Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ross' Perjury Accusations

By Ronald R. Day, Senior
A writer on a blogsite states:
In 1913, Russell sued Baptist minister J.J. Ross in the Ontario High Court for libel for a tract Ross wrote about Russell the previous year.
The very titles of Ross' publications: "Some Facts (and More Facts) About the Self-Styled 'Pastor' Charles T. Russell," belies the deceptive spirit of the publications, since Charles Taze Russell was indeed appointed first as "pastor" by the Allegheny Church associated with the Bible Students, and he was later appointed as "pastor" by many other churches all over the world. Ross simply dismissed those appointments as being valid. (Russell believed that every consecrated Christian, sanctified by the blood of the covenant, was "ordained," appointed by God, to a ministry.)

Of course, what Ross meant by this is that Russell had never been appointed as "pastor" by what Ross considered to be acceptable sources for such an appointment by men educated in the Protestant doctrines of men and their philosophies, that is, by a Baptist, a Methodist, or similar school, whom Ross evidently considered to have exclusive authority to appoint anyone to minister the Word of God. And yet, how many denominations that can give scriptural authority for its own ordinations and the scriptural right to forbid it to others, or to question the scripturalness of other denominations' or religious groups' ordination than its own? Some have tried, but all such, in the end, leads to assumptions being read into whatever scriptures are presented.

As far as "pastor" is concerned, as it is often used today, this is not described in the Bible as being a separate "office", such as elder, deacon, etc. The word "pastor" simply means "shepherd".

Jehovah is the Most High Shepherd (Pastor), who is the source of all power and authority (1 Corinthians 8:6); Jesus is the “genuine” (Greek, transliterated, Kalos, Strong’s #2570) shepherd (pastor) appointed over the sheep by the Most High Shepherd (Pastor), as opposed to the false shepherds. The Most High Shepherd (Pastor) Jehovah judges His sheep through, by means of the genuine shepherd whom he has appointed. — Psalm 23:1; 96:13; 98:9; Ezekiel 34:2-24; John 5:22,23; 10:11-17,29; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:16; 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Nevertheless, the Bible states: "He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets (public speakers); and some, evangelists (preachers of the good news); and some, shepherds (pastors) and teachers."  (Ephesians 4:11, World English) "He" is evidently referring to the appointed Pastor Jesus, who had ascended to be at God's right hand (John 15:26; Acts 1:8; 2:32,33; 5:31; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:3,17-23; 4:10; Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 10:12), and whom God used to pour out His spirit on the church. Those whom Jesus appoints as pastors, however, are "servants", not rulers or lords over the flock. -- Matthew 20:25,26.

Nevertheless, none of us are perfect, and Brother Russell never claimed to be perfect, or infallible. Indeed, the claimed the opposite, that the conclusions he presented were NOT infallible, and the he could make mistakes. Brother Russell was interrogated for hours without let up during the Ross trial and most people often become very confused after such prolonged interrogation; one is almost bound t make some mistakes based on misunderstanding of what he was being asked under such interrogation. At most, this appears to be what happened with Brother Russell, but he was never allowed to explain himself in court, but he did explain himself outside of court.

The writer continues:
Ross accused Russell of being undereducated in areas of religious concern, such as theology, classical languages and philosophy.
The above quote represents a rewording of what Ross actually said.

Nevertheless, Russell had been educated through private tutors and had also been instructed by various ministers who had come before him. Further, through his own self-study he educated himself along many lines. The fact that he did not receive his education at the hands of humanly-recognized sectarian theological schools does not mean that he did not understand what he was writing about. Brother Russell also had the aid of Paul S. L. Johnson, who was throughly trained in Biblical Greek and Hebrew. That Russell did -- in his writings -- correctly present the usage of Hebrew and Greek words was confirmed, with some few minor exceptions, by Brother Johnson. Johnson graduated from from Capital University in Columbus, OH on May 25, 1898. He won the valedictory and also the highest honors ever given in the history of that university. He also graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Ohio Synod of the Lutheran Church. He was thoroughly educated in both Hebrew and Greek; this gave him the skills necessary to understand the Bible from the original languages. He had been taught in the seminary the doctrine of eternal torture of those not saved; through his studies of the Bible itself he came to understand that a God of perfect, wisdom, justice, power and love, would not, could not, punish his enemies with such a punishment as eternal roasting. He also came to see the Hebraic viewpoint of God, as opposed to the trinitarian or oneness views. With few exceptions, he confirmed the conclusions that Russell had reached. (See his books "God," "Creation," "The Bible," "Christ--Spirit--Covenants," etc., in which he verifies most of Russell's conclusions and elaborates upon the Hebrew and Greek usage involved.)

Ross is often quoted as a source of evidence that Russell had perjured himself in court. Please note that Russell was never charged with perjury by any court official, but the charge comes from Ross, who had already shown that he hated Russell. Here is what Ross wrote concerning Russell's testimony in the Hamilton County Courtroom on  March 13, 1913, and which many love to quote in order to discredit Russell:

"Do you know the Greek?" asked the Attorney.

"Oh, yes," was Russell's reply.

Here he was handed a copy of the New Testament in Greek, by Westcott & Hort, and asked to read the letters as they appear on the top of page 447. He did not know the Greek alphabet. "Now,"

Mr. Staunton asked [sic], "Are you familiar with the Greek language?"

"No," said Mr. Russell without a blush.
However, what does an an examination of the relevant portions of the official transcript of record actually show? We find that Ross, who accused Russell of "devising falsely" and of being "a fabricator,"was himself guilty of serious dishonesty.

Before the part of the interrogation that Ross relates, we find that Russell had already stated that he had not been trained in Greek or Latin. Here is the record of the questions of Ross's lawyer, George Lynch-Staunton, and Russell's replies:

Question: "You don't profess, then, to be schooled in the Latin language?"

Answer: "No, Sir."

Question: "Or in Greek?"

Answer: "No, Sir."

It was after that Lynch-Staunton asked Russell if he knew the Greek alphabet. Here is the testimony of that record from the court transcript:

Question: "Do you know the Greek alphabet?"

Answer: "Oh, Yes."

Question: "Can you tell me the correct letters if you see them?"

Answer: "Some of them, I might make a mistake on some of them."

Question: "Would you tell me the names of the letters of those on the top of the page, page 447 I have got here [from Westcott and Hort]?"

Answer: "Well, I don't know that I would be able to."

Question: "You can't tell what those letters are, look at them and see if you know."

Answer: "My way ..." [At this point he was interrupted by the court and not allowed to explain.]

It was after this that Russell was asked:
"Are you familiar with the Greek language?"

Answer: "No!"

Please note that Russell was asked several different questions, the first one being if he had been schooled in either the Greek or Latin languages, to which he stated that he had not been. He was then asked if he knew the Greek alphabet. This question, without a given qualification, could be interpreted in different ways. One might be able to repeat the Greek alphabet without being able to recognize the alphabet in print. In Russell's mind, however, he seemed to interpret this question as to mean, do you know the Greek alphabet so as to make use of the Greek alphabet? In the next question, he was asked if he could tell the Greek letters if he saw them, and Russell truthfully answered, "Some of them," and truthfully admitted that he might make a mistake on some of them. Most people could know some of them. Many without a high school education, for instance, might recognize the letter alpha as well as beta. However, then another question was asked, and some specific letters are pointed to in the Westcott & Hort text. What those letters were is not revealed, but evidently they were letters deliberately selected that were not so commonly known. The whole approach, however, is a lawyer's method of trying paint a picture in the worst light possible. Nevertheless, it should be evident that Russell never claimed to know Greek, as Ross makes it appear to be.

Regarding Russell's answer concerning if he knew the Greek alphabet, Russell wanted to explain what he meant by that his answer, but was not permitted to do so, as the court record shows. He later explained that what he meant was that he had simply developed a schoolboy's ability to recognize Greek words in Strong's and Young's concordances of the Bible.

Russell did not perjure himself in court. He did at times, evidently after hours of interrogation, seem to be confused over some questions, but this can happen to the best of us, especially after more than two or three hours of questioning. Nonetheless, the facts show that Ross rearranged the sequence of events of what actually happened in court in order to give the impression that Russell had committed perjury. Furthermore, there is no court record showing that Russell was ever legally accused of, or legally charged with, perjury, nor was Russell ever accused by any court of perjury. Ross' attorney never charged Russell with perjury; the idea originated in the head of J. J. Ross himself, an evidently he felt that the court record as it was not that convincing, so he doctored the "facts" to make it more sure to appear to support his accusation.

The charge of libel was considered a criminal offense in Ontario. Thus, when Russell filed his complaint against Ross, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Ross. Ross evaded the officer for some time and even failed to keep his appointment at his church to prevent the officer from taking him into custody. Finally, he was taken before George E. Jelfs, Police Magistrate, on the charge of criminal libel. Upon a hearing he was committed for trial. Upon motion, the Superior Court quashed the commitment because of a technical error in the proceedings. Ross was again taken before the Magistrate.

When the case came on for hearing the second time Pastor Russell, who was a necessary witness, was away on an extended trip in Panama and other parts of the South, filling appointments previously made, and had no notice of the date of hearing. Ross and his counsel tried to make it appear that Pastor Russell was evading the trial. As soon as Pastor Russell returned to Brooklyn and heard that he was wanted he immediately notified the Magistrate that he was ready to come to Canada. He did go and gave his testimony. Again the Magistrate committed Ross to appear before the high court to answer an indictment to be preferred by the Grand Jury. When the case came before that court the Judge of the court, in charging the Grand Jury relative to its duties, among other things, said to the jury: "Unless the jury finds that this alleged libel would cause a breach of the public peace in Canada then no indictment should be returned, but the parties should resort to civil suit for damages." The jury returned "no bill," and it is manifest that they could not have done otherwise under this charge of the Court, for the reason that Pastor Russell lived in Brooklyn, New York, and Rev. Ross lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and it would be physically impossible for the libel to cause a breach of the public peace when the parties were so far apart. It is because of this that Russell "lost" the court case.

Thus it will be seen that the issues were never tried and never determined. Pastor Russell did not resort to civil action for damages, for the reason that he was advised that such an action would be useless, since Ross was irresponsible financially and could not be compelled by such a proceeding to publish a retraction.

Thereafter, Rev. Ross published another pamphlet against Pastor Russell which for unmitigated falsehoods and misrepresentations of facts. Selecting here and there isolated paragraphs from the court records, he twisted them, added to, misrepresented and made them appear entirely different from their true meaning. This could not have been accidental on his part. For instance, among other things, he charges: "He (Pastor Russell) sought to evade payment fixed by the court by fleeing from one State to another, making it necessary for his wife to get an extradition order, which she did, and which led to the condemnation of the cunning pastor by a third court, and the increase of the alimony." Rev. Ross probably did not know that extradition proceedings cannot be resorted to in order to enforce a money judgment. No "extradition order" was made, nor were there any extradition proceedings. But probably Rev. Ross thought the people would believe his statement, even though false, because he is recognized as "Reverend."

Ross charged that Pastor Russell was unlearned because he was not a graduate of some theological school. Yet there are many living men who never even saw the outside walls of a theological school who know more about the Bible and its teaching than is taught in any theological college in the land. Pastor Russell was not a graduate of any man-made theological college, that is true. The greatest lawyer this country has produced -- Benjamin Harrison -- never attended a law school. Theological colleges teach theology, usually the traditions of men, but not necessarily the Bible, except that they might be able to make the Bible appear to be in harmony with their theology and tradition. Pastor Russell, however, probably knew the Bible better than any other man in his day.

Upon this point we should note the words of Dr. G.W. Bull in his learned treatise of "The Gospel of John," as follows:
AN IRREGULAR (John 7:15). That is what they all say. The crime of Christ was that He had not taken a course in their college. 'Whence hath He learning?' There are some professional policemen who must protect all learning; medicine, law, gospel, or what not. If you never went through their schools of learning you are a freak, and there is something suspicious about your good sense. These men thought there was only one way of learning -- they would ask a certificate of the sun! There are many schools and schoolmasters in God's universe. Cease your criticism of any Christian scholar. Let him learn in his own way; the Kingdom of God is going to make great progress when some of these high brows are removed to Heaven. Sometimes a man's utterance of profound Truths is stated in poor grammatical form, and the philosophers are puzzled by his power. They wonder where he got it: I do not know -- probably his alma mater was his mother's knees -- then let him speak. Remember today: 'God hath chosen the weak things of this world to confound the mighty.
It has ever been the rule of those entrenched in error to persecute others who bring forth light and truth, exposing error. Why was Jesus persecuted by the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees? Because He taught the people! He said to them that because of their selfishness they persecuted and killed the prophets whom Yahweh had sent to teach the people.

The apostles taught concerning Jesus and the resurrection of the dead, and the Priests, Sadducees and Pharisees persecuted them. Why? "They were grieved that they taught the people."--Acts 4:1-5.

Is it because Pastor Russell was at one time engaged in secular business, or because he was connected with some business corporations several years ago, or because they are especially interested in his domestic relations, that many who profess Christ persist in persecuting him even long after his death? No, indeed! Why then? BECAUSE HE TAUGHT THE PEOPLE! And yet the truth, to those who receive such with an honest heart, actually exposes the deceitfulness of those who continue to spread lies, misrepresentations, distortions of facts, quotes out of context, misquotes, etc., in order deceive the masses.

Some of Brother Russell's own defenses, which contain much of which he was not allowed to present in court:

Russell Responses to J. J. Ross

Pastor's Russell's Reply to Critics

For more concerning the alleged "perjury" of Russell:

The Late Walter Martin's Sham Scholarship -- by James Penton

Did Pastor Russell lie under oath about his knowledge of Greek?

Did Pastor Russell Lie Under Oath?

St. Paul Enterprise: Defences of Pastor Russell — Discusses accusations and misrepresentations made by William T. Ellis, W. B. Riley, and others. Some statements seem to exalt Brother Russell too highly, making him a prophet (which Russell himself disclaimed, QB272; 675:1), but most is good information.

Some of the material in this presentation has been adapted from:
A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens

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