They will often respond that theirs is the most ancient religious group, older than Catholic and Protestant churches.
In fact, they assert that "Jehovah's witnesses have a history almost 6,000 years long, beginning while the first man, Adam, was still alive," that Adam's son Abel was "the first of an unbroken line of Witnesses," and that "Jesus' disciples were all Jehovah's witnesses [sic] too." ( An outsider listening to such claims quickly realizes, of course, that the sect has simply appropriated unto itself all the characters named in the Bible as faithful witnesses of God.
Perhaps as many as 50,000 followers put their trust in Miller's chronological calculations and prepared to welcome the Lord, while, as the appointed time approached, others watched nervously from a distance.
Recalculations moved the promised second advent from March, 1843 to March, 1844, and then to October of that year. After the "Disappointment of 1844" Miller's following fell apart, with most of those who had looked to him returning to their respective churches before his death in 1849.
Barbour had some arguments to offer in support of his assertions.
In particular, he came up with a basis for reinterpreting the Second Coming as an invisible event: In Benjamin Wilson's Emphatic Diaglott translation of the New Testament the word rendered 'coming' in the King James Version at Matthew , 37, 39 is translated 'presence' instead.
But they do not often admit this to outsiders; nor do many Witnesses know the details themselves.
Jehovah's Witnesses are accustomed to defending themselves against the charge that they are a new religious cult.
His predictions of the Second Coming or Second Advent captured the imagination of thousands in Baptist and other mainline churches.Russell, however, rejected some of the new ideas and persuaded other members to oppose them.Finally, Russell quit the staff of the Adventist magazine and started his own.When this expected Rapture failed to occur on time in 1878, The Herald's editor, Mr.Barbour, came up with "new light" on this and other doctrines.At this point Charles Russell no longer wanted to consider himself an Adventist, nor a Millerite.But, he continued to view Miller and Barbour as instruments chosen by God to lead His people in the past.Houteff died in 1955, and in 1961 his wife businessman Benjamin Roden took over the real estate.Roden died in 1978, leaving behind his wife Lois and his son George to lead the group.By such extrapolation the denomination is able to stretch its history back to the beginnings of the human family, at least in the eyes of adherents who are willing to accept such arguments.But outside observers generally dismiss this sort of rhetoric and instead reckon the Witnesses as dating back only to Charles Taze Russell, who was born on Originally raised a Presbyterian, Russell was 16 years old and a member of the Congregational church in the year 1868, when he found himself losing faith.