In the Beginning

In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound,
 the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared
to his servants the prophets.—Revelation 10:7

 

Who are the Bible Students? Where do they come from? These are questions frequently asked by those who seek to identify this movement and its origins. This special issue of The Herald is meant to answer these queries.

Seeking to place the Bible Student movement in a historical context, these articles trace developments in the Christian world from the Reformation to the events of the nineteenth century which led to the formation of a small group of sincere Christians who are pleased to associate under the generic term of “Bible Students.”

The opening article, The Reformation and Martin Luther, traces the development of Protestantism from 1517 to 1799. The Midnight Cry picks up the theme in the formation of the second Adventist movement, focusing primarily on the growth of interest in the return of Jesus Christ aroused by William Miller.

Heroes of Our Faith outlines the rebirth of doctrinal viewpoints largely lost since the days of the Early Church. Those elements of belief that formed an integral part of the framework of the Bible Student movement are emphasized.

The direct origin of the Bible Students is an outgrowth of the ministry of Pastor Charles Taze Russell. His ministry forms the subject for A New Wine Bottle. Turmoil and confusion reigned within the movement after the death of its founder. This difficult transition is chronicled in The Troubled Years covering the period from 1916 to 1918.

Since that time there have been many developments in the movement, resulting in the formation of a number of groups that trace their lineage to the works of Pastor Russell. A brief summary of most of these efforts is found in the treatise on Recent Bible Student History.

Finally His Pulpit Was the World shows the world-wide outreach of the man who was called “the world’s most ubiquitous preacher” by his contemporaries and gives a sketch of the Bible Student movement throughout the world.

History, at best, is incomplete and subjective, but the editors of The Herald hope this sincere attempt to record the origin and development of the Bible Student movement will be helpful to our readers.