Monday, March 16, 2020

No Salvation Until Russell?

The question has arisen in a Facebook group concerning Russell that left the impression that Russell in some way had taught that salvation was through him or through the Watch Tower Society. This evidently projects the JW teaching of coming to the organization for salvation back to Russell. One, evidently based on this assumption, asked if this would mean that no one was saved between the first century until Russell.

Our reply:

Russell believed that, due to the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, Adam and absolutely all of Adam's descendants are saved from the condemnation in Adam.

Russell himself never taught that anyone had to come to him, or to the Watch Tower Society, for salvation. His belief was that salvation is only through Jesus, not through joining a denomination, a sect, or some organization such as the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Unlike the JWs, Russell was a non-sectarian who believed that the true church is made up of people of all denominations that profess to be Christian. Russell preached against the idea that anyone (including himself) should assume divine authority over fellow Christians.

Russell Regarding Authority and Organization:

Russell and Jehovah's Witnesses

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Some Criticisms of Russell Addressed

The claim is being made that the truth is that Russell used photos taken directly from freemason books. The freemason book of magic, ect.

Those Bible Students who worked on the Photo Drama of Creation evidently sought to find public domain pictures that could be used in the making of the Photo Drama, and many sources were used. It is possible that some pictures from the Freemasons who believe in the Bible may have been used in this connection, although we have found no direct evidence of such. The reality is that such a claim appears to be made based solely on conjecture.

While we are not certain what "book" is being referred to as the Freemason "book of magic," there is definitely no reason to believe that Russell took photos from any book of magic.

We have been asked to carefully watch this video and all the photos in it:

The video linked to is marked unavailable/private. We are not allowed to watch it. We suspect that it is the same video that we watched some time ago which actually embeds images into the Photo-Drama that were actually not used in the original Photo Drama, thus making it appear that Russell actually used exact images as are used by the Masons. Indeed, we also suspect that this is the reason that the video was made private. If this is the same video, we exposed this in the comments, although we suspect that our comments were removed.

Here are some links to the actual Photo-Drama of Creation:

Otherwise, we would need to know exactly what photos in the actual Photo-Drama we are supposed to note, and what publication of the Masons such were taken from.

The claim is made that Jesus did not dress up like the politicians and establishment of this world. He critisized them for it.

No scripture is given, and we are not sure what is being referred to as being Jesus' criticism of how the politicians of the world dressed. Nor is it stated how this is supposed to relate to Russell.

We believe, however, that Jesus dressed in the common style of the day.

Evidently, however, the remark is made as a criticism of the way Brother Russell dressed, although it is not stated as to what is being objected to regarding the way Brother Russell dressed. We do not think Russell dressed any differently from many ministers of various denominations of his time. However, he certainly did not dress with the distinctive clerical garb that is the custom of clerics in many denominations. Russell, like Jesus, did not promote a clergy/laity distinction.

Jesus did make some criticism of the scribes, not especially of their clothing itself, but of their attitude related to their clothing consisting of long robes. -- Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46.

There is little evidence in the Bible in the Bible of how Jesus dressed, but it does not appear that he dressed any differently from what was the custom of that time and region. That Jesus did not deem it wrong to wear long robes can be seen from the description given to Jesus in Revelation 1:13.

The claim is made that Christ did not teach doctrines not found in the Word of God.

Yes, this is true. Evidently, however, the implication of the claim is that Russell did teach doctrines not found in the Bible.

Jesus, of course, having been given a body of flesh from God Himself (Hebrews 10:5), did not have the sinful flesh of men who are condemned in Adam (Romans 5:12-19; 8:3), and absolutely everything he did and said is truth. The "one God" who is the Heavenly Father anointed and sent Jesus (Isaiah 61:1; John 17:1,3), prepared a body of flesh for Jesus (Hebrews 10:5), and made Jesus a little lower than the angels so that Jesus could offer that body of flesh with its blood to Jehovah his God for our sins.  (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:19; Romans 3:25; Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 2:9; 9:14; 10:10; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5) Jesus was the prophet like Moses, who spoke the words of Jehovah is God with error or mistake. -- Deuteronomy 18:15-19;

Russell, however, never claimed to have such perfection of truth. Indeed, he consistently denied such, and admitted the possibility of error in some things. He did make mistakes, but he certainly endeavored to not teach as doctrine what is not found in the Word of God. Thus he rejected such extra-Biblical doctrines as the trinity, inherent immortal human soul/spirit, conscious eternal suffering, etc.

The claim is made that Christ did not rent an office to practice his Christianity in. 

Again, the implication evidently is that Russell did rent an office to practice his Christianity in. While we don't know that Russell ever rented an office to practice Christianity, we also don't know of any scripture that says one should not rent an office as part of his service to Christ.

Russell, did, however, have an office that he used as a study. I suppose Russell could have fulfilled his consecration to follow Christ without such an office, but the office he had was simply a tool that he used in his consecration to Christ.

On the other hand, nearly every pastor of every church of every denomination has an office that he uses for his work. If Russell is to be condemned for having an office, what about these?

Related to the above, Jesus' statement, "Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head" is quoted (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58), with the claim that the disciple is NOT greater than his master (Matthew 10:24; Luke 6:40), and it is claimed that everyone that is perfect shall be as his master! And then it is stated: "Russell was not!"

This seems to be misusing the scriptures to say that unless one has nowhere to lay his head, then that person is not a disciple of Christ! The only logical conclusion from what is stated is that anyone who has a bed or some place in which to sleep must not be a disciples of Christ!! Did all the early Christians in the first century not have a place to lay their head? Did none of them own houses with a place to lay their heads?

Russell, of course, never claimed to be perfect in his flesh. He definitely never claimed that he was perfect so that he could never make a mistake.

The claim is being made that Jesus never said he was part of a devil worshiping cult knowing his followers would "understand!!!

Again, the implication evidently is that Russell did say he was part of devil worshiping cult, knowing that his followers would understand. Russell never claimed such a ridiculous thought, nor was Russell part of any devil worshiping cult. The only "cult" that Russell advocated was that of belonging only to Christ, and that one should follow Christ. Applying the above to what Russell did say would, in effect, mean that anyone who states that he belongs to Christ is part of a devil worshiping cult. Unlike the Jehovah's Witnesses' leadership, Russell did not promote the Bible Students as being "the true religion." He never spoke of the Bible Students as being a religion at all. He did speak of "the true church," which he described as follows:
(1913) The one true Church, dear friends, is the church of the Bible. There never has been but that one true Church. All others are false, and if I built up another church I would be building up another false one. That is not our proposition at all. The I.B.S.A. holds out the proposition which the Bible stands for, namely, that all people who are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, and consecrated to follow in his steps, are of the church of the living God whose names are written in heaven. The I.B.S.A. recognizes no other church. It does not say that only those in the I.B.S.A. constitute the church. It recognizes that all true Christians in the various churches should be awake, and we are trying to awaken them to the truth. The I.B.S.A. recognizes that these true Christian people are in danger of falling into infidelity, unless they get the true light of God's Word, and so is trying to bring all Christian people to study the Bible, and thus into complete union as the church of Christ. -- What Pastor Russell Said, page 348.
In his book, The New Creation, Russell wrote:
    No earthly organization can grant a passport to heavenly glory. The most bigoted sectarian (aside from the Romanist) will not claim, even, that membership in his sect will secure heavenly glory. All are forced to admit that the true Church is the one whose record is kept in heaven, and not on earth. They deceive the people by claiming that it is needful to come to Christ through them – needful to become members of some sectarian body in order to become members of "the body of Christ," the true Church. On the contrary, the Lord, while he has not refused any who came to him through sectarianism, and has turned no true seeker away empty, tells us that we need no such hindrances, but could much better have come to him direct. He cries, "Come unto me"; "take my yoke upon you, and learn of me"; "my yoke is easy and my burden is light, and ye shall find rest to your souls." ...
    These shackles of sectarianism, so far from being rightly esteemed as shackles and bonds, are esteemed and worn as ornaments, as badges of respect and marks of character. So far has the delusion gone, that many of God's children would be ashamed to be known to be without some such chains – light or heavy in weight, long or short in the personal liberty granted. They are ashamed to say that they are not in bondage to any sect or creed, but "belong" to Christ only.
-- The New Creation, pages 185-187.

It is claimed that Christ did not speak of a "new order" as Freemasons do!

Again, the implication appears to be that Russell did speak of a "new order" as the Freemasons do! Actually, Brother Russell did not speak of a "new order" as Freemasons do, nor as many ascribe conspiracy ideas to the Freemasons and a "new order"! Jesus did speak of the "age to come," often rendered as "world to come." (Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30) That age to come will certainly be a new order, a new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-5), but not after the manner taught by the Freemasons. Russell did, at times, refer to the age to come as being a new order, but not in the sense that the Freemasons are spoken of as referring to a new order. Most Freemasons have no genuine idea of the new order as promised in the Bible. Russell rarely used the expression "new order" without adding "of things," that is "new order of things." The word "order", however, is based mostly on forms of the Biblical Greek word often transliterated as KOSMOS, as well as forms of the word often transliterated as AION, both of which are often rendered as "world".
One of the meanings of KOSMOS is "order"

It is claimed that in fact Russell said he would not dare speak a word against these devil worshipers and that some of his very dear friends are freemasons.

Again, this misquotes and misrepresents two things Russell stated by taking them out of context, and by putting them together with added words to make it appear that Russell condoned freemasonry and worship of the devil. He definitely did not condone man's Freemason Society, and plainly stated such. Russell definitely did not condone worship of the devil or any actions of others related to worship of the devil.

Russell did seem to be under the impression that all the Freemasons professed to be Christian, and thus he seemed to classify them as a Christian sect. As he believed that all sectarianism will be destroyed and not allowed to continue to exist in the Kingdom, he also believed that the Freemasons organization would cease to exist, and not be allowed to continue into the age to come. Believing that the Freemasons professed to be Christian, Russell did not describe them as "devil worshipers." In the broad sense, anyone who has not been regenerated by the blood of Christ could be referred to as a worshiper of the devil, and even those regenerated could fall into various acts that could be referred to as worshiping the devil. In that more than likely most Freemasons had not been regenerated as a child of God, one could say in a broad sense that those unregenerated Freemasons were devil worshipers, although Russell never spoke of such.

Russell stated (we do not necessarily agree with all his applications of scripture):
You will notice that we never have anything to say against any of these. We have not said an unkind word about Freemasonry, and you never read anything unkind that we have ever said about it, and I do not wish to say anything unkind about Presbyterianism, or Methodism. I think that many of the dear friends in these denominations are good people, and I appreciate their characters. What I talk about sometimes is Presbyterian doctrine, and they talk about it, too. And I have read things they have said about Presbyterian doctrines far harder than anything I have ever said. I sometimes quote in the Watch Tower some things Presbyterians say about their own doctrine, and I occasionally quote in the Watch Tower something the Methodists say about their doctrine, because they say it stronger than I should wish to say it.
The Lord did not send me to preach against Masonry or Odd Fellowship, nor against Presbyterianism or Methodism. Our opportunity is to tell the truth, to preach the true gospel of Christ, and the Lord says that this message is to have its effects on the different hearts. Now, if you find yourself in any kind of a bundle, you know that is not the program so far as the wheat is concerned. The wheat is to he gathered into the garner; it is not to be put into bundles in the present life.

At that particular time and place, Russell was not saying anything against the Freemasons, or against Presbyerianism or Methodism, etc., but elsewhere he did say:
We note also that the Order of Free Masons, if judged by its past history, has some secret object or scheme, more than fraternity and financial aid in time of sickness or death. And, so far as we can judge, there is a certain amount of profane worship or mummery connected with the rites of this order and some others, which the members do not comprehend, but which, in many cases, serves to satisfy the cravings of the natural mind for worship, and thus hinders it from seeking the worship of God in spirit and in truth--through Christ, the only appointed Mediator and Grand Master.
In proportion as such societies consume valuable time in foolish, senseless rites and ceremonies, and in substituting the worship of their officers, and the use of words and symbols which have no meaning to them, for the worship of God, in his appointed way -- through Christ, and according to knowledge and the spirit of a sound mind -- in that proportion these societies are grievous evils, regardless of the financial gains or losses connected with membership in them.
Such societies, on selfish business principles, are foreign to the spirit of God's Church. In it, those who have this world's goods should be ready to assist the needy of the Lord's family, hoping for nothing again. And all who are members of the true Church whose names are written in heaven, all who have the spirit of the Head, will be willing and anxious to do good unto all men as they have opportunity, especially to the household of faith, who are not leaning upon earthly Societies, but who, instead of spending "dues" in that way, are using their means to serve the Lord, his truth and his people.

For links to some of research related Russell and the Freemasons:

Brother Russell seemed to think all the Freemasons claimed to be Christian, and thus classified them as a whole as bundle of tares - which he believed to be false Christians, and that the Freemasons, as an organization, was a symbolic bundle of symbolic tares that was to be destroyed in the symbolic fiery furnace of the time of trouble. Since Freemasonry does not profess to be Christian, classifying it as a bundle of tares does not actually fit, although the application could -- in a sense -- apply to the Knights Templar, who do profess to be Christian. We do believe that the Freemason organization as a whole may be included as a "rock", as spoken of in Revelation 6:16. That organization will definitely not be allowed to continue to exist into the Kingdom Age, and any held captive in that organization will be set free to come to a knowledge of the truth.

For some of Russell's comments on the Freemasons:

Russell did speak of some of his friends who are Freemasons; as stated before, however, he evidently believed that all Masons professed to be Christian. Nevertheless, Russell, however, often used the term "dear friends" many without meaning that he considered such "friends" to be spiritually close to him. Russell also spoke of his dear friends who are Methodists, Baptists, and of other denominations and organizations. His usage of such language definitely does not mean that he condoned the practices or teachings of any of those organizations.

Russell, however, believed that most who professed to be Christian that are in the various denominations are actually represented by the tares in the parable of the wheat and tares, false Christians, but, he did not claim that absolutely all in the denominations are represented as tares.

It is claimed that Jesus would never choose the meeting place of admitted Satanist to meet with his disciples.

Evidently it is being thought that Russell did choose the meeting place of admitted Satanists to meet with fellow believers. Strictly speaking, anyone who does not belong the Christ is still part of Satan's seed, and thus could be referred to as a Satanist. Most Freemasons, at least in Russell's day, however, did profess to belong to Christ, although most of them were probably not actually consecrated to Christ.

The whole world is being mislead by Satan. (Revelation 12:9) The whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) There is no place on earth as such that one can say absolutely is free of Satan's influence. Basically, the whole world is full of liars who, in effect, worship Lucifer (Satan). We are already in, so to speak, a den of demon worshipers by simply being born into this world.

Those who have been regenerated in Christ, however, are not perfect in the flesh, and thus, in the flesh, such may also be found to be subject to telling lies - whether due to weakness of the flesh, or through ignorance, and to such a degree, could be unknowingly serving Lucifer in those specific acts. Such of the flesh, however, is separate from the new creature, which is totally sinless in Christ.

The children of God in a world that has Satan as its prince/god (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:3,4) still has to deal with those of the the world, regardless of what those of the world may believe or practice. (1 Corinthians 5:9,10) If in a land that is full of Buddhists, if the children of God wish to rent a room for a meeting, they will probably have to rent from Buddhists who may have Buddhist symbolism in that room. If in India, they may have to rent from Hindus, etc. Russell and the Bible Students have rented rooms, probably from the cheapest of acceptable options, which included rooms owned by Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and many other denominational churches, the US Armory, Elks lodges, Odd-Fellow Lodges, schools, universities, etc., as well as Masonic lodges, with no thought at all of agreement with the teachings or practices of any of these groups or organizations. The freedom from God is knowledge that whatever religious idolatrous practices and beliefs held by the owners of such building can have no hold upon those who are set free by Christ. And yet there is always the tendency of the flesh to set up bondage to this or that man, or group of men, which is, as the apostle Paul explained, carnal reasoning. -- 1 Corinthians 3:1-4.

Jesus, however, spoke of the Scribes and Pharisees as being children of Satan, and doing the works of Satan. (John 8:41-44) Most of the synagogues of that day were owned by such Scribes and Pharisees. Did Jesus refuse to make use of those synagogues? -- Matthew 4:23; 12:9; 13:54; Mark 1:21; 3:1; 6:2; etc.

It is claimed that we and the JWs have invented our own religion, and do not follow Christ.

We cannot judge each individual among the JWs as nor following Christ. Nevertheless, unlike the JWs, our only endeavor is to follow Christ as best as we are able. It is indeed old, going back to Christ and the apostles, and definitely based on the Bible itself, not the Masons. Rutherford, however, did indeed invent his own religion, which he named "Jehovah's Witnesses."

While we do not believe that Russell's statements of belief that there is to be a world revolution leading to anarchy is to be actual doctrine, the Bible prophecies do indicate such; this belief, however, is not based on anything taught by the Masons, although the Masons may have a share in such revolutions. We do believe that all sectarianism, however is wrong in God eyes, even the sectarianism that may have crept into the Bible Students movement. Such sectarianism will be destroyed and all held as captives of such will be freed.

It is evidently claimed that we believe that Jerusalem below is the New Jerusalem.

We are not sure where this is coming from. We ourselves have certainly never made such a statement. We do believe the heavenly New Jerusalem will make use of Jerusalem below, especially after Satan has been cast into the abyss, in order to enlighten the world concerning the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and concerning the Messiah sent by God. The Jerusalem below must, however, accept their Messiah before this can take place.

Russell certainly did not believe the the Jerusalem below is the New Jerusalem, nor do we know of any of the Bible Students who believe such.

Some statements of Brother Russell regarding the "New Jerusalem":

The period of the reign of Sin and Death is represented as the time when God "remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger" (Lam. 2:1); but following the beginning of the Millennium, the people are prophetically called upon to – "Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool, for he is worthy." (Psa. 99:5) And this thought, that the establishment of the New Jerusalem, the Church of God glorified, as the new government in the earth, will mean the beginning of the restoration of divine favor to Jehovah's footstool, is clearly set forth through the Prophet Zechariah (14:4,5). -- The Battle of Armageddon, page 649.

It is well also to distinguish clearly between the New Jerusalem, the heavenly or spiritual city of which the apostles are the twelve foundations, and the old Jerusalem which is to be rebuilt upon her old heaps. The old Jerusalem's promised restoration implies not merely the reconstruction of the buildings, etc., but specially the reorganization of Israel's government; for a city in prophecy is always the symbol or representation of a government. Hence the promised reconstruction of Jerusalem upon her old foundations implies a national reorganization of Israel upon a basis similar to that which it formerly had, as a people over whom Jehovah's Anointed held the authority. The New Jerusalem represents the Gospel Church in glory and Kingdom power, spiritual, and invisible to men, yet all-powerful. Its descent to earth (Rev. 21:2) marks the fulfilment of that petition of our Lord's prayer which says, "Thy Kingdom come"; and its "coming" will be gradual, and not sudden. It is already "coming down," coming into control, and as a result we see the preliminary steps leading to the re-establishment of the old Jerusalem; and ultimately the result mentioned in our Lord's prayer will be realized – God's will will be done on earth as in heaven. The New Jerusalem and the New Heavens are synonymous, signifying the new spiritual ruling power. -- Thy Kingdom Come, page 258.

QUESTION--Will the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2) be a literal city of gold and gems, and will it come floating down through the sky and locate somewhere on the earth? If so, how, when, and where?

ANSWER--We are aware that quite a number seem to hold the thought of an actual city, with all of its walls, buildings, towers and turrets, coming down from above and locating in the land of Palestine. Those who have this thought should try to bear in mind that much of the Bible is written in highly symbolic or figurative language. The dimensions of this city are given in furlongs in this same chapter. If we reduce these to miles, we have for the dimensions fifteen hundred miles in length and breadth and height. A city of this magnitude could scarcely be placed in the small land of Palestine, which measures less than two hundred miles in its greatest length. By noting the expressions of the 9th verse, it will become apparent to all that not a literal city is referred to, but a symbolic one is meant. The angel showed St. John "The Bride, the Lamb's wife," in symbol, as a beautiful city. Surely no one would so far ignore the faculties of intelligence and reason as to say that the Bride of Christ is to be a literal city. This Bride is the same one represented as saying, in almost the closing words of the Bible, "Come and partake of the waters of life freely." The Bride is the Church class composed of the faithful followers of Christ, of whom the Apostle Paul speaks, saying: "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). --What Pastor Russell Said, page 789.