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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pastor Charles Taze Russell (1852 - 1916)

“The following history is given not merely because I have been urged to give a review of God’s leadings in the path of light, but specially because I believe it to be needful that the truth be modestly told, that misapprehensions and prejudicial misstatements may be disarmed, and that our readers may see how hitherto the Lord has helped and guided.” - The Watch Tower, July 15, 1906, p. 229. Following those words Charles Taze Russell proceeded to outline the developments that led to his publishing Millennial Dawn (later called Studies in the Scriptures) and Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence (now known as The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom). This history is of special interest to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why? Because their present understanding of Bible truths and their activities can be traced back to the 1870’s and the work of C. T. Russell and his associates, and from there to the Bible and early Christianity. - Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom.

Young Man in Search of God

While still in his late teens, Russell started a weekly Bible study group with other young men. They began to analyze the Bible’s teachings on other subjects, such as immortality of the soul as well as Christ’s ransom sacrifice and his second coming. In 1877, at the age of 25, Russell sold his share in his father’s prospering business and began a full-time preaching career.

In 1878 Russell had a major disagreement with one of his collaborators, who had rejected the teaching that Christ’s death could be an atonement for sinners. In his rebuttal Russell wrote: “Christ accomplished various good things for us in his death and resurrection. He was our substitute in death; he died the just for the unjust—all were unjust. Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man. . . . He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” He continued: “To redeem is to buy back. What did Christ buy back for all men? Life. We lost it by the disobedience of the first Adam. The second Adam [Christ] bought it back with his own life.”—Mark 10:45; Romans 5:7, 8; 1 John 2:2; 4:9, 10.

Always a staunch advocate of the ransom doctrine, Russell severed all ties with this former collaborator. In July 1879, Russell started to publish Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, known worldwide today as The Watchtower—Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. In 1881 he, in association with other dedicated Christians, established a nonprofit Bible society. It was called Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society, known today as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal agency that acts in behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses. From the very beginning, Russell insisted that there would be no collections taken at congregation meetings nor contributions solicited through the Watch Tower publications. The people who joined Russell in deep Bible study became known simply as the Bible Students.

A Return to Bible Truth

As a result of their Bible study, Russell and his associates came to reject Christendom’s teachings of a mysterious “Most Holy Trinity,” an inherently immortal human soul, and eternal torment in hellfire. They also rejected the need for a separate seminary-trained clergy class. They wanted to return to the humble origins of Christianity, with spiritually qualified elders to lead the congregations without thought of a salary or remuneration.—1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.

In their investigation of God’s Word, those Bible Students were keenly interested in the prophecies of the Christian Greek Scriptures related to “the end of the world” and to Christ’s “coming.” (Matthew 24:3, KJ) By turning to the Greek text, they discovered that Christ’s “coming” was, in fact, a “pa‧rousi′a,” or invisible presence. Therefore, Christ had given his disciples information about the evidence of his invisible presence in the time of the end, not a future visible coming. Along with this study, those Bible students had a keen desire to understand the Bible’s chronology in relation to Christ’s presence. Without understanding all the details, Russell and his associates realized that 1914 would be a crucial date in human history.—Matthew 24:3-22; Luke 21:7-33, Int.

Russell knew that a great preaching work had to be done. He was conscious of the words of Jesus recorded by Matthew: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) There was a sense of urgency to the activity of those Bible Students prior to 1914. They believed that their preaching activity would culminate in that year, and therefore they felt they should expend every effort to help others to know “this good news of the kingdom.” Eventually, C. T. Russell’s Bible sermons were being published in thousands of newspapers around the world.

- Mankind’s Search for God - published by the WTB&TS

No, dear friends, I claim nothing of superiority, nor supernatural power, dignity or authority; nor do I aspire to exalt myself in the estimation of my brethren of the household of faith, except in the sense that the Master urged it, saying, "Let him who would be great among you be your servant." (Matt. 20:27.) And my position among men of the world and of the nominal church is certainly far from exalted, being "everywhere spoken against." I am fully contented, however, to wait for exaltation until the Lord's due time. (I Pet. 5:6.) In the Apostle's words I therefore answer, "Why look ye upon us, as though by our own power we had done these things? We also are men of like passions with yourselves"--of like infirmities and frailties, earnestly striving, by overcoming many besetments, discouragements, etc., to press along the line toward the mark of the prize of our high calling, and claiming only, as a faithful student of the Word of God, to be an index finger, as I have previously expressed it, to help you to trace for yourselves, on the sacred page, the wonderful plan of God--no less wonderful to me, I assure you, than to you, dearly beloved sharers of my faith and joy.

Next, he invited J. H. Paton, the other assistant editor of the Herald, to write an article in support of faith in the blood of Christ as the basis for atonement for sin. Paton did write the article, and it was published in the December issue. After repeated unsuccessful efforts to reason on the matter with Barbour from the Scriptures, Russell broke off association with him and withdrew support from his magazine. In July 1879, Russell began to publish a new magazine—Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence—which was from the start a special advocate of the ransom. But that was not the end of it. The principal theological voice in the first issues of Zion’s Watch Tower was that of John H. Paton. His pen produced their first book, Day Dawn, or Gospel in Type and Prophecy, and the bulk of the articles appearing in their magazine. He wrote and published three books which upheld this position (among other topics), Day Dawn, Moses and Christ, and The Perfect Day, and published a magazine called The World’s Hope, which emphasized his views on human destiny. He also traveled as an evangelist and teacher of “The Larger Hope.”

George Storrs, was publisher of the magazine Bible Examiner, in Brooklyn, New York. Storrs, who was born on December 13, 1796, was initially stimulated to examine what the Bible says about the condition of the dead as a result of reading something published (though at the time anonymously) by a careful student of the Bible, Henry Grew, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Storrs became a zealous advocate of what was called conditional immortality—the teaching that the soul is mortal and that immortality is a gift to be attained by faithful Christians. He also reasoned that since the wicked do not have immortality, there is no eternal torment. Storrs traveled extensively, lecturing on the subject of no immortality for the wicked. Among his published works was the Six Sermons, which eventually attained a distribution of 200,000 copies. Without a doubt, Storrs’ strong Bible-based views on the mortality of the soul as well as the atonement and restitution (restoration of what was lost due to Adamic sin; Acts 3:21) had a strong, positive influence on young Charles T. Russell.

Russell referred quite openly to the assistance in Bible study he had received from others. Not only did he acknowledge his indebtedness to Second Adventist Jonas Wendell but he also spoke with affection about two other individuals who had aided him in Bible study. Russell said of these two men: “The study of the Word of God with these dear brethren led, step by step, into greener pastures.” One, George W. Stetson, was an earnest student of the Bible and pastor of the Advent Christian Church in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. For ten months during 1872 Stetson pastored the church in Pittsburgh where he met a young Charles Taze Russell. Then he led the Edinboro, Pennsylvania, congregation for six years until his death. His dying request was that Pastor ­Russell give his ­funeral sermon (Reprints, p. 46) where over twelve hundred ­attended and heard the good news of the kingdom of God. He was not only a minister, but also a school teacher, and physician. As a member of the Advent Christian Church he and Wendell worked together in several churches throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio in the early 1870s. They also wrote for George Storrs’ magazine The Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom, and for other magazines such as The World’s Crisis.

Anxious to learn, from any quarter, whatever God had to teach, I at once wrote to Mr. Barbour, informing him of my harmony on other points and desiring to know particularly why, and upon what Scriptural evidences, he held that Christ's presence and the harvesting of the Gospel age dated from the Autumn of 1874. The answer showed that my surmise had been correct, viz.: that the time arguments, chronology, etc., were the same as used by Second Adventists in 1873, and explained how Mr. Barbour and Mr. J. H. Paton, of Michigan, a co-worker with him, had been regular Second Adventists up to that time; and that when the date 1874 had passed without the world being burned, and without their seeing Christ in the flesh, they were for a time dumb-founded. They had examined the time-prophecies that had seemingly passed unfulfilled, and had been unable to find any flaw, and had begun to wonder whether the time was right and their expectations wrong,--whether the views of restitution and blessing to the world, which myself and others were teaching, might not be the things to look for. It seems that not long after their 1874 disappointment, a reader of the Herald of the Morning, who had a copy of the Diaglott, noticed something in it which he thought peculiar,--that in `Matt. 24:27,37,39`, the word which in our common version is rendered coming is translated presence. This was the clue; and, following it, they had been led through prophetic time toward proper views regarding the object and manner of the Lord's return. I, on the contrary, was led first to proper views of the object and manner of our Lord's return and then to the examination of the time for these things, indicated in God's Word. Thus God leads his children often from different starting points of truth; but where the heart is earnest and trustful, the result must be to draw all such together.

The writings of Henry Grew influenced George Storrs, and later, Charles Taze Russell. Henry Grew and George Storrs are both mentioned in the October 15, 2000 issue of the The Watchtower magazine, published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of the Jehovah's Witnesses. About 1835, Grew penned an important pamphlet that exposed the teachings of the immortality of the soul and hellfire as unscriptural. He felt that these doctrines blasphemed God. This pamphlet was to have far-reaching effects. In 1837, 40-year-old George Storrs found a copy on a train. A list of Henry Grew's religious writings includes: Cristian Loyalty: A Sermon on Matthew XXII:21, Designed to Illustrate the Authority of Caesar and Jesus Christ (1810), An Examination of the Divine Testimony Concerning the Character of the Son of God (1824), A Tribute to the Memory of the Apostles, and an Exhibition of the First Christian Churches (1836), The Practices of the Early Christians Considered (1838), A Review of Phelps' Argument for the Perpetuity of the Sabbath (1844), The Intermediate State (1849), The Sabbath (1850), An Examination of the Divine Testimony on the Nature and Character of the Son of God (1855), An Appeal to Pious Trinitarians (1857), The Atonement (1859), Divine Dispensations, Past, Present and Future (1861).

Pastor Charles Taze Russell was not a memeber of the Millerite movement nor was he a Second Adventist, however he did respect the faith and work of others who preceded him.

A religious movement culminated in 1844, the participants in which were then, and since, generally known as “Second Adventists” and “Millerites,” because they expected the second advent of the Lord to occur at that date, and because a Mr. William Miller was the leader and prime mover. The movement, which began about 1829, had before 1844 (when they expected the Lord’s return) attracted the attention of all classes of Christian people, especially in the Eastern and Middle States where it amounted to an excitement. A long while before this, Prof. Bengel, in Tubingen, Germany, began to call attention to the prophecies and the coming Kingdom of Messiah, while the celebrated missionary Wolff did the same in Asia. The center of the work, however, was America, where social, political and religious conditions have favored, more than elsewhere, independence in Bible study as well as in other matters; just as the first advent movement was confined to Judea, though all the devout Israelites, everywhere, heard more or less of it. Acts 2:5

All know something of the failure of Brother Miller’s expectations. The Lord did not come in 1844, and the world was not burned up with fire, as he had expected and taught others to expect; and this was a great disappointment to those “holy people” who had so confidently looked for Christ (“Michael”) then to appear and to exalt them with him in power and glory. But, notwithstanding the disappointment, the movement had its designed effects—of awakening an interest in the subject of the Lord’s coming, and of casting reproach upon the subject by reason of mistaken expectations. We say designed effects because without a doubt the hand of the Lord was in it. It not only did a work corresponding to that of the first advent movement, when our Lord was born, when the wise men came from the East and when “all men were in expectation of him” (Matt. 2:1,2; Luke 3:15), but it corresponded with it in time also, being just thirty years before the anointing of our Lord, at thirty years of age, at the beginning of his work as Messiah. That “Miller movement,” as it is slightingly called, brought also an individual blessing to the “holy people” who participated in it: it led to a careful searching of the Scriptures, and to confidence in God’s Word above the traditions of men; and it warmed and fed and united the hearts of God’s children in unsectarian fellowship; for those interested were of all denominations, though principally Baptists. It is since that movement ended, that some of these have organized and bound themselves as new sects, thus blinding themselves to some of the blessings due in the “harvest.”

While, as the reader will have observed, we disagree with Mr. Miller’s interpretations and deductions, on almost every point—viewing the object, as well as the manner and the time, of our Lord’s coming, in a very different light—yet we recognize that movement as being in God’s order, and as doing a very important work in the separating, purifying, refining, and thus making ready, of a waiting people prepared for the Lord. And not only did it do a purifying and testing work in its own day, but, by casting reproach upon the study of prophecy and upon the doctrine of the Lord’s second advent, it has ever since served to test and prove the consecrated, regardless of any association with Mr. Miller’s views and expectations. The very mention of the subject of prophecy, the Lord’s coming and the Millennial Kingdom, now excites the contempt of the worldly-wise, especially in the nominal church. This was undoubtedly of the Lord’s providence, and for a purpose very similar to the sending of the infant Jesus for a time to Nazareth, “that he might be called a Nazarene,” though really born in the honorable city of Bethlehem. That evidently was in order that the truth might separate the “Israelites indeed” from the chaff of God’s chosen nation. The chaff was driven off by the statement that our Lord was a Nazarene; for they reasoned, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Just so some now contemptuously inquire, “Can any good thing come out of Adventism?” and dismiss unconsidered the testimony of the Lord and the apostles and prophets. But the humble, holy ones, wise in God’s sight though foolish in the world’s estimation, take no such attitude.

But the “Miller movement” was more than this: it was the beginning of the right understanding of Daniel’s visions, and at the right time to fit the prophecy. Mr. Miller’s application of the three and a half times (1260 years) was practically the same as that we have just given, but he made the mistake of not starting the 1290 and 1335 periods at the same point. Had he done so he would have been right. On the contrary, he started them thirty years sooner—about 509 instead of 539, which ended the 1335 days in 1844, instead of 1874.* It was, nevertheless, the beginning of the right understanding of the prophecy; for, after all, the 1260 period, which he saw correctly, was the key; and the preaching of this truth (even though in combination with errors, and misapplications, and false inferences) had the effect of separating and purifying “many,” and at the very time the Lord had foretold. - Published in: STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURE, VOLUME THREE - THY KINGDOM COME

In course of time there came other stirrings among those Christians who professed to be of the “chaste virgin” class, particularly that in connection with a man born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A., in the year 1781. This man was William Miller, who became the founder of the so-called Millerites or Adventists. Says M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, Volume 6, page 271: About 1833, when a resident of Low Hampton, N.Y., he began his career as an apostle of the new doctrine, which taught that the world was coming to an end in 1843. The main argument on which his belief rested was that relative to the termination of the 2300 days in Daniel 8:14, which he regarded as years. Then considering the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24, as the key to the date of the 2300 days of the preceding chapter, and dating the periods B.C. 457, when Artaxerxes, king of Persia, sent up Ezra from his captivity, to restore the Jewish polity at Jerusalem (Ezra 7), and ending the seventy weeks, as commentators generally do, in A.D. 33, with the crucifixion of Christ, he found the remainder of the 2300 days, which was 1810, would end in 1843. For ten years he held forth to this purport, and succeeded in gathering a large number of followers, which is said to have reached fifty thousand, who awaited, with credulous expectation, the appointed day. The result, however, turning out contrary to the teaching of their apostle, the Adventists, as they are sometimes termed, gradually forsook Miller. He died at Low Hampton, Washington County, N.Y., December 20, 1849.

Other than Miller, the man who likely contributed most to the success of the Millerite movement was Joshua V. Himes. Pastor of the Second Christian Church of Boston when the advent message came to him in 1839, Himes soon threw all of his many talents and energies into the task of propagating the advent message. Himes was a powerful preacher, and a man of deep spirituality and perfect integrity. His personality was attractive and he had a gift for popular, appealing presentation of his message. His ability in the pulpit was outshone only by his unusual gifts as an editor and an organizer. Soon some of the best publishing facilities in the country were enlisted for the publication of the numerous papers, tracts, books, pamphlets, songbooks, charts, broadsides, and handbills issued under his direction. When an evangelistic series was conducted in New York City, Himes started a daily newspaper, the Midnight Cry, to publicize the advent teachings. For a time ten thousand copies a day were sold or given away on the streets. It was Joshua Himes who was responsible for drawing Miller out of the small towns and villages into the large cities, and his promotional ability provided more openings for sermons than could be filled. Tens of thousands of persons attended the camp meetings Himes organized and managed, and more thousands were added as the movement spread beyond his personal supervision. “In approximately 130 camp meetings held in 1843 and 1844 between 500,000 and 1,000,000 were estimated to have attended—and the total population of the States was only 17,0000,000.”

Among the younger men who supported William Miller in his preaching of the advent of Christ was Charles Fitch. Born in December, 1805, he was only thirty-three years old when he first heard Miller in 1838. After his education at Brown University he had been a pastor much beloved in the several churches of Connecticut and Massachusetts where he had served. It was while he was pastor of the Marlboro Chapel, a Congregational church, that he heard Miller lecture and later sent for copies of his sermon. By 1843 Fitch was one of the most prominent of the Millerite leaders. In January of that year he began to edit a weekly journal called the Second Advent of Christ. In this he printed (July 26, 1843) his sermon (from Rev. 14 and 18) on the mighty angel who cried, “Babylon the great is fallen,” and who was followed by the warning voice, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” In this Fitch contended that the term Babylon was no longer limited to the Roman Catholic Church, but now included also the great body of Protestant Christendom. He maintained that both branches of Christendom had, by their rejection of the light on the Advent, fallen from the high estate of pure Christianity. He contended that Protestantism was either cold to the doctrine of the Second Advent or had spiritualized it away. This address was put into pamphlet form and later reprinted in various Millerite papers.

Thirty years after the Millerite “Great Disappointment” of October 22, 1844, Isaac C. Wellcome published the first general history of the movement that had promoted the belief that the Second Advent of Jesus would take place on that date. By 1874 the Adventists had developed into several separate groups, among them the Evangelical Adventists, the Advent Christians, the Church of God, and the Seventh-day Adventists. Each group claimed to be the legitimate heir of William Miller and his teachings. Wellcome belonged to the Advent Christian branch and wrote his work not only to maintain memory of the Millerite movement, but also to demonstrate that the Advent Christians continued the original Millerite faith while, among competing groups, the Seventh-day Adventists had their origins in fanaticism and existed outside the recognized boundaries of Adventism. Part history and part apologetics, Wellcome’s History of the Second Advent Message nonetheless has become recognized as an important source of information about early Adventism that also gives insight into the movement’s selfunderstanding as it sought to define and preserve itself in the wake of bitter disappointment.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Birth of Zion's Watch Tower

February 1879 - Vol. 8 - No. 2, page 40

I have a question to propound to every subscriber and reader of the Herald of the Morning, viz. how many of you, want a paper like the Herald twice a month instead of once. Many of those who love the Herald and the truths taught therein, have suggested that it be issued semi-monthly saying, they get hungry between bites.

For various reasons we have not deemed it proper to comply with this request: one of these the price would necessarily be double, as well as the paper. True at one dollar a year it would be cheaper than most religious papers; but many of our subscribers would find it difficult enough to raise even that small amount, for not many rich, but the poor of this world, rich in faith, are the ones who relish these rich bounties and dainties of God’s word of promise.

I now propose—if there are many of you who would like to have and read it--: to publish at Pittsburgh, Pa. Another paper with another name and other matter; but of the same general character, size and price (50 cts a year) as the Herald, which would be its auxiliary; the Herald issued on the 1st, and the new paper on the 15th of each month. This would enable all who desire a paper oftener to have it.

While I should continue one of the publishers of the Herald, I should probably be unable to render any assistance to its editing. The two papers would be one in spirit and subject, but separate and distinct in management, and finances.

I presume brothers Paton, Keith, Adams and others could do more writing than they have been doing for the Herald; and though I have no assurance of the kind from them, I think we may safely take for granted they will be glad to write more to you, about the sparkling jewels of our casket.

Now I want a vote from each of you. Those who want another paper, who are anxious for it: write at once; saying; I subscribe for the new paper. Let those who receive the Herald free (unable to pay), as well as those who do pay,--write. For the new paper, like the Herald, would be just as free as the air you breathe, to all the Lord’s poor: trusting the giver of all mercies, to provide the means for its support, if he desires it to live.

Do not put off until tomorrow, what you can do now. Take a postal card (send no money until we decide whether the paper is wanted), this moment, and let me know if you want it. All who do not write will be accounted as voting, No. My directions are C.T. Russell, Pittsburgh, PA.

March 1879 - Vol. 8 - No. 3, page 42

Those sending in a vote for the new paper, will be desirous of knowing the results. Those not sending a postal card, being counted as voting, NO; shows that another paper is not generally desired: and to your decision we acquiesce.

We have no desire to entail on ourself the labor and expense of publishing another paper, if you do not want it, and feel very anxious for it. Those from whom we have heard were evidently pleased with the prospect, and hopeful that it would start, but as compared with the whole number, they are a minority. You may therefore consider the matter as abandoned for the present, unless I hear from a great many more during the next few days: C. T. Russell


Zion's Watch Tower,
And "Herald of Christ's Presence."


To the readers of the "HERALD OF THE MORNING,"

DEAR FRIENDS: My connection with the "Herald" having been terminated rather suddenly, and under circumstances which must seem rather remarkable and peculiar to you, I feel it to be a duty both to you and to myself to offer an explanation of the manner of withdrawal and my reasons for so doing. Quite a number who were personally acquainted with me thought there must be more of the story to tell, and I have received a number of letters asking an explanation. To these inquiries and to many unexpressed of similar character, let me offer the following statement:

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Pastor Russell's view of William Miller

All know something of the failure of Brother Miller’s expectations. The Lord did not come in 1844, and the world was not burned up with fire, as he had expected and taught others to expect; and this was a great disappointment to those “holy people” who had so confidently looked for Christ (“Michael”) then to appear and to exalt them with him in power and glory. But, notwithstanding the disappointment, the movement had its designed effects—of awakening an interest in the subject of the Lord’s coming, and of casting reproach upon the subject by reason of mistaken expectations. We say designed effects because without a doubt the hand of the Lord was in it. It not only did a work corresponding to that of the first advent movement, when our Lord was born, when the wise men came from the East and when “all men were in expectation of him” (Matt. 2:1,2; Luke 3:15), but it corresponded with it in time also, being just thirty years before the anointing of our Lord, at thirty years of age, at the beginning of his work as Messiah. That “Miller movement,” as it is slightingly called, brought also an individual blessing to the “holy people” who participated in it: it led to a careful searching of the Scriptures, and to confidence in God’s Word above the traditions of men; and it warmed and fed and united the hearts of God’s children in unsectarian fellowship; for those interested were of all denominations, though principally Baptists. It is since that movement ended, that some of these have organized and bound themselves as new sects, thus blinding themselves to some of the blessings due in the “harvest.” Read the full story:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Problem with "False Prophecy" Polemics

A polemic is a form of dispute, wherein the main efforts of the disputing parties are aimed at establishing the superiority of their own points of view regarding an issue. Along with debate, polemic is one of the more common forms of dispute. Similar to debate, it is constrained by a definite thesis which serves as the subject of controversy. However, unlike debate, which may seek common ground between two parties, a polemic is intended to establish the supremacy of a single point of view by refuting an opposing point of view. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - August 29, 2010

Suppose I had access to everything you had done or said since you were a little child, stored on a computer. It would be a simple matter for me to pick out a hundred or two hundred of the worst things you’d said and done over the course of your life, to write them up in a list with dates, times and places and then to proclaim, in the same way as a correspondent did in one of his emails to me: “The question is not what you have got wrong, but whether you got anything right.” On the other hand, by a similar process of selecting the 100-200 kindest, most generous, loving things you’d done, I could equally make you look like a saint. Both pictures would be true in a sense, but neither would be the whole truth. Why is this important?

In the last 125 years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have published literally millions of words in publications such as The Watchtower. This includes powerful arguments against atheism and the theory of evolution, eloquent defences of the Bible as the inspired word of God, articles upholding the Bible’s stance on moral issues such as abortion, fornication, adultery and homosexual lifestyles. Watchtower publications have long exhorted their readers to display Christian qualities and imitate Jesus. They have shown how applying the Bible’s counsel can benefit family life. Through The Watchtower, millions of people have been comforted by the Bible’s message of hope.

You might expect that evangelical Christian organizations would happily applaud most of the above. After all, evangelical Christians believe in God and reject evolution, consider the Bible to be God’s inspired word, oppose sexual sins and abortion. They, too, speak of the need to imitate Jesus and display Christlike qualities. You would expect, then, that evangelical Christian groups could find a lot of positive things to say about The Watchtower. You’d think they’d congratulate Jehovah’s Witnesses for energetically spreading the above-mentioned views throughout the world and in literally hundreds of languages. But you would be wildly wrong.

An analysis of quotations from The Watchtower and other Jehovah’s Witness publications made by evangelical Christian writers - particularly on the Internet, but also in print - reveals that, far from commending Witness literature for all the positive material they publish, these writers consistently attack Jehovah’s Witnesses and actively seek anything that could possibly be used to discredit them - including many things published more than 100 years ago!

You could compare their attitude with that of a man who visits one of the world’s most beautiful cities - say Vienna. Instead of touring the most attractive parts of the city, though, this man visits the Municipal Garbage Dump and photographs the rubbish there. Then he goes to the industrial area and photographs the factories. Everywhere he goes he looks for the ugliest, most sordid parts of the city. Making copious use of close-ups to highlight the least attractive parts and using the most unflattering camera angles, he ensures his pictures give the worst possible impression. Then, on his return home, he shows the photographs to his friends, to convince them that Vienna is the most awful city in the world.

In resorting to similar tactics, critics of Witness publications immediately reveal their bias. The Watchtower Society is their ideological opponent, to be defeated at all costs. They comb through old Watchtowers, going back as far as 130 years. They take whatever suits their purpose and ignore the rest. They rip quotes out of their context, attempting to make it look as though they say much more than they actually meant. Why do they do it? They do it because it is their job to do it! In short, they are far from being an objective source of information.

Frankly, few Jehovah's Witnesses are likely to be taken in by such chicanery. It is easy to detect an agenda behind this type of mudslinging. Just about anyone who wanted to believe it has already done so. And as for the rest of us, what hasn't killed us has made us stronger.

But we should not reject a person’s criticism simply because we feel it is wrongly motivated. Prejudiced and hate-filled people can sometimes be at least partially right. As Christians, we should be discerning, remembering the admonition of the proverb, “anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word.” (Proverbs 14:15) With that in mind, let us examine the assertions commonly made in anti-Witness literature concerning the Witnesses’ alleged “false prophecies”.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Old Theology Quarterly

"Pastor Russell's writings are said to have greater newspaper circulation every week than those of any other living man; a greater, doubtless, than the combined circulation of the writings of all the priests and preachers in North America; greater even than the work of Arthur Brisbane, Norman Hapgood, George Horace Lorimer, Dr. Frank Crane, Frederick Haskins, and a dozen other of the best known editors and syndicate writers put together." --The Continent.

CHARLES Taze Russell, known the world over as Pastor Russell, author, lecturer and minister of the Gospel, was born at Pittsburg, Pa., February 16, 1852; died October 31, 1916. He was a son of Joseph L. and Eliza Birnie Russell, both of Scotch-Irish descent. He was educated in the common schools and under private tutors. He was married in 1879 to Maria Frances Ackley. No children blessed this union. Eighteen years later a disagreement arose about the management of his journal, and a separation followed. Pastor Russell was the author of the following publications:

Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return; Food for Thinking Christians; Tabernacle Shadows; The Divine Plan of the Ages; The Time is at Hand; Thy Kingdom Come; The Battle of Armageddon; The Atonement Between God and Man; The New Creation; What Say the Scriptures About Hell; What Say the Scriptures About Spiritualism; Old Theology Tracts; The Photo-Drama of Creation; Etc., Etc. - OVERLAND MONTHLY, The Late Pastor Russell--by J. F. Rutherford

During 1880 Russell and his helpers were further busy in writing several tracts, each being numbered. After 1891 this tract series first regularly marked “Bible Students Tracts” also were called Old Theology Quarterly. They were provided free for general public distribution by Watch Tower readers to expose fallacies of church doctrines. Soon it was recognized that there was need for organizing a definite society to guide and direct the growing publishing work. So early in 1881 ZION’S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY was established as an unincorporated administrative agency with Russell as its manager. Russell and others liberally contributed $35,000 to get this tract-publishing organization going. They then moved from their 1879 headquarters located at 101 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, to new and larger premises in the 40 Federal Street building from where he had formerly directed his early chain-store enterprise. Through this new arrangement began to flow millions of Bible tracts and the printing of additional Watch Tower issues put out as pamphlets. By 1881 Russell had completed writing the large pamphlets entitled Tabernacle Teachings and Food for Thinking Christians, the latter being a 162-page booklet which was printed and distributed as a special edition of the Watch Tower for September, 1881. - January 15, 1955 Watchtower, WTB&TS

In 1879 and 1880 C. T. Russell and his associates founded some thirty congregations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Ohio and Michigan. Russell himself arranged personal visits to each congregation. His program called for one or several Bible meetings with each group.

Those early congregations were called “ecclesias” (from the Greek ek·kle·si′a, meaning “congregation”) and at times were spoken of as “classes.” All congregation members voted congregationally on certain matters and also elected a board of elders, responsible for directing congregational matters. The ecclesias were linked together by accepting the pattern of activity of the congregation in Pittsburgh, where C. T. Russell and other Watch Tower writers were elders.

Jesus Christ ‘preached release to imprisoned captives.’ (Luke 4:16-21; Isa. 61:1, 2) If honest-hearted ones of the nineteenth century were to gain God-given freedom, religious error had to be exposed. Zion’s Watch Tower was serving that purpose. Yet, something else helped to fill the need—“Bible Students’ Tracts” (also called “Old Theology Quarterly”), written in 1880 and thereafter by Russell and his colleagues. These tracts were provided free for distribution by Watch Tower readers.

C. T. Russell and his associates believed they were in the time of harvest, and they were few in number—only about one hundred strong in 1881. But people needed liberating truth, and by God’s undeserved kindness they were going to receive it. “Wanted 1,000 Preachers” was the striking title of an article in Zion’s Watch Tower of April 1881. To those able to give one half or more of their time exclusively to the Lord’s work, it was suggested: “That you go forth into large or small cities, according to your ability, as Colporteurs or Evangelists, seek to find in every place the earnest Christians, many of whom you will find possessed of a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge; to these seek to make known the riches of Our Father’s grace, and the beauties of His word, giving them tracts.” Among other things, these colporteurs (forerunners of today’s pioneer publishers) were to obtain Watch Tower subscriptions. Of course, not all Watch Tower readers could be full-time preachers. Yet, those who could not devote full time were not left out, for they were told: “If you have a half hour, or an hour, or two, or three, you can use it and it will be acceptable with the Lord of the harvest. Who can tell the blessings which may flow from one hour’s service under God’s direction.” - 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS

During those early years, the Watch Tower Society had what it called the Tower Tract Fund. What was that? The following interesting details were set out on the back of stationery sometimes used by Brother Russell: “This fund consists of the free-will offerings of those who have been fed and strengthened by the ‘meat in due season’ which the above publications [made available by the Watch Tower Society], as God’s instrumentalities, are now laying before the consecrated saints, the world over.

“This fund is constantly employed in sending out, gratis, thousands of copies of ZION’S WATCH TOWER and OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS most suitable to new readers. It also assists in the spread of the paper-bound editions of the DAWN series, by aiding those disposed to circulate them—colporteurs and others. It also provides a ‘poor fund’ by which any of the Lord’s children who, through age, or sickness, or from other cause, are unable to subscribe for the WATCH TOWER are supplied free, upon condition of their sending a letter or card at the beginning of each year, stating their desire and inability.

“No one is ever asked to contribute to this fund: all donations must be voluntary. We remind our readers of the Apostle’s words (1 Cor. 16:1, 2) and corroborate them by saying that those who can give and do give to spread the truth are sure to be repaid in spiritual favors.”

The global activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom continues to be supported by voluntary donations. In addition to the Witnesses themselves, many appreciative interested persons count it a privilege to support this Christian work with their voluntary contributions. - Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS

To inform others of this timely information Russell and his associates published, in 1873, the booklet The Object and Manner of the Lord’s Return. Four years later a book was published entitled Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption. In 1879 Russell, along with fellow contributors, began publishing the Watchtower magazine under the title Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

This magazine was published to keep to the fore the doctrine of the ransom and also the blessings to come to mankind as a result of it. The printing of the first issue was 6,000. Russell pledged that, in connection with the publishing of this magazine, they would not beg for money but depend entirely on voluntary contributions. This principle was also applied to all meetings, which were advertised with the slogan “Seats Free—No Collections.”

Further nondenominational Bible research resulted in the publishing of many tracts and pamphlets, some being called Bible Student’s Tracts, Old Theology Quarterly, Tabernacle Teachings, and Food for Thinking Christians. More than a million copies of the last-mentioned pamphlet were distributed.

In the beginning, messenger boys were sometimes hired to distribute literature, but quite early the principle was applied that the message be distributed by the unpaid, voluntary efforts of those who believed, servants of the Lord. Already in 1881 a call was made in Zion’s Watch Tower for volunteers, preachers.

- Centennial of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1884-1984, WTB&TS

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Zion's Watch Tower (1879)

Acting upon this leading of the Lord, I gave up traveling, and in July, 1879, the first number of ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence made its appearance. From the first, it has been a special advocate of the "ransom for all," and by the grace of God we hope this it will ever be. - Charlest Taze Russell, - July 15, 1906

Let us look back 133 years—back to 1877 C.E. By that time the religious sects and denominations of the realm of Christendom had multiplied greatly. However, at that time there was a small congregation of dedicated Bible students in Allegheny (now a part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, U.S.A. This congregation was completely divorced from the religious systems of Christendom, which was then under attack by the evolution theory, the so-called Higher Criticism and materialism. Within that small congregation in Allegheny unsectarian study of God’s inspired Word aroused a driving sense of urgency. An elder of that congregation saw the need of publishing a new magazine that would champion the basic, underlying doctrines of the Holy Bible. His material wealth he decided to use in this behalf. So in July of 1879 he founded the desired magazine with himself as editor and publisher. This magazine was due to pose a problem for the world system of things, particularly for Christendom. It was entitled “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” Its editor and publisher was the self-sacrificing Bible student Charles Taze Russell.

This editor and fellow contributors to the new magazine and the congregation that backed it up stepped upon the world stage in the name of the God of Jeremiah, who served as priest at ancient Zion. The Bible speaks repeatedly of the Zion of Jeremiah’s time as being the residence of Jeremiah’s God. (Ps. 74:2; 48:1, 2) The magazine’s designation “Watch Tower” had to do with the Bible text quoted on the title page: “Watchman, what of the night?” “The morning cometh.” (Isa. 21:11, 12, Authorized Version) This suggested the purpose that the magazine was going to serve with regard to the fulfillment of Bible prophecies. But on page 2 of the second issue of the magazine (Volume 1, Number 2), at the top of the first column there appeared the heading: “Do You Want ‘Zion’s Watch Tower’?” Under this heading, paragraph three said:

“Do not suppose these remarks to be an appeal for money. No. ‘Zion’s Watch Tower’ has, we believe, JEHOVAH for its backer, and while this is the case it will never beg nor petition men for support. When He who says: ‘All the gold and silver of the mountains are mine,’ fails to provide necessary funds, we will understand it to be time to suspend the publication.”


There is no room for debating the point. The publisher of Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence stepped into the world arena of religious activity in the name of JEHOVAH, just as the prophet Jeremiah of old did. So, then, did Jehovah fail to provide the necessary funds for the continued publication of this magazine? The answer to this question is obvious from the fact that never, since July of 1879 till now, did this magazine, in spite of being banned at various times in various lands, suspend publication or miss even a single issue!

This is the first number of the first volume of "ZION'S WATCH TOWER," and it may not be amiss to state the object of its publication.

That we are living "in the last days"--"The day of the Lord"-- "the end" of the Gospel age, and consequently, in the dawn of the "new" age, are facts not only discernable by the close student of the Word, led by the spirit, but the outward signs recognizable by the world hear the same testimony, and we are desirous that the "household of faith" be fully awake to the fact, that--

"We are living, we are dwelling

In a grand and awful time;

In an age on ages telling

To be living is sublime."

And not alone to help awaken, but to assist them to "put on the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand in the evil day;" and, besides all this, that giving all diligence, they add to their faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, self control, [temperance,] brotherly kindness, charity; when, as a result of these indwelling and flourishing graces, they shall be God-like [godly].

But, recognizing the beauty and necessity of these adornments of the spiritual man, they fail not to recognize that the merit toward God lies not in these moral virtues, but in Christ's perfect sacrifice, and though adorned by all these gems of character, we could not be recognized as God's children now, nor permitted ever to enter His presence without the robe of Christ's righteousness, the "wedding garment" necessary to our participation in "the marriage of the Lamb."

"Let us wear the white robe here,

E'en on earth our Father dear,

Holding fast they hand, and so

Through the world unspotted go."

Christians to whom an apology would be needed for directing attention to these things, should blush and be ashamed. Everything desirable, hopeful and precious stands closely and ever connected with them. They embrace nearly all the great motives to faith, watchfulness, obedience, holiness.

If God has given us a revelation, and tells us that it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work, where do so many Christians who profess to accept that Word of God as their rule and guide, get liberty to ignore more than one-half of it, thereby virtually saying it is unprofitable? When God has given us "a sure word of prophecy whereunto we do well to take heed," and when "the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done," shall those servants feel under no obligation to seek to understand those heavenly messages?

Should they heed worldly men and a worldly church who deem it pious and wise not to bother with these things, who would have us put them aside as empty fables and curious stories, and strange imagery, which could only unsettle our minds and interfere with Christian work; or shall we heed God who declares "these saying faithful and true" and says: "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein?" Surely He knows what is best calculated to inspire "a zeal according to knowledge," and what is necessary that we "be not soon shaken in mind."

"To him that hath an ear to hear what the spirit saith unto the churches," ZION'S WATCH TOWER hopes to give assistance and encouragement. It is in bondage to no man, no party and to no creed but the Bible; yet in the bonds of love and sympathy to "all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity." It aims to represent "the chaste virgins," the prospective "Bride of Christ," and with them acknowledges only one master and head--Christ Jesus.

As its name indicates, it aims to be the lookout from whence matters of interest and profit may be announced to the "little flock," and as the "Herald of Christ's Presence," to give the "meat in due season" to the "household of faith."

It issues monthly, and if you desire its visit to your home, address at once as per notice on this page. If you have a neighbor or friend whom you think would be interested in or benefited by its instructions, you might call it to their attention; thus preaching the Word and doing good unto all men as you have opportunity.

The terms, fifty cents a year, (postage paid,) are moderate; but to all interested and desirous of having it, who cannot afford to pay, we will gladly send it free, but you must ask that ye may receive.


(Each Issue: 6,000 in English)

Also See:



THE PURPOSE OF THIS MAGAZINE, The Watchtower, is to honor Jehovah God, the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Just as watchtowers in ancient times enabled a person to observe developments from afar, so this magazine shows us the significance of world events in the light of Bible prophecies. It comforts people with the good news that God’s Kingdom, which is a real government in heaven, will soon bring an end to all wickedness and transform the earth into a paradise. It promotes faith in Jesus Christ, who died so that we might gain everlasting life and who is now ruling as King of God’s Kingdom. This magazine has been published by Jehovah’s Witnesses continuously since 1879 and is nonpolitical. It adheres to the Bible as its authority. This publication is not for sale. It is provided as part of a worldwide Bible educational work supported by voluntary donations.

Each Issue: 42,162,000 in 188 Languages (per the April 1, 2011 Watchtower, WTB&TS)

Don A. Adams (1925 - 2014? )

Born in about 1925 in Oak Park, Illinois, U.S., Adams grew up in a big family, which originally had connections to the Episcopal church. His mother showed interest in Jehovah's Witnesses and gradually the children also became interested. His father initially showed no interest, but involved himself in a legal case when one of Don's younger brothers was not exempted from military service; he eventually became a baptized Witness.

After serving as a full-time preacher, Adams was invited in late 1944 to serve at the world headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York, where he was secretary to Society president, Nathan H. Knorr. By the 1960s, Adams served directly under the Governing Body as a zone overseer, visiting various countries to audit branch offices and meet with Witness missionaries. Later, Adams directed world missionary activities, and served on the "Bethel Home Committee". In 2000, the New York Daily News described Adams as "a longtime the world headquarters in Brooklyn Heights". The Washington Post described Adams as "a 50-year veteran of the organization," which has been restated in subsequent publications.

Adams became president of the Watch Tower Society after Governing Body member Milton G. Henschel stepped down from the position in 2000. In that year, members of the Governing Body resigned from their executive positions of the corporations of Jehovah's Witnesses, although the periodical Christianity Today reported that the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses would continue its "oversight" role. Adams’ presidency is purely administrative, and he is not considered to have impacted the organization's ministry as have past Watch Tower Society presidents. - From Wikipedia, 12/13/2010

The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses has decided that the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, etc. in the legal corporations (e.g., Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.,) do not have to be filled by anointed brothers. Therefore, all of the brothers that were currently holding these positions, all of whom were on the Governing Body, have resigned. Brothers of the other sheep have replaced them. Therefore, Brother Don A. Adams is now the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Quite a lengthy discussion was given as to the reason this was decided and why it's okay. Essentially, it boils down to the fact that this allows the Governing Body to step back and deal primarily with spiritual matters, while these brothers of the other sheep handle day-to-day business operations of the legal corporations. Brother Max H. Larson has been serving as the president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., for a number of years. He died on Sept., 24, 2011, and was replaced by Brother Leon Weaver Jr., as the new president of the New York corporation.

In addition, three new corporations have been formed: 1) Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, which will supervise matters of a religious and educational nature. This includes organizing the preaching work, holding conventions, etc. The directors and officers of this corporation are primarily brothers who work closely with the Service department in Patterson. Brother William Van de Wall is the president of this corporation. 2) Religious Order of Jehovah's Witnesses, which cares for matters pertaining to those in Special Full-Time service, including Bethelites, Special Pioneers, Traveling Overseers, etc. Brother Patrick LaFranca is the president of this corporation. 3) Kingdom Support Services, Inc., which handles design & engineering of buildings and holds titles to vehicles used by the Society.


BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Max Larson, president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, who helped to pioneer the printing operations and property acquisitions for Jehovah's Witnesses at their world headquarters in Brooklyn Heights, died on Saturday, Sept. 24, in Brooklyn at 96.

Larson was well-known and highly regarded around the world by both Witnesses and non-Witnesses, not only for his strong work ethic and publishing expertise, but especially for the gracious and dignified manner in which he dealt with others. He was baptized into the Jehovah's Witnesses on June 5, 1938, in Seattle, Washington. A few months later, he began his career as a member of the Witnesses' headquarters staff in Brooklyn, where he was assigned to operate a printing press.

In 1942, Larson was appointed as factory manager at the age of 26, supervising the global printing operations of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society for more than 60 years, making him the longest-serving factory manager in the history of the Witnesses' world headquarters.

Despite a severe shortage of raw materials during World War II, Larson was able to obtain paper and other supplies needed to meet the Witnesses' fast-growing publishing needs and sustain publication of The Watchtower, published continuously since 1879.

In addition to his responsibilities as factory manager, in 1949, Mr. Larson was appointed as construction supervisor and property manager for the Witnesses' world headquarters. This involved the acquisition of many properties used for the Witnesses' facilities in Brooklyn, including 25 Columbia Heights (the current world headquarters for Jehovah's Witnesses), 117 Adams St. (where commuters can still see the sign "Read God's Word the Bible Daily"), and the former shipping complex at 360 Furman St. (now One Brooklyn Bridge Park).

Max Harry Larson was born on April 29, 1915, in Tampico, Montana, the second of four children born to Harry and Sophia (née Madsen) Larson, immigrants from Denmark. The young couple moved their family to a rented farm in eastern Montana, where they raised Max along with his older brother Norman.

While working in Brooklyn, Mr. Larson met fellow headquarters staff member Helen Lapshanski. The two developed a friendship and were married on April 7, 1956.

Larson is survived by his cherished wife of 55 years, Helen; his sisters, Jean Mock of Brooklyn and Laverna Semprebon of Lugano, Switzerland; and a host of nieces and nephews.

- by Brooklyn Eagle, published online 10-11-2011 @


Leon Weaver Jr. is the current president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. is a corporation used by Jehovah's Witnesses, which is responsible for administrative matters, such as real estate, especially within the United States. This corporation is typically cited as the publisher of Jehovah's Witnesses publications, though other publishers are sometimes cited. The corporation's stated purposes are: “Charitable, benevolent, scientific, historical, literary and religious purposes; the moral and mental improvement of men and women, the dissemination of Bible truths in various languages by means of the publication of tracts, pamphlets, papers and other religious documents, and for religious missionary work.”

Originally known as the Peoples Pulpit Association, the organization was incorporated in 1909 when the Society's principal offices moved to Brooklyn, New York. In 1939, it was renamed Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc., and in 1956 the name was changed to Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. Until 2000, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses was president of both the Watch Tower (Pennsylvania) and Watchtower (New York) corporations, as well as Britain's International Bible Students Association corporation; in 2001, it was decided that the corporations' directors need not be members of the Governing Body. In 2001 the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York was listed among the top forty revenue-generating companies in New York City, reporting an annual revenue of about 951 million US dollars. - From Wikipedia, 04/10/2012

Monday, August 2, 2010

Seven Times (2,520 years) 607 B.C.E. - 1914 C.E.

Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses say that God’s Kingdom was established in 1914?

Two lines of evidence point to that year: (1) Bible chronology and (2) the events since 1914 in fulfillment of prophecy. Here we will consider the chronology. For fulfillment of prophecy, see the main heading “Last Days.”

Read Daniel 4:1-17. Verses 20-37 show that this prophecy had a fulfillment upon Nebuchadnezzar. But it also has a larger fulfillment. How do we know that? Verses 3 and 17 show that the dream that God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar deals with the Kingdom of God and God’s promise to give it “to the one whom he wants to . . . even the lowliest one of mankind.” The entire Bible shows that Jehovah’s purpose is for his own Son, Jesus Christ, to rule as His representative over mankind. (Ps. 2:1-8; Dan. 7:13, 14; 1 Cor. 15:23-25; Rev. 11:15; 12:10) The Bible’s description of Jesus shows that he was indeed “the lowliest one of mankind.” (Phil. 2:7, 8; Matt. 11:28-30) The prophetic dream, then, points to the time when Jehovah would give rulership over mankind to his own Son.

What was to happen in the meantime? Rulership over mankind, as represented by the tree and its rootstock, would have “the heart of a beast.” (Dan. 4:16) The history of mankind would be dominated by governments that displayed the characteristics of wild beasts. In modern times, the bear is commonly used to represent Russia; the eagle, the United States; the lion, Britain; the dragon, China. The Bible also uses wild beasts as symbols of world governments and of the entire global system of human rulership under the influence of Satan. (Dan. 7:2-8, 17, 23; 8:20-22; Rev. 13:1, 2) As Jesus showed in his prophecy pointing to the conclusion of the system of things, Jerusalem would be “trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations” were fulfilled. (Luke 21:24) “Jerusalem” represented the Kingdom of God because its kings were said to sit on “the throne of the kingship of Jehovah.” (1 Chron. 28:4, 5; Matt. 5:34, 35) So, the Gentile governments, represented by wild beasts, would ‘trample’ on the right of God’s Kingdom to direct human affairs and would themselves hold sway under Satan’s control.—Compare Luke 4:5, 6.

For how long would such governments be permitted to exercise this control before Jehovah gave the Kingdom to Jesus Christ? Daniel 4:16 says “seven times” (“seven years,” AT and Mo, also JB footnote on verse 13). The Bible shows that in calculating prophetic time, a day is counted as a year. (Ezek. 4:6; Num. 14:34) How many “days,” then, are involved? Revelation 11:2, 3 clearly states that 42 months (3 1/2 years) in that prophecy are counted as 1,260 days. Seven years would be twice that, or 2,520 days. Applying the “day for a year” rule would result in 2,520 years.

When did the counting of the “seven times” begin? After Zedekiah, the last king in the typical Kingdom of God, was removed from the throne in Jerusalem by the Babylonians. (Ezek. 21:25-27) Finally, by early October of 607 B.C.E. the last vestige of Jewish sovereignty was gone. By that time the Jewish governor, Gedaliah, who had been left in charge by the Babylonians, had been assassinated, and the remaining Jews had fled to Egypt. (Jeremiah, chapters 40-43) Reliable Bible chronology indicates that this took place 70 years before 537 B.C.E., the year in which the Jews returned from captivity; that is, it took place by early October of 607 B.C.E. (Jer. 29:10; Dan. 9:2; for further details, see the book “Let Your Kingdom Come,” pages 186-189.)

How, then, is the time calculated down to 1914? Counting 2,520 years from early October of 607 B.C.E. brings us to early October of 1914 C.E., as shown on the chart.

“Seven times” = 7 X 360 = 2,520 years
A Biblical “time,” or year = 12 X 30 days = 360. (Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14)
In the fulfillment of the “seven times” each day equals one year. (Ezek. 4:6; Num. 14:34)
Early October, 607 B.C.E., to December 31, 607 B.C.E.= 1/4 year
January 1, 606 B.C.E., to December 31, 1 B.C.E. = 606 years
January 1, 1 C.E., to December 31, 1913 = 1,913 years
January 1, 1914, to early October, 1914 = 3/4 year
Total: 2,520 years

- Reasoning From the Scriptures, published by the WTB&TS, in 1985

Why do Jehovah's Witnesses accept 607 B.C.E. as the date for Jerusalem's destruction by the Babylonians, instead of 587/6 B.C.E.?

Simply put, Jehovah’s Witnesses accept the detailed testimony of the Bible, the inspired Word of God, over the present understanding of secular history. “Christians who believe the Bible have time and again found that its words stand the test of much criticism and have been proved accurate and reliable. They recognize that as the inspired Word of God it can be used as a measuring rod in evaluating secular history and views.”—“Let Your Kingdom Come,” p. 187.

Concerning the date of Jerusalem’s destruction, many scholars claim to be concerned about harmonizing their views with the Bible, but in fact, are more concerned with not contradicting secular chronology. On the other hand, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses have paid “more than the usual attention” to detail, and they have arrived at the only conclusion that they conscientiously can. (Hebrews 2:1) Their methodology involves adhering to the Bible in its entirety and not compromising on issues that might seem insignificant to secular historians. To do otherwise would make them guilty of distorting Jehovah’s intended message.

So, how do Jehovah’s Witnesses arrive at 607 B.C.E. as the year for Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians?


This website has shown that 607BCE — not 587BCE — is indeed the year that Jerusalem was desolated according to irrefutable evidence in God’s word the Bible. Even some of those who have previously tried to discredit Jehovah’s Witnesses by saying 607BCE is incorrect, are now forced to admit that it may indeed be the right after all, because they have no clear answer for the Biblical evidence presented.

In light of this, not wanting to admit that Jehovah’s Witnesses indeed have the truth, they now have resorted to this view: 'So what. It doesn't matter if it was 607 or 587! This proves nothing about 1914. It is still an artfully contrived story with no basis in the Bible. There is no evidence that 607 began the Gentile Times and that 1914 was the end of those Gentile Times.'

So the question begs to be answered from a Biblical standpoint: did the 7 times begin in 607 and end in 1914? Did the 7 times begin when the ruler on Jehovah’s throne in Jerusalem, Zedekiah, was cut down in 607 and end in 1914 with the rightful ruler, Jesus, the twig of Jesse, becoming the King in God’s Kingdom in heaven? How Long Are the Seven Times?

Briefly, Revelation 12:6 tells us: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” Later in verse 13 of the same chapter we read, “the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place; there is where she is fed for a time and times and half a time away from the face of the serpent.”

We can clearly see that 3.5 times = 1260 days. By doubling both figures we can easily conclude that 7 times = 2520 days. Then, by applying a-day-for-a-year, we deduct that 7 times = 2520 years. Amazing as it may seem, it is 2520 years from 607BCE to 1914CE. Are the seven times of Daniel chapter 4 to be applied in connection with the Gentile Times and God’s rulership?


In the course of their Bible studies, these searching students took up a consideration of the “times of the Gentiles,” as spoken of by Jesus at Luke 21:24 (AV), and they associated those Gentile Times with the “seven times” mentioned four times in Daniel, chapter four, verses 16, 23, 25, 32। What did those Bible students determine to be the date for those “seven times” of Gentile domination of the earth to end legally before God? Well, at that time there was a monthly magazine being published in Brooklyn, New York, by one George Storrs, and it was called “Bible Examiner।” In the year 1876 the twenty-four-year-old Russell made a contribution on the subject to this magazine। It was published in Volume XXI, Number 1, which was the issue of October, 1876. On pages 27, 28 of that issue Russell’s article was published under the title “Gentile Times: When Do They End?” In that article (page 27) Russell said: “The seven times will end in A.D. 1914.”

Monday, July 26, 2010


Next summer saw the turn of the century and I met Pastor Russell. It was at a convention in Philadelphia. June 17 was Bunker Hill day in Massachusetts and, of course, a holiday. There were special train rates to Philadelphia at that time because the Republican party was also holding a convention there. That year they nominated William McKinley as president and Theodore Roosevelt vice-president of the United States. So I took advantage of the holiday and special rates and went to the Bible students' convention sponsored by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. There, as I now recall, Russell talked to the public on the subject, "Salvation from what, to what?" The theme of his discourse was that men are not saved from eternal torment, which does not exist. They are saved from eternal death to everlasting life.

After the talk I was delighted to meet the speaker. He was an extremely kind man. I was just about the only young person there. All others present seemed mature in years. His willingness to talk to me impressed me greatly, because I knew of no man of his importance on the public platform who would talk face to face with young people from his audience after his lectures. I recall that in Boston Dwight L. Moody would leave the hall immediately after his sermons and go to his hotel nearby. Anyone who desired to ask questions would have to go to others of Moody's party. But C. T. Russell always made himself personally available to anyone who wished to talk to him.


From that time I never missed any convention that was held in the East or the Middle West. In September, 1900 after returning from Philadelphia to Boston, I was baptized by total immersion in water, the service being conducted by Hayden Samson, a traveling representative of the Society. In July, 1901 I was ready to realize my ambition to become a missionary and entered the full-time ministry in Massachusetts.

In September of that year we had a convention in Cleveland and I attended. It was at this time that President McKinley was assassinated at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, so there was much excitement throughout the country. The convention at Cleveland ended Sunday night and Russell invited me to make my home at the Watch Tower Society's headquarters in Allegheny, though I was not a member of the staff. When I went there to the Bible House (where the headquarters "family" lived and worked) I was in my early twenties. C. T. Russell was very kind to me. I had no home, both my parents having died; so he took me under his wing and made me feel at home with the headquarters family. He was thoughtful and considerate in every way, and as I would go out on a trip or special assignment he always would say, "Brother, the door is open for you when you return. This is your home."

In October, 1902, I attended a convention in Washington, D.C., where I was married. My wife and I then spent a year in California, returning in 1904 to Allegheny. In 1905 I made a nation-wide convention tour with Russell. It was on this trip that I met J. F. Rutherford, whom I baptized in 1906 and who became the second president of the Society.

In 1909, due to expansion of the organization world-wide, headquarters were moved from Allegheny to Brooklyn, New York. There, at 13-17 Hicks Street, a mission annex of the Plymouth Congregational Church, called "Plymouth Bethel" was purchased and new operating offices of the Society were installed and a large auditorium utilized for meetings. The building was called the "Brooklyn Tabernacle."

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At the same time the former residence of the Plymouth church's famous preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, was purchased. This was at 124 Columbia Heights. Here the headquarters family were housed and the structure was named "Bethel" supplanting the term "Bible House" used for the Society's building in Allegheny. International headquarters of the Society and the headquarters family are still at this address and, after all these years, I am still a happy member of that family.


As I consider the years that I have been associated with the organization of Jehovah's witnesses I can appreciate more and more the value of the path along which we have been led by Jehovah God. Until I first began to study I had never been able to find any religious teaching that answered all my questions. And yet the knowledge of God's Word that was available to us at that time was so limited (compared with what we now rejoice in) that it would be like coming out of the faint light of dawn into the brightness of high noon. But the gradual growth in knowledge, as well as in numbers of persons associating in the work, has strengthened and developed the organization and brought it to maturity.

C. T. Russell had no idea of building a strongly knit organization. At that time we saw no need for it. We expected 1914 would mark the end of this system of things on earth. Our big concern at that time was to preach as effectively and extensively as possible before that date arrived. In the meantime, we thought, we must prepare ourselves individually to be ready to go to heaven.

Exactly what would occur in 1914 we did not then know, but of one thing we were certain: The year 1914 would see the beginning of the worst time of trouble the earth had yet known; for so many Bible prophecies foretold that. Our faith was strong and our hopes were based on much more than mere human speculation. Yet 1914 and the years that immediately followed proved to be a time of severe testing for the developing New World society. Had we realized then the trials we were still to face or the years that were to elapse before our preaching commission was due to expire, perhaps we would have entered the year with far more agitation of mind.

- Faith on the March, by A. H. Macmillan, Prentice-Hall (1957)

To the reader:

A. H. Macmillan is known to Jehovah's witnesses all over the world. His long and prominent association with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and his faithful record of service as a Christian minister have endeared him to his many friends.

Toward the end of 1955 Mr. Macmillan asked permission to use the Society's files to write an account of his experiences in the ministry. Since he is a trusted member of the headquarters staff, he was granted permission. A few months ago he informed me the work was finished, and at his request I agreed to read the manuscript for technical accuracy. I soon found myself engrossed in the story which the account of his life and association with Jehovah's witnesses had produced.

This book is more than the story of one man's growing faith. I believe Mr. Macmillan has made a sincere effort to capture and portray the very essence of the religion that he acknowledges has given meaning to his life. He reveals Jehovah's witnesses as human. He admits their mistakes and explains why no human organization can be infallible. At the same time he reveals their hopes, and presents sound Scriptural reasons for the appeal of these hopes to all kinds of men.

The book is a straightforward and truthful account. It is unique only in the personal experiences of A. H. Macmillan. In many other respects it could be the story of any one of hundreds of Jehovah's witnesses whom I have known.

President, Watch Tower Bible
and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
Brooklyn, New York