Friday, June 23, 2017

Was Russell the Founder of a False Religion?

It is being claimed that Charles Taze Russell was “the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” under the heading, “Jehovah’s Witnesses: False Religion.” In truth, Charles Taze Russell was not the founder of the religion known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” He did not believe in such an organization, nor did he believe in the teachings of this religion. He was certainly not the founder of that which he did not believe in. Another has posted in the christianchat forum that Russell was the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and provides a link to this page that falsely states that we are defending that devil, Charles Taze Russell.

Russell was certainly not the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization.

First, Russell was a non-sectarian who did not believe in such a sectarian organization. Russell preached against the sectarian kind of spirit that prevails amongst the JW organization. Russell, while he did not believe in denominationalism or sectarianism, believed and taught that true Christians may be found amongst all denominations and sects that profess to be Christian.

Second, Russell did not believe in the kind of authoritarianism that the leadership of the JWs claim. He certainly never employed the “mind control” techniques used the by the JW leadership. Russell believed that the only authority in the church is Jesus and the apostles.

Third, Russell did not believe in the message of eternal doom for unbelievers that the JWs preach. Indeed, Russell believed that all unbelievers would enlightened with the truth. Russell did not teach or believe in the kind of Armageddon that is preached by the Jehovah’s Witnesses; indeed, he preached against similar teaching that existed in his day. Russell believed that Armageddon was a period of time of trouble in which the peoples of the nations were to be chastised in preparation for the blessings of God’s Kingdom.

Russell was therefore certainly not the founder of that which he did not believe in, and which he preached against.

Indeed, Russell himself never thought of himself as the “founder” of any religion; he claimed Christ as the founder of the religion that he believed in, that is, Biblical Christianity.

It is claimed that because of Russell’s “questionable character”, the Jehovah’s Witnesses no longer look at Russell as the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Officially, the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” leadership claim that their religion goes all the way back to Abel. Individually, however, one might hear some the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” refer to the Charles Taze Russell as their founder, or as the “modern-day” founder of their religion. However, we are not aware that any of them would “no longer” claim him as their founder because of an alleged “questionable  character” that is falsely attributed to Russell. Nevertheless, the JW leadership does highly discourage study of Russell’s writings, with the claim that it is “old light.” We highly suspect that the real reason is that Russell’s writings would expose much of the teachings of the JW leadership as being false.

It is claimed that Russell actually predicted the coming of Christ on two occasions. One claims:

Russell calculated that Jesus was to return visibly in 1874. When the 1874 came and went with no sign of Jesus, Russell then changed his calculations to the date 1914…. When 1914 came and went with no sign of Jesus, Russell then interpreted Jesus’ second coming as an “invisible” return, or in spirit.

This, of course, is totally false. Others have claimed that Russell predicted Christ’s return many times, when he actually never “predicted” Christ to return even once. Indeed, most knowledgeable Bible Students would laugh at the idea that Russell “predicted” Christ’s return, since anyone familiar with the writings of Russell knows that Russell never “predicted” the coming of Christ on any date at all. The entire claim that Russell predicted that Christ was to return in 1874 is FALSE, since, until 1876 — two years after 1874, Russell had no interest in the dates that were being set by various “adventists.” In 1876, however, he became interested in some material that was presenting Christ as having already come invisibly in 1874, which made his acceptance that Christ had returned to be two years after 1874 had passed. It was not until then that Russell had any interest in the year 1874. Since this was two years after 1874, Russell never predicted any coming of Christ in 1874. Thus, it should be apparent that Russell, before 1874, never “agreed with the Adventists’ predictions that Christ would return during 1873—1874“, as another site claims.

It is claimed that when Christ did not come in 1874 as Russell had allegedly predicted (which, in fact, Russell never predicted Christ to return in 1874), that Russell then changed the date to 1914. Both claims are in error. It would have Russell allegedly giving up on the year 1874 as the year of Christ’s return, something which he never did. Until the day he died, he continued in the belief that Christ had returned in 1874, and never at all changed his mind on that from 1876 until his death. Russell never gave any other date except 1874 for the return Christ! Thus, the claim that he predicted Christ was to return in 1914 is ludicrous, to say the least. Russell definitely never changed his conclusion that Christ had returned in 1874 to 1914 or any other date. Thus, the claim made on one site that when Russell’s alleged prediction 1874 failed, he “predicted more times for Jesus’ return-all of which proved to be false, of course“, is of itself a misrepresentation of what Russell taught and believed. Another falsely claims that Russell was expecting “the visible second coming of Christ in 1914“. Another claims: “Charles Taze Russell predicted Christ’s invisible return in 1874, followed by anticipation of his Second Coming in 1914.” Of course, as we have shown, Russell never “predicted” Christ to return in 1874, nor have found any place where he ever wrote about a visible second coming of Christ in 1914.

It is claimed that Russell lied under oath, which claim is also false. We will not discuss this in detail here; please see:

The true founder of the religion known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was Joseph Rutherford. Rutherford, after Russell died, used deceit and legal trickery to gain control of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society as a basis to form his new religion which he later called “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” You will not find any reference in Russell’s writings to a Watch Tower organization, and certainly not of an organization that Rutherford conceived after Russell died. Russell refused to usurp any authority over anyone (except as that which had been given to him as the President of the Watch Tower Society itself, which pertained only the internal affairs of he Watch Tower Socieity, not external matters of the lives of individuals who were external to the Watch Towe Socieity. That Russell was still maintaining this belief until he died can be seen from his statement in The Watch Tower, August 15, 1916, page 248:

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.

Almost immediately after Russell died, however, Rutherford and his followers began to instill the concept of an “organization” in connection with the Watch Tower Society. (See the Watch Tower issues of December of 1916).

Some other points that others have presented:

Some claim that “Russell came to the conclusion that Christianity was not the correct way to understand the Bible.” Is this true? No; Russell did believe that man’s self-proclaimed orthodoxy was wrong in its approach to the Bible; he did say anything against “Christianity” itself.

Links to other sites that are presenting similar false information related to the above: 1 * 2

See also:

How the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Organization Was Created
Bible Students Did Not Become Jehovah’s Witnesses
JW Claims and Russell’s Expectation Regarding 1914
Russell’s Changes to the Scripture Studies
Russell and the Great Pyramid
Russell’s “Divorce”
Response to J. J. Ross
Russell and Miracle Wheat
Response to How to Show that Jesus is Not the Archangel Michael
The (Alleged) Facts on Jehovah’s Witnesses

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