Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Truth Presented by Satan - Did Russell Condone Using the Occult?

Many take a quote from Russell's short article, "What is Truth?" and use it to claim that Russell accepted Satan's lies as being truth, and/or that he was supporting the occult, spiritism, etc. Did Russell say that he would accept Satan's lies? Did he say anything that means that he condoned the occult? If one reads actually reads what he said, it becomes apparent that he was not saying such.

One who misrepresents Russell regarding this is John Ankerberg. We are addressing some of the things stated in the article, "The Pagan Roots of Jehovah's Witnesses."

The article presents Russell as the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses. This is false, and we have discussed this elsewhere. Russell was never a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. See Russell and JWs

The article quotes an inaccurate statement from The Watchtower of July 15, l950, page 212. The author of what is stated there evidently did not do much research, and misrepresented Russell as "hungrily ... investigating the heathen religions in search of the truth on God’s purpose and man’s destiny." Russell did report of how he, believing that the Bible taught that most of the people who have ever lived are now in eternal flames of torment, did turn to various eastern religions to see if they offered anything better. Russell never said that he "hungrily" did this; his report simply shows that he found nothing satisfactory in that search.

Based on an inaccurate statement presented as being from a 1950 Watchtower, the article states concerning Russell:
He knew so little of the Christian faith and what the Bible taught that an “infidel” drove him into skepticism. Not only that, he filled his mind with pagan, occult beliefs before returning as an obviously last choice to the Bible.
The wording again misrepresents Russell, and what actually happened. Russell actually rejected the pagan/occults beliefs as being unreasonable, so he did not fill his mind with pagan, occult beliefs. Before he discussed matters with the infidel, he actually thought that what man's creeds and dogma taught was what the Bible taught. He, like many others, was well acquainted with the Bible, but had been, in effect, trained to view the Bible through the lens of man's dogma. When he, in he was about 16 years old, encountered an infidel who actually upset Russell's belief in what he at that time thought was the actual teaching of the Bible.

Russell stated: "Thinking that we had already examined the Bible sufficiently, we turned our attention to heathen religions, only to find them less rational in some respects, though less fiendish, than our own creeds. Evidently the most intelligent peoples have been the most thoroughly seduced by Satan and his doctrines of demons, into believing the most horrible things respecting the Creator and His purposes toward His human creatures. -- Watch Tower, December 15, 1914, page 377

And he said:

So that even when I had thrown away my Bible, when I did not know its value, I got to looking for a Bible somewhere and I searched amongst all the heathen religions to see if I could find one any better than the one I had thrown away, and I found nothing nearly as rational, nearly as reasonable, as the Bible when I understood it. -- What Pastor Russell Said, Q197:1.

Rather than filling his mind with pagan, occult beliefs, he sound nothing satisfactory in those beliefs.

The following is stated concerning Charles Taze Russell

Truth: “A truth presented by Satan himself is just as true as a truth stated by God. . . . Accept truth wherever you find it, no matter what it contradicts” (WT 7/1879, pp. 8-9).

This quotation is from Russell, and there is nothing at all wrong with what Russell stated. It does not mean that Russell used Satan as a basis for truth, or that he sought truth from Satan. We find this quote being spread by many on various sites, in forums, in videos, etc., evidently with the object of making it appear that Brother Russell was supporting forms of Satanism, occultism, spiritism, etc. However, the quote is taken out of context with the evidently design to mislead people regarding what Russell actually saying. Some appear to quote this with the idea that Russell was willing to accept the lies of Satan, although what he stated actually says the opposite. Let us look at the quote in context:
This question is one which every sincere Christian should ask and seek to answer. We should learn to love and value truth for its own sake; to respect and honor it by owning and acknowledging it wherever we find it and by whomsoever presented. A truth presented by Satan himself is just as true as a truth stated by God.
Perhaps no class of people are more apt to overlook this fact than the Christian. How often do they in controversy overlook and ignore truth presented by their opponents. This is particularly the case when arguing with an infidel. They feel at perfect liberty to dispute everything he says on religious subjects. This is not the correct principle. Many infidels are honest–as anxious to speak and believe the truth as are Christians–and if in converse with them we ignore truths which they may advance, we not only fail to convince them of our truths, but put an end to all hope of reaching them; for our failure to admit the evident truth which they advance begets in them contempt for the one who is not honest enough to admit one truth because he does not see how it can be reconciled to another. Accept truth wherever you find it, no matter what it contradicts, and rely for ability to afterwards harmonize it with others upon “The Spirit of truth, which shall guide you into all truth,” as Jesus promised.|

 Thus, if one approaches this with an honest heart, one will realize what Russell was saying. We should remember that the word Satan means "adversary", especially as being in opposition to Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Messiah sent by Jehovah, but Satan is also the adversary of the child of God. (1 Peter 5:8) Russell was likening the infidels who are being used by Satan to oppose the truths of the Bible as though they were Satan; Jesus did something similar when he called the apostle Peter “Satan”. (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33) Peter, of course, was not literally Satan, but he was imitating Satan by speaking an untruth, and attempting to persuade Jesus to take a course contrary that which Jesus knew God wanted him to take. Likewise, the infidels who reject the creative account of the Bible may present a lot of truths in what they say, although they may misrepresent those truths to promote what is not true.

Likewise, if Satan, or his demons speak a truth, it is still true regardless of their purposes for stating the truth. Otherwise, the stated truth would a lie simply because of who stated it, which is self-contradictory. If something is actually "true", it cannot at the same time actually be a "lie".

Nevertheless, the implication of putting the quote from Russell on the site appears to be to imply that  absolutely everything Satan says is a lie, and that thus, Satan cannot speak one sentence without everything in that sentence being a lie. In the context of what Russell was saying, it would mean that every word and every sentence spoken by any infidel, even if it is true, has to be a lie because of who said it. Such an idea, if extended to the demons over whom Satan is prince, then the demons lied when they called Jesus: “the son of God,” and “Son of the Most High.” (Matthew 8:29; Mark 3:11; Luke 1:32; 4:41; 8:48) Thus, if they cannot tell the truth at all, then we should believe that it is a lie to say that Jesus is the “Son of God,” or that Jesus is the “Son of the Most High.”

In Job 1:7, we read:

Job 1:7 - And Jehovah said to Satan, From where have you come? And Satan answered Jehovah and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
 -- Green's Literal Translation. 

Did Satan lie to Jehovah by saying that he had been going back and forth in the earth, etc.? We have no reason to think that he did so.

But someone may ask: Didn’t Jesus say concerning Satan that “there is no truth in him?” — John 8:44, Word English.

We believe the better rendering would be, in reference to “the truth” that Jesus had just spoken of: “the truth is not in him.” (John 8:44) We don’t believe that it was Jesus' intent to say that Satan can never tell a truth, anymore than he meant that those Jewish leaders to whom he spoke could never tell a truth. However, many times when Satan tells us a truth, it is framed in a setting of a lie, as in Genesis 3:5. By such methods he misrepresents the truth that he states with a lie.

Nevertheless, the quote from Russell, taken out of context, has been spread to many sites, publications, videos, and often quoted in a context to make it appear that Russell accepted occultism, Satanism, astrology, demonism, spiritism, and many other things. The obvious motive is to misrepresent Russell by leaving the impression that Russell believed that what Satan says is “the truth,” which is again far from Russell’s intent in his statement. Russell’s works attest of his view concerning Satan, that he was a liar, and the father of the lie, as Jesus said. 

For links regarding:

Russell and the Occult - The studies linked include many of Russell's own writings concerning Satan and the occult.

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