Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cetnar's Historical Errors

This is a response to some claims being made by William Cetnar, presented in a video entitled, "Jehovah's Witnesses History Exposed." This video is a part of one of the John Ankerberg shows. Much of what Cetnar says, however, appears to be out his own imagination, or is based on what someone else has imagined.

Although Restoration Light Bible Study Services is not associated with the Jehovah's Witnesses, some keep pointing us to a video entitled "Jehovah's Witnesses History Exposed". We are NOT endeavoring to defend the Jehovah's Witnesses organization, but rather our endeavor is simply to point out what we believe to be errors in the presentation.

Cetnar claims that Charles Taze Russell was the first president of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Actually, although Russell was the first president of the legal entity, The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Russell knew nothing of, and did not believe in, any authoritarian "organization" such as the Jehovah's Witnesses. That legal entity as Russell had intended for it to be, however, was virtually destroyed within a few weeks after Russell died, and a new Watch Tower "organization" was created at the hands of Joseph Rutherford. No, Russell was not the president of any religious organization at all; he definitely was not the president of an authoritarian organization such as he preached against.

Russell never said that he is the angel (messenger) of Laodicea; nor did he claim that such a messenger had any "authority" over the church. William Cetnar is in error pertaining to this. Others may have made that claim for Russell, but he himself never made such a claim for himself. Additionally, Russell did not believe that any of the "angels" of Revelation were prophets of God, or that any of them held any divine authority over the church. 
(Please note that not all results are actually Russell's words; some of the results refer to someone else's thoughts, especially in the commentary on the book of Revelation.)

Russell never spoke of himself as "God's channel of communication". One cannot find anyplace in all the tens of thousands of pages of Russell's works where he ever made such a claim.
(The instances given do NOT reflect any claim of being "God's channel of communciation" but rather of the Watch Tower as a channel of communication related to activities amongst the Bible Students.) See: Russell and "Only Channel"

Russell most certaianly NEVER claimed to be "God's Prophet". In fact, he stated many times that he was not a prophet and that his expectations were not prophecy. The only prophecies that Russell believed in are the prophecies found in the Bible.
See the RL research under:
Charles Taze Russell and Prophecy
Russell evidently did believe that he was being used by God in a special way, but he never claimed to the sole spokesman/spokesperson for God. Indeed, I could not find any place where he claimed to be God's spokesman, although he did speak of himself as a mouthpiece for God; but he also claimed that all Christians should be mouthpieces for God. See the RL research: "God's Mouthpiece"
Nor did Russell himself ever claim himself to be the "faithful and wise servant". Not did he "volunteer" to be such. It was actually his wife who first applied the Matthew 24:45 to Russell. See: Russell: Faithful and Wise Servant

Cetnar claims that Jehovah's Witnesses began in 1874. In reality, there were no "Jehovah's Witnesses" in 1874. In 1874, there was a small independent group of Bible Students in Pittsburgh associated with Charles Taze Russell which had already been meeting for several years, but that group did not believe in an organization such as "Jehovah's Witnesses". That group had already been in existence, however, for several years before 1874, so one might wonder why anyone would think that in 1874 that group would represent the beginning of the "Jehovah's Witnesses." Additionally, that group, before 1874, never made any announcement that Jesus would return in 1874. Russell himself, before 1874, held no expectations at all regarding 1874.
Therefore, in 1875, Charles Taze was not all "upset" because of an alleged failure of Christ to return 1874; in 1875, he had never thought Christ was to return 1874; up until 1876, Russell never believed anything at all about 1874!!!! Yes, in 1876, Russell accepted Barbour's conclusion that Christ had already returned in 1874; it was in 1876, not before, that Russell accepted anything at all concerning the date 1874. Before 1876, he never believed anything about 1874. Before 1874, Russell never said anything at all about Christ's return in 1874. Having no expectations at all concerning 1874, he had no reason to be "upset".
Russell laid out many historical details in his Supplement to the First Issue of the Watch Tower

Neither Barbour nor Russell came up with the definition of "parousia" as meaning "presence". This statement is ridiculous. Strong and many other Greek scholars had already shown the primary meaning of "parousia" as "presence" long before Russell or Barbour. Nor is there anything in Matthew 28:20 that would be violated by the view that Christ, having been put to death in the flesh, is now a spirit being, and will return as a spirit being. Matthew 28:20 is not about his parousia, but of the time intervening between his ascension and his parousia, when he personally returns. Jesus does not become a spirit being at his parousia, when he returns, but he was raised as a spirit being back in the first century. (1 Peter 3:18) Nevetherless, whether he be spirit or flesh, he is in the heavens until the time of restoration. (Matthew 26:11; Acts 3:21) As foretold, however, the world was to never see him again, but his disciples would "see" him. (John 14:19) This does not mean that he could not be present with his people for we read that, although he was in heaven at the right hand of his God, he was serving his people as priest, making intercession for them. Thus, although his person is in heaven until his return, he still has communion with his people. -- Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14,15; 7:25,26; 8:1; 9:24; 1 John 2:1.
See: Jesus Died a Human Being - Raised a Spirit Being

However, Russell, sometime before 1874, had already concluded that Christ would not come in the flesh, because he had sacrificed in his flesh for our sins. (1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 Peter 3:18) To reiterate: although -- before 1874 -- Russell held no expectations regarding 1874, he had already concluded that Christ was not to return in the flesh, but rather as a spirit being. This was before he had, in 1876, accepted Barbour's conclusions regarding 1874, as well as before 1874 itself.

Russell did not claim that he was any spokesman for any "one true religion". For his views concerning the one true church, see: 

Did Russell advocate any "visible organization of God" as spoken of in the video? No, he did not. He did not believe in any such organization, and certainly not in the authoritarianism that is claimed by the leadership of the JWs. See our research related to Russell and: Organization

Did Russell place his writings above the Bible? No! See our research regarding
Russell and: Authority 

Cetnar claims that Russell said that he talked to angels. This is totally false!!! In over 50 years of studying Russell's writings, never have we found anything in Russell's writings wherein he makes such a statement. Indeed, Russell disclaimed having received any kind of "divine revelation" by such means. Russell certainly would never have recommended that anyone should be disfellowshiped for believing the Bible if they found something in his writings that disagreed with the Bible. Indeed, he said regarding his "Studies in the Scriptures", "before we would accept anything as being our own personal faith and conviction, we should say, 'I will not take it because these studies say so; I wish to see what the Bible says.' And so we would study the Scriptures in the light of these SCRIPTURE STUDIES; we would prove every point, or disprove it, as the case might be. We would be satisfied with nothing less than a thorough investigation of the Bible from this standpoint." -- The Watch Tower, September 15, 1910, "Is the Reading of 'Scripture Studies' Bible Study?". 

Russell certainly never advocated the "shunning" techniques that the JW organization insists upon. Russell's views regarding disfellowshiping may be found at: 

Charles Taze Russell never, ever, claimed to have "talked with angels." Instead, Russell actually stated the very opposite: "We claim no new revelations, for to our understanding the revelations of God to his saints are completed and finished by the records of John on Patmos." -- Watch Tower, July 1882, page 2.

We do agree with the Cetnars that the JWs alleged 144,000 cannot be the "the prophet" --organizationally -- for today. We have not found anything in Russell's writings, however, that makes such a claim, although, he certainly could not have made any such claim in the sense that JW leadership made such a claim, since Russell did not believe in such an authoritarian organization.

Charles Taze Russell, once he understood the "ransom for all" around 1872, never preached a message that all who did not belong to any organization, sect, group, religion, etc., would be exterminated in 1874, 1879, or any other date. There were no Jehovah's Witnesses back then either preaching such a message. Russell DID NOT BELIEVE in the JW message at all regarding Armageddon, and thus, he did not preach such a message. Indeed, he preached against similar messages being preached by some sects of his day. If Cetnar had actually done the research, he would have known this.

Regarding the alleged 6,000 years since Adam's creation: even if their chronology is true (we do not believe that it is), the year of Adam's creation does mean that the seventh day of 7,000 years began in that same year. The Bible does not directly reveal when the the seventh day began, but it is highly unlikely that it began in the very day that Adam was created. Brother Russell suggested that 6,000 years from Adam's creation as 1872, and he allowed two years before the beginning of the seventh day, and thus he believed that 6,000 years from beginning of the seventh day of 7,000 years ended in 1874.

The foretold "forbidding to marry" has been fulfilled in many ways. In practically every state and nation, there are many laws that forbid various ones to marry. In some places, one is forbidden to marry if they have been divorced for any reason whatsoever. Most places forbid marriage to young people under whatever age has been determined by men who have enacted such laws. And of course, in some religions, those appointed as "priests" and/or "nuns", etc., are forbidden to marry. The latter, however, is more or less voluntary, since one is not forced to become either such a priest or nun. In the other instances, it is not voluntary, but the will of others are forced upon those who come under such prohibitions. I do not know to what extent the JWs sought to enforce the "no marriage" policy; I do not know if one could be disfellowshiped for breaking, or for disagreeing with, the "no marriage" policy. I remember one JW, many years ago, told me that very few in the organization gave any serious attention to that policy, thus, I assume that one would not be disfellowshiped if they did marry. On the other hand, I also met one JW who, as a result of the Society's statements, never did marry, and who told me of the frustration that this had caused in his life.

Mrs. Cetnar (approximately 18:36) speaks of her great-grandmother as being a member of the JW religion with Charles Taze Russell. If one had been associated with the work of Charles Taze Russell, that one would not have been a member of the JW oganization, despite what JWs today may claim. There was no JW organization, no JW religion at all, in the days of Russell. Russell did not believe in such a religion, nor did the Bible Students in general believe in such a religion. Russell never spoke of God speaking through any such organization.

The topic of blood transfusions comes up in the video. Many think that the JW prohibition on blood transfustions came from Charles Taze Russell. This is false. Russell never spoke against blood transfusions, and would certainly never assumed authority to forbid anyone from taking blood transfusions. For what Russell said about eating blood, one may see:
It should be noted that neither Russell nor his Watch Tower claimed to be the "only way to God". Russell pointed to Jesus as the only way to God.

It is claimed that Jehovah's witnesses announced the end of the world for 1874, 1879, 1914 and other dates. In 1874, 1879 as well as in 1914, there were no Jehovah's Witnesses. As already pointed out, before 1914, Russell himself held no expectation at all for 1874, and certainly never claimed that the world was to end in 1874. I don't know of anyone who made any prophetic claims for 1879; Russell held no expectations for 1879. Russell did hold expectation -- without claiming any authority as a prophet -- of the church being completed in 1878, but he never said anything about the world coming to an end in 1878, nor in 1914. His earlier view was that the Gentile kingdoms would all be gone in 1914, and the peace was to come to the world in 1914. He was not expecting what is generally called the end of the world. He changed his viewpoint on this, however, in 1904, and from and 1904 onward, he was no longer expecting the end of all Gentile kingdoms in 1914, and rather than expecting peace, he was expecting "time of trouble" to bring revolutions. He never actually set any time for the end of the "time of trouble".

We will, God willing, be adding more to this later, as time permits. Stopped at: 25:41

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