1844 Prophecy Failed?

Posted on April 24, 2008. Filed under: Things You Might Not Know About Charles T. Russell | Tags: , , , |

On the webpage that has now been removed, the following had been stated:

Nelson H. Barbour (1824-1908, NY)–Millerite Adventist taught that the rapture would occur in April, 1878. Paired up with Russell 1876-1881. Influenced Russell by teaching an invisible return of Christ. Split over differences after failed prophecy of Christ’s return in 1844 and debate over Christ’s ransom.

This appears to be saying that Russell split with Barbour over an alleged “failed prophecy” of Christ’s return in 1844. It could be a typo, and possibly was meant to be 1874. Regardless, Russell was not even born in 1844, so I do not see how he could be having any differences with anyone concerning an alleged failed prophecy concerning Christ’s return in 1844.

If the 1874 was date meant, I believe both Russell and Barbour had agreed, at least until 1878, that Christ had already returned invisibly in 1874. Russell himself, before 1876, never held any expectations concerning either 1844 nor 1874, and thus certainly could not have made an “predictions” concerning either date. It was not until two years after 1874 that Russell accepted that Jesus had already returned in 1874. Russell died in 1916 still holding to his belief that Jesus had returned in 1874, thus, from Russell’s standpoint, there was no failure concerning that date.

Neither Russell nor Barbour, however, ever claimed to be making any prophecies. As far as I know, neither did William Miller claim that his conclusions were prophecies. Russell disclaimed be a prophet many times, but rather he claimed to be a student of prophecy. Thus there were no “failed prophecies”; the prophecies themselves are in the Bible, and regardless as to whether Russell’s conclusions concerning those prophecies proved either correct or incorrect, Russell believed that the Biblical prophecies would not fail.

Russell’s own words regarding his differences with Barbour may be found at:




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