On the other hand, it is claimed that Russell was the founder of the "cult" known as Jehovah's Witnesses, and many of the organizational teachings of the leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses are often attributed to Russell, when, in reality, he may never have taught such things. In some major teachings, Russell actually taught the opposite (or near so) to what the JWs teach. Russell was not the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, nor was he founder of any cult. Recognizing the term "cult" as generic in itself as applying to any form of worship, we can say that he only believed in the true cult that was founded by Jesus and the apostles. His work he did in service to the only true church founded by Jesus and the apostles. In doing this, however, he did find that, since many of the doctrines that were later added by the apostate church leaders were not in the Bible, that the teachings of Jesus and the apostles were not in harmony with those doctrines.
Nevertheless, we present below some quotes from Russell pertaining to how he viewed the Bible, some of which also show how he viewed the Bible in relation to his own writings.
The Bible is God's Word to us. And while prompt to acknowledge the channels and agencies honored by the Lord in bringing to our attention the things of his Word new and old, let us never forget that the Word itself is the final arbiter, and that if any teaching fails to harmonize with that Word it is because there is no light in it. (Isa. 8:20) Then, as the Apostle says, we are to be not only hearers, but also doers, of the Lord's Word. (James 1:22) And "He that hath my Word let him speak my word faithfully" (Jer. 23:28) --not uncertainly, doubtfully, but "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God."-- Pet. 4:11. -- "The Child Samuel", Watch Tower, October 15, 1895.
Never forget that the Bible is our Standard and that however God-given our helps may be they are "helps" and not substitutes for the Bible. -- "Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's Report", Watch Tower, December 15, 1909.
What Christendom needs today is a return to the Bible, an investigation of its teachings and, correspondingly, a rejection of all human creeds, which are admittedly more or less defective. Let us "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." Let us accept the Bible as the only standard. Let us study it and understand it to the extent of our ability. Let us rejoice in every degree of harmony we all attain in the correct understanding o f it. Let us fellowship as Christians all who acknowledge its Divine authenticity and who, in harmony with its presentation, are trusting in Jesus as their redeemer; and who, in acceptance of His invitation, have forsaken all to be His footstep followers.
These are the real Christians, with whatever sect or party they may have become identified, through the supposition that they were doing the will of God. These alone are the saints; these alone are running in the race course; these alone have the opportunity of making their "calling and election sure." -- DIVINE OMNISCIENCE AND ALMIGHTY POWER, St. Paul Enterprise, December 11, 1917, as reprinted in Harvest Gleanings, Volume 3 (begins on page 140).
Until I have edited the rest of this, one may see my earlier posting at:
The BIBLE is our text book, the DAWNS and TOWERS are our comments, explanations, etc., and our mail department enables us to point out and emphasize misunderstood parts of the instruction.
It is a great mistake to affirm that the Bible is the product of the Church; and those who make this claim do not know where to look for the Church. The Scriptures declare that Jesus Christ was the head and forerunner of [R1584 : page 293] the Church; and if he was the forerunner it is plain that none of the members of the Church preceded him, and, therefore, that the Old Testament Scriptures -- which Paul says "were written aforetime (before Christ's advent) for our instruction that we through patience and the consolation of the Scriptures might possess the hope" (of the gospel -- Rom. 15:4) -- were not the product of the Church. And if, as we have shown, the writings of the Apostles were divinely inspired, then the New Testament Scriptures are not the product of the Church. But consecrated human agencies were used in both cases as God's honored instruments. The word of the Lord through the Apostles is not the product of the Church, but of divine revelation. And never since those inspired apostles fell asleep has the church been able to add one iota to the heavenly wisdom revealed through them; and to whatever extent she has wandered from their teachings, she has manifested her folly by vain philosophies which expose her ignorance and egotism.
Now that we are ready and fully equipped for Bible study, we are handicapped, trammeled by wrong doctrines which have become lodged and fastened in memory. Some of these came from the creeds, some of them from hymn books, some of them from preaching and some from tracts. As a result, we are filled with misunderstandings and inconsistencies which cause the Bible to appear to be self-contradictory. So much is this the case that it is counted a fashionable thing in our day for intelligent people to laugh at the Bible and to deny its Divine inspiration. But the Bible is consistent with itself, and is thoroughly opposed to the doctrines of the creeds. These facts, however, need to be thoroughly learned before we can have full confidence in the Bible and fully appreciate it. These blessings are the portion of the Lord's people more and more, especially during the last thirty-five years.
In a word, the work of our Society is conducted on the belief that the Bible is Divinely inspired, and that we are now living in the wonderful Day, mentioned by the Prophets, when "the wise shall understand," when they shall receive "meat in due season" from God's wonderful Book. By the "wise" we mean, of course, those who are wise toward God, not the worldly-wise.
We as Bible students are coming more and more to appreciate the fact that the Divine Plan presented in the Bible is wonderful in its simplicity and its comprehensiveness. More and more we are coming to see that our error in the past has been that we studied not the Bible, but the creeds -- and correspondingly had darkness instead of light.
You cannot well say too much for the book, as one that will show in interesting style that the Bible is a self-interpreter and its teachings grandly harmonious, when viewed in the light of sanctified reason and common sense. You can surely say, too, that the book is not dry musty reading, but truly "meat in due season" to the truth-hungry; and (in the language of a sister) that the light, which this precious volume reflects, has made the Bible a new book, a treasure, a mine of wealth to many as well as to yourself.
Chapters two and three [of the The Divine Plan of the Ages] I must tell you about; they are so helpful, especially if you have young friends inclined to be skeptical. The one gives evidences, aside from the Bible, that there is an all-wise Creator; the other thoroughly answers "higher criticism" and infidelity by the internal proofs that the Bible is inspired. These chapters alone are worth many times the cost of the entire set of books. As one reader has well said, "These helping hands to Bible study are worth more dollars than they cost in cents."
Neither must you lean upon the DAWN (later called Studies in the Scriptures) and the TOWER as infallible teachers. If it was proper for the early Christians to prove what they received from the apostles, who were and who claimed to be inspired, how much more important it is that you fully satisfy yourself that these teachings keep closely within their outline instructions and those of our Lord;-- since their author claims no inspiration, but merely the guidance of the Lord, as one used of him in feeding his flock.
I trust, dear Brother, that, as you examine these publications, that may seem to you to be true of the author which the Apostle Paul said of himself: "We preach not ourselves, but Christ,--the power of God and the wisdom of God. Whether successful or not, others must judge, and especially the Lord; but I ever seek to hold forth the Word of Life. (Phil. 2:16.) True, it has been held forth in my hands (powers), but never as my Word. Hence in no sense have I, as a pope, taken the place of Christ before his Church.
Indeed, time and again I have seen that the teachings of those who make utterances of their own, but in the name of Christ, by claimed inspiration, or special revelations, or boasted wisdom (which is the real spirit of popery), and without proof from the Scripture, are received by many. And I am confident that the DAWN and TOWER would have many more friends and believers if they followed this (popery's) course;--for as some one has said, "People prefer to be humbugged." But such a course I dare not follow; I must be true to the Lord and declare his Word, and let him take charge of the consequences.
The world will be deceived, and merely so-called Christians also; because error will come in the way that will appeal to their expectations --boastfully: but God is now seeking a special "little flock" which always hearkens to the voice of the Chief Shepherd, and flees from all undershepherds who do not echo his words and have his spirit of meekness and simplicity.--Phil. 3:16-18.
We preach not ourself but Christ. We substantiate nothing except by his Word. We make no laws, formulate no creed, deprive no sheep of his full liberty in Christ; but merely on every question quote the Word of the Lord, through the apostles and prophets. We boast nothing, claim nothing of ourself. We are content to serve the Lord and his flock to the best of our ability--exacting no tithes, no "honor of men," no confession of authority, no compensation; hoping merely for the love of the Lord and of those who are his children and have his Spirit.
So far from forming or desiring to form a new sect, we ignore all sectarian systems and their claimed authority; we recognize only the "one Lord, one Faith and one Baptism" of the Scriptures and fellowship as a "brother" every person of decent morals who confesses faith in the "redemption through the blood of Christ," and especially all of this class who profess a full consecration to the Lord's will and service,-- whatever sect they may be in, or outside of all.
The word "Catholic" signifies general or universal. We know of Greek Catholics, Roman Catholics, Anglican Catholics, etc., but we know of no other company of Christians which recognizes every Christian in the whole world in the same complete sense that we do, as stated foregoing. Hence to us the term Catholic, or Universal, most fitly belongs.
We have endeavored to uncover enough of the foundation upon which all faith should be built--the Word of God--to give confidence and assurance in its testimony, even to the unbeliever. And we have endeavored to do this in a manner that will appeal to and can be accepted by reason as a foundation. Then we have endeavored to build upon that foundation the teachings of Scripture, in such a manner that, so far as possible, purely human judgment may try its squares and angles by the most exacting rules of justice which it can command.
Regarding his Studies in the Scriptures, Russell wrote:
The six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are not intended to supplant the Bible. There are various methods to be pursued in the study of the Bible and these aids to Bible study are in such form that they, of themselves, contain the important elements of the Bible as well as the comments or elucidations of those Bible statements....
It is for each one to think for himself, however, and to guide his conduct in every way accordingly....
If these books are to be of any value to us it must be because we see in them loyalty to the Word of God, and as far as our judgment goes, see them to be in full harmony with the Word and not antagonistic to it. Therefore, in reading them the first time, and perhaps the second time, and before we would accept anything as being our own personal faith and conviction, we should say, “I will not take it because these studies say so; I wish to see what the Bible says.” And so we would study the Scriptures in the light of these SCRIPTURE STUDIES; we would prove every point, or disprove it, as the case might be. We would be satisfied with nothing less than a thorough investigation of the Bible from this standpoint....
If, at the same time, in any future reading, we should come to a place where something did not seem clear to us and we thought of some Scripture which seemed not as harmonious with it as we had previously thought, we would think it our duty to refer at once to the Scriptures, because the Scriptures are the standard, and in that reference to the Scripture it would be with a view to discerning whether or not we had been mistaken in our previous examinations....
This is not, therefore, putting the SCRIPTURE STUDIES as a substitute for the Bible, because so far as substituting for the Bible, the STUDIES, on the contrary, continually refer to the Bible; and if one has any doubt as to a reference or if one’s recollection should lapse in any degree, one should refresh his memory, and, in fact, should see that his every thought is in harmony with the Bible –not merely in accord with the SCRIPTURE STUDIES, but in accord with the Bible.
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES THE SOURCE OF TRUE WISDOM
Updated: 2/20/2009; 3/13/2014.