Friday, June 29, 2018

Do you understand this, or have we confused the devil outa you?

            Accordingly, evangelization of the majority of mankind was reserved for the Millennial Age. In what he called “the gospel age,” the age in which they lived, the heaven-bound Bride of Christ was the target of their evangelism. They would be transformed, counted as justified, perfect humans, and then counted as the sprit creatures they would become in fact on their translation or resurrection to heaven:

During this age, as many as now hear (“He that hath an ear let him hear,”) the good news are by it informed that Christ died for our sins, that the price of sin has been paid, and they are justified, if they believe it, and that they can come unto God not as sinners but as righteous persons, and by faith call God “Father.” It is as justified (perfect) fleshly beings that they now call God Father – because in God’s sight restored to the condition occupied by Adam before he became a sinner ... . The next step for these justified beings to take, is to consecrate their justified flesh (being) to God. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice,” present it to God alive, for his service.[1]

            That salvation for the majority of mankind would await salvation until after Christ’s return was not original to Russell. None of his theology was. His belief that the world of mankind came to salvation after Christ’s second advent was an extension of Reform [in this case Congregationalist] theology as represented by Jonathan Edwards [1703-1758] and other American colonial era participants in the first Great Awakening. Edwards’ view of the matter was:

It is very dangerous for God's professing people to lie still, and not to come to the help of the Lord, whenever he remarkably pours out his Spirit, to carry on the work of redemption in the application of it; but above all, when he comes forth, to introduce that happy day of God's power and salvation, so often spoken of.' That is especially the appointed season of the application of redemption. The appointed time of Christ's reign. The reign of Satan as god of this world lasts till then; but afterwards will be the proper time of actual redemption, or new creation, as is evident bv Isa. Ixv. 17, 18, &c. and Ixvi. 12. and Heb. xxi. 1. All the outpourings of the Spirit of God before this, are as it were by way of anticipation. There was indeed a glorious season of the application of redemption in the first ages of the Christian church, which began at Jerusalem, on the day of Pentacost; but that was not the proper time of ingathering. It was only as it were the feast of first-fruits; the ingathering is at the end of the year, or in the last ages of the Christian church, as is represented, Rev. xiv. 14-16. and will probably as much exceed what was in the first ages of the Christian church, though that filled the Roman empire, as that exceeded all that had been before, under the Old Testament, confined only to the land of Judea.[2]

            Edwards thoughts echoed through American Congregationalism into Russell’s day. It is hard to imagine that Russell did not hear preaching that restated Edwards. He accepted it a soundly Biblical.
            With some considerable quibbling and qualification, traditional churches found Russell’s explanation of justification questionable. For William Coit Stevens, objections derived from the non-Trinitarianism behind Watch Tower theology, and Watch Tower teaching that the Bride has a role in the sacrifice of Christ.[3] Current Watchtower teaching strongly resembles Russell’s exposition here, though it rejects any thought of the heavenly Bride of Christ as part of the ransom sacrifice. The key point, however, is that Watch Tower adherents were to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God, doing his will and seeking others of God’s choosing.

[1]               C. T. Russell: In the Flesh, Zion’s Watch Tower¸ April 1881, pages 3-4.
[2]               The Works of Jonathan Edwards, William Ball, London, 1839, Volume 1, page 383.
[3]               W. C. Stevens: Why I Reject the “Helping Hand” of Millennial Dawn, M. G. McClinton & Co., San Francisco, California, 1915, pages 111-112.


Gary said...

Yes, this all makes sense to me. No religious teacher in the US could have been unaware of Edwards.

I wondered if the statement "That salvation for the majority of mankind would await salvation until after Christ’s return was not original to Russell" might read better as "That salvation for the majority of mankind would await Christ’s return was not original to Russell"? Does this still read as you wanted or have I misrepresented it somehow?


roberto said...

This brief article is sensational!

Semer said...

Really interesting, thank you.
I have the feeling that Rutherford's (or Rutherford era's) new teachings are more original than Russell's teachings -which is neither good nor bad. What do you think?