Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Extract #3

From a much later chapter, our work in progress. POSTED FOR COMMENTS. And a reminder: Do not link to this blog through FACEBOOK. Ever.



From Zion’s Watch Tower alone there is no evidence that the Bible students participated in evangelisation regularly or in an organised way prior to 1881. The emphasis in the magazine articles was firmly on the doctrinal and devotional aspect of Bible student life. It appears that Paton and Jones and other contributors to Zion’s Watch Tower preferred this emphasis, and their articles showed more of an inward-looking concern with the group itself. Paton’s book was designed for an Adventist audience and there is little indication of a strong desire on his part (or on Babour’s before him) to propagate their message, or evangelise for converts – the initiative for their preaching tours appears to have come from Russell. This ‘inactivity’ was consistent with their deterministic world-view and their elitist conception of the ‘little flock’. Russell did tentatively suggest that his readers might distribute tracts, but it was only in 1881 that Russell’s emphasis on selling came to the fore. [His British spelling and punctuation retained.][1]

            As is most of what Rogerson wrote either in his book or his D.Phil thesis, this is tainted with misstatements, wrong conclusions and simple error. He suggests here that neither Barbour nor Paton were evangelizers. He based this on what he did not find in Zion’s Watch Tower. We can, to a small degree, excuse him for missing key statements in ZWT because he was dependent on the 1920 reprints which omit many of the earliest readers’ letters, but any excuse for his ignorance is moderated by clear statements of evangelical intent found in the reprinted volumes.[2] Some of this we previously described.
            Paton evangelized near his Michigan home, preaching in nearby churches to whoever would have him. He never gave up his self-identity as a clergyman, collecting fees for his ministry. This limited his ministry to congregations willing to host him and pay for the privilege, but he did evangelize. Day Dawn is an edited collection of his sermons. That this is so demonstrates a regular, evangelical ministry. We should observe too – as we did in the Introductory Essay – that Rogerson misidentifies Adventism. We doubt that Rogerson read Day Dawn; if he did he was totally unaware of American Literalism and how it differed from Millerite Adventism. Paton’s book addressed some Adventist issues, but in a critical way. The book’s content is Literalist. [Readers may want to refresh their memories by reviewing appropriate sections of volume one.]
            There are grammar issues in this paragraph and in the remainder of Rogeron’s thesis. [Note the misplaced modifier.] Typically, students who struggle with grammar have reading comprehension problems. But we have no certain way of knowing why Rogerson’s work is defective. Perhaps we owe some of its problems to his reliance on R. Rawe who provided him with documentation he did not have when he wrote his book.[3] We don’t know.
            We addressed Barbour, Russell and Paton’s evangelism in volume one and in chapter two of this volume. There is no need to revisit that, except to say Rogerson got it wrong. But he also tells us that: “It appears that Paton and Jones and other contributors to Zion’s Watch Tower preferred this emphasis, and their articles showed more of an inward-looking concern with the group itself.” This ignores half the evidence found in The Watch Tower. Until his defection, Jones regularly evangelized. He was part of a group of speakers willing to respond to requests for preaching, and he arranged his own venues as well. [See chapter 2, this volume.] Enough of this can be found in The Watch Tower reprints that Rogerson’s folly is inexcusable. Before we pass on to what stimulated evangelism among Watch Tower adherent groups, we should note that Rogerson’s claim that “it was only in 1881 that Russell’s emphasis on selling came to the fore.” is wrong, which at this point should surprise no-one. None of the Bible Students Tracts and certainly not the two small books Tabernacle Teachings and Food for Thinking Christians were sold to anyone. They were freely given, Russell bearing the expense. Only over a decade later was Tabernacle Teachings retitled as Tabernacle Shadows sold at a nominal price.
            Also, we reject Rogerson’s description of Watch Tower theology as deterministic. Determinism suggests that events unfold beyond human control Watch Tower belief was that each was responsible for the decisions they made. Russell and his associates rejected Presbyterian fatalism. Rogerson’s description of Watch Tower belief as elitist is meant to be inflammatory. Watch Tower belief was that God would ultimately save and bring to heavenly or earthly paradise nearly every human who ever lived. To us, this is not elitism.

Watch Tower Evangelism




[1]               A. T. Rogerson: A Sociological Analysis of the Origin and Development of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Schismatic Groups, D.Phil. thesis, Oxford University, 1972, page 51.
[2]               The Watchtower of December 15, 1990, page 28, pointed to the Reprints indices are “To this day ... the principal means of finding material presented in early issues of the Watch Tower magazine.” That is, of course, no longer true.
[3]               Rogerson does not mention Rawe’s assistance, but he cites material which in 1972 was available only to Rawe and one of our authors. We did not provide it to Rogerson.

10 comments:

jerome said...

Which material does Rogerson cite that only Rawe and a.n.other would have had in 1972? In Rogerson's aknowledgements (sic) he doesn't mention Rawe but does mention several well-known Bible Student historians from that era including Hagensick and Parkinson. All these people were in touch at some point.

B. W. Schulz said...

C. G. Falkner's mimeographed paper and some issues of Herald of the Morning.

Anonymous said...

Incredibly detailed and precise. By the way: I´m always very much impressed about how detailed the ideas were that those people developed. It´s just the distance of a century or a bit more, and interests in general have changed so much. Nowadays nearly nobody I know would care about religious basics (ask someone about the meaning of Pentecost, let alone any subtleties. Meticulous work.
Love, German Girl

Anonymous said...

I love your research and am looking forward to reading vol. 2. However, to me the statement below comes across as a personal attack which I would not expect in a scientify text:

"There are grammar issues in this paragraph and in the remainder of Rogeron’s thesis. [Note the misplaced modifier.] Typically, students who struggle with grammar have reading comprehension problems. But we have no certain way of knowing why Rogerson’s work is defective."

Another voice from Germany.

roberto said...

Thanks Bruce. I love this extract. The work is detailed, exhaustive, and documented as usually you do. Thanks to have introduced me in the "deterministic doctrine", explaining in clear and detailed words the vast difference with the Watch Tower doctrine.
The major fault of Rogerson resides in the lack of skills. Furthemore the grammar. Einstein, Hemingway, Jane Austin, Da Vinci, etc. had bad grammar, but unique skills, they were qualified in their fields. On the contrary Rogerson lackness is both in skills and grammar. Finally he is also partial.

St├ęphane said...

Dear Professor, in the vein of the comment of Another Voice, why wouldn't you, instead of your remark about Mr. Rogerson's grammar, visibly judicious but a little mean in my opinion, make use in a strategic place of the famous but infamous sic between brackets ? (in accord with the precept of the Gospel : “if someone slaps you on your right cheek, ignore what your left fist is doing” - if I am not mistaken…)

St├ęphane said...

(Oops the end of my comment disappeared) All the more so as in your observation Rogerson's name itself is flawed by a typing mistake (Rogeron [sic] ) … No offense intended please.

Gary said...

I have not read Rogerson's book and so in fairness do not feel equipped to challenge his conclusions. Many books written by former Witnesses appear to include conclusions reached prior to their research. Consequently they identify (and sometimes fabricate) evidence only that they are specifically looking for and ignore that which doesn't fit their theory. Evidence based research such as that provided on this blog, on the other-hand, may take years to collate and uncovers results that are mixed, sometimes disappointing, occasionally disturbing and a other times sensational and inspiring with reasonable conclusions being reached on the basis of the evidence collated.

As regards this latest extract, I find it intriguing. However I agree with the Anonymous 'other voice from Germany'. By all means explain why a writers work is in error by showing how and why he is wrong. But it seems unfair and out of keeping with the usual standard of evidence associated with this blog to suggest a writer 'might' have reading problems based on grammatical errors noted.* Further I cannot understand the last sentence in paragraph 4. If some of the defects of Rogerson's work relates to his reliance on R. Rawe, I cannot grasp how this could be, since you also state that R. Rawe "provided him with documentation he did not have when he wrote his book." As you know, I am sometimes slow at working things out so as to form an opinion, so it might be my comprehension is lacking here. But I'm not sure what you are trying to say and wonder it could be phrased better.

All good wishes,
Gary

*If grammatical errors were what you watch, oh who could stand?



TJDefendidos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Semer said...

Great extract, as usual.
As for the "determinism" and "elitism", mightn't he mean that 'almost everybody is going to be saved anyway' and 'only the few of us are going to go to heaven', respectively? Just a thought.