Thursday, January 5, 2017

When Was the Jehovah's Witnesses' Organization Created?

Many often remark that the Jehovah's Witnesses organization began with Charles Taze Russell in the 1870s. CARM states: "The Jehovah's Witnesses was begun by Charles Taze Russell in 1872." The following statement is found on several sites: "The Jehovah's Witnesses as a faith, began sometime in 1879. The original founder of the organization was Charles Taze Russell."
We are responding to this latter statement and the claims being presented because there is a lot of false information about Charles Taze Russell under guise as "truth exposing [alleged] lies." To claim that the Jehovah's Witnesses began with Charles Taze Russell is highly misleading, to say the least. The truth is that there was no "Jehovah's Witnesses" faith until after Charles Taze Russell died. Russell certainly never believed in such a faith as "Jehovah's Witnesses."
It is claimed that the original founder of the organization was Charles Taze Russell. In reality, Charles Taze Russell did not believe in such an organization as the Jehovah's Witnesses; furthermore, Russell preached against the kind of authoritarianism that is found in the JW organization and certainly was not the founder of an organization that he did not believe in.
Furthermore, Russell did not believe, and actively preached against, the kind of alleged "good news" that the JWs preach. The central theme preached by the JWs is almost the opposite of the "good news of great joy that will be to all the people" that Russell preached.
For more regarding the founder of the JWs, see:
Founder of JWs?
It is claimed that Russell in his youth began to develop a terrible fear of hell. Actually, Russell, having been misguided by the the false doctrine held by many Protestants that all who are without Christ are doomed to such horrid place for all eternity, was, in his earlier years, overcharged with the idea of saving others from such a horrifying doom.
It is being claimed that when Russell was 17 years old that he had a long conversation with a person who denied the existence of hell, and that Russell believed that he was right. In reality, Russell was engaged in communication with an agnostic who did not believe in the Bible and as a result of that communication, Russell became doubtful of the Bible, since at that time he thought that the Bible did teach such an evil fate awaited all who did not accept Christ.
It is being claimed that at age 18, Russell went to a church where the second coming of Christ was being discussed, and Russell became interested in when Christ would come. Russell turned 18 in the year 1870. Actually, around 1870 Russell went to an Adventist meeting, but we have no record of what was discussed at that time. We know, however, that whatever was discussed did not cause Russell to be interested in time prophecies, for he relates that he had no interest in time prophecy until 1876, about six years later.
It is claimed that soon after attending the meeting of Jonas Wendell, Russell believed he "had it figured out." Looking at the statements following, it would appear that it is being claimed that Russell had "it figured out" sometime before 1874, that Christ was to return in 1874. If so, this is again not correct, since Russell wrote that he had no interest in time prophecy until two years after 1874, in the year 1876, when his attention was called to N. H. Barbour's writings on the topic.
See Russell's own account in:
The Supplement to the First Issue of the Watch Tower
It is claimed that Russell issued a pamphlet, The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return. Evidently the claim is that this pamphlet was issued before 1874, as it is being claimed that in this pamphlet Russell set forth calculations that "Christ would return in 1874." In this claim there are several things in which are incorrect: (1) The pamphlet, The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return, was not released before 1874, but rather it was released in 1877, three years after 1874. (2) The author of the material on the websites evidently has never even read the publication at all, but rather he has just made up and assumed -- using the spirit of human imagination -- that Russell presented calculations so that the "end result of the work he put into these time frame calculations was that Christ would return in the year 1874." In reality, there is nothing at all in the publication about 1874, nor any calculations concerning 1874, nor had Russell, before 1874, ever put forth any thought that Christ was to return 1874. The entire pamphlet may be found online at:
It is asserted that Russell's alleged theory that Christ was to come in 1874 was "incorrect," and that "when it didn't happen, Russell changed his story and said he would come back in 1914." Again, such assertions appeared to be based on human imagination, by which a lot of things are assumed that actually never happened. (1) It is not correct that Russell, before 1874, was expecting Christ to return in 1874. It was not until 1876 -- about two years after 1874 -- that Russell had accepted that Christ had already returned in 1874. (2) Russell had no story to change when Christ did not return in 1874, since Russell had not been expecting -- before 1874 -- Christ to return in 1874 so as to have anything to change his story about. (3) Russell never at any time said anything to the effect tht Christ "would come back in 1914", since Russell believed until his death that Christ had returned in 1874. Thus, the original authority of the claimes is incorrect in his statements. In 1876, Russell accepted that Christ had returned in 1874 and never changed at all from that date. He never once spoke of any return of Christ in 1914.
It is told that Russell is supposed to have been expecting Christ to return in 1914, but "he said it would be a spiritual 2nd coming, meaning we wouldn't see him." In reality, Russell had already concluded that Christ would return with a spiritual body, not in the flesh, several years before he had any interest in "when" Christ was to return. This is shown in the Supplement to the first issue of the Watch Tower. It was not until 1876 that Russell became interested in Barbour's time prophecies, and that was because Barbour had come to the same conclusion that Russell had already come to, that is, that Jesus would not return with flesh. However, Russell never ever at any time wrote or spoke of Christ as returning in 1914. In 1876, Russell accepted that Christ had already returned in 1874 invisibly, and that is what he believed until his death in 1916.
Therefore, another statement that is not "right" is that this additional belief (that Christ returns invisibly) "was most likely tacked on to make sure he wouldn't have to change his date once again when nothing happened in 1914." Any one familiar with Russell's writings would know this is incorrect. As already pointed out, Russell had already concluded that Christ was put to death in the flesh and made alive in the spirit before he had even become interested in the time prophecies, thus the statement given is totally incorrect, especially in view of the fact that Russell never once spoke of any expectation that Christ was to return in 1914.
Since Russell was never associated with, nor did he believe in, such an authoritarian organization such as "Jehovah's Witnesses," it is inaccurate to say that the "real start of the Jehovah's Witnesses" was in 1874. Russell believed in no "new religion." He accepted and believed in the "old religion" of Jesus and the apostles. Russell never referred to the Bible Students association as the "only true religion."
See the presentation:
A New Religion?
When Russell began publishing the magazine, "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence," this was not at all related to the then non-existent "Jehovah's Witnesses" movement. Russell believed in no such movement, nor did he believe in the unique teachings of "Jehovah's Witnesses" regarding "God's visible organization" being the sole channel of communication, nor did he believe in the kind of "Armageddon" that the Jehovah's Witnesses promote.
It is being claimed that when Russell sued J. J. Ross for libel, that, "while on the witness stand, Russell was caught in a couple of lies." Actually, Russell was not caught in any lie at all; Ross simply twisted the facts to make it appear to have been lies. It was not Russell who was deceitful, but rather it was J. J. Ross.
Did Russell ever claim to be the founder of "the only true religion"? Absolutely not! Russell never made any kind of assertion of starting any religion at all; believing that Christianity had been started by Christ in the first century, he saw no reason to start any new religion. He certainly did not start the religion known as "Jehovah's Witnesses", nor in its sectarian stance of being the "only true religion". Russell believed until his death that the only true church was that which is enrolled in heaven, not in the records of any "organization" or "religion" on earth.
Charles Taze Russell and the True Church Did Russell claim to have started the only true church, or the only true religion?
When Russell died, Rutherford was not elected as "the new leader of the Jehovah's Witness movement", as claimed. The "Jehovah's Witnesses" did not exist at that time. Nor was Rutherford elected as the new leader of the Bible Students' movement. Rutherford was elected as the president of the legal entity, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Nevertheless, in a few short months, Rutherford had basically destroyed the legal entity as Russell had left it, and Rutherford assumed authority that Russell refused to assume. Rutherford -- after Russell died -- ambitiously began to restructure the Watch Tower Society to make it resemble the Papal hierarchy. This was actually how the Jehovah's Witnesses' religion started.
Rutherford evidently found the central doctrine that the Bible Students had been preaching for decades, that is, the "ransom for all", would not be suitable to accomplish his goals, so he began to insidiously renounce that doctrine around 1923, when he came forth his new ideas about the "second death". Eventually, Rutherford renounced the basis of the ransom for all altogether, and replaced that doctrine with his new gospel that most of the people of the nations would be eternally destroyed if they did not join up with his new organization.
By 1928, the vast majority of the earlier Bible Students movement worldwide (more than 75%) had rejected Rutherford's new organization as well as Rutherford's new "organization" gospel. In response, in 1931, Rutherford officially started the "Jehovah's Witnesses" religion. Such an organization, as Brothr Russell had stated, has carnal appeal to the fallen human flesh, and thus could grow rapidly now that the Biblical standards were being compromised in favor of organization.
Original posted 2012; Updated and republished 2014.

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