Many are making all kinds of unsubstantiated claims about Charles Taze Russell. One of the claims that I keep seeing in forums, blogs and websites, is that Russell predicted the end of the world in 1874. One claims that “Watchtower society false prophets declared the end of world in 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914,”, which, of course, leaves the false impression that Russell predicted the end of the world was to come in 1874. In reality, he never predicted the end of the world for 1874, 1878, 1881, nor 1910. One could read into Russell’s earlier statements that he was expecting the end of the world for 1914, but from 1904 onward, Russell was definitely NOT expecting the end of the world for 1914.
Another states that Russell had a falling out with Barbour “over (what else?) dates for the end of the world! (1844 and 1874“, which is totally false.
Russell never “predicted” anything at all concerning 1874. Why do we say this? Because until 1876 he did not believe anything at all concerning the year 1874. in 1876, two years after 1874, Russell did come across N. H. Barbour’s presentation that Jesus had already returned invisibly in 1874. Having already concluded that Jesus would not return in a physical body, Russell was interested in what this said. As a result of studying with N. H. Barbour, Russell became convinced that Jesus had already returned in 1874. However, before 1876 he was held no interest in 1874, and certainly never predicted the end of the world in 1874 sometime before he ever accepted 1874 (in 1876, two years after 1874) as being the year of Christ’s return. In other words, how could he “predict” something to happen after it was supposedly to have been predicted to happen?
In reality, Russell did not even believe in the “end of the world”, as that term was usually used to mean the “end of human history,” or the end of the planet earth. He denied that there would ever be an end to “human history,” or to the planet earth.
He believed that the expression “end of the world” as it appears in the King James Version should have been rendered “end of the age”. He believed that the end of the age referred to a period of time, not to a single event. He viewed the “end of the age” as a transitional period of time “between the ages”. He believed that the “end of the age” had begun in 1874. Earlier in his ministry he did believe that the transition would be over in 1914, but in 1904 — ten years 1914 — he had come to see that the scriptures do not say exactly when the transition was to end.
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