Friday, October 21, 2016

I.B.S.A. and Jehovah's Witnesses - Some Clarifications

The claim is being made that Jehovah's Witnesses are the International Bible Students Association (IBSA) who changed their name, and the worldwide preaching work of JWs is STILL managed internationally by the IBSA.

The expression International Bible Students Association, in Brother Russell's day, was used in two different ways. (1) From 1910 onward, the association of Bible Students worldwide, which had no human authority over it, and, beginning in 1914, (2) the legal entity in England, International Bible Students Association. Brother Russell himself, at least appeared to have at times confused the two, which could lead one to wrong conclusions, especially if one reads back into his words that he was advocating an "organization" such as the JW organization.

Evidently, because of possible conflict with the name of the legal entity, Brother Russell, in 1914, endeavored to get the classes to stop using "International Bible Students" and use something like "Associated Bible Students" instead. Nevertheless, it appears that very few of classes at that time adopted the name "Associated Bible Students" into the name of their local group, but retained the name "International Bible Students". However, the vast majority of those often referred to as "The International Bible Students Association" worldwide did not change their name to Jehovah's Witnesses. The vast majority of those who were called "International Bible Students" did not accept Rutherford's "Jehovah's visible organization" dogma.

The International Bible Students Association (not the legal entity in London) is not an "organization"; Brother Russell's WTS did not claim any authority over the International Bible Students Association, as represented by the various ones who carried that name. The WTS did, of course, claim authority over the legal entity in England. On the other hand, many of the Bible Students treated Brother Russell as though he were God's divinely appointed authority over the church, which Russell himself disclaimed; thus the seeds of "organization" were being planted even before Russell died. 

When Rutherford usurped his authority, he also claimed authority over the legal entity in England, and thus, as he created his organization, that legal entity in England became a part of that organization. Those individuals making up the International Bible Students Asssociation (not the legal entity), as a whole, represented by the vast majority (well over 75%), rejected Rutherford's "Jehovah's visible organization" dogma, and thus the vast majority of those that made up the International Bible Students Association, did not take the name "Jehovah's Witnesses".

From Brother Russell's standpoint, as well as a legal standpoint, Bible Students worldwide were not members of the legal entity in London, and the I.B.S.A. fellowship worldwide had no actual "membership" rolls as such, although, sometimes for legal purposes, Russell would use a subscription fee to the Watch Tower as being a member of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. However, the worldwide fellowship of Bible Students were never members of the legal entity in London. 

Supporting articles:

"International Bible Students", Watch Tower, April 1, 1910, page 119.
"Associated Bible Students," Watch Tower, November 1, 1914, page 322.

"Re Associated Bible Students", Watch Tower, January 1, 1915, page 15.
"Militia Laws of Canada", Watch Tower, February 15, 1916, page 62.

That the International Bible Students Association [the fellowship worldwide -- not the legal entity in England] was NOT regarded as an "organization" such as the Jehovah's Witnesses have today, can be seen from Brother Russell's statement in The Watch Tower, July 15, 1915, page 219:

There would be nothing to come out of, as an organization, if one is an International Bible Student. You cannot get out of anything you have not gone into.

Of course, this all began to change shortly after Brother Russell died. The December 1916 issues of the Watch Tower began to subtly emphasize "organization".

It is being claimed that the JWs organization is the same corp that Russell founded in 1872 in Pittsburgh, "the International Bible Students Association, which was founded in 1872 in Pittsburgh by Charles Taze Russell." Encyclopedia Britannica.

I am not sure what is meant by "corp" here as related to 1872. The legal entity in London was founded in 1914. The name "International Bible Students Association" did not come about until 1910, and then was suggested as a name to be used by local congregations, as "International Bible Students Association of ....." Brother Russell once spoke of the Jerusalem conference spoken of in Acts 15:1-35 as the first I.B.S.A. convention. He thus applied the term retroactively. Therefore, retroactively, one could consider the small group of Bible Students in Allegheny as having been "International Bible Students Association", although they did not take such a name at that time. The actual name was not taken until 1910; when asked for a "name" that could be used to advertise meetings of local classes, in 1910, Brother Russell suggested "International Bible Students Association of ...". The legal entity, however, was not formed until 1914.

This name, however, was definitely not originally the name of an "organization". This was not the name of any controlling authority. Indeed, in Russell's day, even the "International Bible Students Association" in London was not an "organization" as the Jehovah's Witnesses refer to themselves as an "organization". However, shortly after Russell's death, Rutherford began to appear to confuse the legal entity and the movement itself as being one and the same and referred to International Bible Students Association as an "organization"; in short, he was creating a "sect" such as Brother Russell preached against, although he was doing this so subtly that many Bible Students did not seem to be aware of what was happening until around 1925, when Rutherford began to force a separation.

Nevertheless, in 1914, Brother Russell, through his WTS, opened a branch in London -- a legal entity -- which he named "International Bible Students Association". At this point, many began to confuse the legal entity as being the same as the local ecclesias carrying that name, and thus Brother Russell suggested that local congregations use the name "Associated Bible Students" rather than "International Bible Students".

While some classes did, in 1914, and still do today, refer to themselves as "Associated Bible Students", most, in 1914, appear to have ignored the suggestion in the November 1914 issue of the Watch Tower. To this day, I have found that many Bible Students do not seem to be aware of that notice. When some of the Bible Students began publishing "The Herald of Christ's Kingdom" in 1917, they referred to the Bible Students as "Associated Bible Students", in keeping with Brother Russell's announcement in 1914. It appears, however, that many of the Bible Students' congregations -- after Brother Russell died -- that rejected Rutherford's rulership, took the name "Associated Bible Students", so as not to be confused with the legal entity -- International Bible Students Association -- which came to be under Rutherford's control.

The author for "The Herald of Christ's Kingdom", in the article linked to above, however, seemed to have gotten it backwards, at least as regarding the origin of the name "Associated Bible Students", for he states that the name "Associated Bible Students" was used before "International Bible Students Association". Actually, the name "International Bible Students" was used first, and evidently after the legal entity was formed in 1914, possibly due to the suggestion of legal conflict, Brother Russell suggested the name "Associated Bible Students".

Nevertheless, overall, some of the Bible Students still do use the term "International Bible Students Association", not as the name of the legal entity in London, but as descriptive name of the Bible Students worldwide, who are not associated with the Jehovah's Witnesses.

It is claimed that "JWs are just IBSA members who changed their name."

Brother Russell's answers to questions regarding the IBSA:
(Please note that this book was prepared in 1919. This book was NOT prepared by Brother Russell, although many state him to be the author. Nevertheless, the quotes of Brother Russell are mostly accurate (although there a few that I question), but the subheadings are not statements of Brother Russell, and may not actually be in accord with Brother Russell. Nor do I necessarily agree with all the statements made by Brother Russell. Additionally, the questions themselves are not Brother Russell's words, and should not be confused with Brother Russell's own viewpoints.

Nonetheless, since the vast majority of those who considered themselves to be associated with the International Bible Students Association did not change their name to "Jehovah's Witnesses", it is highly misleading to state that the International Bible Students Association became "Jehovah's Witnesses". A comparatively few of them accepted Rutherford's "organization", but most did not.

The fact still remains that there was not a JW organization in 1872, or in the days of Russell. The small group of Bible Students associated with Brother Russell in Allegheny did not believe in any such an "organization", and Brother Russell preached against such an organization until his death. Brother Russell himself certainly did not believe the I.B.S.A. to be an "organization". This is made clear from the quotes from Russell in my research as presented in the research: "What Did C. T. Russell Teach About "Organization" As Related to His Watch Tower? 

Thus, as Russell explained, the Bible Students Association in his day was not “an organization”. Therefore, when JWs or others speak of the Bible Students leaving their organization in the years 1917-1928, it is entirely misleading, since, as far as the Bible Students as a whole were concerned, they had not joined such an organization so as to to "leave" such an organization.

It is claimed that Russell was an Adventist and a Millerite, and, evidently, because he was alleged such, he must have believed something happened in 1874.

I would not say that Brother Russell was "Adventist" or a "Millerite", since he rejected many of the major teachings of the teachings of Second Adventists as well as of William Miller. Every Christian who believes in the return of Christ could be considered an "adventist" in a general sense, however.

Brother Russell did not, in 1874, believe anything concerning 1874; this is simply historically fact that can be proven from Brother Russell's own hand. In 1879, he stated, regarding 1876: 

Thus growing in grace and knowledge for seven years, the year 1876 found us. — 2 Peter 3:18.
Up to this time we persistently ignored time and looked with pity upon Mr. Thurman’s and Mr. Wendel’s ideas. (The latter was preaching the same time as Bro. Barbour; viz: The burning of the world in 1873.) We regarded those ideas as unworthy of consideration, for though we believed the event “nigh even at the doors,” yet we recognized the fact that the church will be withdrawn — translated — before there would be any open manifestation to the world, or, in other words, the two stages of Christ’s second advent, viz: coming for his saints, and coming with all his saints.regarded those ideas as unworthy of consideration, for though we believed the event “nigh even at the doors,” yet we recognized the fact that the church will be withdrawn — translated — before there would be any open manifestation to the world, or, in other words, the two stages of Christ’s second advent, viz: coming for his saints, and coming with all his saints. — Mark 13:29." -- Watch Tower Supplement, July 1879.

Brother Russell never published anything before 1874, and as far as I know, nothing he had written in the way of personal notes, etc., from before 1874 are available today.

We do have Brother Russell's later writings, which do tell us what he had come to believe before 1876, and of his acceptance, in 1876, that Christ had returned two years earlier.
Watch Tower Supplement July, 1879 -- Watch Tower May, 1890 -- Watch Tower June, 1916

Please note that I do not necessarily agree with all of Brother Russell's conclusions.

It is claimed that many Bible Students did not follow the IBSA and broke off from it after Rutherford hijacked them.

In fact, a few of the Bible Students did not follow the IBSA fellowship in rejecting Rutherford's organization dogma, and his new teachings regarding the second death (which, if one examines closely, denies the very basis of the ransom for all as given in the Bible), etc.

The association of International Bible Students continue to exist totally apart from Rutherford's new organization. Evidence indicates that as a whole (represented by the vast majority worldwide), the Bible Students Association rejected Rutherford's new "Jehovah's visible organization" dogma

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