Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spanish Hymns of Dawn





Miquel has kindly sent through the two interesting photographs above. This is the Spanish version of Hymns of Dawn, and as such is extremely rare. This version was published in 1925. It differs from the English language version in that some hymns were taken from the original, while others were taken from Spanish evangelical hymnals of the day.

This is a second or new edition of the Himnario de la Aurora del Milenio. The first edition dates from 1919, and may have been published as a supplement to the Spanish Watch Tower. This subject is Miquel’s speciality, but he has never seen a copy.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Find More Graves


A little over a year ago this blog carried an article on Find a Grave, highlighting the history resource that can be found in graveyards. Any new readers can easily find it by typing in Find a Grave in the search terms. They will find the original article, along with an article about Malcom Rutherford’s grave (with his two wives) and also one on the Allegheny Cemetery, where most of the Russell family were buried, and several on the Society’s plot in the United Cemeteries.

The actual article Find a Grave had photographs of graves of the extended Russell family, including CTR’s parents, siblings, wife, in-laws, etc. It covered graves from those who were influences before the founding of Zion’s Watch Tower, Benjamin Wilson, Jonas Wendell, George Stetson, and George Storrs, and then graves of those who were once in fellowship but parted company - Nelson Barbour, William Conley, John Paton, Hugh B Rice, Arthur P Adams, Otto von Zech, and Ernest Henninges. It ended with modern grave markers for Nathan Knorr and Fred Franz.


Thanks to the research work of Bernard, here are five more photographs. Four are for men who were original directors of the Society in 1884, along with Charles and Maria. 

William Imrie Mann was a director from December 15, 1884 to April 11, 1892.


Joseph Firth Smith was a director from December 15, 1884 to April 11, 1892. He is buried in the same cemetery as CTR’s parents.


Add caption
John Bartlet Adamson was a director from December 15, 1884 to January 5, 1895.



 William Cook MacMillen was a director from December 15, 1884 to May 13, 1898.




Benjamin Wallace Keith was an associate of Nelson Barbour, and one of the original contributors to Zion's Watch Tower, who ultimately sided with John Paton. His history is discussed in Separate Identity volume 1. 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When you help.

Crimsonrose pointed us to a clipping from the November 1886 Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean. As a result we rewrote a section of the volume 2 chapter we're calling Advertising the Message. Herewith is the revised work:



A Prophetic Conference was held in Chicago in November 1886, and it was well-attended by prominent pre-millennialists. John H. Brown, describe by a later Watchtower writer as a “faithful Bible Student,” petitioned the organizers for space to sell Russell’s Plan of the Ages. Permission was refused, and Brown protested through the press. The Chicago Inter-Ocean printed his letter:

Would it not seem as though the managers of the Prophetic Convention, now being held in the city, in view of the prejudice against them in the church at large on account of their advanced views, would be remarkably tolerant toward others who, while holding some views in common with them, differ, we think essentially and honesty on some others?

Permit me to state that on the opening of the convention representing the Tower Publishing Company, Allegheny, Pa; I applied for space for the sale of “Millennial Dawn,” willing, of course, to pay for the privilege. Mr. Needham was the one to whom I had to apply finally, and I was flatly refused even a chance to distribute circulars in the hallway, with comments most decidedly unfavorable to the character of the book.

A seller of religious books declined to have even his name mentioned in connection with it, not wishing “to scare people with views of too pronounced a character.” Not feeling inclined to give up entirely, we sought and obtained privilege from the proprietor of a liquor store for permission to stand in front of his place and call attention to the book. The weather, of course, has interfered with work under such conditions, and the party we employed has made himself quietly useful in the hallway, distributing circulars, although several times warned to quit it.

Why is it that so many religious (?) people think theirs is the only plan of salvation? This book we offer, teaches (as per the Bible, we think) that all who will, may be saved, if not in this life, in the next; that is the point that staggers them.[1]

That Watch Tower evangelists handed out tracts outside the conference hall, prompted one of the clergymen attending to seek an official statement separating the conference from any association with The Plan of the Ages. A newspaper report said:

The Rev. Henry M. Parsons, of Toronto, offered the following minute, which received the sanction of the management and friends to the true spirit of the conference:

The committee, having responsible authority for the calling and arrangement of the Bible and Prophetic Conference disclaims any connection with the book entitled “The Millennial Dawn,” believing it to contain much deadly error, insidiously mingled with the main truths constituting the testimony of the present conference. Nor is the committee in any way responsible for tracts and circulars distributed at Farwell Hall.[2]

            Though the statement was presented by Parsons, it was signed by George C. Needham, conference secretary.
G. C. Needham wanted the world to know that the 1886 Prophetic Conference Abhorred Millennial Dawn


[1]               J. H. Brown: Millennial Dawn, A Grievance, The Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean, November 22, 1886.
[2]               The Prophetic Conference. Papers Read at the Fifth Day's Session of the Convention, Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean, November 22, 1886.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Review



Jehovah’s Witnesses: Continuity and Change
by George Chryssides
A Review by R. M. de Vienne, PhD.

            Chryssides’ new book sets the standard for generalist studies of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is free of polemic, largely accurate and well written. Its outline is orderly and easy to follow. In these respects it is superior to almost every book written about the Bible Student and Witness movements since 1920. This is especially true when compared to ‘studies’ written by those with ‘academic credentials.’ Chryssides book isn’t colored by the ignorant sectarianism of Gruss. It is vastly more informed than Stroup’s sloppy research; it avoids the condescending, human-progress point of view found in Elmer Clark’s Small Sects. And I believe it is more informed that Beckford’s Trumpet of Prophecy.
            Chryssides did not have access to Separate Identity while preparing his manuscript, so he was unfamiliar with Russell’s immersion into Age-to-Come belief or how Literalist/Age-to-Come doctrine differs from Millerite Adventism. He occasionally confuses Millenarianism with Adventism, leaving chapter two slightly flawed and weak.
            Writing of J. A. Brown’s role in Watchtower history, he says: “Neither Russell nor Barbour mention Brown ... Probably he was not known to these to leaders.” If Russell knew of Brown, I’d be surprised. However Wellcome suggests that Barbour did, and Barbour was familiar with a vast array of prophetic literature. Chryssides says that the earliest published attempt at predictive chronology was John Aquila Brown’s Even Tide. This is inaccurate. Bengal, Newton and many others preceded Brown. An examination of Froom’s Prophetic Faith shows this. Chryssides is confused about Brown’s occupation, noting that he is sometimes described as a silversmith and sometimes as a clergyman. He was a silversmith. His will and court documents make this clear.
            Chryssides calls Elias Smith “an early Adventist.” He was not. He was a Literalist, a Millenarian. He did not teach characteristic Millerite doctrine. Chryssides suggests that Barbour ‘discovered’ Bowen’s chronology in the British Library. He consulted it to refresh his memory. It was not a new discovery. Elliott’s Horae in which it is found was a familiar work.
            He calls Stetson and Storrs Adventists. This was true enough at one period in their lives, but not at all true when Russell met them. When Russell met them, both were advocating Literalist doctrine and writing for Age-to-Come journals. Both were actively opposed by Adventists.
            Chryssides suggests that Barbour was born in Louisiana. He confuses a Confederate veteran of similar name with Nelson Barbour who was born in Throopsville, New York. Barbour had no connection to the American South, but descended from a colonial era Connecticut family.
            On page 48, Chryssides suggests that Russell’s doctrines were derived from Adventism. As we demonstrate in Separate Identity, none of his ideas derive from Adventism. On page 51 he suggests that Barbour sent Russell a letter in 1876. Barbour sent Russell his magazine in December 1875. There is no suggestion that he enclosed a letter. Russell’s account of events suggests that he did not, and that it was Russell who first wrote to Barbour. On page 52, citing Maurice Barnett, Chryssides writes of W. H. Conley: “He is said to have donated $40,000 for the publication of Russell’s Food for Thinking Christians.” Relying on secondary web sources is nearly always a bad idea. Original documents say that Conley donated $4000, not $40,000. The bulk of the forty thousand dollars poured into circulation of Food came from Russell’s pocket. I should note too that Stetson died at his own home, not at the Conley’s residence.
            The use of the descriptor “pioneers” (page 54) is an anachronism.
            On page 56 Chryssides suggests Russell abandoned commercial printing in 1880 and “purchased his own printing house.” Watch Tower publications were printed commercially into the 1920s. Russell originated the imprint Tower Publishing Company, later donating it with all the copyrights to Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society.
            On page 56 we find the suggestion that John Corbin Sunderlin and Joseph Jacob Bender traveled to the UK together in 1881. Bender was sent later to replace the ill Sunderlin.
            On page 57 he suggests that Russell moved his operation to Brooklyn seeking larger, better quarters. He omits issues connected with Russell’s divorce which, despite Russellite assertions to the contrary, seem to be the primary reason for the move.
            This may seem like a daunting and debilitating list of errors. It’s not. One can turn page after page and nod agreement to what one finds there. Chryssides handles “the scandals” without hyperbole or polemics. He considers Miracle Wheat, the Russell marriage, the von Zech issues and the 1908-1909 schism reasonably and accurately. The 1917-1918 schism is presented with equal clarity. The huge volume of material related to the Olin Moyle incident is digested and fairly presented. His account of the 1933 Declaration of Facts addressed to Hitler is stellar. However, neither Chryssides nor Penton seem to be familiar with the details of the Watchtower’s shifting doctrine regarding the Jewish nation. Of the two presentations, Chryssides’ account is the better.
            The section on The New World Translation is very well done. However, he takes Mantey’s scolding letter at face value. It is a seriously flawed, misleading letter. Mantey claims work that belonged to the original author of The Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, a paragraph to which Mantey contributed nothing. Chryssides does not address the reasons for Watchtower intellectual “disconnect” when using Greber’s translation. Yet one sees it in other areas. I would, have used this as an occasion to point to flawed Watchtower research in the 1960s that included citing a publisher as an author and not consulting publications afresh but simply re-quoting from previously published citations. This is not a flaw in Chryssides’ book. It’s just my preference.
            Chapter eight, “Ethics and Lifestyle,” is particularly well done. Chapter nine, “Worship and Rites of Passage,” notes Watchtower use of A. Hislop’s The Two Babylons without noting that Watchtower writers have for some time seen it as seriously flawed. Chryssides says (page 200) that rejection of birthdays came from Hislop. This is arguably incorrect, though Two Babylons was used to support that view. He attributes an annual Memorial Celebration (communion) to Adventist influence. In fact it is a centuries old tradition and came to Russell through his Age-to-Come connections, not Adventism.
            Chapter eleven examines changes in Watchtower doctrines, which were sometimes dogmatically stated and dogmatically retracted. This is a very well-done, accurate chapter. Many who are sympathetic to the Watchtower but puzzled by dogmatism in areas where caution would be the better course will find much of interest. This chapter comments on pedophilia issues. Finally, a rational statement from someone.
            While I believe it necessary to point out some flaws, I restate my opening point. This is an exceptional book, well worth the time spent reading it (four times.) It is impossible, or nearly so, to write a book like this and not have errors appear. That some have appeared in this book does not remove it from serious consideration by anyone interested in religious movements such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is very expensive. Hopefully a cheaper, revised edition awaits us in the future.
            When H. G. Wells’ Outline of History was published, specialist historians praised the book, often adding that he should have elaborated on their areas of specialty. I’ve tried to resist doing that here. I don’t write generalist history, but detail-laden, narrowly-focused history. If Dr. Schulz and I live long enough to carry our history into the Rutherford era, we will consult Jehovah’s Witnesses: Continuity and Change.
            One last pick: The bibliography lists John Storrs. It’s George Storrs.
           

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dear Crims



Dear Crimsonrose,

While we have some of the clippings you send, never consider it wasted effort. You’ve also sent clippings we do not have and that will enlarge or change the story we tell. This is excellent. I’m on a personal day for a doctor’s appointment. While I’m sitting here waiting to see her, I’m downloading the files.

Especially important are the articles about Brown and Needham; Paton’s Pittsburgh lecture; and the Presbyterian’s meeting in 1882. We had parts of those stories but not all of them. We’ll rewrite bits as a result. This is good.

If you can, please search for a report of Russell’s 1877 lectures in Pittsburgh and of a second series some believe he gave in 1879. More about Coovert’s debate challenge would be good. We have the basics, but there is supposed to be a letter from Coovert to one of the Pittsburgh papers we’ve never found.

Keep up the good work. This is immensely helpful.

Rachael

1874-75 Allegheny-Pittsburgh – Adventist or Age to Come? The case of George Storrs and Elder Owen.


by Jerome

Recently accessed on this blog has been this old article written back in 2011. It is nice when things from way back still get read on occasion. However, the article in question was actually abridged from a longer article on the now defunct Blog 2, and omitted all the references. So the original from Blog 2 is reprinted here. The subject matter has of course now been covered in some detail in volume 1 of Separate Identity.



Illustrated above are George Stetson’s meetings at Quincy Hall, Allegheny, as reported in The Advent Christian Times on November 11, 1873, page 112, and George Clowes’ meetings at the same location as reported in The Restitution (Age to Come/One Faith) on November 5, 1874, page 3.



As previously established on this blog, the Allegheny meetings of the early 1870s had an eclectic mix. In the early days Advent Christians and Age to Come believers would often meet together. They were united on their keen interest in the return of Christ and conditional immortality, while generally divided over such subjects as the destiny of natural Israel, how many would benefit from future probation through the resurrection, which key events yet to happen were timed for the start or the end of the millennium, and the advisability (or otherwise) of date setting.

As long as everyone remains tolerant and unofficial and generally disorganised the situation could continue. But while Age to Come believers of the 1870s were independent groups who were generally averse to organization, the Second Adventists were increasingly anxious for recognition as an established religion. This required an official statement of belief covering not just vague generalities but specifics.  As George Storrs would put it, writing in Bible Examiner for June 1876, page 263, about his distaste for Advent Conferences, (quote) I have seen this process of organizing conferences, especially, with deep sorrow. Next come “Resolutions”, theory of course, at first; but presently dictatorial, next penal, excluding everyone from their body who presumes to preach and teach what the majority of their body do not wish to have preached among them (end of quote).

The logical outcome from this was described in Bible Examiner (hereafter abbreviated to BE) for October 1877, page 52, where Elder S W Bishop quotes from a resolution passed at the last session of The Advent Christian Association, to the effect that (quote) appointments to preach shall not be passed in their organ, The World’s Crisis, for anyone who believes...the following doctrines...viz...age to come (end quote). Bishop relates tales of those preaching future probation being forced out of churches, and generously peppers his description of the Advent Christian Church with expressions like “unmitigated bigotry” and “daughters of Rome”.

In spite of the drift from fellowship to disfellowship, some individuals still managed to straddle the divide through the 1870s. George Stetson was a case in point. Ordained by the Advent Christian Church they claimed him as one of their own, and published his obituary in The World’s Crisis. Stetson wrote many articles for the Crisis and some of his preaching activities are in its pages. But in the last few years of his life he probably wrote more articles for The Restitution, and his meetings in Edinboro were regularly announced there.

As noted above, Stetson’s 1873 meetings at Quincy Hall in Allegheny were billed as Advent Christian. The local man, George Clowes, had also been claimed as Advent Christian (see for example Jonas Wendell’s letter in The World’s Crisis for December 27, 1871 where Clowes, recently expelled from the Methodists, was appointed as undershepherd of the (Advent) church in Pittsburgh. But as also noted above, by 1874, Clowes’ ministry at Quincy Hall was now claimed as One Faith, Age to Come.

So which was it to be? Advent Christian or Age to Come?

While the group associated with the Russell family no doubt retained its independence, allowing the majority to link up with Nelson Barbour later, if you had to attach a label, Age to Come believers in future probation (rather than Advent Christian) would be it.

This article will present three lines of evidence to establish this. First, the way their meetings were advertised in the religious press, and then two key visitors whose preaching was accepted by the group.

The first point we have already covered. The November 1874 meetings where Elder Clowes preached were advertised in the Restitution Church Directory as Age to Come. As we will see later, the meetings Clowes attended were also attended by Joseph Lytel Russell, William H Conley, and Charles Taze Russell (hereafter abbreviated to CTR). When Clowes died in 1889 Zion’s Watch Tower published an obituary for him in the March issue (reprints 1110). In response to a tribute from Joseph Lytel, CTR wrote:

On Jan’y 25th our dear Brother Clowes, with whom some of our readers were acquainted, having heard him preach the word of truth at various points near Pittsburgh, passed away
full of triumphant faith and glorious hope. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from hencefotih. Yea, saith the spirit, they shall rest from their labors, but their works follow with them.”

Second and third, we have two known visitors to the group.

The first was George Storrs himself, who spent two Sundays with them in May 1874 and wrote quite a detailed account of his experiences. Before we try and pigeon-hole Storrs’ theology, it would be useful to outline what happened both before, during and after his visit to Pittsburgh.

Shortly after his magazine became a monthly again, Storrs offered his services. As outlined in his March 1874 editorial on page 162, Storrs offered to preach on the subject of Vindication of the Divine Character and Government to any group who would welcome him and offer a convenient Hall. The next issue, April 1874, page 224, noted that C T Russell and Son had been in touch, as had George Stetson in Edinboro. Another regular Pittsburgh correspondent was C W Buvinger, M.D. (for example, see BE March 1874, page 192 and February 1877, page 158). Whoever gave the invitation, it was given promptly and Storrs responded promptly. In the May 1874 BE, page 226, Storrs announced that he would be in Pittsburgh on the first and second Sundays of that month to speak on The Divine Character and Government, details of venue to be announced in the local press.

In the June 1874 BE, page 259, Storrs’ editorial gives a detailed review of his trip to Pittsburgh over the first two Sundays of May. Storrs (quote) found there a small but noble band of friends who upheld with the full hearts the truths advocated by himself. Among them is a preacher who was formerly of the Methodists, but is now firmly settled in the character of the Divine Government as set forth in this periodical (end quote). The preacher in question would appear to be Elder George D Clowes.

Storrs reproduced a newspaper review from The Pittsburgh Leader on his talk at the Library Hall. It mentioned a large audience, although a few left shortly after he began speaking. In his talk Storrs refers to “the ages to come” (rather than “age to come”) and stresses that (quote) all men have will have an opportunity, if not in this life, in another one...Some may call me Universalist. I am in one sense; I believe that a universal opportunity will be accorded to every son and daughter of Adam (end of quote).

Storrs ended his review by thanking the friends in Pittsburgh for their generous support sustaining him and sending him on his way.

Storrs’ visit had an immediate impact. In the same June 1874 issue of BE on page 288, under the heading Parcels Sent up to May 25 are several well-known names: Wm H Conley (2 parcels), G D Clowes Snr. and  J L Russell and Son (by Express). Sandwiched between the names of Clowes and Russell in the list is a B F Land. It is only conjecture on this writer’s part, but CTR’s sister Margaret, who was about twenty years old at this time, was to marry a Benjamin Land. They had their first child c. 1876. One wonders when and where they met. 

Missing of course from this list of eager recipients of Storrs’ materials is CTR – other than the letterhead of J L Russell and Son. However, the very next issue of BE for July 1874, page 320, under Letters Received up to June 25, lists C T Russell.

So key characters were all in place when Storrs’ visited in May 1874 and preached about the Ages to Come, and when the Restitution advertised Allegheny meetings conducted by Clowes as One Faith in November 1874.

In the December 1874 BE, page 66, a belated letter from Joseph Lytel Russell to Storrs was published about the May meeting, apologising for the delay and expressing Joseph’s appreciation for it. Storrs’ responded by saying (quote) Brother Russell is one of our elder brethren, with whom I formed a most agreeable acquaintance while in Pittsburgh last May, and I think of him only to love and respect him (end of quote).

This suggests that Storrs and Joseph Lytel only met in the flesh for the first time at those meetings in May 1874. And there is no mention of CTR in the correspondence, or in Storrs’ review of his visit back in the June BE. However, assuming CTR was actually there and not away on business in early May, Storrs would naturally relate more to those nearer his own age.

So George Storrs was a welcomed speaker at Pittsburgh, with whom some at least continued in warm fellowship afterwards.

So, returning to our main point, what does this tell us about the leaning of the group he visited?

Was Storrs Age to Come or Advent Christian?

Storrs would probably have denied that he was either.  However, his sympathies certainly lay in one direction.

Storrs was fiercely independent, and had left religious groups more than once already on matters of principle. One of the founders of the Life and Advent Union in 1863, he left that body and restarted Bible Examiner in 1871, after accepting future probation with an inclusiveness that prompted others to accuse him of being universalist. As noted in the review of Storrs’ speech at Pittsburgh, his standard retort would be that he did not believe in universal salvation, but rather universal opportunity.

Future probation had been a hot potato for both Age to Come believers and Adventists, with widely differing views within each group. But in the 1870s the Restitution newspaper at least allowed some debate on what friend and foe would variously label as the One Chance, Second Chance, Better Chance, Fair Chance choice of scenario in God’s Divine Plan.

Storrs wrote a number of articles for the Restitution on this subject – for examples, see December 9, 1874 (Christ Gave Himself a Ransom for All), December 23, 1874 (Justice and Love) and August 24, 1875 (There is a Flaw). These were part of an ongoing debate, where some readers accepted the general outline of Storrs’ views. For example, see the letter from John Foore, published in the Restitution for October 3, 1877, where Foore writes (quote )  I still get The Restitution, and like it very much; but should like it much better if it could be opened for the advanced views such as the blessing of all nations and all kindreds in the age to come (end quote). No doubt Foore, and others of like mind, would slip this “advanced view” into their sermons.

Storrs’ journal quoted approvingly from The Restitution on a number of occasions (for example see Nov 1874, page 46, August 1877, page 238, March 1878, page 167 – a gentle critique of CTR’s Object and Manner, and August 1878, page 327.

Both BE and The Restitution related the preaching activities of people like the already mentioned John Foore and his sometime companion John S Lawver. (the latter was later mentioned in ZWT July 1882, reprints page 367). When a begging letter was sent to “Dear Brethren of the Abrahamic Faith” (April 1874, page 194) Storrs printed it, and sent the writer a parcel.  Even when disagreeing with the Restitution he still addressed them as “dear fellow-laborers” and beseeched them to give greater weight to his views (BE January 1876, page 103).

So Age to Come groups would generally feel kindly towards Storrs. When illness took hold in 1879, the Restitution published news about Storrs’ condition quite regularly expressing a genuine concern. (see for example Restitution for June 11, July 30, and November 5, 1879). When he died he was described as “late lamented” (March 10, 1880) and “highly venerated” (April 7, 1880) in its pages.

So it would be logical for an independent Age to Come group like the one in Pittsburgh to welcome Storrs as a speaker.

No such rapport can be found between Storrs and the Advent Christian Church throughout the 1870s. One can look in vain for kind words about them in BE.

A few comments directly from Storrs himself about the Advent Christian Church and its organs like The World’s Crisis: (quote) Poor old Rome has some very foolish children...I have nothing but pity for such ...out of their own mouths they are condemned (March 1875) – the Lord only can restore a diseased mind (March 1876) – the synagogue of Adventists with the spirit of the ancient Pharasees (December 1876) – the same spirit crucified the Lord Jesus (January 1877) – God dishonouring theories (October 1877) – perversions of the word of God (March 1878) – I leave them with their own master (July 1878) and on an article in The World’s Crisis - very close to blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (October 1877) (end of quotes).

Some of Storrs’ correspondents were almost apoplectic when mentioning the Advent Christian Church, and their comments were printed in BE unchallenged. In addition to Elder Bishop’s “unmitigated bigotry” and “daughters of Rome” salvos (noted above) we have such epithets as – covenant breakers (June 1874) – appalling doctrine (July 1875) – most sectarian body...ever found (April 1876) – bigoted and proscriptive...they sustain wicked and unscrupulous people (May 1876) – (making others) subject to the most inveterate malice and hatred (April 1876) – as bigoted and sectarian as any other “ists” (September 1876)

Correspondents sent in material on the assumption that Storrs did not receive The World’s Crisis (for example see March 1878 BE, page 173), and Storrs himself gave a succinct response to one correspondent in September 1874 BE, page 380: I never see the A(dvent) C(Christian) Times!
                                                                                               
In a quieter moment, Storrs summed up his views of both Adventists and Age to Come believers in an article published in July 1876 BE, page 298, entitled Adventist View in Error on the End of Probation. He stated (quote) these are painful dilemmas for humane and conscientious Adventists...it makes them secretly hope...that the Age to Come advocates are right (end quote). Then, writing about the Age to Come believer (quote) as he believes in the restoration of Israel and the conversion of them and the Gentile nations, and allows both salvation and probation for such beyond the second advent, he does not burn up the promises of God before they can be fulfilled, like the Adventist (end of quote).

Reading all the above, I think we can safely assume that, had the Allegheny-Pittsburgh group been staunch Advent Christian, there is no way George Storrs would have been on their guest list!

So we have two lines of evidence as to the leanings of the Allegheny-Pittsburgh group in 1874-75 – first, how they were advertised in the religious press and second – a point we have labored – how a maverick like Storrs was welcomed.

The third line of evidence is another visitor they had – this time in 1875. And here we come to the interesting case of Elder E Owen.

The November 1875 BE contains a trove of familiar names. Under Letters Received on page 64, Storrs notes two from CTR and one from W H Conley. But a little earlier in this issue Storrs published the contents of two other letters, one from Elder G D Clowes of Pittsburgh on page 61 and one from J L Russell of Pittsburgh on page 62.

Both letters expressed support for Storrs’ labours and showed clearly that Clowes and Joseph Lytel were still attending the same meetings and remained in tune with Storrs’ theology. They also give a clue as to the continuing character of those meetings. Clowes (still addressed as Elder Clowes) writes “Brother Owen is labouring with us”. Joseph Lytel gives a little more detail: “Brother E Owens (sic) of Portsmouth N.H. has been with us on a visit. We were very much pleased with him. I think he is truly a servant of the Lord’s, sent to preach the gospel.”

Elder E Owen (like George Clowes before him) had been claimed as Advent Christian a few years before. He is listed in the World’s Crisis’ speaking lists for November and December 1871, including his home city of Portsmouth, N.H. (The same listing has a certain Nelson Barbour preaching in Wakefield, Mass. about the second coming due to occur in 1873). Owen also had a poem published in the Crisis for January 14, 1874 entitled “We Want a Pastor”. But by 1875, if not before, he appears to have come to a parting of the ways.

Storrs published two of his poems in BE in February and December 1875 as well as several letters. The key one was in the issue for April 1874 page 216, where, to use a modern expression, Owen has a bit of a rant.

(quote) When so called “men of God” advise congregations to exclude from their houses, and churches, all who believe in the “age to come”, (as was reverently done in this place), I feel to say, God have mercy upon such leaders of the people: for if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. I am fully satisfied the Advent people are growing more and more contracted in sentiment, more and more adverse to investigation; and I am fully aware that spiritual death and declension is inevitable. May God preserve me and as many as can be preserved from imbibing so unfruitful a frame of mind. (end of quote)

Elder Owen had strong feelings over the increasing gulf between Adventists and Age to Come believers and how he had personally fared in the controversy. Storrs was more than happy to print these views; as shown by his comments above, they obviously mirrored his own.

The next year, Owen wrote again in similar vein. The situation as he saw it had not improved. The August 1875 BE on page 330 contains another polemic from him: (quote) The war wages fiercely. Misrepresentation, legislation, disfellowship and kindred arguments are brought vigorously to bear...In our State the spirit of intolerance in rampant, some men refusing to labor with those who entertain the faith of “Ages to Come”. Poor men...It requires strong decision and moral courage to face the tide (end of quote). In Storrs’ response, he writes: (quote) if those are the best (arguments) they can furnish their triumph will be short (end of quote).

On the issue of Advent Christians and Age to Come believers, Owen clearly eschewed any woolly ecumenical feelings and nailed his colors firmly to the wall. In this he had Storrs’ public support. So when George Clowes and Joseph Lytel welcomed Owen with open arms in late 1875 and spoke appreciatively of his ministry, it is obvious which side of the mounting divide they continued to support.

So while the Allegheny-Pittsburgh group connected with Joseph Lytel Russell, George D Clowes, William H Conley and CTR may have been independent, its natural home was in the Age to Come family.

And then events took an unexpected turn. Charles Taze Russell met Nelson Barbour.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Expect ...

George Chryssides's publisher sent me a review copy of his new book, Jehovah's Witnesses: Continuity and Change. Expect a review after I've read it through twice or thrice. I'm on page 55 on the first reading. Up to page 55 this is a stellar generalist book. It puts to shame many of the earlier books treating this subject. I'll keep you updated.

So far I've found one minor grammar fault, meaningless. And one place where he would have benefited from our second book, not in print when his mss was finished. It is a very expensive book, but at page 55, and no further, I'd recommend it.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Photodrama Advertisement Car - Detective Work Completed.


By Professorbigmac


Many readers will have seen the photograph of a Model T Ford being used to advertise the Photodrama of Creation as depicted below.



There is also another view from the other side, which has been colorized.



It would be nice to know where this scene was located and when it happened don’t you think?

Zion’s Watch Tower dated February 15, 1914 contains an article about the Photodrama and where it was being exhibited. This included Cleveland, Ohio, at the Temple, Prospect Avenue and E. 22nd Street. This is the address seen on the side of the display.

Research on the internet about churches allowed us to identify the actual building. It was previously the Plymouth Congregational Church as shown in the postcard below.



Comparing this picture with the drama advertisement we can see exactly where the car was placed.



Correspondent Brian pointed out that, if you examine a high definition copy of the original photograph, there is a poster advertising the Photodrama in the doorway behind the car.

According to Wikipedia the Plymouth Congregational Church owes its name to Henry Ward Beecher. The Church disbanded in 1913 due to a loss of members and a lack of money. The Bible Students obviously were using it as their Temple for Photodrama showings in February 1914. Wikipedia suggests that the Congregationalists got it back and reconstituted it as a Community Church in 1916.



Extra note by Jerome:

Following on from meeting places being called Tabernacles (e.g. Brooklyn Tabernacle, London Tabernacle) it was easy to see why some large halls would be called Temples. So there was the New York City Temple, where the Photodrama was shown in New York. Probably most famous of all was the Chicago City Temple (formerly the old Globe Theater), which again was used for the Photodrama. 


The Chicago class produced a special brochure entitled Our Temple, which is highly collectable today. It shows how the Photodrama presentation worked, and as a bonus had a photograph from the first Bible Student convention held in Chicago in 1893. If you visited the Chicago Temple you would likely have been given a tour by Albert Franz, whose photograph is in the Temple brochure. As a link with more recent times, his younger brother, Fred Franz, was president of the Watchtower Society from 1977-1992.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Mailed from Watch Tower office - 1898.


Alas, we're selling this one too. It's on ebay.

Not good images

Bruce has listed this on ebay. I'm posting the images for you to see before it goes poof.



Revised end to "Out of Babylon"

Some comments on this would be welcome:



Who Were They?

            Some opposition writers see Watch Tower adherents in this period as primarily Second Adventists. They base this on Russell’s comment in the February 1881, Watch Tower: “Many of our company were what are known as Second Adventists.” But this is a look backward to 1871, and did not represent matters as they were in the 1880s. Even as things were in 1871, Russell was careful not to say that “most” had been Second Adventists. In point of fact, most were never Adventists of any sort but came from cognate movements.
            Edmond Gruss wrote that “many early converts seemed to come from fundamentalist groups who were dissatisfied with their churches.” The paragraph in which we find this claim is mixture of fact and fancy typical of Gruss’ work. He adds: “Russell claimed that most of his followers were from Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist backgrounds,” and then speculates about the reasons for adherence to Watch Tower belief. He plainly did not carefully read the early issues of Zion’s Watch Tower. If he had, his speculations would not have found a place in his book. We note too that one cannot find in anything Russell wrote a statement about “most” Watch Tower adherents’ previous affiliation. Instead, Gruss derived his comment from A.H. Macmillan’s Faith on the March which quotes not Russell but another.[1]
            When Russell died, The Christian Advocate, a Methodist journal, said that Watch Tower adherents were “drawn from many churches, probably from our own most of all.”[2] Russell era issues of the Watch Tower tend to support this. While we feel an extended analysis here is distracting, a search of any of the digitalized libraries of early Watch Tower publications should prove the point to our readers. In Allegheny and Pittsburgh, clerical opposition most often came from Methodists, proof that, at least there, Watch Tower theology diminished Methodist churches.[3] And then there is a peculiar statement in a 1904 convention announcement placed in April 24, 1904, Los Angeles Herald: “Mr. Russell is president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, under whose auspices the convention will be held, and is widely known in the religious world, especially among Methodist, as an able supporter of the old theology of the Bible.” This was a poke at the Methodists then in conference in Los Angeles, but it was true enough as Methodist losses to Watch Tower theology proved. In 1910, addressing a convention of believers at Nottingham, England, Russell addressed similarities between Watch Tower doctrine and Methodism: “we see in Brother Wesley a grand man, and who in his teachings is loving and lovable, and he had much truth, but yet he did not have the whole plan.”[4]   
            Events show that Watch Tower teachings found a home among Baptists. J. F. Young, then pastor of the Ardmore, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), First Baptist Church preached on the twin subjects of “Millennial Dawn” and “Truth and not Opinions.” Without Watch Tower inroads into churches, sermons such as these would not have taken place.[5] It is impossible to find a main-line church or small sect that was not affected by Watch Tower doctrine. The few early responses from clergy turned into a flood of antagonistic sermons, most of which had little effect. Carl L. Jensen, an agent for the American Bible Society, pointed to spiritual hunger as the reason converts found Watch Tower teaching attractive: “I find many homes filled with Millennial Dawn literature. This is especially the case among the nominal church members who are hungering for the food that satisfies, but somehow have neglected the means of grace, until they easily take up with all sorts of fads and isms” Jensen blamed Watch Tower adherents; they neglected the ‘means of grace.’ But lack of satisfying spiritual food was a denominational fault. It cannot be assigned to individuals.[6]
            In dozens of ways, clergy and clerical sycophants blamed parishioners and Russellism for their own failures. Even when admitting failure, they shoved blame onto parishioners. In doctrinal and historical context the failure was immense. Some commentaries on Matthew identified the faithful and wise servant of chapter twenty-four as the clergy. Clergy were responsible for the education and faith of congregants. They failed and Russellism blossomed. An example of mixed criticism comes to us from The Continent, the editor of which often opposed Russell. Richard R. Biggar, a Presbyterian clergyman wrote:

The church … is failing woefully … . We may safely say that more than one-half of the people whose names appear on our church rolls do not have any system of Bible reading or Bible study. How sad that this Source-book of our faith, this rule of our faith and practice, is so neglected! We wonder why some of our church members are running off to dangerous and foolish isms of our day. The answer is plain. They are not “rooted and grounded in the word of God. We are not carrying to them Bible study helps, but Russellism and Christian Science and “new thought” cults on every side are thrusting into their hands so called “keys to the Scripture” which confuse them and lead them away from the great fundamentals of our faith “which are able to make them wise unto salvation.”[7]

            As Russell often said, the clergy confused Bible content with church creeds, and it is evident that Biggar did that too. To him they were one and the same. Methodists felt besieged by Russell. After prolonged ad hominem, an anonymous writer for The Christian Advocate, probably its editor, wrote:

Russell’s career emphasizes several thoughts: First, the inveterate gullibility of humankind (and its thirst for religious novelty); second, the eagerness of the sinner to believe that having neglected his opportunity here, a loving God will give him another chance; third, the vitality of quackery in religion as in medicine; fourth the importance of the press in carrying on religious propaganda. In the matter of tracts, leaflets, books and periodicals, the followers of Pastor Russell, like the followers of Mother Eddy and Joseph Smith, are using with commendable efficiency that agency of popular religious literature in which the followers of John Wesley should never allow themselves to be outdone.[8]

            This ranting Methodist significantly misstated Watch Tower salvation doctrine, doing so for shock value. He blamed former Methodists, converted to Watch Tower belief, claiming they were gullible and seeking novelty. But most significantly, he described Methodists as “followers of John Wesley” rather than of Christ. Russell was right. Creeds supplanted the Bible.
            To W. W. Perrier, editor of The Pacific, a Congregational Church magazine published in California, the forms of that church were apostolic. Leaving it isolated one: “He who separates himself from the church, regarding it as an unauthorized body, may belong to the kingdom, but he is, by his poor judgment, placing himself where his influence for Christ will be lessened; and it, in addition to such separation he takes on some of the unscriptural doctrines of the times his influence is more largely lessened.” [The confusing grammar is his.] It is interesting that he found denominational allegiance more important that a relationship to Christ. His defense of denominationalism was a response to a withdrawal letter sent by a new Watch Tower adherent. He described it as “furnished by the publishers of ‘Millennial Dawn.’”  The letter disturbed him most when it said the Bible was in “direct conflict” with his church. He characterized those who used the pre-printed letter as “those “without much strength of mind” who are “swayed easily by what they read.” He railed against “cheap books such as ‘Millennial Dawn,’” saying that those swayed by it were “without the facilities by which the fallacies of these books might be made known.”[9]
            If members of Congregational churches will ill-prepared to reason on religious subjects, whose fault was that? If a book loses quality as its price declines then the many “cheap editions” of the classics published in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries declined in usefulness as the price declined. That seems a specious argument.
            In 1915, Lewis Sperry Chafer pointedly wrote:

The country is being swept by “Russellism” (so-called “Millennial Dawn,” “International Bible Students' League,” etc.), and the appalling progress of this system which so misrepresents the whole revelation of God can only be accounted for in the unsatisfied hunger of the people for the prophetic portions of Scripture. Such a false system, mixing truth with untruth, and designed to interpret all of the divine revelation, is evidently more engaging to the popular mind than only the Scriptural presentation of the fundamental doctrines concerning God, Man and Redemption. Satan's lies are always garnished with truth and how much more attractive they seem to be when that garnishing is a neglected truth! And insurance against the encroachment of such false teaching lies only in correctly presenting the whole body of truth rather than in treating any portion of it as impractical or dangerous. No minister need greatly fear any false system when he is intelligently and constantly feeding the people on the Word in all its symmetry and due proportions. This is not only true concerning the teachings of “Millennial Dawn,” but is equally true of the teachings of “Christian Science,” “New Thought,” “Spiritism,” “Seventh Day Adventism” and all unscriptural doctrines of Sanctification.[10]

            As did most clergy, Chafer sent a mixed message. The congregations were not being fed spiritually fed, but it is the members fault because they should be content with the basics of church creed. Others would reject Chafer’s ultra-dispensationalism on the same basis that he rejected Russellism.
            Little of this accurately explains why churches lost members to Watch Tower belief. A much more accurate picture derives from letters published in Zion’s Watch Tower. A newly interested reader from Delta County, Texas, wrote to Russell in late 1884, saying:

Some time ago, a copy of the watch tower accidentally (?) got into my house. I read it and became interested very much; have received several numbers since, and “Food for Thinking Christians.” Well, what of it? I hardly know whether to accept it or reject it; in fact, I can’t reject a part of it without rejecting the Word of God. I determined many years ago not to accept or reject any theory until satisfied that the Word of God sustained it. I need not tell you this motto has made me a little “weak-kneed” on some things in my church.[11]

            Protestant clergy taught that the Bible was the rule of faith and that each was directly responsible to God. While most church members agreed with that, few practiced it. When they did, questions of faith and belief inserted themselves. This is an example. This letter also exemplifies another common belief. God directs events so his people find the truth. The inserted “?” suggests that finding The Watch Tower might have been a divinely guided event.
            Clergy snobbery and Protestant sola scriptura doctrine were in conflict. Even if Scripture was the voice of God to individual Christians, at least in Protestant doctrine, clergymen commonly saw themselves as specially trained, divinely guided interpreters of the Word. Russell and The Watch Tower trespassed on that perceived privilege. Baptists and Methodists ordained as clergy those who never graduated from a college or seminary. Methodists consigned Lutheran clergy to hell and Lutherans fired back at Methodists. But they all saw Russell as an interloper, as trespassing on their privileges. Later they would put the word “Pastor” in quotes when referencing Russell. Russell was chosen by individual congregations as pastor in a way that differed little from Methodist and Baptist practice. And he was as trained in Bible usage as most clergy. They wanted to diminish his message without addressing his teachings. As we observe in another chapter, at best they listed his doctrines (sometimes inaccurately) for shock value but without meaningful refutation. Clergy failure was most apparent when those newly interested in Watch Tower teaching asked pointed questions.                    
            Uneducated clergy abounded, and even among those who graduated from a seminary or university, logic seems elusive. The July 1, 1898, Middlebury, Vermont, Register decried the lack of clergy education: “Culture is not to be laughed down. The dime museum … may caricature it, the penny magazine comment upon it, the back-woodsman laugh at it … and some of our uneducated clergy misconstrue the words of our Lord, until by the wrong use of terms, masses are arrayed against classes.”[12] Closer in time to the era we’re considering, The Richland (Rayville, Louisiana) Beacon and The New Orleans, Louisiana, Times took up the issue.
            The Times’ editor suggested that: “Christianity is in no danger from either atheism, infidelity or the discoveries of science, but from its own clergy, for lack of education adequate to the age in which they live.” The Beacon’s editor agreed with this, saying so in an editorial appearing in the August 27, 1881, issue. In point of fact, most clergy were marginally educated. The Beacon’s editor agreed that “clergymen are far behind the really educated and scarcely abreast with the masses,” but he saw even this as an improvement over past decades.
            The New Orleans Times suggested that clergy should be thoroughly trained New Testament scholars. The Beacon replied that more was needed. Unsuitable men, not spiritually qualified, entered the ministry, and if educated betrayed their trust:

The cause of Christianity often suffers at the hands of an ignorant preacher. … Therefore, while we freely admit the disadvantages and misfortunes of an uneducated clergy, we think that there is far less danger … from that source than from a godless clergy, which is the inevitable result of educating young men for the ministry regardless of their spiritual qualifications or moral status …[13]

            Unprepared, under-educated clergy turned away the questions raised by enquiring believers, who, rather than being untrained theologically were often as educated as the clergy who served them. Also, notorious clergy conduct was documented in the press, making it easy to see the churches they represented as hotbeds of sin and worldliness. While on first blush, Russell’s condemnation of Christendom may seem exaggerated, it was an accurate portrayal of the age.
            While researching this book we’ve read a significant amount of contemporary religious periodicals. Many of them are insipid, ill-prepared, and lacking in substance. If we found them thus, their readers did too. A resident of Howell County, Missouri, wrote to Russell in late December 1885 saying: “In 1879, I became a member of the Missionary Baptist church; am one yet, but have been dissatisfied on account of the scarcity of spiritual food.”[14] A letter from a man and wife resident in Chandler, Kansas, represents the feeling of spiritual famine many experienced: “We have been church members for forty years, but we have learned more from the watch tower than we ever learned from the pulpit.” They were eager to circulate tracts.[15]
            Russell frequently pointed to compromised churches. No better than social clubs, they admitted anyone. Ministerial standards were lax. We documented this in some detail in volume one, and it was a pronounced factor among those leaving denominational churches for Watch Tower belief. A letter from Orangeburg, South Carolina, appearing in the November 1884, Watch Tower illustrates this:

I am alone as yet, but the light is certainly making some impression. Babylon is visibly unstable and corrupt; her corruption is becoming so enormous that thinking men cannot much longer submit to it; she is actually closing her eyes and ears to known filth in her ministry, as well as laity, and her order is to “hold the fort” against the light now streaming from the Word.

            Russell’s Orangeburg correspondent had reason to complain. In 1875, the Orangeburg paper reported the Beecher-Tilton sex-scandal frequently and at length, and in 1879, Alonzo Webster of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was accused of misusing church funds. A long trail of clergy scandal filled the American press. One did not have to look for scandal; the press rubbed readers’ noses in it. But not all clergy opposed Russell; not all found his doctrine improbable or un-scriptural. Some ministers found Watch Tower teachings eye-opening and spirit-filling. We consider some of those in the next chapter.


[1]               E. Gruss: Apostles of Denial¸ Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1986 printing, page 43. A. H. Macmillan: Faith on the March, pages 39-40.
[2]               Pastor Russell, The Christian Advocate, November 9, 1916, page 1466.
[3]               eg: The Wages of Sin, The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dispatch, November 8, 1890.
[4]               Souvenir Notes: Bible Student’s Conventions – 1910.
[5]               First Baptist Church, The Daily Ardmoreite, October 8, 1899.
[6]               Jensen’s annual report found in One Hundred and First Report of the American Bible Society: 1917¸ page 133.
[7]               R. R. Biggar: A Sunday-School Every Member Canvas, The Continent, January 29, 1920, page 140.
[8]               Pastor Russell, The Christian Advocate, November 6, 1916.
[9]               W. W. Perrier: Something New in the Ready Made Line, The Pacific, May 8, 1902
[10]             S. P. Chafer: The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, Fleming H. Revell, New York, 1915, page 13.
[11]             Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, November 1884, page 2. [Not in reprints.]
[12]             Dime Museums appealed to working-class individuals. They were hardly better than carnival side shows.
[13]             A Peril to Christianity, The Rayville, Louisiana, Richland Beacon, August 27, 1881.
[14]             Extracts from Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, December 1885, page 2. [Not in reprints.]
[15]             C. T. Russell: View from the Tower, Zion’s Watch Tower, August 1882, page 2.