Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Return of the Very Temporary Post

I despair of receiving analytical comments. But at Bruce's request, here it is with some additions and revisions. Usual rules.



Evangelical Voice

            The Barbourite movement was narrowly focused, drawing almost entirely from non-Seventh-day Adventists, Age-to-Come believers and other Millinarians. Barbour saw those without a millannialist point of view as worldly and lost. He saw himself as God’s appointed voice for the Last Days. Paton believed he was divinely appointed, and he saw “advances” in spiritual insight as God’s special revelation to him. Both published tracts, Paton many more than Barbour who relied on the Herald of the Morning to further his ideology. The focus of both was narrow, and they didn’t seek a wider voice.           
            Russell’s view was more expansive. He believed God’s people were scattered in all of Christendom, and some were as yet unfound in non-Christian religions. Connecting good-hearted Christians with ‘truth’ was urgent because they were, he believed, in the time of final judgment, the harvest time of Jesus’ parables. To explain Zion’s Watch Tower’s mission, he quoted from the Millerite hymn Alarm:

"We are living, we are dwelling
In a grand and awful time;
In an age on ages telling
To be living is sublime."[1]

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4 comments:

Andrew Martin said...

An initial response - I am happy to see you describe Russell's prose as "florid". That has always been an obstacle to me in reading those older texts. I am aware that language changes over times, but I find Dickens - and even Jane Austen - easier to read than 19th century religious tomes.

I once tried to read Mrs. White's "Desire of the Ages" - couldn't make it past the first few pages - just TOO rapturous! Rather than being writing that inspired faith, it came across more like the following

"'O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' He chortled in his joy" - Carroll, "Jabberwocky"

Personally, I find George Storrs' writing much more concise and to the point than Russell's, although Russell comes nowhere near Mrs. White's excesses of emotion.

Since that's a stumbling block for me as a reader, I also tend to discount Russell's use of poems and hymns. I've come to realize, from reading your work, that the poems and hymns are an essential part of the story, so I've been disciplining myself to read them and take them seriously.

Thanks again, though, for validating my opinion about the sometimes overwrought religious writing of that era.

Andrew said...

I am gratified to read the following in the post:

"He believed God’s people were scattered in all of Christendom, and some were as yet unfound in non-Christian religions."

I think that is a very important part of Russell's beliefs, and I wish more Witnesses today would understand that Russell felt that way. Current Watchtower teaching is much different, and I think Russell's expansive view of who made up the "bride" is an essential part of the story. Thanks for highlighting that extremely significant point.

Andrew

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this return Rachael.

Thanks also to Andrew for his comments, which I always enjoy.

I'm not sure however Andrew about your comment regarding "current Watchtower" teaching being "much different." While it is now considered that the "bride" is largely collected, Russell's view that God's people are "scattered in all of Christendom, and some are as yet unfound in non-Christian lands, seems a pretty good reflection of what present Witnesses believe and practice.

Son of Ton

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

A reminder: This is a history blog. Doctrinal matters have no place here. While I have allowed some comments of that nature, please move further discussion of doctrine off the blog and into email.