The following is reproduced from the St. Paul Enterprise, August 14, 1914.
Another Open Letter to the Editor of the Northwestern Christian Advocate,
Supplemental to The One by A. Goodell James.
Explanatory Note.-The excellent and well received Answer to the "Northwestern" by A. Goodell James, recently published in the Enterprise, left some points of vital interest uncovered. Many requests from friends have come, urging a more complete refutal of the attack. This letter is therefore presented to supplement and reinforce the other, and render our literature on the subject complete in detail. Friends who have desired a reply to the venomous attack by Rev. J. J. Ross, will find it fully given in this answer to Zaring.
Sir:-A copy of your issue of April 15 has been handed me. On the front page I notice a very interesting word portrait of a Methodist, drawn by John Wesley, Methodism’s illustrious founder. He says: "A Methodist is one who has the love of God shed abroad in his heart. . . . His heart is full of love to all mankind and is purified from envy, malice, wrath and every unkind or malign affection. . . . He cannot speak ill of his neighbor, no more than he can tell a lie. He cannot utter unkind or idle words. No corrupt communication ever comes out of his mouth. He does good unto all men, unto neighbors and strangers, friends and enemies.
Turning over two leaves of the paper, I find-"A Warning to All Good Methodists," apparently written by the editor. This article is an attack upon a man who, by the admission of Editor Ellis of the Presbyterian "Continent" and many others, is the most widely known, widely heard and widely read preacher in the world today. In this attack I find the following statements: "Who has dubbed himself Pastor . . . and lacks the first requisite of being a pastor." "Millennial Dawn masquerades." "Pastor Russell is simply trying to steal the livery of Heaven . . . to serve the Devil." "So persistent and deceptive is this man." "Pastors are therefore warned not to fall into the trap set by this wily propagandist." "In order to make their deception complete these canvassers give their editors a choice between their own deceptions and those of Dr. R. A. Torrey." "Thousands of persons have been unwittingly deceived as to their authorship." "The pretense that scientific truths about the creation of the world are being taught by the Pictures." "All interested in our youth are therefore warned to beware of this cunning but mischievous attempt to ensnare and pervert the children who are as ignorant of the wiles of the devil as they are innocent." "He was divorced from his wife on the plea of cruelty and immorality, a woman . . . being named as co-respondent." "He was charged with defrauding the people by selling what he called miracle wheat." "Ross shows that Russell organized ‘lead,’ ‘asphalt,’ and ‘turpentine companies’ . . . concerning which he first swore that he was not in any way connected with said companies, but when faced with documental evidence to the contrary, acknowledged his connections." "Russell is now reputed to be worth several millions of dollars but is careful to keep his wealth under such legal protection that it cannot be seized." "These evidences of his personal unworthiness could well be covered with a mantle of silence, if not of charity, if the teachings of his books and tracts did not contain the poison of heresy and the still more fatal poison of his system whose acceptance leads logically to immorality." "He advocates that all persons, however wicked or vile, . . . will be raised in a state of Adamic purity and given a second probation." "He pretends to have an exact knowledge of the Greek and defies the scholarship of the world." "This man who counts himself to be ‘Some great one.’"
The deadly parallel thus drawn stands out too boldly to require extended comment. If Wesley’s portrait of a Methodist is accurately drawn, the editor of the Northwestern Christian Advocate is not a Methodist and we cannot but wonder whether the church that chose him to his editorship still possesses the ability to discern a Wesleyan Methodist. A careful examination of the Bible representations of a Christian shows beyond dispute that Wesley’s description of a Methodist is the Bible description of a Christian, so that if a man does not measure up to the standard of a Wesleyan Methodist neither does he measure up to the standard of biblical christianity. Surely no one will question that this deadly parallel can be studied by all with immeasurable profit.
You have denounced Millennial Dawn as the product of one man. Let me ask you a question:-If a system of teaching is founded on the Scriptures, what is the name of the one man who is responsible? Millennial Dawn contains 5,972 Scriptural citations, or an average of practically a thousand to each volume. Is Scriptural truth the product of one man?
You say that Mr. Russell has dubbed himself "pastor." Where have you ever found any proof for that statement? I have read nearly all of Pastor Russell’s writings and have conversed and corresponded with him extensively and have yet to come in contact with the first iota of evidence that he styles himself "pastor." He is elected pastor by the various classes of the International Bible Students Association throughout the world at their semi-annual elections by voluntary, unanimous action in which probably more than 150,000 people enthusiastically participate. I have repeatedly participated in such action on the part of large classes in Chicago and Minneapolis. Mr. Russell has been officially notified of this action, has duly accepted the election, and has performed the duties of the position to the entire satisfaction of those who elected him. Please name one living man who is pastor of any people by better right than this. Are Methodists served by pastors of their own choice?
You state that he is not an ordained minister of any denomination. What denomination can you name that is recognized in the Scriptures?-that can prove Scriptural authority for its ordinations?
You state that he lacks the first requisite of being a pastor-that of caring for some particular flock. There is no flock in the world that receives more constant and more personal ministration from a pastor than is given by him to the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Methodists are wont to style their bishops "Chief Pastors." Please tell me what particular flock they care for. According to your definition Peter, Paul and John and the other disciples were not ministers of the Gospel. They were not ordained by any denomination and did not care for any particular flock.
You charge us with masquerading under the title of International Bible Students Association. What warrant have you for styling us masqueraders? The name quoted is our legal, corporate name. Under this name we distribute more Bibles, religious books, sermons and religious tracts than any other religious organization in the world, including all the great denominations: this by the truthful admission of Editor Ellis, already referred to, and many others. You say that the Students International Bible Conference in whose name you accuse us of masquerading "meets occasionally." The average intelligent mind in comparing the most active organization in the world with one that "meets occasionally" would be inclined to regard the latter, if either, as the masquerader. You insinuate that our use of the term International is but a pretense. Our books are translated and circulated in nineteen languages and our tracts in thirty-one. If this is not an international work, please give us your conception of the meaning of the word.
You insinuate that our resolution regarding eternal torment in hell was not the "utterance of a serious body of Bible students who had spoken on an important theme." How many more than thirty-one nationalities must an organization labor amongst to be entitled to be considered serious? If eternal torment in hell is not an important theme why are so many Methodist preachers so loud in proclaiming it?
You assert that Mr. Russell has at times succeeded in gaining an entrance into the advertising columns of religious papers. Your statement is my first information to this effect; but I know that newspaper advertising is paid for and is based on contracts, to which there are always two parties. If Mr. Russell paid for this advertising he fulfilled his part of what the world considers an honorable contract, and it illy behooves "religious papers" which have confessedly been glad to get his money to berate him for a business deal in which they themselves were co-partners. Are they accustomed to spreading before their readers advertisements concerning the character of which they are ignorant? Is such management of religious journals trustworthy? If the publishers of religious papers are unable to discern between good advertisements and bad, could they not publish their papers without advertisements as Pastor Russell publishes his "Watch Tower" and devote them to religious teaching rather than to the quest of filthy lucre?
You say that some of these advertisements promise to pay to those who will distribute religious literature. It seems to me that it would be very honorable for anyone to hire another to distribute religious literature and that the responsibility for the distribution would belong, at least in part, on the distributor. I would like, however, to see one of the advertisements you mention, to gratify curiosity, and will pay you for your trouble if you will send me one.
You say that one of the most successful attempts made by us is to induce Sunday Schools to accept our expositions of the International Lessons. We thank you for the compliment you pay in acknowledging our success and we feel that the Sunday Schools are to be highly congratulated for their good judgment in accepting expositions that are Scriptural. I have yet to learn, however, of the first overtures we have made to any Sunday School; and to satisfy curiosity further will pay you for your trouble in submitting any evidence along this line. You say that for purposes of introduction we will furnish our wares free. We thank you for the compliment of this credit. The Bible invites the people to receive the gospel without money and without price. Mr. Russell by your admission furnishes it to them free. Methodist preachers by common repute are the greatest solicitors on earth. Further comment is unnecessary.
You say that you "understand" that Pastor Russell has changed the name of his books. If you had ever seen the books you surely would not be saying that you "understand" he had done so. By your own admission, therefore, you are attacking a system of Scriptural instruction that you have never seen. Please state by what process of reasoning you justify such conduct as Christian? Pastor Russell did change the name of his books. He certainly had perfect right to do so. They are known to the public as the "Studies in the Scriptures," which is the name they bear; but they are still affectionately called "The Dawns" by members of our Association. What legitimate objections have you to offer?
You say that the publication of the weekly Sunday School Lesson in many secular newspapers is a source of danger to the Sunday School. Where is the danger? You doubtless conceive it to be in the character of the expositions; but how do you know that they are dangerous if, as you seem to admit, you have never seen them? You represent the secular editors of the United States as a group of men who act through lack of information. If they are willing to accept this castigation at your hands, well and good; but we do not share in your opinion of them, and the public in general gives them the credit of being as intelligent a group of men as there is in our country.
You say that our canvassers give the editors a choice between our expositions and Torrey’s. I challenge you to prove that this assertion has any foundation in fact and am willing to pay you well for any trouble you may incur in proving it. You say we emphasize the unsectarian character of our expositions. Will you please furnish us the name of the sect which they acknowledge? There is no sect of which we are aware whose teachings we would not be ashamed to own. Are we not therefore decidedly unsectarian?
You say that our moving picture show pretends to give scientific truths about the creation of the world. Let me inquire if you have ever seen these pictures. If not, by what right do you call them a pretense? If you have seen them, what argument have you to offer against the scientific character of their presentations?
You make a number of very radical assertions regarding Mr. Russell’s personal life. You say that he was divorced on the plea of cruelty and immorality and that a co-respondent was named. Do you know that it is a fact that he has never been sued for divorce on any grounds, properly speaking? He was sued for separate maintenance; although Mrs. Russell at the time had been well maintained separately for a number of years. The object of her suit was to obtain a larger amount of filthy lucre. The jury in the face of contrary instructions from the judge rendered a verdict of separation on the grounds that there was hopeless incompatibility and that both parties would be better off wholly apart. The only testimony given in the trial to prove cruelty was the plea that at one time when she had been sick he had insinuated that the sickness was a manifestation of Divine displeasure. This can be proven by reference to the records in Court.
In regard to the charge of immorality:-I call your attention to the following facts: The incidents to which you refer are alleged to have happened before 1894. No one has ever alleged a later occurrence of any of them. In the year 1894 Mrs. Russell wrote and published a statement denying the truth of all these allegations and denounced the perpetrators as "malicious busy-bodies." In 1895, subsequent to all these incidents, Mrs. Russell herself initiated the teaching that her husband was "that faithful servant" mentioned in the 24th chapter of Matthew, the 45th and 46th verses. She found many who were quick to denounce this interpretation as extremely strong; and in Dec. 1895 wrote a letter to a member of the New York class vigorously defending her interpretation of Mt 24:45, 46 and her application of it to Mr. Russell. I wish to ask you one question in this connection and to insist upon a definite answer. If Mrs. Russell firmly believed in 1895 that Mr. Russell was "that faithful servant" mentioned by the Lord, could she then believe any of the allegations against his reputation made as early as 1893? When she brought these matters up in a suit for separate maintenance in 1906 what could have been her object? If the originators were "malicious busy-bodies" in 1894, what was she in 1906? If you can name any person in history who was ever known to more completely stultify himself than Mrs. Russell stultified herself in this instance, I will be pleased to see you make the attempt. All of these matters are included in the Court records. In this trial she was the author of another stultification to which I would particularly draw your attention. She admitted during the trial that at the beginning of their long married life they had mutually covenanted to observe in spirit the suggestion of the Master in the latter part of Mt 19:12; she then later in the trial, by her attorney, bitterly reproached him for having defrauded her by living true to this covenant. In the light of these facts, to be found in the Court records, how can the insinuation of immorality introduced by her attorneys and rebuked by the Court be justified by any rational being? You say a co-respondent was named in the legal procedure. I challenge you to prove that your utterance is not an open falsehood.
They charge him with defrauding the people by selling what "he called" miracle wheat at $60.00 a bushel, on the claim that it possessed miraculous productivity; when it, in fact, was only common wheat. Do you know it to be a fact that this wheat was named "miracle wheat" long before Pastor Russell ever heard of it, and that its wonderful productivity far beyond common wheat had been attested by United States Government experts? It is likewise a fact that Pastor Russell never sold one grain of this wheat to anybody; which I defy you to disprove. He sanctioned the sale of it by some of his associates with the distinct understanding and guarantee that any purchasers who were dissatisfied might reclaim their money. It is also a fact that none of the purchasers ever asked the return of their money or made any complaint in regard to the wheat. What have you to say to this fact? It is also a fact and a matter of Court record that the Brooklyn Eagle jury requested samples of this wheat as a legal exhibit and that a messenger of the Court was sent to procure the same and that while he was gone the jury brought in their verdict without waiting to see the exhibit. The judge in the opening of his charge made the statement that the publication of the Eagle’s cartoon constituted libel per se. It is also a fact that this case has been appealed to the Higher Courts and is now pending before the Supreme Court of New York, whose decision is expected this year. You say that the Eagle won the case because it told the truth. In the light of these facts, is your statement justified?
You state that Pastor Russell lost his suit for defamatory libel against Rev. J. J. Ross, of Hamilton, Ont., because his charges could not be substantiated. As a matter of fact, the Ross case was never actually tried, but was dismissed by the judge after a preliminary hearing, on the ground that it was a theological difference between two clergymen. In this connection let me call your attention to the fact that the principle charges made by Ross were all embodied in a former case against the Washington Post, which case was won by Mr. Russell. If the charge that the allegations of the Washington Post were libelous was substantiated before the Courts of the United States, what proper ground is there for your assertion that the same charges could not be substantiated in the Ross case?
You state that the Ross pamphlet shows that Mr. Russell made contradictory statements under oath regarding his connection with certain Companies. Ross, in his pamphlet, pretends to quote the utterances of Mr. Russell during that case. As a matter of fact, which can be substantiated by reference to the Court records, Mr. Russell’s statements there have not been quoted in the Ross pamphlet at all. Ross, in making up his pamphlet, has gone through the Court records and taken out a sentence here and an expression there that suited his purpose, omitting the vast majority of Mr. Russell’s statements; and in so doing, he has utterly misrepresented the statements of Pastor Russell that many of those who listened to the proceedings have declared it impossible to recognize the Ross quotations as any part of the actual proceedings of the case. At the conclusion of the matter Ross was challenged by a prominent citizen of Hamilton who had witnessed the proceedings to rehearse the facts of the case in Hamilton in the form of a joint debate and Ross ignominiously retreated in the face of this challenge. He has tried to make it appear in his pamphlet that Mr. Russell sought to avoid trial and would not come to attend until forced by Ross. The facts are that Mr. Russell made several voluntary trips to Hamilton for the purpose of prosecuting the case. On the occasion of his first visit Ross succeeded in getting the case non-suited on a technicality. New papers were immediately drawn and placed in the hands of an officer of the Court for service on Ross; but he had decamped from the town to avoid service and could not be located by the officer. Although he was advertised to have two addresses in Hamilton on the following day, he did not appear to deliver these addresses and his people had no warning of his absence or any knowledge of his whereabouts. He remained away until too late for his case to be tried at the next session of the Assize, and then returned and accepted service. Upon the new date set for trial, Pastor Russell was present and Ross secured a postponement of three weeks on the ground that he was not prepared to defend himself, and upon his faithful promise to the Court that he would be ready at the end of that time. When the time came he was not ready and acknowledged that he had made no attempt to be ready; thus succeeding in dragging the case along until he discovered that Pastor Russell was advertised to be upon an extended tour. He then at once began to insist upon his presence in Hamilton and raised the cry that Pastor Russell was dodging the issue; thus seeking to fasten upon Mr. Russell the stigma of the very offense he himself had committed. Further comments on the character of Ross are unnecessary.
It is wholly untrue that Mr. Russell denied any connections actually held by him with any commercial enterprise. Such connections as he has had have been of a nature generally recognized in the business world as wholly honorable; and by these connections he has been aided in avoiding the begging for money for which your society is noted. You state that Mr. Russell is reputed to be worth several million dollars. The fact is that Mr. Russell is neither a millionaire nor the owner of any property whatever, save such personal possessions as are common to most men. He does not even possess a private residence, but sleeps on a small cot in his study, which is part of the headquarters of the Associations. He does not even receive a salary from the society of which he is president, but merely his board and traveling expenses and an allowance reliably reported as $12.00 a month. Under these circumstances your statement that he keeps his wealth under such legal protection that it cannot be seized is the height of the ridiculous.
You say that his books contain the poison of heresy and for that reason you are not able to cover him with a mantle of charity. In the light of your admission, already referred to, that you have never seen his books, your basis for your confessed want of charity is pitiable. The Scriptures declare that charity covers a multitude of sins; but you have none to cover your unfounded prejudice.
You state that the acceptance of his system leads logically to immorality. I invite you to name any company of people who constantly preach and live up to as high a standard of morality as do the International Bible Students. I challenge you to show that the percentage of immoral persons in the Methodist Episcopal Church is not vastly greater than in our Association.
You state that he teaches that all persons, however wicked or vile, will be raised in a state of Adamic purity and be given a second probation. I challenge you to produce a solitary line quoted anywhere from his writings to give the slightest semblance of truth to your utterance. No statement more false than yours was ever known to fall upon the ears of men; and no man who values his reputation for honesty can afford to ignore such a characterization as I make of your statement. Mr. Russell’s teaching on both these points is diametrically and absolutely contrary to your statement. It is not surprising, however, that you make such statements when you admit that you have never seen his books. Does the Methodist Church expect editorial utterances from you so untrue as to be thus easily swept away?
You assert that he pretends to an exact knowledge of the Greek. This statement is as false as the other. I invite you, however, in this connection to another interesting test. It is a fact that Mr. Russell has made literally thousands of references in his writings to the matter of the correct translation of the Scriptures. If Pastor Russell is as ignorant as charged, it should be easy to prove. I have challenged a number of ministers for an iota of such proof. They have never produced it. I challenge you to the same test. You say that he defies the scholarship of the world. It is a fact that for many years he has been selling to members of our Association, at wholesale prices, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Young’s Analytical Concordance, The Revised Version, Tischendorf’s New Testament, Rabbi Leeser’s Translation of the Old Testament and many other works of similar character. He has encouraged the purchase and constant use of these works and has used them continuously himself for more than forty years. What sort of defiance of the scholarship of the world does this appear to be? I challenge you to show that as large a proportion of Methodists as of our people use the scholarly work of the Methodist Dr. Strong.
You endorse the attack of Dr. Eaton of the Methodist Church, entitled "The Millennial Dawn Heresy." In the foreword of his attack, Eaton makes a childish complaint that the newspapers, in publishing the account of his debates with Pastor Russell, did not fairly represent his case and that he was, therefore, forced after a lapse of eight years to write the book in order to set himself right before the public. On page 16 of his book, in the first paragraph, he sweeps the Apostle Matthew and his gospel aside as narrow minded and unworthy of the Christians of later ages. At the top of page 17 with equal abandon he sweeps aside the book of Ecclesiastes as unworthy of modern faith. These are but samples of a hundred vital criticisms that could easily be offered against this book. If you endorse such teaching as this; if the Methodist church endorses it, we are very glad that we are not of your number. We do not discard any portion of the Bible or tear it to pieces, and have nothing in common with the higher criticism that has swept through the ranks of the Methodist ministry. We are proud of the fact.
Pastor Russell’s success as a teacher of the Scriptures is due to his wonderful fidelity to the Scriptures. It is because of this fact that his Studies in the Scriptures have enjoyed a sale of more than eight million volumes; which is the world’s record in book selling, apart from the Bible itself. It is for this reason that his sermons are printed every week in 2,000 secular newspapers reaching a circulation of probably twenty million; a record more than four times as great as that of Talmage, the former champion in this regard. It is for this reason that his preaching is attended by crowds such as no other preacher enjoys. And it is because of his wonderful success as a preacher of the Scriptures; because of the fact that he is the only theologian since the days of the Apostles who has been able to demonstrate the harmony of the Bible with itself from cover to cover; because of the fact that he is able to do all this wonderful work without soliciting money or taking collections, that he is hated and maligned by those who profess to be Christian ministers who are unable to keep pace with him in producing results. Practically the same criticisms were heaped on John Wesley.
You may never feel disposed to make answer to the various points to which I here challenge your attention, but you may be certain that your exact position will not escape the eyes of a discerning public.
In the interest of truthful utterance,
W. H. Bradford.