Saturday, August 17, 2019


Start, partial. For comment. So please do so.


Doctrinal Evolution and Prophetic Failure  

            Through 1880 and 1881 Russell grew in confidence as a writer, or at least as an outliner of articles he left for his wife to put in final form. It was a period of doctrinal restatement, and occasionally one of refinement. In one of his dialogue-format articles he wrote:

God’s word is “new every morning and fresh every evening.” In this respect it differs from all other books and, undoubtedly it is a fountain of living waters (truths) from the fact that it contains special dispensational truths, as well as general truth. Thus it is a great storehouse from which the Lord’s servants are to bring forth “things new and old,” that the household of faith may have meat in due season.” I seem to see in a clearer light than ever before, the present condition of the nominal church and its future.[1]

            Russell defined himself – and Watch Tower adherents – as dispensationalists. [We demonstrated in one of the introductory essays, Dispensationalism did not originate with Darby but significantly predates him.] For Russell, this meant that scriptural understanding appropriate to the Last Times was due. However, none of Russell’s ‘clearer’ understanding was new or original to him in any way, but it was long established doctrine among millennialists. He did not attribute his “clearer light” to anyone because he saw it as Biblical truth, derived from that source alone. This is not exceptional. Few English language commentators did anything else. It was the German and Dutch expositors who referred to the work of others, and we cannot prove that Russell read any of them, even in English translation. It would lighten a historian’s load of he had.
            Never the less, Russell tells us that his theology was not set in stone with his separation from Barbour. He did not remain a Barbourite at heart. And he read widely. The “clearer light” he saw was adopted from standard prophetic expositions. In the article quoted above he identified the great red dragon as the Roman Catholic Church. This wasn’t ‘new’ to anyone, but was doctrine among many Protestants for centuries.
            In volume one of Separate Identity we pointed to the prevalence of prophetic interest in Pittsburgh, naming Russell’s pastor as one who promoted this. Within Russell’s religious circle was William James Reid, pastor of pastor of the United Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. We do not know that Russell read Reid’s lectures on The Revelation, but he certainly read something similar. Reid said that none of his thought was original, naming his sources. His view of the Great Red Dragon of the Apocalypse was echoed in Russell’s writing as was his view of the composite beast with the Leopard’s body. There are differences, but all differences with Reid find correspondences with other expositors.
            Watch Tower adherents were often familiar with commentaries on the prophecies. The Allegheny Study Group spent considerable time reading them, especially when they considered Restitution [Restored Paradise] doctrine. Russell selected from existing commentaries those thoughts which he believed most closely represented the Bible’s meaning. When he met Barbour he was introduced to a prophetic framework based on the Bible’s prophetic numbers. Almost none of this was new to Russell; probably the only ‘new’ thing was Barbour’s “Israel’s Double” argument that asserted that there was a time parallel between events in ancient times and modern times.
            We should state too that an online encyclopedia of doubtful worth, at least when it comments on prophecy-based movements, is wrong when it suggests that [continue]

            Now to return to our original discussion, the 1880s were a period of investigation into prophetic subjects, and in various ways Russell suggested that his understanding of them was incomplete. Reporting on his 1881 visit to Lynn, Massachusetts, he wrote:

I spoke on the subject of this same chapter to the name-less little company of “this way,” in Lynn, Mass., and concluded my remarks by telling them that I had never seen a satisfactory explanation of the 666. And, though I thought I had given a correct analysis of the symbols of the chapter, yet I could not claim it to be wisdom, since I could not interpret the number. I suggested, however, that if ours be the correct understanding of the time in which we are living – the “harvest” of the age – and if our general application of these symbols be correct, the number should soon be understood. I urged examination on the subject by all, for the Lord is sometimes pleased to give wisdom through the weakest of his children. “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained praise.”[2]

            If we can accept a statement found in the August 1, 1917, Watch Tower, he remained dissatisfied with his research up to near his death: “Brother Russell often spoke about writing the Seventh Volume [of Studies in the Scriptures], and one of his last utterances about it was to the effect: ‘Whenever I find the key, I will write the Seventh Volume; and if the Lord gives the key to someone else, he can write it’ – or words to that effect.”[3] The problem here – at least for a historian – is that this testimony lacks other support. Still, I do not doubt its accuracy. No-one questioned it, though many were vocal in opposition to the seventh volume. It was entitled The Finished Mystery. The title was derived from Revelation 10:7: “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” (AV)
            Doctrinal developments in the 1880s were diverse, but always connected to their understanding of prophecy. Three major doctrinal changes, and a few minor ones, come from this period. Two of the major changes came before 1881 and the other after. Each change caused controversy.

Parousia (παρουσία)

            That Christ would return invisibly was believed by many before Russell and Barbour adopted the idea. We’ve detailed that elsewhere in this series. Russell came to the idea through Seiss’ Last Times. Barbour was already familiar with the idea, but didn’t adopt it until Benjamin Keith promoted it. All of this we’ve documented before. As did many, they believed in a two-stage Second Advent. Christ would come invisibly, requiring a ‘sign’ to detect it. In time he would become visible for ‘judgments.’ Russell’s explanation as found in Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return was: “We believe the scriptures to teach, that, at His coming and for a time after He has come, He will remain invisible; afterward manifesting or showing Himself in judgments and various forms, so that ‘every eye shall see him.’” The ‘every eye’ quotation comes from Revelation 1:7. Russell footnoted that text, explaining that the verse “does not necessarily teach that that every eye will see Him at the same moment.[4]
            They expected Christ to become visible at least to some in or near 1881, but constant and considerable discussion among Watch Tower adherents modified that belief. Barbourites were tending to discount their shared παρουσία doctrine, drifting back to expecting a visible presence only. A change in Watch Tower belief led to arguments, and Barbour called the new doctrine “spiritualism.”
First Printing of Object and Manner

            The discussion became public through an article by Lizzie Allen appearing in the May 1880 issue. Written in response to Barbour’s claims to have uncovered a “clean” theology, his term for his ventures into esoteric belief systems, Allen focused on the sign of Christ’s presence, and the difference in viewpoint between Watch Tower adherents and Barbourites.  She referenced Matthew 24:3, presenting a bastarized quotation based on the Emphatic Diaglott, a Greek-English interlinear: “What shall be the sign of Thy parousia, and of the end of the world?” Jesus answer showed, she wrote, “the need of a sign.”   Jesus warned (Verses 4-5) that many would claim to be the messiah, deceiving man. Allen’s claim was that “a sign will enable those who obey this injunction to discern between the false and the true.”
            This was a basic point, preliminary to other more important thoughts. A “sign” was needed because “of the obscurity which marks the period of his return.” Christ’s presence was not to generate,

physical demonstrations as shall make all aware of it. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the presence of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were  before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the presence of the Son of man be, (Vers. 37-39.) All things will indeed continue as from the beginning. How then will the church be aware of His presence, except by a sign?
            The sign was given only to those who obeyed Christ’s commands, “and these cannot show it to the unfaithful.”
            Allen paraphrased Matthew 24:23-28, which reads according to the Authorized Version:

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. ”So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

            In her view the ‘lightning” was not, and could not be, natural light, “else His presence would not be likened to the days that were before the flood.” She saw it as spiritual light, “divine truth.”  A “great and wonderful unfolding of truth is all that the bible gives us a right to expect during the presence of the Son of man, and before translation,” she wrote.[5] This was meant as a refutation of the assertion of some Barbourites that Jesus would appear to his servants before heavenly resurrection. It was not a rejection of a two-stage parousia, but it planted the seeds for that. If one accepted her arguments, then one understood that Christ’s presence was totally invisible.
            She rejected Barbourite belief based on 1 John 3:2: “It  doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” If ‘the saints’ do not know Jesus appearance until they are resurrected, then Christ would not appear to humans in advance. She appealed to Colossians 3:4, writing:

Again, when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:4). Hence, we urge on those who are “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” the Savior's command, “Take heed let no man deceive you.” The light of truth made plain by the Spirit, is the only promised guide, while here we wait. And this to us, is far more convincing than any physical manifestation could be.

            The fuller implications of this article are apparent. It set off discussions that did not immediately make it to The Watch Tower. Two of the movement’s principals and some of its new clergy adherents had some familiarity with Koiné Greek [1st Century commonly spoken Greek]. The dust started to settle after a behind scenes discussion of the Greek text of Revelation 1:7 which says of Christ’s return that “Every eye shall see him,” Russell summarized their conclusions in the September 1880 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower. Entitled “Optomai,” a common transliteration of the verb to see, the article summarized usages:

The Greek word Optomai rendered, shall see, in Rev. 1:7. – “Every eye shall see him,” and rendered, shall appear, in Heb. 9:28 “To them that look for Him shall he appear a second time,” does not always mean to see with the eye. It rather signifies attend and recognize. Illustrations of its meaning attend: The priests and elders answered Judas; “See (Optomai--attend) thou to that.” Matt. 27:4. Again, Pilate said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see (optomai – attend) ye to it.” Vs. 24. Also the word look in Acts 18:15. The general signification of the word however, is recognize ...

Again, Jesus said to Mary concerning Lazarus' resurrection, “Said I not that thou shouldst see (optomai) the glory of God? John 11:40. Mary's eyes saw no glory but she did see Lazarus raised, and in the power thus displayed she recognized the glory of God.

Again “All flesh shall see (optomai – recognize) the salvation of God.” Luke 3:6. In the light of these illustrations of the use of the word we can realize that there may be but little seeing of The Christ on the part of the world with the eye. See how similar is the last illustration with the first text quoted – “every eye” and “all flesh” shall recognize Him as the salvation of God.[6]

            This was not a novel interpretation. Others asserted this. And it is all within the word’s definition. Walter Roy Goff [1877-1953], a post-millennialist Lutheran clergyman, used the same points to support his views, writing:

[T]he four main passages which are supposed by many people to mean that we shall see with corporeal eyes the Lord's return have about them abundant reason for any careful interpreter to say they do not contain such literal meaning. And if this is so, then the disciples did not expect a visible return of their Lord after the statement of the men in white apparel (Acts 1:11), as some assert ... . And those today, who build up their argument for a visible return on these four passages and others like them, must be wrong, especially since there are definite passages denying a visible coming, (Luke 17:22), “Ye shall desire, * * * * but ye shall not see,” (John 16:10), “I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more,”[7]

            This discussion became settled doctrine with the publication of Food for Thinking Christians. If there was indefiniteness in Allen’s article, something much for pointed in Russell’s article, and a definite doctrinal statement in Food. Quoting or paraphrasing Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 3:2; and Ephesians 1:17 but without citing them, Russell wrote:

How will He come again? Briefly stated, we believe the Scriptures to teach that our Lord will never again appear as a man; that at his second coming he will be invisible to mankind; that none will ever see him except the Church: “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord;” that the Church will not see him until changed from natural to spiritual bodies; that then “we shall see him as he is” [not as he was], for “we shall be like him” [not he like us, as at the first advent]. But while none are to see him with their natural eyes, all are to recognize his presence and his power (“the eyes of their understanding being opened”). Hence we read: “Every eye shall see (optomai – recognize) him”[8]

            This doctrinal transition brought controversial comments from Barbour, but that conflict is subject matter for volume three of Separate Identity. As clergy outrage intensified after 1895, the Watch Tower invisible presence doctrine was interminably criticized and often misrepresented. This continued through the 20th Century and into the present century. Consider Walter Martin’s comment:

Jehovah’s Witnesses claim scholarship for this blanket translation of parousia, yet not one great scholar in the history of Greek exegesis and translation has ever held this view. Since 1871, when “Pastor” Russell produced this concept, it has been denounced by every competent scholar upon examination.

The reason this Russellite rendering is so dangerous is that it attempts to prove that parousia in regard to Christ’s second advent really means that His return or “presence” was to be invisible, and unknown to all but “the faithful.”[9]

            This is a polemicist’s poor research and misrepresentation. His misstatements vary from minor to significant. The 1871 date is wildly wrong, something he could easily have known when he wrote. Russell did not originate the concept, but as we’ve shown elsewhere, it has a long history. He suggests that no “great” Greek-language scholar ever accepted a uniform translation of παρουσία as presence. One supposes that any scholar that disagreed with Martin would not have been ‘great’ in his eyes, including Joseph Rotherham, who noted in the appendix to his translation: “In this edition the word parousia is uniformly rendered ‘presence’ (‘coming,’ as a representative of this word, being set aside). The original term occurs twenty four times in the N. T. [He lists all the verses which we omit from this quotation] ... The sense of ‘presence’ is so plainly shewn by the contrast with ‘absence’ (implied in 2 Co. x. 10, and expressed in Ph. ii. 12) that the question naturally arises, –  Why not always so render it?”[10] Martin failed to cite or quote any of the “great” scholars who rejected Watch Tower exposition of παρουσία. When one only writes polemics, it is convenient to avoid citing sources.
            Martin misrepresents Russell and modern Watchtower belief, claiming that their view is that only “the faithful” would be aware of it. He puts ‘the faithful’ in quotes, but the phrase is lacking on the pages he sites as is the belief he attributes to Watch Tower adherents. Russell, the modern Watch Tower and Bible Student groups all believe that in time it will become apparent to everyone, at least by the time Christ executes God’s judgment. If one writes a polemic their statements should be accurate, but polemicists are seldom interested in accuracy. Martin’s real objection is that it Russell, and modern descendent religions, present an understanding of prophecy different from his own. The same is true for those who were Russell’s contemporaries and wrote similarly. Many who wrote anti-Russell tracts simply mentioned the teaching without refuting it, relying on shock value to accomplish their purpose. An example is George Whitefield Ridout’s The Deadly Fallacy of Russellism or Millennial Dawnism.

The Narrow Way to Life

            Russell dates their discussion of Matthew 7:13-14[11] to the Allgheny Study Groups early days, but it became a matter for general discussion with October 1880 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower.

[1]           C. T. Russell: Dialogue. Rev. 13., Zion’s Watch Tower, January 1880, page 1.
[2]           C. T. Russell: “The Name of the Beast, Or the Number of his Name”, Zion’s Watch Tower, January/February 1882, page 7-8.
[3]           Long-Looked-For Seventh Volume, The Watch Tower, August 1, 1917, page 226.
[4]           C. T. Russell: Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return, Herald of the Morning, First Edition, 1877, page 39.
[5]           The Watchtower publication Aid to Bible Understanding [1971] and its revision as Insight on the Scriptures comment on Jesus words: “There would be nothing to hide about Jesus’ having come as King, at the beginning of his royal presence.” [Insight, volume 2, page 255] Though this sentence is somewhat convoluted, it suggests only that Jesus’ parousia would be widely known. However, The Watchtower [May 1, 1995, page 12] returned to Allen’s exposition, saying: “As Jesus foretold, in a global way, lightnings of Bible truth continue to flash over broad areas from eastern parts to western parts. Truly, as modern light bearers, Jehovah’s Witnesses prove to be ‘a light of the nations, that [Jehovah’s] salvation may come to be to the extremity of the earth.’—Isaiah 49:6.”
[6]           C.T. Russell: Optamai, Zion’s Watch Tower, September 1880, page 8.
[7]           W. R. Goff: The Handbook of Eschatology, Or, A Consistent Biblical View of the Lord’s Return,  Keystone Publishing House, Blairsville, Pennsylvania, 1917, page 34.

[8]           C. T. Russell: Food for Thinking Christians, Watch Tower supplement, 1881, page 63.
[9]           W. Martin and R. Zarcharias: The Kingdom of the Cults, “updated edition,” 2003, page 101.
[10]          J. B. Rotherham: Emphasized Bible, 1897 edition, appendix, page 271.
[11]          Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Friday, August 9, 2019

D. D. Lathrop again

The Wisconsin library that holds his booklet sent it to me [as a scan] at no cost. Any of our regular readers who may be interested may have a copy by emailing me. Posting a request here may not work. Use email.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Some of you may be interested in this

B. Vance

A brother B. Vance started preaching in Canada sometime near 1898. Other than a letter from him to The Enterprise I know nothing about him. Anyone?


Reading through all the finished chapters suggests to me that what I had planned as the final chapter of volume 2 should be shoved off into volume three. That leaves one chapter and an afterward to finish.

It appears that volume 2 will have about 600 pages. It may cost about five dollars more than volume one, though I will try to prevent that. Without chapter one, which isn't finished, there are a little over 370,000 words. Prepare to read ... a lot.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

D. D. Lathrop

University of Wisconsin at Madison has a copy of Lathrop's 8 page poem. If they won't scan it for me, I will need someone to visit and copy it. Anyone?

The parting of the ways

There is a certain poignancy to these two advertisements from the Washington DC Evening Star for October 7, 1922, page 10. In the Church Notices under Bible Students you were given two choices.

There were the regular meetings of the IBSA group at the Pythian Temple Auditorium. G W Walters was a local man, whose lectures were often advertised at this venue over 1921-1922. The visiting speaker was W E Van Amburgh.

But there was also a meeting being sponsored by the Associated Bible Students, which was the name now used by those who separated from the Watch Tower Society. The speaker here was F H Robison. Robison and Van Amburgh had been at Bethel together for many years and were jailed together as part of the “Brooklyn 8” in 1918. But Robison had left Bethel and his position on the Watch Tower editorial committee early in 1922. His journey would lead him into Universalism by 1923.

Here they were at the same city, lecturing at different venues. Interestingly, the timing as advertised would have allowed any wavering or curious to attend both meetings.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

For Comment - Temporary Post

Someone at Patterson visits this blog seeking information about Rachael's point of view. I herewith oblige, though they have to find it on their own. Comments are welcome. However, other than some proof reading this will not change. My intro to it explains why.

Introductory Essay 2 – By R. M. de Vienne

Editor’s Note

This is Rachael’s Essay as it stood on the day she died. Our agreement was that it was hers to write without my interference. She may be gone, but our agreement stands. So, though we discussed planned revisions, additions and changes, they weren’t made, and I present it to you as she left it. It includes some statements that I probably would not have made. However, while I do not see the wisdom behind a criticism or two, I do not see anything she presents as without basis in fact, though her interpretation may differ from mine.

An advance reader expressed upset at her description of the Watchtower Society product Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom as hagiography. The person who found this offensive is not a native English speaker. Before you reject that description, I suggest consulting a dictionary.

            It’s taken longer to write this volume of Separate Identity than we anticipated, but as with the two previous books, few of our expectations have stood up under the light of better research. We believed that a second volume would complete our research. It has not done so. There will be, assuming we live long enough to complete it, a third and final volume.
            This volume differs in format from its predecessor. The first volume follows a loose chronological order. Because of its narrow focus primarily on the years 1879 to 1882, this volume is a series of essays each focusing on an aspect of Watch Tower transition into a separate, identifiable belief system. There is a looser chronological order here; and the chapters occasionally overlap each other in subject matter. You will find some repetition of points. We’ve tried to limit this, but that it occurs is unavoidable. As before, we elected to present this history in as much detail as we can, hoping thereby to take our readers into the spirit of the times. Omission seems to us to be misdirection.
            Volume 3 will focus on the fragmentation that followed 1881 and the issues surrounding the publication of The Plan of the Ages. It is partially written, but much hard research remains. Though some of the continuing issues between Barbour and Russell fall into the years we consider here, they are part of the history destined for volume 3 and will appear there. As always, we’re hampered by lack of resources. We have few issues of key magazines. We do not have anything like a complete run of A. P. Adams’ Spirit of the Word. We miss key years of J. H. Paton’s The World’s Hope. A paper published in California exists as a few clippings pasted into a scrapbook. A booklet written by Barbour seems to have been lost. We do not have any of the first issues of Jones’ Day Star. We appreciate help locating things like these.
            Now, let me tell you about volume two. We tell you about the Watch Tower’s principals’ struggle to preserve the body of believers, to transition Barbourite believers into Watch Tower adherents. We tell you about their earliest missionary journeys, drawing much of this from sources not referenced by anyone else. We introduce you to people mentioned only once or twice in Zion’s Watch Tower but who played an important role in its earliest years. We tell you about the nature of the earliest congregations and fellowships and how they were formed. Again, we draw on first-hand experiences not found in any history of the movement. We tell you about the reaffirmation of old doctrines and the discussions behind that.
            The movement attracted clergy. We discuss this in some detail, naming names, telling the story as we could uncover it of several clergy turned Watch Tower believers. In 1881 Russell and a few others organized and provided initial financing for the work. We provide details not found elsewhere, and we correct a widely-spread error. We tell you about the start of the publishing ministry and the development of the Priesthood of All Believers doctrine among Watch Tower adherents. A key event was the printing and circulation of Food for Thinking Christians. We offer our readers a full discussion of this small book’s circulation and its effects on readership. With the circulation of Food new workers entered the field. The Watchtower society has ignored these, especially John B. Adamson, in its histories. Adamson and some others among the earliest missionaries left the Watch Tower movement. Watchtower writers tend to ignore the contributions of those who defected from the movement. It is probably safe to say that much of this history is unknown to Watchtower researchers – or at least unacknowledged by them. It’s not their focus.
            An important part of this era’s story is the spread of Watch Tower doctrine to various ethnic groups within the United States and to other lands. So we tell you about work among foreign language groups in the United States. The von Zechs and a Norwegian sea captain are part of this story. We tell you about the early work in Canada, the United Kingdom, China, and other lands. We discuss at length the history of a man mentioned with favor in Jehovah’s Witnesses: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom.[1] His story is far different from what the author of that book presumed. We tell you about the early work in Liberia. [This history appeared first as B. W. Schulz: “Watch Tower Faith in Liberia: A Conflict of Faith and Authority,” Nsukka Journal of History, University of Nigeria, Volume 4, 2017, page 31ff.] Almost none of this has been published anywhere except in the original documents.
            Eighteen eighty-one was a key year in Watch Tower history. Most of those who mention that year’s events misstate them. We do our best to correct the misdirection and misstatement common among recent writers. We think we provide a more complete picture of the Watch Tower’s earliest years, a more balanced picture than found elsewhere.
            Read Mr. Schulz’ Introductory Essay. It clarifies issues that confuse some writers. It puts Russell and the Watch Tower movement in a historical perspective often misstated or ignored by recent writers. A later chapter takes up attempts by some historians and sociologists to place the Watch Tower movement within one of the current theoretical frameworks. We suggest that they ignore key elements of the Watch Tower belief system so that their theories are questionable. 

the remainder of this post has been deleted.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

CTR "in color"

(with grateful thanks to Brian K)





From L to R - Robert Hollister, J A Bohnet, C T Russell.


I'm off for emergency surgery

I will be unavailable for most of the next two weeks.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Translate this?

Can any of our German speakers translate and transcribe this. I can understand parts of it, but not all of it. Anyone?

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Thanks and a Comment

This is a ‘card of thanks’ to those who recently contributed to my research fund. Your contributions allowed me to acquire some rare material, including a book that was available to me only as a partial and poorly done photocopy. Originals are fragile and rare, and they’re not available through Inter-Library Loan because of that. The last one I saw for sale cost four hundred dollars. With some considerable negotiation and by selling something to add to the fund, I was able to acquire this book for just under one hundred dollars. Yes, original research is expensive.

If I live long enough to write it, research for a book on the World War One era will entail massive expense. But that’s way in the future. Two other multi-volume books will come between Separate Identity and that. Probably, given my age, this simply will not happen.

Someone recommended A. Vandenberg’s article printed in the January 1986 Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine. I am aware of it. Before I comment further, I should disclose that I knew Al Vandenberg. We worked for the same school district, and we discussed Witness history. My view of him is colored by our history, and, while I will be as fair as possible with my comments, you should know this. I saw him, despite his ‘awards,’ as a sloppy teacher and worse researcher. He declined access to original material that would have changed what he wrote. His personal behavior was questionable, and later he was convicted of child-rape and sent to prison. Not at all a good companion.

This does not mean I will not reference this article at some point. But his article is based on personal opinion and shallow research. It is based on secondary, faulty, and misleading sources, and though it is not as obvious, it is a Catholic apologetic. I won’t analyze his article in detail. But you should know that using it as authoritative perils your own research.

Vandenberg cites interviews with then living opposing clergy. None of them were authorities; they just said what he liked, what he wanted to hear. Similar interviews may put you on the right trail, but they do not and cannot prove anything. If one stops there, breathes a sigh of satisfaction, and uses the material, one provides to his readers very faulty work. It is similar to cutting out a photo of ice cream and trying to serve it as desert.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

One of the items acquired ...

Recent support for my research fund allowed me to finally acquire this, and at a very reasonable price for the item. Thanks to those who support this project! [You may have to 'click' on the image to see the entire picture.]

Some of you will find this useful

Storrs and others

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


There are three titles available to me, each costing about fifty dollars. I cannot pay this, even though the amount is relatively small.

Among those publications I need is Pearson's Six General Signs of Our Lord's Return. A good, clear scan would do. 

Thanks to the generosity of a faithful blog reader, I no longer need Pearson's booklet.

Also ... for those who are interested in Storrs, there is this:

I have this, purchased about twenty years ago. This is a very reasonable price. If you're interested. Storrs quoted from Newton. I do not know if Russell read this book, and I believe any influence from it came through Storrs.

Monday, July 15, 2019

John H Paton - Civil War Reunion


This photo of men of the 22nd Michigan Infantry, Volunteer 1st Division Reserve Corps, was taken on the occasion of the dedication ceremonies of the Chicamauga and Chattanooga Military Park on September 18, 1895. The monument is located in the Chicamauga Battlefield section of the park, a little northwest of Snodgrass House.

The men appear to be wearing tags commemorating the dedication ceremonies and their reunion at the site where they engaged in a Civil War conflict 32 years earlier. Some are also wearing battle ribbons.

The man kneeling above where the photo is marked with an X is John H. Paton. Kneeling next to him is his brother David, and standing to the right of him is their brother William. The men were, respectfully, 52, 56, and 50 years old when the photo was taken.

Photograph and description kindly supplied some years ago by JPM, a great grandson of John H. Paton.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

More on THAT picture

Here is a photograph of C T Russell in his study at the Pittsburgh Bible House c. 1906. Notice the picture on the wall in the top left hand corner of this photograph.

If you look very closely, this is the photograph under discussion. It is a picture taken of the workers at the Bible House. I now have two copies, one marked 1899 and the other 1902. Both came from a relative of W E Van Amburgh. As to which is the correct year, a lot would depend on when the Henninges were in America, between visits to Britain, then Germany, and finally Australia. Bernhard might have those details.

It's trivia - but fun.


Bernhard kindly sent through a lot of information on the group photograph which establishes 1902 (or shortly thereafter) as the correct date.

You see on the group photo brother William Van Amburgh and left brother George Garman. Both became members of the Bible House family in autumn 1900. So the photo couldn’t be taken before 1900.
Ernest and Rosa (Rose) Henninges were in England from April 1900 till November 1901 and than he came back to Pittsburgh. They stayed there till June 1903; than they went to Germany. So the photo couldn’t be taken before November 1901.
Otto Koetitz and his wife Jennie succeeded Henninges in November 1903 in Germany. Otto was a coworker in Bethel from 1896 followed by his wife in 1900.
Albert Williamson became a member of the Bible House staff in 1899. Harriet Stark (who married him in 1905) and her mother Britee C. Stark began to work in the Bethel in 1900.
Laura Whitehouse lived also there since 1900.
Johannes Gotthold Kuehn came also in 1900 to the Bible House as a part-time worker. His wife Ottilie Friederike and son Alfred followed in 1902.
So this brings us to the date of 1902, maybe early 1903.

Full Photo with Identification - From Bernard

1902 Photo
Click on image to see entire.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


Ernest Charles and Rose Ball Henninges at the rear. William E Van Amburgh in the front.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Rough Draft for Comments

This post is temporary. Do not copy it or share it off the blog. I'm posting it for comments. If you fail to comment you defeat the purpose of this post. If you can add to it in a meaningful way, please do so. Please keep comments on point. Remember this is not a controversialist web page. This is a history blog.

This will come down on Monday. If you intend to comment, now is the time.

Evangelical Voice

            Personal evangelism was characteristic of the age especially among millennialists. Belief in Christ’s near return meant that spreading the message was urgent. The New Testament suggests that Christians share that message, and millennialists saw doing so as an imperative obligation. Millennialist belief was widely spread in Churches, even when the pastor rejected it. Believers were susceptible to the message, no less so to the Watch Tower message. Post Civil War, mainline American churches reached a fragile peace among themselves with a tacit agreement, not always observed, to not criticize each other. Millennialists, including Watch Tower adherents, felt free – even obligated – to criticize the lack of moral and scriptural adherence among the denominations. Clergy reacted strongly and negatively, but for Milennialists, “imminence has meant that the individual must be ever-vigilant for the Lord’s return.”[1] This, in turn, meant that they shared their beliefs and expectations.
            Russell era evangelism is the foundation upon which the descendant religions – Jehovah’s Witnesses and Bible Student congregations – are built. Yet, its origins are left unexplored. Watchtower writers focus on a few key events: An article in the April 1881 Watch Tower, Rutherford’s Advertise the Kingdom speech; the circulation of Food for Thinking Christians. These events are related with minimal or no connection to their context. Secular and opposition writers do no better, drawing almost everything they say from Watchtower Society commentary, presenting an similar history. A regrettable exception is found in A. T. Rogerson’s D.Phil. thesis. He discusses Russell-era evangelism with the same carelessness that he demonstrated in his previously published book:

The remainder of this post was deleted.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Charles Seagrin

The following is from a footnote in Jehovah's Witnesses in Europe, volume 2. The essay is by Bertil Presson. None of this is referenced to original sources; can we do better.

[1] I need to verify Presson's claims. From what source do we get his Swedish name and immigration date?

[2] I cannot find in Seagrin's June 1883 letter or in Russell's introductory comments an offer to translate Watch Tower material into Swedish. Can we find a source for this. [Frankly, I think Presson misread the June 1883 Watch Tower, but I could be wrong. Anyone?]

[3] Can we locate any of the Seagrin booklets? Presson cites one title, says there were more.

Large elements of both volumes of Jehovah's Witnesses in Europe show typical European laxness when dealing with sources. But I cannot accept and use material until I know its ultimate source. Can you help?

Friday, June 28, 2019

German edition Zion's Watch Tower

We've had some interest in locating these. These links may help

Down loads as pdf files

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


I had to sell mine to pay hospital bills insurance did not cover. I'd love to have this, but I simply cannot afford it. However, you might be able to add this to your library.


In the period noted above some individual congregations put out their own newsletters and service bulletins. I need copies. See Example below

Monday, June 24, 2019

You can help by ...

If you're feeling generous, Separate Identity has found a home in a very small number of university libraries. You would extend our reach by donating to a library near you. Anyone?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Strange Case of Alfred Eychaner (3 of 3)

by Jerome

(Addenda – part 3 of 3)

For part 1 – Pittsburgh Presbyterians – see post on June 2.
For part 2 - An Evening Prayer and the Case of William Hickey – see post on June 7.

The final addenda in this three part series relates to events in 1895. While this is beyond the timeline covered in Separate Identity volume one, events of those early days do have a bearing on a footnote found in that book in chapter 2, footnote 87. New information has been discovered to resolve a question which the footnote iindirectly raises.

The valid point is made in the footnote that Russell worked with others who did not hold to his exact doctrine. This would certainly include at some point those associated with the Age to Come/One Faith/Church of God movement. The meetings held at Quincy Hall, Leacock Street were attended by an independent mixture of people and although were sometimes billed as Advent Christian in the early 1870s were also billed as One Faith/Church of God. The Church of God newspaper at the time was The Restitution and in its Church Directory in the issue for November 5, 1874, it listed G D Clowes as preacher at Quincy Hall.

Clowes is mentioned in early ZWTs and his death is recorded in 1889 with a very positive obituary. All this is found in this footnote.

As the Advent Christian Church became a more formal denomination, it caused an inevitable parting of the ways. By 1880 One Faith adherents were sniping at the Advent Christians as only being “half-brethren.” (see for example The Restitution for July 28, 1880, page 2).

But then we travel further on in time to 1895 when a Church of God/One Faith tent meeting appears to have Charles Taze Russell sharing the platform for several days with Andrew James Eychaner (1842-1936). Or does he?

Looking at the evidence for or against this happening in 1895 highlights the problem in evaluating primary and secondary sources, and how new discoveries can sometimes change conclusions.

The main source, and in fact the only source, for putting C T Russell on a One Faith/Church of God platform as late as the mid-1890s is a diary kept by Eychaner. This was featured by Jan Turner Stilson in her excellent Biographical Encyclopedia: Chronicling the History of the Church of God Abrahamic Faith (ISBN 0-615-46561-6). The diary pages for the event are reproduced below.

Reproduced by kind permission of Jan Stilson. Original in Atlanta Bible College

This has naturally been viewed as a primary source and a pretty conclusive source too. Eychaner was there, Eychaner knew who was there with him, so Eychaner knew what he was writing. What could be simpler? Added to this, Eychaner was a bit of a maverick whose personal beliefs were not always completely in step with the main One Faith movement. (See his detailed biography in Jan Stilson’s work). So if anyone was going to invite C T Russell to speak, it would be someone like Eychaner, and Russell would generally accept most offered platforms to share his views.

But then as they say, the plot thickens. First, it should be noted that this was not just an ordinary run-of-the mill tent meeting; this was a convention lasting several days, officially the annual Iowa State Conference for the Church of God for 1895. So it was quite high profile and received good publicity in the Church of God’s weekly newspaper The Restitution.

Below is one example taken from The Restitution for August 7, 1895, page 2.

This was an advertisement to get readers to attend, and gave the complete conference program with speakers in detail. When compared with Eychaner’s diary it is obviously the same conference, even though there were some changes between planning and reality. It appears that some billed speakers didn’t show, and those who were there had to fill in for them.

But now let’s examine The Restitution advertisement in more detail. The first day of sermons was to be on Friday, August 16, and one of the speakers was to be Russell. But this time the speaker is billed as C W Russell, not C T Russell.

Compare that with Eychaner’s diary entry for Friday, August 16. This abbreviated program has C T Russell giving the sermon.

So is it C W or C T Russell? Was there a misprint in The Restitution?

C W Russell was a real person, and to confuse matters further he was also called Charles. In the pages of The Restitution he was a regular assistant to Andrew Eychaner. C W had moved from Chicago to Iowa in 1894 and received his teaching certificate from the Church of God in July 1894. Over the next year his name was regularly linked with Eychaner’s in tent work. Years later, in 1912 he was still preaching for the Church of God.

So, leaving aside Eychaner’s diary, it would be logical for C W to appear at the Marshalltown conference. People would be expecting him. Hence he is clearly billed in The Restitution for August 7, 1895, as reproduced above.

If there had been no diary entry, these newspaper announcements would be primary sources. But the diary entry would normally kick them into secondary source territory and take precedence.

But then we have to ask – if it was logical for C W Russell, Eychaner’s regular sidekick, to be there, would it have been logical for C T Russell to replace him for several days?

Here is where the history of C T Russell and Church of God needs to be considered. We have already established with the example of George Clowes that there were links between them on a local level. And Charles Taze Russell is mentioned many times in the pages of The Restitution.

The readers of The Restitution were a logical audience to be targeted with the writings of Charles Taze in the early days. How they were received by that group as the years rolled by tells a very clear story of a deteriorating relationship.

Three Worlds, written by Barbour but published by Russell, was featured in an advertisement in The Restitution for May 30, 1879, page 3. The by-line read “Should be in the hands of every Bible student.” No actual review has been found in surviving issues of the paper.

Object and Manner of Our Lords Return was given away with The Restitution as a freebie with the issue of February 20, 1878. This issue is no longer extant but the following week’s issue of February 27 commented on it: “The Restitution supplement, as was noticed last week, was furnished by the writer C T Russell, to the readers of our paper, at his own expense both for the printing and mailing. “ The review has a friendly but condescending tone. Rather magnanimously it states “we do not wish to prejudice our readers as it is a present to them which has been quite an expense to the writer”. However, readers must “prove all things” and the reviewer certainly had different views on resurrection and the Second Advent. Still “the ‘fair chance’ part of the supplement will probably please some of our readers.”

When others had time to assimilate its contents, they were not prepared to be so charitable. In The Restitution for June 26, 1878 one Restitution stalwart, J. B. Cook, had read it through thoroughly and did not like it one bit.

Cook’s review took center stage on the front page – The Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return by C.T. Russel (sic), noticed by J.B.Cook.

Cook starts by saying the pamphlet had been circulated both directly and indirectly and he received his copy with Herald of the Morning. The suggestion that Christ’s return had already taken place invisibly did not sit at all well with him. And as for the “second chance” gospel from H. Dunn, this was “another gospel”. Cook’s review is peppered with expressions like – delusive - utterly fallacious - the phantom of an excited brain... He concludes his attack with the words:  “It is in deep sorrow for them that I write. Brother R is spending his money for that which is not bread, and the brethren are scattered by ‘uncertain sounds,’ yet I rejoice. ‘The Lord knoweth them that are his.’ Amen. ‘The half has not been told’ to these brethren, but adieu.”

There is a hint of theatrical flourish in the final “adieu” with perhaps a suggestion of 1 John 2 v.19 about it – “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us” (NIV).

CTR’s next publication for mass distribution was the 160 page pamphlet Food for Thinking Christians. Ultimately, over one million were circulated. This could hardly be ignored by The Restitution, although they really tried.

 It was general policy to include cuttings from exchanged journals as fillers, and the November 2, 1881 issue of The Restitution, page 2, quoted from a letter J. C. Sunderlin sent to Zion’s Watch Tower from London. Sunderlin gives a little homily on running the Christian race, prompted by an engraving seen in a Fleet Street window. (The original is found in Zion’s Watch Tower for October-November 1881, reprints page 292.)

Sunderlin’s whole point in being in London was to organize the distribution of Food for Thinking Christians, but you would never know that from The Restitution. One wonders why they even quoted what they did.

The silence about Food continued for a year or two, by which time many Age to Come groups were familiar with the publication and it could no longer be ignored. The June 13, 1883 Restitution finally devoted four long columns on its back page to the problem, in the article A Brief Review by regular writer Wiley Jones. In a critical and not particularly brief review, Jones studiously managed to avoid mentioning either the name of the book, the publisher, or the author. He even makes the point that “the name of the writer does not appear on the title-page” – which was true but the implication appears deliberately misleading. All Jones would admit to was that “a pamphlet of 160 pages, published in 1881...has been handed to me with a request that I would say something against its errors.”

Wiley Jones obligingly referred to specific page numbers as he presented his criticism. His pen was not quite as poisonous in tone as J.B. Cook’s, but his view was much the same. The idea of the “second chance” for many dead did not appeal, and the chronological speculations on the timing of an invisible presence and the start of the resurrection were definitely not something for Restitution readers. By his amnesic approach to title and author Jones no doubt hoped to prevent further readers checking it out for themselves – even if just out of curiosity. But those who had seen the Food booklet would have no doubt what was being criticized.

Russell’s next major work, and ultimately the one that received the widest distribution of all was the first volume of Millennial Dawn, entitled The Divine Plan of the Ages.

The Divine Plan of the Ages was widely reviewed. J B Rotherham for example, in The Rainbow for December 1886 was to give it over nine pages. The Restitution regularly quoted from The Rainbow, and no doubt some of its readers subscribed. And these journals had other journals in common. The writing was on the Age to Come wall - you cannot avoid mentioning a book that everyone else will mention. So The Restitution’s own review appeared on October 13, 1886.

Unfortunately we hit a problem here. The extant Restitution file was put together from several church collections in the 1980s and unfortunately the poor quality paper used, along with a century of imperfect storage conditions means they are incomplete. Frustratingly a key chunk of the Restitution’s review – what THEY actually thought about CTR’s book is missing. Part that survives is a quoted review from the New York Independent: “So far as we can disentangle the confusion of the book, it is a ludicrous mixture of restorationism, pre-millennialism of the more or less orthodox type, and a large portion of adventism of a kind which we must leave to those who believe in it to say whether it is orthodox or heretical. To us it falls into the large but simple class of well-meant fooleries.”

The Restitution’s own reviewer commented:  “To speak for ourselves, we like some chapters of this work. Of other chapters we must say that the themes discussed are open questions. To those...”

At this tantalizing point virtually all the rest of the review is missing. It would be nice if – somewhere - a copy with the complete review could be found.

However, as the years went by, what comes across is an increasing distance growing between the Age-to-Come people and the fledgling Bible Student movement – although any attacks on conditional immortality would provoke a mutually defensive position.

It got worse for Russell’s next book The Time is at Hand. A brief review (actually by Eychaner) is found in The Restitution for February 4, 1891. Eychaner disputes aspects of chronology: “I wish in this paper simply to call attention to an error in the count of Bro. Russell, which I think is fatal to his whole time argument.” However, Eychaner ends with “Submitted in all charity”.

But by The Restitution for December 12, 1894, comments on Volume 2 were far more vitriolic. Part of a series called Justification by Faith by an unnamed author (but possibly M Joplin who was the paper’s corresponding editor at the time) had some choice epithets for Russell. He has been “blinded by his own invention...we squarely charge the author of Millennial Dawn with setting aside the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and representing his as deceiving the apostles by creating a body and clothing for that purpose. A man who would represent him in whose mouth was no guile, as capable of such abominable trickery in order to sustain his own, or some borrowed subterfuge, ought to be closed watched...All this folly grows out of want of faith in that great and glorious truth – justification by faith.”

What had probably not helped the writer’s blood pressure was the previous issue for December 5, 1894, detailing how a Bible Student had been giving out copies of the Old Theology Tract no. 21 Do You Know outside their place of worship. Restitution readers were being targeted! In the words of the above writer “evidently the Christ Mr Russell expects to reign with, never died for him....we admit there is a fraud, and as between the Lord Jesus and Mr. Russell, we decide it is the latter.”
Coming into 1895, The Restitution for April 17, 1895 reprinted an article The Millennial Dawn from Herald of the Coming One. This was a paper of the dwindling Evangelical Adventists, but they were apparently united in their distaste for Russell’s work: “The work is so craftily written that the unexpecting are liable to be led astray by it...unless you are on your guard you will swallow the poison with is used freely to scatter works which deceive and lead away from God...the “Millennial Dawn” is not worth the paper it is printed on...the book referred to is good in its place, but a blazing hot fire is the place for it...We hope that none of our readers will be deceived by its false teachings.”
Ultimately the Church of God would promote its own special booklet attacking Russell’s theology. Benjamin Wilson’s nephew, W H Wilson wrote Cunningly Devised Fables of Russellism, reportedly first published in 1890. It’s all a very strong indication of where C T Russell came from originally, and from where (in their minds) he had deviated. 
By 1902, it must have seemed like the last straw for the Restitution office, who had stocked Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott for decades, when CTR obtained the plates and took over the role of publisher. If their new people wanted a Diaglott, or if older members wished to replace one, now they had to go to The Watch Tower. This would mean that their Diaglott came with a complementary Watch Tower subscription. Horror of horrors! They might even choose to become Bible Students instead.

So with all this background, we have to return to our original question, would it have been logical to invite Charles T Russell to replace Charles W Russell for several days at the Iowa State conference as late as mid-1895?  Readers of The Restitution were more than ready to criticize and complain in their letters columns; there would surely have been some squawks of protest had Charles T been given a platform at their conference.
And one final small point, but it flags up the incongruity of the situation – looking at Eychaner’s diary entries carefully, would Pastor Russell really have accepted one dollar (from the Lord’s box) for expenses?

We started this section of the chapter by referring to new information that has been discovered to help resolve the question.
The information comes from Jan Stilson, the Church of God historian who provided access to Eychaner’s diary. In 2015 she was reviewing a box of historic papers that had been donated by the great niece of A J Eychaner. They included Eychaner’s handwritten report to the Iowa Church Conference for the period 1895-1896. In the report he had clearly written several times the name of Bro. C W Russell (of Chicago) who had been hired as evangelist for six months.
The Restitution named C W Russell to open the conference. Eychaner’s report confirmed this.

Report of A J Eychaner, used courtesy of Jan Stilson from material
donated by Lois Cline, great niece of A J Eychaner

A transcript reads:

As your evangelist for the past year I submit to you the following report of work done, money received and amounts paid out in necessary expenses.
From Aug 15 to 25 I was with you in the conference at Marshalltown. I came on the 14th and brother Prinner arrived on the 15th. We found much to do in order that the conference might have a pleasant meeting. There was a lot to secure, water to arrange for with the city and ground to clean, tents to set up, and other necessary things to do. On Friday Aug 16 Brethren began to arrive and the meeting began at 8 o’cl. by brother C W Russell preaching the introductory sermon. During the meeting I helped along as I could in preaching 5 sermons and taking part in social meetings, Bible readings and business meetings. I think it was the best time we...    (last line indistinct)

So no matter what he wrote in his diary, when it came to an official report, we are back with C W Russell.
A J Eychaner’s account paints an entertaining and rather touching picture of those days. He didn’t just preach, he organised water, he put up tents, he dealt with the wind and the rain, he coped with local thieves who stole from his tent, and straight after the conference in question he mentions C W Russell again:

On Thurs Sep 5 I went to Lanark to assist in the conference of the State of Illinois, and again left C.W. Russell in charge of the tent. That eve there came up a severe storm and altho Bro Russell did all he could yet the wind damaged the tent considerable. I spoke six times at Lanark and preached one funeral discourse at Union church, returning to Laurens (?) and the tent Mond Sep 7, after an absence of only 4 days. Spoke on the life eternal through Jesus. That night thieves entered my tent and stole two chairs.

Later the conference made provision to fund this same Brother Russell for evangelistic services for the next six months.

So what do we have here? Three different sources and a conflict of information. To review:
First, from The Restitution for August 7, 1895, page 2, reproduced already in this article. This was the advertisement to get readers to attend. C W Russell was billed to give a sermon on the first day, Friday, August 16.

However, in Eychaner’s diary, it is now C T Russell giving the sermon on Friday, August 16.

But later when he wrote up his full official report, it reverted to C W Russell giving the opening sermon on Friday, August 16.

A more recent examination of the original diary suggests from the ink that the pages were written up in one block together, not line by line as events happened, possibly from other earlier notes; so a primary source now becomes a secondary source when compared with the new discovery.
But we are still left with CWR to CTR and then back to CWR again. What explanation can there be for this discrepancy?
I can only think of two possibilities. The first is deliberate misdirection. CWR was advertised, but CTR switched places with him. Then A J Eychaner put in his official report that it was CWR. And hoped that no-one would blow the whistle on the substitution.
Personally, I would find that impossible to believe, if for no other reason than Eychaner was an honorable man. He might have been a bit of maverick at times, but that very point means that if he’d wanted to do something controversial, he would have stuck to his guns. He wouldn’t have falsified records to cover it up. And frankly, he wouldn’t have gotten away with it.
The other possibility is what we might call, for want of a better expression, a Freudian slip. The name of CTR wasn’t foreign to Eychaner – as noted earlier he had previously written a review of one of the Millennial Dawn volumes in The Restitution.
So perhaps Eychaner approaching his mid-50s had what we might call a “senior moment.” We are all human, we all make mistakes. We don’t expect people to pore over our words and rough notes as if they were Holy Writ well over a century later. And on rare occasions it is possible for new discoveries to turn an existing hypothesis on its head. We should always be open to that possibility. Caveat lector – let the reader beware.

It is hoped that readers who love this subject will continue to delve and if they find out further information from reliable primary sources – that changes even the smallest details - they will be forthcoming. If they do, we will all continue to benefit.