Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Did Russell Start the JWs?

This is partly in response to a post made at:

Russell was indeed a non-sectarian, and he did not believe in such an organization as Rutherford later formed after Russell died. Rutherford, in fact, rejected the core teachings of Russell, and replaced them with his own teachings.

Rutherford, not Russell, was the one who set up an authoritative organization. Rutherford evidently realized that the core teaching of the "ransom for all" would not be an effective doctrine to sustain an organization such as he envisioned, and thus he dropped that teaching to make it a ransom for some, but not all, and he adopted a teaching of eternal destruction for almost all who disagreed with him, something Russell never thought to do. Russell was certainly not the founder of that which he did not believe in.

The fact that Russell and his associates started the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society does not mean that Russell was responsible for what happened after his death, anymore than Jesus, in instituting his church can be held responsible for others who came after to him who sought to lord it over the church, and sought to kill others who disagreed with them. The JW organization came into being after Russell died. At the protest of thousands of Bible Students all over the world, Rutherford, after Russell's death, proceeded to form his organization, and began to teach almost the opposite of what Russell taught concerning the atonement. Over the next 15 years, most of the earlier Bible Students refused to support Rutherford's new organization, so that the Bible Students movement, as a whole, continued to exist separate from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. By 1928, more than 75% of the Bible Students had rejected Rutherford's new organization and his new "gospel" associated with that organization  The name of the Bible Students movement was not changed in 1931 to "Jehovah's Witnesses", but Rutherford had the name "Jehovah's Witnesses" adopted by his organization in order to distinguish his new organization from the Bible Students who continued their own work separate from the WTB&TS. The name "International Bible Students Association" is the name of a legal entity in England; that name was never changed, and the legal entity still has that name to this day. The Bible Students movement continues to this day separate from the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.

Nor did Russell believe in the "Gospel" (Good News) that is preached by the Jehovah's Witnesses.  Russell believed in the "ransom for all" -- that every man, woman and child who has ever been born will benefit from the sacrifice of Jesus. This was indeed the main emphasis of his ministry, and Russell considered this the core doctrine upon which all doctrine should be tested. Rutherford denied that doctrine, and introduced the idea that millions of men, women, children, etc., of the world will be eternally destroyed without ever having received any benefit from the "ransom for all." This is almost the very opposite of what Russell taught. In his denial of the "ransom for all", Rutherford actually used strawman arguments, misrepresenting that Biblical teaching, in order to justify his denial. His later followers blindly followed their leader into that denial, while the earlier Bible Students knew better, and did not accept either Rutherford's new organization, or his denial of the "ransom for all." At any rate, Russell was not the founder of a "Gospel" (Good News) that he did not believe in.

For some searches of Russell's works regarding the "ransom for all," see:

Russell, from 1904 onward, was expecting -- not prophesying -- that the "time of trouble" to begin in 1914. He was not, therefore, expecting peace to suddenly come in 1914, and he certainly was not expecting the "end of the world", nor was he expecting all unbelievers to be eternally destroyed. Since the evidence shows that we have indeed been in the time of trouble since 1914, I believe that Russell was correct in his expectations.

It is false that, because the expecting kingdom did not come in 1914 that the Watch Tower Society "then concluded that 1914 was not the end of the “Seven Times” but was to be a turning point in human history." Russell died in 1916 still with the belief that the Gentile Times had ended in 1914, and that the "time of trouble" had begun in 1914. The JW leadership today rejects the thought that "time of trouble" began in 1914, but to the best my knowledge, they still believe that the Gentile Times ended in 1914.

Since Russell never gave any "prophecies", one cannot look at any "failed prophecies" of Russell.

Did Russell Claim to be a Prophet?
Did Russell Claim Infallibility?
Did Russell Claim Direct Revelation From God?

See also our studies on:
The Watch Tower's Self-Contradiction Concerning the Ransom
Armageddon, the Second Death, and Judgments

The Founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses

Some sites we have found online that claim Brother Russell was the founder, or that he was one who started, the Jehovah's Witnesses "religion", "organization", "cult", "sect".