The above diagram is meant to illustrate the total apostasy of “Christendom” and an apologetic for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS) – Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wonder if those of you who know the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses could put them in their right place in the diagram.
Doug Harris, founder of Reachout Trust, points out in his book, The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Their Beliefs and Practices,
“It is very unlikely that Charles Taze Russell actually set out to create what today is known as the WBTS. Even if he did, his version is certainly not the one we have now. If Russell were alive today, he would be disfellowshipped because so many changes have taken place over the years.”
Might it be said then that Jehovah’s Witnesses as we know them today started after Russell’s death? Indeed, Jehovah’s Witnesses as we know them, with their distinctive New World Translation (NWT) Bible, their elevation of just 144,000 to heaven, the blood transfusion controversy, and their distinctive name didn’t entirely exist before 1950, when all these things were finally in place and the NWT was commissioned.
Did the development of these distinctions culminating in the advent of the New World Translation mark the real beginning of the modern Witnesses? But…
Of course, events took place, developments unfolded, that led up to this landmark. Perhaps one of these marks the true beginning of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Perhaps 1931 is the date we are looking for. This was when they became “Jehovah’s Witnesses” never envisaged by Russell for the first time. Before that time they were “International Bible Students”. But…
1919 saw the anointing of the leaders of the WBTS by “holy spirit” as God’s remnant to bring in the Kingdom. Was this JW “Pentecost” the real beginning of the movement? But…
1881 saw the formal formation of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the Jehovah’s Witness organisation. Perhaps here we can mark their beginning? But…
In July of 1879 the first Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, the official magazine of the Society, was published. Perhaps we find here the beginnings of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Or perhaps 1870 marks the beginning. After all, this was when Charles Russell first formed a small study group to investigate Second Adventism.
But then we are back to Doug’s quote and, certainly, modern Witnesses would not recognise this small study group as their beginning if they were not informed of the fact, anymore than this group would recognise modern Witnesses as their descendants. This was an Adventist group, just like lots of Adventist groups at the time. At this time Russell was an Adventist who had come under the influence of William Miller, an early and influential leader of the Adventist movement.
Was Miller the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
But Miller was influenced in part by John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren and advocate of the dispensational approach to prophecy. Miller used Darby’s literal approach as a basis for his own calculations. Have we found in Darby the roots of the Jehovah’s Witnesses? No, because the story continues.
John Nelson Darby was an Episcopalian curate.
The Episcopalian Church in Ireland (where Darby lived) is on the chart under the heading “16th Century Reformation”. This leads directly back to the Roman Church. If the roots of all the other movements represented on the church disqualify them then so does it disqualify The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society – surely.