Thursday, March 16, 2017

Russell and Only Channel -- Comments and Resources

This page presents some searches of Russell's works relative to the claims being made that Russell believed in the sole channel of communication doctrine that was actually later developed by the JW leadership. Please note that the searches are not perfect, so we are providing searches of several sites, and eventually, God willing, we will provide searches by other search engines. Thus, between the various searches provided, what one doesn't pick up, in most cases another search, either through a different search engine, or on another site, will pick it up. Also one should note that some of these searches may produce many things written by others than Russell, so one should take great care to notice if a result given is actually written by Russell, or if it was written by someone else.


Many claim that Russell taught that he or his WTS was God's only channel for salvation, or the only channel by which one could be a Christian. Russell did on at least one occasion speak of his "friends" who believed that only one channel would be used by God to dispense food in due season, and he concluded this to be reasonable. He stated, "Our friends insist that this Scripture indicates that in the end of this Gospel Age the Lord would use not many channels for the dissemination of the Truth, but one channel, and that it would be the privilege of others of the Lord's faithful ones to be 'fellow-servants' (co-laborers)." (Watch Tower, October 1, 1909, page 292) He was not, however, by presenting these views of his friends, setting this up as some kind of dogma. These statements certainly do not amount to the claims that we find today for the JW leadership. Nevertheless, by taking quotes out of context and placing them in the context of later claims made by Rutherford and later JW leadership, some of what Russell wrote may be easily misrepresented as though he had been claiming the same thing that the JW leadership of today claims for itself.

Russell never claimed that one had to come to him in order to be a Christian; he did not believe in such an idea. He did believe that what he had written was in harmony with the light of the scripture, and thus, if one is not in harmony with what he wrote, then to that extent he was in darkness. Indeed, no author should be writing anything that he considered to not be harmony with the Bible, and if any Christian writes anything, or says anything, that he believes to be in harmony with the light of the scriptures, that then anyone who is not in harmony with what that Christian said, is to that extent, in some darkness.

Russell never claimed that one had to agree with him, or else that they would go into the second death; this was a teaching that Rutherford later promoted.

Russell, in his belief that God was using the WTS as a channel, was not stating that he believed that the Bible Students movement was an organization; however, many of his "friends" were, in effect, reaching what could be thought to be such a conclusion, and were thus advocating what could be called a visible organization with Russell at its head. Russell, himself, refused to recognize himself as holding any authority over the Bible Students, or the many congregations of Bible Students. He believed that his service as pastor should be to serve, not rule, or demand others to be in subjection to himself.

Russell did NOT believe in such an organization such as Rutherford created after Russell died; this is supported by the actual recorded historical facts. Russell's WTS actually ceased to exist when Rutherford usurped authority and when Rutherford rejected the WTS as Russell had intended for it to be, and had it restructured to suit his aims. The WTS, as formed by Russell and his associates, was not the Bible Students, nor was it a "religious organization" such as the JW organization. It was a legal business organization, and was not meant to be a means of ruling over, or seeking authority over, anyone. It definitely was never intended to be used as organization to which one must come for salvation.

In 1915, Russell stated: "There would be nothing to come out of, as an organization, if one is an International Bible Student." (ZWT, July 15, 1915, page 219) This shows that in 1915, Russell still did not believe the Bible Students to be an organization such as the JWs. This began to change in 1916, when Rutherford began to insidiously promote the idea of "organization", which finally became "Jehovah's visible organization". By 1928, however, the vast majority of the Bible Students had rejected Rutherford's "Jehovah's visible organization" dogma; they did not take the name, "Jehovah's Witnesses", although less than 25% did bow to Rutherford's leadings and thus a comparatively few of the Bible Students did take the name "Jehovah's Witnesses".

It is claimed that Russell formulated the doctrine of being a sole mouthpiece, and that the JWs continue use that doctrine to this day. Russell never formulated any dogma of being a sole mouthpiece for God who is to have authority over the household. Indeed, Russell never agreed that he -- himself -- was the faithful and wise servant. He seemed to believe that it was the WTS itself, not him personally, that was fulfilling the role of the faithful and wise servant. This does not mean that he believed, or supported, the idea that the WTS held authority over anyone, or that the "faithful and wise servant" was to hold authority over anyone. In 1916, he plainly stated: "Let it be borne in mind that the Society exercises no authority, makes no criticism, but merely gives advice; and that in the interest of the Lord's Cause and the Lord's people." (Watch Tower, August 1916, page 248) Russell, although reluctant to discuss the "faithful and wise servant", seemed to lean toward the idea that it was Watch Tower Society itself, but note what he stated in 1909:
QUESTION (1909)--2--Please explain the words of Jesus, "But if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow~servants." (Mat. 23:48,49.)
ANSWER.--We understand that a certain servant which the Lord would use at the end of this age, whether you like to call it a class or an individual, whatever it is, if the servant shall prove wicked and shall lose his relationship to the Lord, then we should expect that that servant would be cut off from his relationship to the Lord. One evidence of his being displaced and put out of commission is this: He would begin to smite his fellow-servants and to deny the presence of the Lord. He would lose the spirit of Christ and the truth respecting the presence of the Lord. It does not say that it will be so, but "And if he should." It implies that when the Lord selects a servant, it is upon condition that he remain in the Lord's favor and in harmony with Him, and if he does not, then thus and so shall follow.
As we stated, many Bible Students were, in effect, even in the days of Russell, advocating what one could call an "visible organization", with Russell at its center; nevertheless, Russell himself consistently refused to take any authority over any congregation or the Bible Students in general until the day he died. However, many Bible Students had come to consider him to be "the authority" being used by Jesus. Russell did acknowledge that his "friends" viewed him or the WTS as "one special channel" chosen by God; at the same time he held that neither he nor the WTS held any authority over any of the Bible Students. He never sought to force anyone to believe that he or the WTS was "the faithful and wise servant". He did believe that the WTS was being used in a special way by God; he also believed that if he or the WTS should prove to be the "evil servant" that the true Christian should recognize this by the manner of beating his fellow-servants. Of course, this, in effect, was what Rutherford began to do after Russell died, by his disfellowshiping anyone who disagreed with him.

Notwithstanding, this does not mean that we have to agree with any view regarding the "faithful and wise servant" that Russell presented, or that his "friends" presented. Nor, do we see any need to try to defend everything Russell stated or taught. We do not agree with all of Russell's conclusions, nor do we see how any true Bible Student could do so (such would end in self-contradiction).
Bible Students Did Not Become Jehovah's Witnesses
The Faithful and Wise Servant and Other Servants

 Below we present a Google search of Russell's writings for the phrase "only channel."
  CLICK HERE to search the writings of Russell for the phrase "only channel" on the site using Google.
  CLICK HERE to search the writings of Russell for the phrase "only channel" on the AGS Consulting site using Google.

ONLY AUTHORITY One should note how many times Russell pointed to Jesus, the apostles and the Bible as the "only authority." He never pointed to himself, his writings, or to the Watch Tower Society as being the "only authority".
  CLICK HERE for a Google search for the prhase "only authority".
  CLICK HERE for a Google search of the agsconsulting site for the phrase "only authority."
  CLICK HERE to search mostholyfaith using Google.
See: Who Did Russell Actually Believe to be the "Only Authority" In the Church?

SOLE CHANNEL Russell never used the expression "sole channel" at all.

CHANNEL OF COMMUNICATION Although Russell used this expression a few times, he never used the phrase to express that either he or the Watch Tower was the only channel of communication from God.
CLICK HERE to search with Google.
CLICK HERE to search agsconsulting with Google
CLICK HERE to search mostholyfaith with Google

  GOVERNING BODY Russell rarely used that expression, but the times that he did use it show that he did not believe in a "governing body" like one finds in the Jehovah's Witnesses' organization.
CLICK HERE to search using Google.

Russell did, at least when he wrote Volume 4 of his Studies in the Scriptures, state:
Dispensing of Food to the Household
--Matt. 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46--
  "Who then is the faithful and prudent servant, whom his Master has placed over his household to give them food in due season? Happy that servant whom his Master, on coming, shall find thus employed! Indeed I say to you that he will appoint him over all his stores of provisions." Matt. 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46 The intimation here seems to be, that at the particular time indicated by the prophecy--namely, during the Lord's presence, and at the time of the gathering of the elect--our Lord, the great Servant of his people, will make choice of one channel for dispensing the meat in due season, though other channels or "fellow-servants" will be used in bringing the food to the "household." But the servant is merely a steward, and liable to be removed at any moment, should he fail to fully and duly acknowledge in every particular, the Master--the great Servant of God and his people--"the Messenger of the Covenant"--Christ. Faithfulness on the part of said steward (both to the "Master" and to "his fellow-servants" and "the household") will be rewarded by his continuance as steward; so long as he serves faithfully, he may continue, and may serve the household of faith with things new and old--meat in due season--to the end; bringing forth all the precious things of divine provision. But if unfaithful he will be deposed entirely and put into outer darkness, while presumably another would take the place, subject to the same conditions. To our understanding this would not imply that "that servant" or steward, used as a channel for the circulation of the "meat in due season," would be the originator of that meat, nor inspired, nor infallible. Quite to the contrary, we may be sure that whoever the Lord will so use, as a truth-distributing agent, will be very humble and unassuming, as well as very zealous for the Master's glory; so that he would not think of claiming authorship or ownership of the truth, but would merely dispense it zealously, as his Master's gift, to his Master's "servants" and "household."
Elsewhere, Russell applied this to the Watch Tower Society itself, or the entire association of Bible Students. This still falls short of the claims of a "sole channel" in the terms of the authority that the Jehovah's Witnesses leadership claims for themselves.

Our understanding of the above parable is different, however, than what Russell presented:
See: The Faithful and Wise Servant and Other Servants
Parable of the Four Servants — Luke 12:42-48

  CLICK HERE to search Russell's works for the expression "true religion" on the site, using Google.

  TRUE CHURCH CLICK HERE to search Russell's works for the expression, "true church". ========
See also: Russell and "God's Mouthpiece"
Response to “History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses”

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