Saturday, January 25, 2014

Afterward

Mr. Schulz tasked me with writing an afterward for volume one. Here's what I have in very rough draft. Comments welcome.


What to Expect … 

            We do not have a release date for volume two of this work. If one measures by our current outline, it’s about half complete. Ultimately, this is not a good measure. Experience has taught us that we will stumble into the hidden closets and passages of history. This will force us to revise existing work and perhaps to add new chapters. But in a broad way I can tell you what to expect.

            For readers of Zion’s Watch Tower the years from 1879 to 1887 were tumultuous. They set the course for a new religious movement for decades. With some exceptions, volume two is limited to these years. Zion’s Watch Tower was launched. Russell and his associates traveled, visiting small groups, preaching their message and trying to sway their hearers to their point of view. A Year Book history asserts the formation of congregations. We will tell you what these groups were like. In most cases, they were not at all like what the Year Book suggested.

            The dispute of the nature of salvation, ransom, and atonement continued. It intensified as the movement fragmented. Paton, A. D. Jones, and others left. Each fragmentation has the unexpected effect of unifying what remained. Issues were openly debated between key periodicals.

Adams left Barbour starting The Spirit of the Word. Myers, an Age-to-Come evangelist, dropped his initial interest, starting his own periodical to advocate contrary doctrine. He published The At-One-Ment about 1883. We don’t have this, and cannot find it. We know of it from other sources. If one of our readers has this, please use the email on the copyright page to contact us.

With Russell’s blessing, Jones started Zion’s Day Star, soon to be renamed simply Day Star. Within a short time Jones was swayed by Josephite belief, the claim that Jesus was the biological son of Joseph. Jones fell into wealth, squandered it, and then turned to fraud to recoup.

W. Conley drifted into the Faith-Cure movement, becoming entangled with a rogue Christian and Missionary Alliance clergyman who seduced and molested the women connected with Conley’s Faith-Cure home. Conley had other issues. We tell you what they were and how they affected his relationship with Russell.

We consider early interest, focusing on new evangelists, their work, and the push to alter Russell’s views in key areas. We tell you of new doctrinal developments, a key one being the change from belief in a two-stage advent to a belief in a totally invisible advent. L. A. Allen played an important role in this. As far as I know, no-one has ever documented this.

We explore the publication of Food for Thinking Christians. There is a hugely unexplored story here. While this did not open the “foreign field” (There was prior interest in Canada, the United Kingdom, and France), it expanded if largely. We tell you in detail about the early work in the UK, Canada, China, Liberia and elsewhere. We explore the roots of foreign language work within the United States. These chapters restore names and biographies to people long forgotten. They give, we think, a clearer insight into the nature and cohesiveness of the earliest Watch Tower adherents.

We tell you about their expectations for 1881. Watch Tower readers were neither the first nor the only group to focus on 1881 as a year of prophetic significance. You will see that among Watch Tower readers expectations differed. The 1881 failure was disastrous for Barbour. It shook Jones loose from his spiritual moorings. Russell promulgated a new doctrine which some readers found disturbing.

This period is one of developing self view. We’ve detailed some of that in this volume. We explore it more fully when we chronicle the division between Russell and Paton.

We tell you about the publication of Plan of the Ages, exploring Maria Russell’s claim to joint-authorship. We tell you about the first booklets and tracts. We explore the influence of Smith-Warleigh. We present a biography of one of Russell’s early associates, an English writer.

The last chapter, as we have it in our outline now, is a consideration of the first congregations. We explore their nature and development. We tell you something of the individuals who helped found them. This is an interesting story that takes us to a ship’s captain, a man who fled a murder charge to become a newspaper editor, and others equally colorful.

You will find a more complex, more interesting story than is usually told. Personally, I like volume two. I think this volume is important for the background it presents, the clearer picture of Russell’s youth and of those who influenced him. But the story we tell in volume two explains the nature of the movement started with the publication of Zion’s Watch Tower, and that is the heart of this history.

1 comment:

roberto said...

I am still waiting for volume one. To all practical purposes, I think, I will be one of the first buyers. Surely the first Italian.
But I am already curious to follow you in the next steps.