This work, written by a man personally involved with the Jehovah's Witnesses movement for several years, provides an examination of the Witnesses' eschatological development, treating Watch Tower theology objectively but sympathetically. It also speculates about the future direction of Jehovah's Witness teaching. The book begins with a consideration of the biblical foundations of doctrines of the last days, particularly the books of Daniel and Revelation. There follows an outline summary of some of the main aspects of the history of the doctrine within the Protestant mainstream during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and an outline of the Adventist teaching of William Miller (1782-1849) in the USA. Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), prime mover of the Watch Tower movement, developed his ideas during the time following the failure of Miller's expectations. This book explores the way in which Russell amended Miller's ideas and also the distinctive way in which he handled the Dispensational categorization of history of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) to create an extension of historicist speculation on the application of prophecy to the modern world.
The response of the Watch Tower movement to the failure of Russell's expectations in 1914 is explored and the new body of doctrine which has replaced Russell's is examined. The ways in which these doctrines have been modified in the past suggest ways in which future doctrine may develop, especially in response to the protracted delay of Armageddon. What is envisaged, in the light of the history of Watch Tower doctrine, is no dramatic collapse of the movement but rather an increasing emphasis upon other less vulnerable areas of doctrine together with a greater turnover of membership which may, in due course, undermine the movement's stability.
Robert Crompton is a Methodist minister who was previously a Special Pioneer (evangelist) and a Ministry School instructor with the Witnesses. He holds degrees in philosophy and theology from Durham University.
1. Introduction 2. The Scriptural Starting Point 3. The Historicist Millennialist Tradition 4. Dispensationalism 5. The Time is at Hand 6. Parallel Dispensations 7. Interpreting the Book of Daniel 8. Days of Waiting 9. The End-time Calendar 10. The Battle of Armageddon 11. The End of an Era 12. Millions Now Living Will Never Die 13. The Great Multitude 14. Interpreting the Current Sources 15. The Security of 1914 16. The Response to the Crisis Appendices 1. Glossary 2. Dramatis Personae 3. The Seven Trumpets 4. The Seven Plagues 5. Continuing Bible Students Bibliography Index