Friday, December 16, 2016

Can Restitution Change the Ethiopian's Skin?

In the October 1, 1900 (page 296), issue of The Watch Tower, Charles Taze Russell presented an article: “Can Restitution Change the Ethiopian’s Skin?” The title is based on the scripture:
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? -- Jeremiah 13:23, World English
A portion of this article have been quoted in an effort to “prove” that Russell was a racist belittling the black people. The word “racist” can mean different things to different people. One dictionary defines ”racist” as:
a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others.
Racism is defined as:
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
With this in mind, we present the entire article below:
The following, from the New York World, is the third we have seen reported. These suggest and illustrate the process of restitution soon due. The item reads,--
"PARKERSBURG, W. VA., Sept. 8.--It has fallen to the lot of the Rev. Wm. H. Draper, pastor of the Logan Memorial Church, of Washington Conference, A.M.E. Church, of this town, to give a living affirmative answer to the famous Biblical question, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?" Though once as black as charcoal, the Rev. Mr. Draper is now white. His people say that his color was changed in answer to prayer. Many years ago Draper was employed by a fair-skinned man, and he was often heard to remark that if he could only be white like his employer he would be happy. While in the white man's service Draper 'experienced' religion.
"From that day forward he prayed constantly and fervently that he might become white. Thirty years ago his prayer began to be answered. He first experienced a prickling sensation on his face, and upon close investigation found a number of small white spots scarcely larger than the point of a pin. He became alarmed, thinking he had some peculiar disease, but he did not suffer, and aside from the prickling sensation felt nothing unusual. Gradually the white spots became larger and extended themselves, until now, after the change has been in progress for over thirty years, Draper has not a single dark spot on his body.
"Many years ago, before this strange metamorphosis took place, Mr. Draper was in charge of the same church he has now. He was popular with his flock and his departure was a source of great regret. When he recently returned to Parkersburg there was great rejoicing among the churchmen because their favorite pastor was coming back. When, however, Draper appeared in the pulpit the first Sunday, not one of the congregation recognized him. In fact, it was all he could do to convince them that he, a white man, was the same old black preacher they had years before."
Many quote this, or quote portions of this, as being the words of Russell. Actually, the only words in this entire article that could be attributed to Russell is the title: “Can Restitution Change the Ethiopian’s SkIn”, and the introduction, which reads: “The following, from the New York World, is the third we have seen reported. These suggest and illustrate the process of restitution soon due. The item reads,--”. The rest of the article was written by someone at the New York World newspaper. However, there are many sites that seem to deliberately try to make it appear that the words quoted from the New York World are the words of Russell himself.
Indeed, we deem it rather odd that no one criticizes The New York World for printing the article, and no one criticizes that pastor of the Logan Memorial Church, for what he is reported as saying and doing. Instead they go after Brother Russell, whose only interest was that possibly suggested an illustration of the coming restitution, and he was not dogmatic about that.
One site, under the tag of “racism”, presents the entire article, but leaves out the reference to the New York World, thus leaving the impression that the article represents the words of Russell himself. This site has the introduction as reading: “The following, from the is the third we have seen reported. These suggest and illustrate the process of restitution soon due. The item reads,–”. Notice how New York World is left out. Is this an oversight? Could be. But it could also be possible that this was deliberately done in order to deceive the reader into thinking that the words were those of Russell.
Another site, among a long list of quotes designed to misrepresent Russell, as though Russell was speaking as the head of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, in effect, misrepresents Russell as saying “that the white race is superior”.
One has presented a video on YouTube, entitled “”Charles Taze Russell and racism part 1”, in which the entire article is orally presented correctly, and it includes the reference to the New York World newspaper, but the video presents a animated photo of Russell by which it presents the entire article as though Russell himself were saying the words, and thus most viewers would not realize that the words were not that of Russell, but the words of someone from the New York World.
At any rate, was the intention of that article, “Can Restitution Change the Ethiopian’s Skin?”, to belittle the black people? No, not at all. Should one believe that Russell was “racist” because, based on Jeremiah 13:23, he assumes that the restitution (restoration) blessings will mean that all will be restored to the one race that Adam was in the Garden of Eden? God did not make many different Adams, one for each color of skin. He only made one. The Bible shows that all descended from only one blood lineage. God “made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26) And thus, we read: “The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham is the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these, the whole earth was populated.” (Genesis 9:18,19) Thus, all the races of the earth are descendants of Noah’s sons. Was God being racist in having only one race to be source of all races of the earth?
Was Jeremiah being racist when he asked the question, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?” (Jeremiah 13:23) The world -- not understanding God’s purposes for all mankind -- considers the Bible to be a racist book. If one thinks only along the mindset of man, one could indeed conclude that the Bible, and God, are racist. The spiritual-minded, that is, those who would bring their minds in harmony with the revealings of God’s spirit, can see beyond the carnal to a comprehension of God’s purposes.
However, if a Bible-believing Christian should think that Russell was being racist, then, to be consistent, that person must also think the Bible is a racist book. To Russell, Jeremiah 13:23 would seem to say that the black race was not the original race, else why would the inspired prophet think of the black man as changing the color of his skin? And, consistent with that logic, if, as he believed, man was to be restored to what God intended in the Garden of Eden, it would be also reasonable to assume that they will be restored to the one color of skin that Adam had. Does this mean that there is some kind inherent superiority of one color of skin over another? Does it mean that there is hatred for people who are not white? Does the article claim that there is some kind of inherent difference in the black race that, due to the color of skin, inherently made him what he is culturally? Actually, elsewhere, Russell wrote against such an idea. Did Russell make any claim that the while race was superior, and therefore the white race had a right to rule over other races? No, in fact, again, in other articles Russell wrote against such ideas. Was Russell claiming that in the Kingdom, only white people were good enough to rule and judge? Definitely not! Indeed, anyone who is truly familiar with Russell’s works know that Russell did not hold such “racism”. Most, however, who misrepresent Russell as being “racist” do not actually know what Russell taught; their only interest in his works seem to be to find whatever quote they can twist to suit their aims. Also, most of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as the public at large do not know what Russell taught, and thus, unless they have a mind to seek beyond what the misrepresentations concerning Russell that is being spread like wildfire, it is easy for such to accept the misrepresentations without further investigation.
Was Russell dogmatic about the man originally being white? Absolutely not! In face, concerning mankind as they were originally, Russell later stated:
We may suppose that they were neither as white as some of us, nor as black as the negro, but of a swarthy, tawny color. If this be true, the extreme whiteness of some peoples is not to be considered the original standard, but a deflection on the one side, as the negro and others are deflections on the other side. -- Watch Tower. July 15, 1902
Some claim that Russell should have known that what Mr. “Rev” Draper had is a disease, called “Vitiligo”. Again, we note that it is Brother Russell that is attacked, not the author of the article, nor the pastor of the Logan Memorial Church. Of course, at the time that Russell presented that article, evidently neither he nor the author of the article that appeared in the New York World knew of such a disease. Indeed, we are not sure that this condition had even been given this name in the days of Russell. Nevertheless, those who make a big deal over Russell's ignorance of such a disease would seem to think that Russell was claiming to be inerrant in every word, which he did not claim, and which he, in fact disclaimed. Others seek to use Russell’s writings as representing the words of the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses; Russell, however, was never a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, and never spoke as an authoritarian leader of such an organization. He made no demands that all associated with the Bible Students had to agree with his conclusions.
We do not know that the person spoken of actually had the condition now called Vitiligo; nevertheless, whether this "condition" is actually a “disease” or whether it is a “blessing” may depend on the way a person looks at it. Mr. Draper evidently believed it to be a blessing. (Again, it is not Mr. Draper that people criticize, but Russell.) Classifying it as a disease does not take away the fact that it illustrates that a person’s skin color can be changed, and that was the point Russell made in reproducing the article from the New York World newspaper.
Russell was not being dogmatic concerning his conclusions regarding this; he was definitely not speaking as the head of an authoritarian organization such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Russell did not believe in such an organization, and believed that Christians should try to free themselves from such sectarian organizations. Nevertheless, the JW leadership would retroactively have Russell to be a member of their organization, and as part of their governing body at that time. Nevertheless, contrary to what Russell taught and believed, the JW leadership makes bold claims that they are the sole channel of communication between God and man, and that the consequences of not recognizing their authority could mean that they (those who do not obey the JW leadership) and their children may be eternally destroyed in Armageddon. The claim is that such are disobeying the “Good News” because they are still blinded by Satan, and 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9 is misused to promote that idea. Russell never taught such a God-dishonoring doctrine. None of the prophets of old made such bold claims, and they were inspired of God (of course, the JW leadership may claim that the prophets of old did make such claims). At any rate, with the prospect of obeying these people in Brooklyn versus eternal destruction at Armageddon, one would expect a very high degree of inerrancy in the presentation of claimed “truth” on the part of who make such claims for themselves.
In effect, the JW leadership claims for themselves the authority of the apostles and even more, claiming that one’s existence for all eternity depends on accepting what they say as “the truth”. One should expect that, if they have truth as revealed to them from God’s holy spirit, that such truth would be solid and not changing, especially since they claim that to reject their leadership will mean eternal destruction at Armageddon. So, we can agree from the perspective of their claim that Russell of was of their governing body (which, in reality, he was not), that the words of Russell, if in error, would tend to tear down the whole argument that the JW leadership claims for themselves. Russell never made such claims. Indeed, what the JWs teach now respecting Armageddon and the Second Death is definitely contrary to what Russell taught.
So, according to the JW leadership, Russell was preaching a false gospel in his central message, the ransom for all, that is, that every, man, woman, child, every Buddhist, every Jew, every Hindu, every Moslem, and so on, who has ever lived, will first be fully enlightened with the truth before being placed on trial to determine whether they will prove themselves to obedient or disobedient to the good news that is revealed to them. Rutherford rejected this central doctrine that Russell taught, and replaced it the “Jehovah’s organization” doctrine, and the claim that anyone that is not in that organization when Armageddon strikes will be eternally destroyed.
In the end, Jehovah will be praised through His Son!


One has stated that Russell said when Jesus "reveals Himself," that all dark skin people would return to a light complexion. As god made them, and then describes this as being "a load of junk."

The response actually takes what Brother Russell meant to be a positive suggestion and turns it around as though he were setting forth some evil dogma.

The Bible says:

Acts 17:26 -  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.

Was God being racist in whatever the "one blood" -- one race -- that he originally created Adam? Isn't it reasonable that in the restoration of all things back to what Adam lost, it would make all the human race the same color as it was originally? True, the Bible does not reveal conclusively that Adam was white, but in the lineage given back from Abraham to Adam, it suggests that the Hebrews represent the original race.

Nevertheless, Brother Russell most usually spoke of mankind as being one race, irrespective of color. Furthermore, note his words:

"When God's Elect class has been completed and glorified with the Head, Jesus Christ, then will the Kingdom of Heaven be established; then will the Government be upon Messiah's shoulder; then will be the time of blessing all the families of the earth, according to the promise made to Abraham. Speaking of that glorious reign of Messiah, St. Peter says:" Times of Refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, who was before preached unto you, whom the heavens must retain until the Titnes of Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets since the world began." Acts 3:19-21 Sin has greatly degraded the human race, whites as well as negroes. The greater the ignorance, the farther mankind have wandered from God, the greater their degradation. That they are to have an opportunity of restoration to all that Adam lost is indeed glad tidings of great joy, and every heart shall be filled with joy that hears and obeys such glad tidings. Restoration means that a full opportunity shall be given to all of Adam's offspring, negro and white, to come back into harmony with God and to be restored to that which Adam once possessed, namely, a perfect organism, perfection of mind and heart, and have restored to him the Godlike qualities of justice, wisdom and love." -- "The Negro Question - Is He Man or Beast?", Harvest Gleanings, pages 513,514.

This was the message he was concerned in preaching, which is definitely not racist. Yet those who seek to twist his statements to make the claim that he was racist miss the beautiful message he was proclaiming from the Bible. How this must please Satan! But it is not yet the time when all are to be enlightened; until Satan is abyssed we still have to know that he will continue to deceive people in order that they may not see and understand God's purposes regarding the restoration of all.

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