” came forth to enlighten (?) benighted humanity.[1]


            Russell’s theology derived from none of these “ancient errors.” While C. C. Cook, D.D., was apparently educated somewhere, we are safe in claiming that he either could not define these ancient belief systems or he simply made this up out of his own “fervid imagination.” Claims such as these were scare tactics used without regard to the facts. Two elements are at play here. Some expected something ‘original’ from Russell, and failing to find it wrote off everything he taught. Russell, of course, would have been horrified at the suggestion that he originated anything. He sought to recapture Scriptural truth and the First Century Christian polity. Labeling Watch Tower teachings allowed opposers to avoid engagement. It was like slapping a poison label on a bottle of water without having tested it. Most “refutations” of Watch Tower teaching consisted of personal attacks or the suggestion that believing Millennial Dawn doctrine led to a degraded Christian personality. There was a restating, sometimes an inaccurate one, of Watch Tower teaching presented for the “shock” value. There was almost never a serious attempt at refutation.

            While Russell and his associates derived their beliefs from varied sources, most of them came from within the One Faith movement. This doesn’t mean they uncritically accepted everything that came their way, and they certainly achieved something less than unity. But it was the unique doctrinal blend believed by the majority that gave them a separate identity. This was a process that covered some years, culminating with the publication of Millennial Dawn: The Plan of the Ages in 1886. Zygmunt suggests that Russell’s election as pastor and an increasing doctrinal unity were key elements in establishing a separate identity:


The transition from study-circle to congregation reflected not only Russell’s emergence as a leader within the Allegheny group but also the crystallization of a more or less distinctive doctrinal system. Although “bible study” continued to be an important feature of congregational activity, its initially “open-ended” exploratory character tended to wane in proportion as basic “truths” were discovered and instituted as creedal tenets. Formal sermon and “bible discourse” became more prominent parts of the proceedings, congregational “bible study” increasingly assuming the form of a selective review of scriptures supporting particular beliefs, and eventually being supplemented by more devotional exercises. The crystallization of a doctrinal system was important, in turn, in transforming the purely local congregation into a trans-local sectarian movement.[2]


            While we must note that Zygmunt supposes a unity that didn’t completely exist in 1876 or for some years thereafter, this is a good summary of events. Zygmunt’s research suffered from lack of resources and an occasional presumption made without evidence, but he was correct when he wrote: “The movement’s collective identity and earthly mission were derived directly from this configuration of beliefs.”[3]

[1]           C. C. Cook: More Data on Pastor Russell, the author, no date but c. 1912, page 4. Having read much of what Dr. Cook wrote about Russell and about the Catholic Church, one of the authors suggests that “C. C. Cook” is a misspelling for “C. C. Kook.”
[2]           J. Zygmunt: Dissertation, page 205
[3]           J. Zygmunt: Prophetic Failure and Chiliastic Identity, published in Jon R. Stone [editor]: Expecting Armageddon, Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy, Routledge, 2002, page, 68.

From the Private Blog

Until volume one of the new book is published, almost all new material is going up on ... The exceptions will be any articles that "Jerome" publishes to this blog, and the last chapter, when it is further along, will be published to this blog.

This allows newly interested readers to see material and hopefully stay interested until the book it out. We're trying to work around a busy schedule. School has started. I have six classes this year (to teach that is). Though one of our readers described Bruce as a retired teacher, he continues to teach though with a reduced class load. The district superintendent where he lives more or less shed tears at the thought of his retirement. [Insert giggle here.]

So we're both really busy at the moment. I'm working through near the last edits  on already finished chapters. At some point I'll need a fourth pair of eyes to read this. While that will probably be someone local to me, I may let a blog reader do that. As I edit and fact check I've found a few additional things to add. Usually that's just a sentence or two. Sometimes I write something longer.

One of our readers sent along some controversial booklets. One of them was on my list of "oh I really want this" stuff. I've read it three times and passed it and my notes on to Mr. Schulz. No reply from him yet, but he's on the sickish side (old age stuff mostly), and often slow to reply to emails like that. What I found won't change any thing. For volume one, it will add a sentence or two. We'll use more of it in volume 2 where we discuss Russell's deteriorating relationships with One Faith and Adventist groups.

Another, really silly controversialist booklet makes claims about the origins of Russell's theology. The writer's personality resembled a male donkey's (yes, I just more or less politely called him a rude name), but we'll use what he wrote on that subject. I makes a point that we made, but in (to me) an unsatisfying way.

We own one of the booklets sent to us, but I'm glad it's out there. It's very scarce. We quote from it. I know there are some things we cite or quote from that are very hard to find. I like it best when our readers can follow our research trail with relative ease. Some will disagree with us on some points. That's fine. I approach that on two levels. 1. We're writing this book;  you aren't. But if you can prove us wrong based on a post here, we'll examine your proof and maybe change something. 2. If you have a point of view difference, write your own book. (At least two, maybe three of you are. We look forward to seeing what you write.)

We've been saved from folly dozens of times by blog readers. But we require proof, not a mere assertion. There are many assertions in conversationalist and academic literature made about Russell and the Watch Tower. Many of them are myth, lacking any proof. You differ from us? Present your proof. Give us some indication that you know the subject matter. 

We still need someone in the New York City area to visit Columbia University and make some photocopies. We cannot pay your expenses. Our research fund is empty. Anything we buy (photocopies, original documents, etc) come out of household money right now.

We continue to need someone living in the Washington D.C. area to visit the Library of Congress on the same basis as above. There are two items there we need to see. One we can have microfilmed for about $350.00. We don't have the money, and, if we did, we have questions about the worth of the material. It requires an educated eye. (We'd help with that.) 

So ... for now, most things are on the public blog. Be sure to check it. Don't give up on the private blog. Just expect longish periods between posts.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Mystery of Herman Heinfetter


This article may appear a detour from the early days of Charles Taze Russell, although the history relates to concurrent events in Britain during that era. But it gives details about a work that could almost be viewed as a forerunner of the New World Translation. Herman Heinfetter produced more than one Bible translation in the mid-19th century, with a choice of words that will sound familiar to many blog readers. And it is now known that he had an interest in American authors such as George Storrs.
For example, in his booklet The Revealed History of Man (published in 1854) Heinfetter wrote: “I am indebted to the Reverend George Storrs of Philadelphia for perceiving that Almighty God has revealed to man that there is an Eternal Death, and for many of the arguments I have employed in the foregoing statement of the subject, his little work, An Enquiry – Are the Wicked Immortal? is well worthy of being read.”
The original article below was published in the quarterly journal of the International Society of Bible Collectors in 1995, and details the research methods that had to be used in the pre-internet age. Permission has been given by the original author for it to be reproduced here.
One of the more mysterious entries in DMH (Darlow and Moule's 'Historical Catalogue of Printed Bibles' revised Herbert 1968) is that for Herman Heinfetter.  DMH 1957 states "In ULC (University Library of Cambridge) the name is treated as a pseudonym for F. Parker of whom nothing is known."  This article is an attempt to unravel the mystery.
Heinfetter or Parker actually produced two different New Testament translations.  Over 23 years (1842-1864) they ran to six editions and appeared in a variety of formats from pocket size to large octavo presentation volumes.  Outside the DMH remit he was also an indefatigable tract writer for over 40 years.  He produced what is probably the first real Sacred Name New Testament as we shall see.
Frederick Parker, to give him his full title, was born in South Lambeth, Surrey, England in 1804.  He was a prosperous businessman.  He died aged 84 on 10 February 1888 in Highgate, London, survived by five children.  His scholastic background (or lack of it) is not known, but late in life he made references to past meetings with scholars, and being a member of the Anglo-Biblical Institute.  Like many other sincere people he had a burning desire to right the wrongs in English Bible translation as he saw it.  In his case he also had a convenient fortune to spend on the project.  He once calculated that he was spending eight hundred pounds each year on his Biblical work, which in the 1850s was a sizeable amount. No one ever seemed to buy Fred's Bibles!  They were all privately printed and sent as unsolicited gifts to (as he put it) "relatives and acquaintances - it may be in number 50 - trusting that one might escape being cast into the fire and in fitting time be the means of unfolding the truth to the Christian world".

The low print runs explain their scarcity for Bible collectors today.  Some were sent or donated later to libraries, so today the British Library holds 18 volumes, UCL holds 7, and there are at least 8 volumes in Dr. Williams' Nonconformist Library in London.
So why the mystery?  Why did Frederick Parker hide behind the pseudonym Herman Heinfetter?  In 1885 he gave the answer.  In a final tract, an attack on the newly published Revised Version, he now used his own name and explained:  'As long as I was in business, I judged it better to publish under the assumed name of Herman Heinfetter, and the address of my printer; I judged a knowledge of my being in business would impair my statements in scholastic estimation; and that by a knowledge of my being engaged in publishing, my transactions in business would be imputed not to have received sufficient attention."
Frederick still neglected at this late stage to mention what his actual business had been, but it was probably unique for a Bible translator.  Britain has conducted a detailed census every ten years (apart from wartime) and when the census enumerator called on Fred on 30 March 1851 he gave his occupation as - Animal Charcoal Manufacturer...  Basically, Fred would burn the remains of animals, once the glue and gelatine factories had finished with them, to produce a special grade of charcoal.  Animal charcoal was used commercially in the production of deodorants, artists' materials, and also filters to decolourise sugar.  Not that he necessarily stoked the fires himself.  The Trade Directories of the day had a well-defined class system and Fred was listed as 'Gentry' and he died 'A Gentleman'.  In spite of his publishing he still left a sizeable fortune along with property to his heirs.
It does however present an incongruous picture.  One can perhaps understand why Fred chose to keep quiet about it in the academic world.

Parker's original work was issued in parts, starting with Romans in 1842.  By 1857 the complete New Testament was being advertised in nine volumes, ranging from the 2nd to 4th editions.  A comparison of the 1st, 3rd and 6th editions of Luke in ULC show that each edition underwent considerable revision.
These small pale blue volumes were published by Cradock and Co., London.  They each contain not one but two translations, what Parker called 'A Literal Translation' and then 'An English Version'.  The volume of Matthew (1853) for example carries the full title:  'A Literal Translation of the Gospel of Matthew on Definite Rules of Translation and an English Version of the Same'. The introduction indicates that Parker used the Griesbach recension of the Vatican manuscript as his main text. 

The Literal Translation reads very much like an interlinear, and is replete with footnotes.  Parker assumed that his readers would have convenient access to all his pamphlets - so referred to them at every possible opportunity. Then at the end of each volume is the 'English Version', without notes, which is somewhat easier to read.
In the 1860s the translations were issued separately and complete in large quarto volumes, now published by Evan Evans, London.  In 1864 came the 6th and final editions.  'The Literal Translation of the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the Text of Vatican Manuscript' (with notes) retailed for a guinea (21 shillings) - assuming that any were sold commercially.  "The English Version" was ten shillings and six pence (with a smaller version for five shillings) although the heading on extant copies 'With the Author's Respectful Compliments' suggests another free distribution.  There was also a third version entitled 'A Collation of an English Version of the New Testament...with the Authorised English Version.’  Using different typefaces this provided an interlinear comparison of Parker's English Version with the Authorised (King James) Version.  These last volumes of 1864 carried a dedication to the Members of the Anglo-Biblical Institute "in grateful remembrance of their defense of Biblical criticism."
In 1865 he made a start on the Old Testament, using the Vatican manuscript's Septuagint as the basis, but only Genesis was to appear.
One of the most distinctive features of Parker's translations is his use of the name Jehovah for God in the New Testament.  Earlier NT translations by Harwood, Newcome, Macrae, Lingard, et al. had used Jehovah on occasions where the sense might be clarified in OT quotations.  The usual example is Matthew 22 v.44 "The Lord said to my Lord" a quotation from Psalm 110 v.1 where in Hebrew the first 'Lord' is plainly the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (YHWH).
Parker was most concerned about the difficulties created, as he saw it, by using 'Lord' for both Father and Son in translation.  Initially he had a different solution.  In a preface dated July 1st 1849 (but used for several years thereafter) he remarked:  'As I do not see the possibility of distinguishing in English between the appellation 'Lord' when used in relation to God and when used in relation to Christ, in any way consistent with our usage in relation to Sense and Sound, I have substituted in my versions for 'Lord', used in relation to God, the appellation 'God', as ensuring a just apprehension of the sense.'
He carefully restricted this substitution in both his translations to OT quotations that used YHWH, although most surprisingly his 1853 edition of Matthew still renders Matthew 22 v.44 as "The Lord said to my Lord" - one of the very few verses in his Literal Translation to lack a footnote!
By the time the one volume editions appeared in the 1860s he had made the decision to use Jehovah extensively to cover this problem. However, he was still very careful to restrict the substitution to OT quotations where YHWH originally occurred.  The name Jehovah was now used about 140 times in his New Testaments.
Between 1841-1885 Parker issued numerous booklets and tracts to accompany his translations.  Many dwell at length on the Greek language, and his theories on grammar, punctuation and word order.  Doctrinally he advocated that Good Friday should be Thursday; that while the Biblical Sabbath was Saturday, every day was really a Sabbath; he attacked transubstantiation; opposed the taking of oaths; criticised the Revised Version for confusing the Lord God with the Lord Jesus; and argued that worship directed to the Son meant respect, while absolute worship only went to God the Creator.
It can be seen from the above that in common with Unitarians, Christadelphians, and many Adventist and Church of God groups of the day, Parker could not accept the doctrine of the trinity.  This is reflected in his translation, and is nowhere demonstrated better than his rendering of the final clause in John 1 v.1.  The 1851 English Version reads, "the word became a God".  By 1864 this had evolved into, "the command had relation to a God".  But the inference is clear.
This controversial rendering 'a god' has a long history, going back at least to Edward Harwood's 'Liberal Translation' of 1768 ("and was himself a divine person").  In the 19th century it had been used in the Unitarian Improved Version NT of 1808 (based on Newcome) and was also to be used in the interlinear of Benjamin Wilson's Emphatic Diaglott.
In several respects, the translations by Frederick Parker and Benjamin Wilson echo each other.  Both used the Vatican manuscript as their standard text.  Both started life as part works, and became definitive one volume editions in the 1860s - Parker in Britain and Wilson in America.  Both are non-Trinitarian in concept.  Both use Jehovah in the NT, although Parker's use vastly outstrips that of Wilson.  One can speculate whether there was any link between the two men, or did they travel down similar roads independently?  It may simply be a familiarity with the 1808 Improved Version which as well as 'a god' also uses Jehovah on occasion.  And who travelled this particular road first?  Likely it was Parker who was an older man, and whose translation work began much earlier.

So at the end of the day where did Fred Parker belong?  Although certain of his ideas could be found in established groups of the day, Fred in fact did not belong.  Fred was completely on his own!
His final series of tracts, issued from 1883-1885 poignantly illustrate this.  They were sent out in large numbers to all the dissenting ministers, theological colleges and groups he could think of.  Only one recipient responded and that was by sending it straight back marked 'Inconsequent Rubbish!'  Now in his 80s, Fred struggled with the postmark to comment darkly that it must have come back from a member of the Upper House of the Convocation of York!  In his very last tract he lamented:  'Here on the 30th June 1885 I stand alone, unaided by one clergyman, or one dissenting minister, or one brother, and feel that there is no one that will do aught, but try to stop my voice.  This nature soon will do.  At 81 years of age we aught to reckon time by hours, and I wished, ere I was called hence, to make one more effort, one that will sound through the length and breadth of England and America as long as time endures.  For this end did I make this record, and do leave it to give utterance for me, when my bodily utterance shall cease'.
His Last Will and Testament made provision for the continued copyright of his writings with the rather forlorn hope that one day there would be an awakening of interest.  But copies of his work in the major libraries languished in the stacks.  Some of those sent as gifts to Unitarian ministers eventually found their way into Dr. Williams' Library, London.

And then, one hundred years on, an aspect of his work was rediscovered. The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, produced by Jehovah's Witnesses in 1950, also used Jehovah in OT quotations.  To show they were not alone in this practice, the 1984 Reference Edition of this translation contained a numbered list of 'J' references, where other translations also included the Tetragrammaton in some form in the NT. Most of these other translations were Hebrew versions of the NT using YHWH, but there, as reference J-24 is Herman Heinfetter.
Following on from this, in 1988 the witnesses produced a two volume encyclopedia called Insight on the Scriptures.  The main article 'Jehovah' in volume 2, page 11, has a facsimile display of early translations where Jehovah (or similar) is used in the NT.  The sole English version represented is Mark 12 v.29,30 by Herman Heinfetter, taken from his 1863 Literal Translation (likely from a 5th edition in Dr. Williams' Library).  The extract reads: "The Jesus answered him, verily first it exists, here, O Israel, Jehovah our God, one Jehovah he exists, and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength".
Whatever our own views may be on Frederick Parker's theology, one can imagine how grateful he would be to know that the mysterious Herman Heinfetter, Victorian Bible translator, had not been entirely forgotten.

The starting point was Heinfetter's 1885 tract NON-ATTAINMENTS OF THE REVISED VERSIONS OF 1885 OF THE BIBLE, published under his real name, F. Parker.  A copy is in the Pusey Library, Keble College, Oxford. Nearly all direct quotations from Parker in the above article are taken from this tract.  Crucially the tract contains his real name and address.
The address led to the Census Returns in Portugal Street, London.  Here Parker's age, place of birth, profession and family details are recorded.  These were supported by the Trade Directories in the Guildhall Library, London.  Starting at 1885, a quick search in Somerset House produced his Last Will and Testament which gave additional information.  The total cost of the above research was a pleasant afternoon one vacation and one dollar for a copy of his will.  As to his religious background I am grateful to correspondents at Manchester College (Unitarian) for disproving any official connection with that body.  As his 1885 tract shows, Parker was on his own. Thanks are also due to the Bible Society Library for making materials available.
The only discordant note came surprisingly from Dr. Williams' Library.  Whilst generously supplying the required information, one official wrote about my quest: "I have the suspicion that those with nothing else to do either produce new translations of the Bible or write about those who did".  Obviously not a member of the International Society of Bible Collectors!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We don't need ...

any more fixes to Avi Hamlin's photo. Several sent us repaired photos. It's hard to choose the best one. I may post them all later for comments. Thanks to all who helped!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

With thanks to Roberto who transcribed the article

Methodist  Reformer

Fayetteville, Onondaga Co., New York, Thursday, Feb. 10, 1842 – No.21.


For the Methodist Reformer.

Albany, Feb. 1, 1842

Dear Brother Bailey: - If the number of a man’s opponent prove he has the wrong side of the question, I shall be convicted, of course, as there are now ‘three upon one’, viz. Bro. Scott, Plumb, and yourself.

I should, perhaps, be ungenerous to say any thing upon Br. Scott’s communication, as he has told us he ‘shall not, probably, reply to any remarks that may be offered upon’ his ‘article,’ I will therefore make a few observations on your reply to my letter in the same paper.

Speaking of the ‘Reformed Methodists’ refusing to ‘submit to that wicked usurpation of the saints, Methodist Episcopacy,’ you say, ‘If our fathers had taken counsel of Br. Storr’s theory of Christian Union, (not of his practice in Methodist matters,) they would have remained in the Old Church unto this day.’

I am really sorry, brother, to find I am so unintelligible in many remarks. I certainly have not intended to say anything from which such an inference could be drawn. Was it not the fact, that that ‘wicked usurpation – Methodist Episcopacy’ was embodied in a Discipline of Human Invention, and enforced by human agency, disregarding the Bible, that caused your ‘fathers’ to leave the ‘Old Church?’ So it appears to me. But if you and I have a right to form creeds, and rules of Church Government, and make conformity to them a test, then the ‘Old Church’ has the same right, and we have no more right to call their arrangements a wicked usurpation, than they have to call ours so. The truth is, I believe all arrangements of human invention, as a test of fellowship or membership among the children of God, are a ‘wicked usurpation,’ and therefore your ‘fathers’ were bound to come out of the ‘Old Church,’ and this is the reason why I can ‘not conform to the views and practices of the majority of the Christians in Albany;’ – they insist upon my subscribing to human creeds, and make that a test, without which they will allow me to walk with them. Let them answer for their own sin. I am willing to walk with them, but they will not let me; and why? because they require me to do that which I Believe would be a sin.

I think, brother, you do not ‘understand’ me, if you think I ‘hold that no possible circumstances can justify real Christians from separating’ from professed Christians, so far from it, I think they ought always to separate from those assemblies that make man-made creeds and disciplines, a test of brotherhood, or that allow practices condemned by the Bible; but when separated, you may ‘understand’ me to say, they have no right, themselves, to set up a human test: let them take the Bible, as it is, and make that alone the standard of appeal: then let them walk together in love, ‘forbearing one another, forgiving one another,’ &c.

You say, you ‘grant a church have no right to adopt unscriptural plans’ – ‘but,’ you ask, ‘who shall determine what the scriptural plan is?’ I would ask, in my turn, is the Bible so indefinite as to make such confusion and ‘anarchy’ as you suppose would be the result, if every man was left to interpret for himself? Is it so dark and uncertain that our Saviour’s prayer can never be answered, that his disciples should should all ‘be one even as we are one?’ Does not the insinuation, that if we were all to live in the same church, and have the Bible for our Creed and Discipline, we should have ‘organized division, and unionized disunion,’ represent the Saviour as making a prayer that he knew could not be answered? And does it not give infidelity cause to triumph and say, your Revelation is useless; for, you Christians cannot agree among yourselves enough, as to its meaning, to live together in the same church?

That there are no difficulties in the way, in taking the Bible alone, I never pretended; but, I do say, there are no more, not as many, as when men undertake to make human creeds and man-made disciplines their rule. In looking over the history of the M. E. Church, for years past, can you doubt this statement? Do you believe, if they had had nothing but the Bible, they would have had more disunion? What discord and strife about even the meaning of their man-made rules, and their application.

If Br. Scott will not think me unkind in taking a “bird’s eye view” of ‘remarks’ he will ‘not, probably, reply to,’ I will just notice what I suppose is the strongest point in his article. He pleads for man-made creeds to keep out of his church such as would not be ‘likely to agree on what the Bible teaches.’ He then says, ‘A man might present himself, to join the church, who denies the doctrine of native depravity, the divinity and atonement of Christ, together with all future punishment. He may promise to take the Bible for the rule of his faith and practice. How can I reject him on Br. Storrs’ ground? Will he say, that he would not receive him unless he had evidence that Christ had received him? I ask him, then, if it would not be possible for him and his church,’ [I have no church,] ‘to have an evidence that Christ had received him when He had not? Surely they will not profess infallibility. The man may live decently, and we have no right to judge his heart.’

I have little fear that a person, holding the sentiments Br. Scott speak of, will ever offer himself to a church that is spiritual. If he should, however, Br. Scott would find him out by his ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a human creed; and the poorest hypocrite could say ‘yes’ to that. I would look for the Spirit and mind of Christ. I might be deceived, and so were the Apostles, sometimes, for a while; see the case of Simon the sorcerer, Ananias and Sapphira, &c. But, says Br. Scott, ‘He may promise to take the Bible for the rule of his faith and practice.’ Then, try him, brother, and see if he can walk by that rule; and you say, yourself, ‘We have no right to judge his heart.’ If he can walk by the Bible, and you ‘have no right to judge his heart,’ what right have you to sit in judgement on him, to keep him from the ordinances of the Church of God? – to his own master he standeth or falleth.

In creed-making churches, how many men are received because they are orthodox, though they never give living evidence that they are striving ‘to walk even’ as Christ ‘walked.’ But they retain their standing in the church so long as they openly assent to the creed, though, perhaps, in their hearts, if they do not deny all the points Br. Scott has named, they may strongly think, secretly, of course, that all men will be finally restored from ‘future punishments,’ or some other equally false and dangerous error, but are not likely to be reclaimed from it, because, their standing in the church depends upon the darkness they can throw around them on the subject. Let them know that their tempers and lives are the fruit by which we are to determine their real characters, and I fancy we should have fewer impositions upon the church than we now have; because, it is easier for men to profess faith, than it is to govern their tempers and regulate their lives, or live holy.

But, Br. Bailey, hitherto you and I met, on the subject of human creeds, rather in skirmishes, I propose, if it please you, to commence a regular battle against them, in my next communication.

I shall attempt to make it appear –

I.        That, Humans Creeds lack Authority in their Origin.

II.     That, they are calculated to deceive and bewilder.

III.   That, their requirements are unreasonable.

IV.  That, they rend the true Church, and enslave the free-born children of God.

V.     That, they beget hatred instead of love, even among those who were friends before they professed religion.

VI.  That, they prevent the spread of the Gospel – rob God and his poor.


I hope, on all these points, to state what I conceive is truth, in love.


                                    Yours, as ever,

                                                in the bonds of the Gospel.

                                                                        GEO. STORRS

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just Stuff - An essay of sorts

I suspect we’ll continue to find material long after this project is published. That’s true of our first book, and eventually we’ll revise it, adding the newly found material. Yesterday I found a series of letters from Storrs to a Methodist editor. I’ve sent them to Mr. Schulz and he’s decided we should incorporate a few paragraphs from them into our chapter three. Among other things Storrs explains his rejection of ecclesiastical authority in favor of personal responsibility. I also found a brief article in the October 18, 1844, Long-Islander. We’ll probably use a paragraph from that.

We need a volunteer to transcribe some hard to read copy into a Word document. Anyone?

The last chapter for volume one is progressing, though more slowly than we’d like. The base document is something Mr. Schulz wrote in the early 1990s for someone else’s book. They used almost none of it, but we will. We are adding additional material not available then.  I think our readers will be pleased with the details we provide concerning H. B. Rice and his place in this history. Acquiring a copy of his letter of resignation from the Disciples helped significantly. Dates matter, of course. The letter and an article from Restitution put matters in perspective.

We haven’t located any copies of his short-lived magazine, The Last Trump. If you have, do let us know.

We need a volunteer in the New York City area willing to visit Columbia University and make some photocopies. We can’t pay expenses. Our research budget is -0 because I’ve taken money from my household expenses to buy a book we needed and couldn’t get as an ebook. We have a donate button on the private blog. Not here though. We’d rather have the volunteer effort than the money in this case. Access to the material at Columbia requires a personal visit.

We also need a volunteer close to the Library of Congress. We need someone who can turn pages of a periodical looking for relevant comments. We’d have this microfilmed but it costs over three hundred dollars to do so, and we simply can’t spend the money. I have five daughters. Four of them are still growing. Putting shoes on their feet on a regular basis is more important than a microfilm. But we do need to consider this material.

Also in the Library of Congress are letters from a Liberian clergyman. Finding them requires a visit to the manuscript division and patiently turning pages.

We have a continuing need for any letters (no matter the date) written by Russell or any of his associates. Even if they appear insignificant, we’d like to see them. We own some of Sunderlin’s letters, but we know there are more out there. They were sold off by a relative some years ago, and those from the Civil War era sometimes show up. We own two. We’ve seen two others. Any letters, post cards or notes from the Russell era by anyone in the Bible Student movement would be useful.

We’re still seeking a photo of W. I. Mann. The closest we’ve come is a fuzzy photo of a group of men in a steel mill. It doesn’t work for us. We have a number of Paton’s photos. Two of B. W. Keith. We have one of H. B. Rice. One of Sunderlin. We have lots of photos, just not one of every important character. If you have a photo you think we might need, let me know. Remember that this book considers the years 1870-1887 with overlap on each side.

Someone commented on my “posting name.” Sha’el is a character from a novel of mine that was published back in 2007. I adopted the name then and never changed it. I don’t understand why it’s an issue. Do you?

We’re working on the outline for book three. Book three, as we see it now, will take us from the publication of Plan of the Ages to just past Russell’s death. We think this will be a much harder book to write. There are layers and layers of myth that coat this part of Watch Tower history – more, I think, than we had to deal with in the current project.

Some material will be hard to find. We need the Ross transcript. We have a few pages of it, sent to Mr. Schulz by someone torn between secrecy and sharing. (I won’t elaborate on that.) We need to see the entire transcript.

We will need the Russell v. Brooklyn Eagle transcript.

Personal letters will be much more important for book three. I have no clue where we will find them.

Our blog readers come from both sides of the aisle. We’re not here to support your pet theories. We want a clear, accurate narrative of events. We will tell the story as original sources reveal it, no matter where it goes. But we won’t force history into a pre-determined mold. It is important to note that just because someone claimed something was true does not mean it was. We have several examples of conflicting testimony. And we note that other writes have made a case for each side of some issues based on the testimony they prefer. We will face more of that sort of issue writing book three than we have with the current project. So there will be some behind the scenes debates with interested parties. I’m not sure if Mr. Schulz will open up the public blog for that. Last time we did that was a disaster, degenerating into name-calling and people questioning other’s motives.

I think Mr. Schulz was clear about our approach. (See the rough draft of his introductory essay posted here earlier.) We have not adopted the analytical-thesis approach of more contemporary historians. We’ve adopted the narrative approach such as that used by Francis Parkman in his lovely History of France in the New World. We can’t escape some analysis, but our purpose is to tell the story. No sound analysis can occur until an accurate story is told.

Someone was peeved that we criticize other writers. You know what? Many of them made things up. People believe what they fabricated. The content of what they’ve written deserves to be criticized. We have no apologies to make. A few of them are just nasty on a deeply personal basis. We will keep those comments out of the book. But Mr. Schulz was in the same school district as the writer of a well-known article. They debated the article as it was written. The author was a pedophile and went to prison. The same mental infection that led him to molest little girls led him to include points in that article that are false, manufactured out of thin though rather hot air. (More than one “historian” of the Watch Tower movement went to prison, and I think their mental and moral deficiencies coloured what they wrote.) More than one faked credentials and faked content. We won’t tell you about their personal issues, but we will point out their errors if they are important and seem to be widely believed. Do you really think we owe anyone an apology for doing that?

People read and cite the books and articles by these people. There should be some corrective. Believing that there should not be is based on the “don’t judge me” theory of modern behavior. Society does not function well when it operates on that theory.

One interesting observation that derives from writing the current project is that clergyman are often awful, nasty, obvious liars. But as Hercule Poirot observed, even lies tell the truth. So what they wrote – no matter how nasty or wrong it was – is still important to the story. …. Which takes me to another issue. …

We need the controversial booklets published before 1920. We have some. There’s a huge list of them we don’t have. If you have any, please email me. (email through blog profile)

That’s it for today.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

William Mann

We desperately need a photo of William I. Mann. Anyone?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Only Known Photo

This is Avis Hamlin. This photo is from 1908 and taken from a newspaper. It's the only one we can find. We'll use it "as is" if we have to, but can someone with more talent than I have improve this photo?

Marriage Record

We need the marriage record for Emiline B. Barbour and Nelson Barbour. We need her maiden name. Anyone?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A rant of sorts

We’re not responsible for your ignorance. You are.


Defining every believer in the near Advent of Christ as an Adventist is wrong. Millerite Adventists had a distinctive doctrine that set them at odds with the bulk of Christians looking for the return of Christ. Almost without exception expositors writing in the pre-Millerite period adopted Literalism. Literalism came to full flower in Europe in the early 17th Century (1600s for the easily confused).


Most British writers on prophecy adopted Literalism. It characterized many of the German and Dutch writers too. Literalism was the standard approach of almost every American writer until Millerism. It remained the standard approach outside of Millerism and remains such.


The literalist approach is that the Bible should be taken at face value. If it says that God would reconstitute Israel, it means the Children of Abraham, the Jews. It does not mean a spiritualized Church. Millerites rejected this. Millerites believed Probation doctrine. It astounds me that people come to this blog unfamiliar with one of Christendom’s basic doctrines. Probation doctrine teaches that humans are on probation in this life, no matter what they know of God or the Bible. This life determines their destiny: Hell or Immortality or alternately Eternal Death or Immortality. Literalists were divided on this issue, but a significant number of them believed Probation doctrine false. After leaving the Advent movement, Storrs pointed out that God gave everyone a fair and sufficient chance at life. For some this would be after a resurrection. Disparagingly called “second-probationism,” this view was uniformly rejected by Millerite Adventists.


Adventists hated Russell’s doctrine. They saw none of their own in it, except for a shared belief in the death state. The belief that “when you’re dead, you’re dead” did not derive from Adventism. If you’ve bothered to read Froom’s Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, you’d know this. Are we to consider every American expositor before Miller to be Adventists too? Men like Elias Boudinot who expected Christ’s return in short order would have cringed at being called Adventist or Millerite. Aaron Kinne, who believed Christ would return near 1866, was a Congregationalist minister. He would not have found a place among the Millerites. Expecting Christ’s return does not make one an Adventist. If you think it does, you need to hit the books.


Speculation about the date of Christ’s return is not a uniquely Adventist pursuit either. It has a long history that includes Isaac Newton, German Lutherans of the 18th Century, an endless number of British and American writers from before the Millerite movement. Did you ever bother to read Froom’s Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers? Or did you just read the feculent material found on many web pages?


Storrs did not lead Russell into Adventism. Storrs abandoned Adventism in 1844. Here is an excerpt form our Chapter Three:


Leaves the Adventist Movement


            The Millerite failure and a reconsideration of basic Millerite doctrine took Storrs out of the movement in 1844.[1] While many within the Adventist community continued to respect him and consider him a brother in Christ, many more did not. His beliefs were purposely misrepresented and he was reviled in the Second Adventist press. This story has dropped out of most Adventist histories. You will not find it in a recent Advent Christian history. Even some of the older histories such as Johnson’s do not tell it. There is an element of shame attached to it that Adventist historians wish to bury.

            Storrs entered the Millerite movement with reservations, though we are uncertain how loudly he voiced them. He objected to Miller’s cindered-earth doctrine:


We became convinced in the winter of ‘42 and ‘43 that the view, held by Mr. Miller and his adherents, that this age would close with the conflagration of the globe, and the cutting off of all men not then prepared for immortality, and that the next age would open with the new heaven and the new earth, with none inhabiting it but the immortal ones, was an error; an error, too, calculated to make thinking men, who were governed more by reason than excitement, reject the idea of the speedy advent of Christ, altogether. They saw that much remained to be fulfilled on this earth, and that if the conflagration of the globe was to take place at the second advent of Christ that event could not be near.[2]


            Storrs raised this objection by February or March 1843, though we do not know how widely he voiced it. He preached in Philadelphia in the spring of 1843. Thousands heard him and received a specially prepared edition of Six Sermons. This was one of his first opportunities to voice his objections to Millerite theology. If he did so, we cannot find a record of it. After preaching in Cincinnati for several months (from the Fall of 1843 into the Spring of 1844), he returned to Philadelphia for a brief visit in December 1843. Storrs message was well received. He wrote to the editor of The Western Midnight Cry describing the enduring interest there:


The work there is taking a new start; about 30 were forward for prayers last Sabbath evening – some of them found peace in believing. In this city (Philadelphia) I preached a week ago last Sabbath eve, to about three thousand deeply interested hearers, and the cause here is evidently rising higher and higher – no dying away. … I believe the Lord is at the door, and we shall not have to wait long. Tell the brethren and sisters, to be strong and fear not, for our God will come, and come quickly.[3]


Leaving Philadelphia he returned to the Midwest, evangelizing in parts of Indiana. He was in Philadelphia again in November 1844 with the Seventh-Month message but with Literalist rather than Adventist beliefs. He remained there until 1852.[4]

            The sources of Storrs doctrine, who influenced whom, and many of the details of doctrinal shifts are issues for someone else’s research. They have little bearing on Zion’s Watch Tower’s theology. However, we do know some things. Charles Fitch started teaching “probation for the heathen after the Advent.” According to Lewis Gunn, at least by October 1844, some of the Philadelphia Adventists had adopted Storrs’ views. Gunn believed that “many of the Jews will be miraculously converted, and hail His appearing with the exclamation, ‘blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’” They had, wrote Gunn, “changed from their former belief, and differed entirely from Mr. Miller, and the great body of advent believers in this country – but agreeing with the Literalists.”[5]

            Storrs elaborated at length on his doctrine as it was in 1844 and as it, with some modifications, remained until his death. His Literalism served as a growing wedge between him and the Adventist community:


We have since (1843) advocated the doctrine that the advent of Christ as King … is an event nigh at hand – that it will be ushered in with a great and terrible destruction of his enemies, especially among those who have heard the gospel and rejected it; but that there will be “left of the nations,” in the flesh, who will become subjects of the government of Christ and his immortal saints, who shall then rule the nations on this earth, having the seat of empire in Jerusalem, and on mount Zion, from whence “the law shall go forth” to all “left of the nations.” That under this administration “justice and judgment would be executed in the earth,” and “the whole earth be filled with the glory of God,” according to his own oath and promise …. That this period, or age, of the personal reign of Christ … on this earth, is the true millennium, which may be a thousand years; or possibly a much longer period …. That period to close with the final resurrection, judgment, and execution of the judgment on all men: at which time the age of the new heaven and new earth would be ushered in. … For holding such views we have been renounced, shunned, and avoided by a large part of the adherents of Mr. Miller’s theory, who call themselves “Adventists.”[6]


            Undeniably, Storrs was one of the leading lights in Philadelphia. Massive crowds gathered outside the Millerite chapel to hear him and others. Every event was wildly exaggerated by the press. Someone was reported to have stolen money from the Millerite treasury. This was false. Children were said to have frozen to death. This was false. The Philadelphia Ledger, appealing to its barely literate readership, described the Millerite gatherings with scorn, ridicule, and exaggeration.[7] The Philadelphia Evening Chronicle reported:


Portions of the population of all the large eastern cities in this country, have been more or less, the victims of a singular and fantastical delusion. They call themselves Millerites, and implicitly believed the delirious and impious ravings of one Miller, who had prophesied that the second advent would certainly occur on the twenty-third instant, when this fair globe would certainly be destroyed by conflagration! Here, in Baltimore, and in Boston, the civil authorities have been compelled to close their churches by force, in consequence of hundreds of them having assembled, and thrown the neighbourhood into wild alarm by their yelling and howling cries and lamentations. On the evening of the twenty-second instant, many hundreds of these crazy people repaired to camps near this city, attired themselves in long white cotton dresses, which they called their “ascension robes,” and were seen wandering through the woods and on the banks of the rivers by moonlight, like sheeted ghosts. They left their business and their families, and many children would have perished, had it not been for the kindness of their fellow citizens. For days this flame of dangerous superstition and enthusiasm spread like wild-fire. There was no stopping it. In two or three instances the victims anticipated the end of the world by suicide: one named Culp, threw himself into the cataract of Niagara; and now that the day has passed over, many are found to be (incurably perhaps) delirious. Such scenes … have alluded to have not probably occurred for centuries, and I hope that centuries will again roll away, before such sorry evidences of the weakness of human nature, and the distress which invariably attends them, will harrow up the feelings.[8]


            Almost nothing in this article is true. The Philadelphia and Boston papers were particularly nasty, full of falsehood and ridicule. That they dressed themselves in ascension robes and similar claims were all false. Jane Marsh Parker, Joseph Marsh’s daughter, took pains to refute the Ascension Robes slander. J. V. Himes did as well.[9] Some refutation of the most scandalously false reports was made in the Millerite press, but others wanted to make plain that those in Philadelphia were not “true” Millerites. Lewis Gunn wrote to the Philadelphia papers blaming the whole thing on Storrs and others who had adopted Literalist views:


Some … were not looking for the destruction of the earth, nor for its complete physical renovation, at the present time; they looked for the introduction of the millennium by the personal coming of Christ to the earth; they think this will be the commencement of the promised restitution of all things, to be carried forward until all things shall be made new; they think that probation will close to those who have heard the gospel, but not so with the heathen and all those who have not heard of his fame; they think it will be the beginning of a new dispensation to the heathen, during which it will be emphatically true that the leaves of the tree of life will be for the healing of the nations. These were the published views of Geo. Storrs. … In these views they differed entirely from Mr. Miller and the great body of Advent believers in this country, but agreeing with the Literalists of England (Millennarians) …[10]


By 1845 Storrs “embraced the full Literalist doctrine.” Enoch Jacobs, editor of The Day Star (Cincinnati) wrote: “He has finally gone off into Judaism,” Storrs made the issue clear in 1849, writing that it was “true that we were drawn into Mr. Miller’s theory for a time, but renounced all his peculiarities more than four years ago, and some of them more then five years since; and have had no connection with his peculiar view for more than four years past.” He noted that Millerite “leaders … are among our opponents.”[11]  Sometime in late May or early June 1849, two “brethren” wrote to Storrs objecting to his comments about Millerite opposition to his work. They defined themselves as Millerites: “We are what the world, the church, and Br. Storrs calls Millerites. Why are we this? Is it not because we believe with Br. Miller that the Lord is soon coming?” Storrs replied that they had misapprehended the original article, but he also suggested that their definition of Millerite Adventism was wrong:


Whatever the “church” or ‘the world’ may understand by Millerism, I understand it to have three peculiarities, and nothing more: viz. “Definite time for the advent,” …. That view I gave up in the winter of ‘44 and ‘45; and time has since demonstrated that I was right in so doing. The two other peculiarities of Millerism I gave up, one in the month of Feb. ‘44, and the other in June ‘45. The three may be summed up thus, 1. “Definite time for the advent, not to go beyond ‘47.” 2, “No return of the literal posterity of Jacob to the land wherein their fathers have dwelt.” 3, “The earth all to be melted at the time of the advent, and none of its inhabitants left upon it.”


These three points constitute the whole of what I call Millerism. … The second personal advent of Christ – that advent premillennial – nigh, even at the door – the kingdom of God on earth, or the earth the inheritance of the saints – the earth renewed, Paradise restored, and all those kindred doctrines relating to the kingdom of God, are no part nor parcel of Millerism: They had a distinct existence from his theory, and before his views were published to the world. The fact that some who embraced his theory had no knowledge that these other points had been published, by English Literalists, years before they heard from Mr. Miller, does not make them really any part of his peculiarities: they are not, and never were, any of his peculiar views. … The three points I have named are all that constitutes the peculiarities of Millerism.


The leaders in his theory did not like to retain the name of Millerites after 1843-4 passed by, though they gloried in being called so in those years. No sooner did the time pass away, and they commenced the work of organizing churches, than they assumed the name of Adventists; thus showing they were unwilling to go forward under their former one, and so assumed that which is equally appropriate to all believers in the speedy return of Christ and his personal reign on earth, of whom there are many who never were Millerites. In assuming the name Adventists they wronged this latter class of believers; who thus became, in the public mind, identified with them; and they were as really a sect as any other. Why should they have left the name Millerite, by which they were every where known, to assume another without having given up one of Mr. Miller’s peculiarities? Was it to cover their errors without “confession?” It certainly has that appearance, whatever might have been their design.[12]


Storrs pointed back to Miller’s letter as printed in Voice of Truth, saying that Miller and his associates, unable to fault his reasoning, faulted him. Attacks from Millerite Adventists continued throughout Storrs’ career. Apollos Hale and Sylvester Bliss issued a list of ten key doctrines that Storrs was supposed to have abandoned. It was largely and knowingly false. Storrs pointed out the misrepresentation, showing that Hale and Bliss did in fact know the truth of the matter. He called them “reckless in a degree and to an extent that must fill every honest mind with disgust who knows the facts.” He said that their attack “bears on the face of it the evidence of design to stigmatise [sic] us willfully.” Storrs set what he’d actually written side by side with Hale and Bliss’s contrivances, pointing out that they had the original article by Storrs at hand. Their behavior was inexcusable: “This effort to blast our character and destroy our influence is not the first that has issued from the same quarter, which has been borne in silence; and it gives us pain to feel that duty now calls us to rebuke openly those who have sinned in this matter. We have long time holden our peace while a stream of slander has been poured over the land concerning us from men who, if their professions could be relied upon, are as truly the representatives of Jesus Christ as the Pope is of St. Peter. But God will judge between us.”[13]

            James White republished Storrs’ 1843 article on the return of the Jews in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, failing to note that it was not his current belief. “When an association, or individuals publish sentiments which the author has publicly renounced – and give no notice of the renunciation – all men, who have knowledge of the facts must pronounce it an act of dishonesty,” Storrs wrote. White replied in the May 12, 1853, issue of The Review and Herald:


We much regret the date of this discourse was not given. We also regret that we did not state that George Storrs had renounced a portion, at least, of the truth contained in that discourse; for we never had the least desire to conceal this fact. Our object in publishing it was for the truth it contains …


We also much regret that the Editor of the Examiner should so rashly charge us with “dishonesty,” and then withhold from us his paper containing this charge. Had it not been for the kindness of a brother in Massachusetts … we might have been ignorant of the charge to this day.


Whether the course pursued by the Examiner is, or is not, in accordance with the gospel of Christ, we now leave the sincere to judge.[14]


            Our historian’s sympathies rest entirely with Storrs. The Whites would gather well-deserved accusations of plagiarism and misrepresentation throughout their careers. White’s sniffing complaint that Storrs hadn’t sent them the issue of Bible Examiner containing his exposure of the Review and Herald’s dishonesty was a bit of misdirection. It blames the wronged party for being wronged. Storrs was kinder than we are, “cheerfully” forgiving them upon receipt of the apology.


End Excerpt


In the comment trail someone suggested that belief in the second advent makes one an Adventist. This is unreasoned idiocy. The near return of Christ is the common belief of Christendom. Adventism has distinctive doctrines, as Storrs noted. Most churches remain in the Literalist tradition, even if they don’t know the history.


In chapter four, A Separate Identity, we consider the early Bible Class in Allegheny. We trace their beliefs to original sources. The beliefs we consider in detail are: End of the Age; Second Probation, Ransom and Atonement, Parousia and Restitution, Restoration of the Jews, World Burning, Baptism, Resurrection, End Times Chronology and Prophetic Framework, The Trinity, Devil and Demons, Great Pyramid, and Church Ordinances.


We tell you what books Russell read, who he knew, and from where each of his doctrines came. Millerite Adventists rejected Russell’s teaching in each area except for two: The Trinity and Devil and Demons. Every other doctrine came from the Literalist community. In America, by Russell’s day, they were called Age-to-Come believers. Russell’s contacts centered on a small group associated with The Restitution.


Some of you insist Russell was an Adventist because he believed in Christ’s return. Do you have any idea how stupid that is? Did you bother to read one – just one – year’s worth of Bible Examiner? Did you notice who wrote for it, what they said, their view of Adventism? The other magazines and newspapers are not impossible to find. Did you look, or did you take intellectual poison by the spoonful? We are not responsible for your ignorance.


Did you know that Stetson abandoned Adventist doctrine for age to come belief. Did you know he wrote for The Restitution, a journal that opposed Adventism, and for The Rainbow, a British Literalist publication? Probably not.


Your definition of Adventism is wrong. No Adventist in the Russell era would have accepted it. No one else would either. The pastor of the Congregationalist church Russell attended wrote and preached on Christ’s return. This is not a secret. Anyone can find this. If you read his published sermon on the topic,  you will see that he did not teach Millerite doctrine. He taught Literalist doctrine that most American and British writers found scriptural.


In chapter one, Developing a Religious Voice, we tell you about Russell’s introduction to prophetic thought. Contrary to what’s usually written, this happened in his youth. Here are two excerpts from that chapter:


1. Russell read religious books and magazines, apparently most interested in those that focused on leading a Christian life. He was impressed with Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Progress, referring to it in articles and sermons throughout his life.[15] He tells us very little about his childhood reading. We know he read religious periodicals because he tells us so. He read tracts. He tells us that too. We believe he read juvenile literature. Almost without exception books for children were religious and often published by tract societies. The American Tract Society was an especially prolific publisher of children’s tracts and small books. Some of this material predisposed Russell to doctrines he would maintain for the rest of his life. Millennialist views, primarily British Literalist,[16] found their way into young people’s books.

Books by Mary Martha Sherwood, a British writer, were widely circulated in the United States and were standard fare in Sunday School libraries. One of her earlier books was entitled The Millennium; Or, Twelve Stories Designed to Explain to Young Bible Readers, the Scripture Prophecies Concerning the Glory of the Latter Days. The belief system she presents is colored by the Trinity and Eternal Torment doctrines, but the Atonement and Millennium are presented in ways that Russell believed were scriptural. The Christ stands in the stead of sinful humans; the Millennium is a period of restored blessings on an earth again made paradise. “It was the children of Adam,” she wrote, “who owed this debt to God; and that Christ our Saviour, before he could be admitted to stand in our place, and pay our debt, was obliged to become one of us, and to be born a child of Adam after the flesh.” Christ’s millennial rule was to be “the happy days when the kingdom of Christ shall prevail on the earth.”[17] Millennialist views pervaded Sherwood’s books, and there is very little of it that Russell did not accept.

Richard Newton, an Anglican clergyman and children’s writer, also elaborated on the millennium and a child’s place in it. In 1857 he published Rills From the Fountain of Life: or, Sermons to Children containing a sermon based on Isaiah 11:6. Entitled “The Millennial Menagerie,” it suggested that the interaction between animals and children as described by Isaiah was meant to be literally fulfilled.[18] While we could develop a significant list of children’s authors who wrote similarly, these are, I think, sufficient to show the type of literature to which Russell was exposed. We believe that Russell was prepared to accept millennial doctrines of this flavor by early exposure to them.

More adult writing also presented a view of the millennium that he would find agreeable. While we cannot with surety prove he read any one book, we think it likely he was exposed to Charlotte Elizabeth Tona, a popular English author with a strong American following. She died shortly before Russell’s birth but remained popular in the United States and more than one uniform edition of her works was printed. Her Personal Recollections contains a very clear statement of millennial beliefs along with supporting arguments. It would have been hard for Russell to escape exposure to books like these, even if he did not read these exact books. They would have prompted him to accept Millenarian views, though not Adventist views.


Later we write:


2. Exposed to Millennialist Preaching


           Henry D. Moore and others in Pittsburgh’s broad Calvinist community swayed Russell in ways he never fully discusses. Moore was a prophetic student, preaching on premillennial themes. An example of this type of sermon is his An Argument for the Second Personal Coming of Jesus Christ.[19] Moore was Literalist, approaching prophetic interpretation from that standpoint, writing that doctrine should be established clearly and unambiguously “by ordinary and natural interpretation of language.” Russell was made comfortable by this sensible approach to scripture and would carry it into his own prophetic enquiries.

The Calvinist community in Pittsburgh had a vibrant premillennialist element extending back at least to the 1820s, and in 1844 Presbyterians in Pittsburgh republished Archibald Mason’s Observations, Doctrinal and Practical on Saving Faith.[20] Mason (1753-1831) was a Scotch Covenanter with a strong interest in prophecy. His works were circulated in the United States, and his expectations for Christ’s return just past mid-Nineteenth Century influenced several expositors including Second Adventists.[21] In Two Essays on Daniel’s Prophetic Numbers, written in 1820, Mason postulated that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 would end in 1844. Within Russell’s acquaintance was William James Reid, pastor of the United Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. Reid preached on prophetic themes, and his sermons on the Revelation were collected together and published as Lectures on the Revelation.[22] Reid’s lectures were strongly influenced by Seiss, Elliott, Albert Barnes, and by continental Literalists.

Zydek presents as fact his belief that Russell read The Time of the End: A Prophetic Period, Developing, as Predicted, an Increase of Knowledge Respecting the Prophecies and Periods that Foretell the End.[23] This is the merest of speculations. The book was compiled from the writings of E. B. Elliott and others with the views of the anonymous Congregationalist author included. Zydek’s claim that “it has been reported that young Russell is seldom seen without a copy of The Time of the End” is puzzling. No contemporary source reports this; no nearly contemporary source presents this. This is, as is nearly all that Zydek presents about Russell’s early years, a bit of fantasy fiction.


End excerpts


Russells approach to prophecy did not vary from the Literalism adopted in his youth. He was predisposed to it. The Alleghny Church to whom Wendell preached was not an Adventist body. It’s listed in the Restitution as an approved One Faith-Age to Come church. Did you know that? That’s not hard to discover. Did you look?


For some of you, buying our book when it’s published next year will be a waste of money. I can see that from emails and from some comments posted here. You have an idea you do not wish to abandon, no matter what the evidence is. Some of you will find interesting new details. Volume one will be something over 300 pages, It takes you from Russell’s ancestry to the blow up between him and Barbour. In those 300 or so pages we will tell you things you did not know. But if you’re fixed in your ideas, don’t waste your money.


Our readers are responsible for themselves. It is not our responsibilty to define every phrase, word, idea, profile very person you may not find familiar. We expect you to think and to assume responsibility for your own study.

[1]               J. Gordon Melton is in error when he suggests that Storrs was ever a member of the Advent Christian Church. (Encyclopedia of American Religions, page 615.)
[2]               G. Storrs: The Age to Come, Bible Examiner, May 1850, page 74.
[3]               Letter from George Storrs dated November 29, 1843, found in The Western Midnight Cry, December 9, 1843, page 5. Storrs residence in Brooklyn was at 62 Hicks Street. The house still exists. Cornelia Davenport, Alexander Russell’s daughter and C. T. Russell’s first cousin, was his neighbor living at 74 Hicks.
[4]               Storrs’ itinerary is given in Six Sermons, 1856 revised edition, page 14, 17.
[5]               Julia Neuffer: The Gathering of Israel: A Historical Study of Early Writings, Digital Edition, page 4.
[6]               G. Storrs: The Age to Come, Bible Examiner, May 1850, page 74.
[7]               See A. S. Braham: The Philadelphia Press and the Millerites, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, April 1954, page 189ff.
[8]               As reprinted in The Christian Messenger and Reformer, December 1844, page 205. Christian Messenger was published in London, England.
[9]               J. M. Parker: Did the Millerites Have Ascension Robes? The Outlook: A Family Magazine, October 15, 1894, page 582-583.
[10]             Wellcome, op. cit, page 382.
[11]             G. Storrs: Tour East with Various Observations, Bible Examiner, May 1849, page 73.
[12]             G. Storrs: Misapprehension Corrected, Bible Examiner, July 1849, page 106.
[13]             G. Storrs: Misrepresentations Corrected, Bible Examiner, August 1851, pages 127-128.
[14]             J. White: Hear Us; Then Judge, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, May 12, 1853, page 208.
[15]          eg. C. T. Russell: Characteristics of a Sound Mind, The Watch Tower, September 1, 1912, page 280.
[16]          For a discussion of Literalist belief see the next chapter.
[17]          1829 edition, pages 27, 37.
[18]          Evangelical Book Society, Philadelphia, 1857. The sermon begins on page 170.
[19]          Cincinnati, 1874.
[20]          Published by A. Jaynes, Franklin Head, Pittsburgh, 1844.
[21]          Among Mason’s prophetic works were Three Discourses on the Millennium and A Scriptural View and Practical Improvement of the Divine Mystery. The latter was strongly Literalist, a belief system adopted by Age-to-Come adherents and Russell himself.
[22]          Stevenson, Foster & Co., Pittsburgh, 1878.
[23]          Published by J. P. Jewett, Boston, 1856.