Did Charles Taze Russell Claim that the Christian God Is Not Jehovah?
It is being reported that Charles Taze Russell taught that the Christian God was the devil, not Jehovah. The alleged evidence for this is presented with reference to Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 7, The Finished Mystery, page 410. These statements appear to stem from some false statements made by Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon in a book entitled: “Why Is The Doctrine Of The Trinity A Vital Belief For Christians To Understand?” In that book, it is stated:
In rejecting the Trinity, Jehovah’s Witnesses founder C. T. Russell blasphemously stated that the God of Christianity “is plainly not Jehovah but the ancient deity, hoary with the iniquity of the ages-Baal, the Devil Himself.”3
3 C. T. Russell, Studies in the Scriptures- Vol. 7: The Finished Mystery, p. 410 cited by Wilton M. Nelson and Richard K. Smith, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in David J. Hesselgrave, ed., Dynamic Religious Movements: Case Studies of Rapidly Growing Religious Movements Around the World (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), p. 181.
Four statements above are in need of correction:
(1) Charles Taze Russell was not the founder of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. Russell did not believe in such an organization. See my research:
Charles Taze Russell and the Jehovah’s Witnesses
(2) Charles Taze Russell never, ever, claimed that the God of Christianity was not Jehovah, etc.
(3) The book cited. The Finished Mystery, p. 410, was not written by Charles Taze Russell, although Rutherford falsely claimed such. This book was actually written by C.J. Woodworth and George Fisher.
(4) Nevertheless, the book, The Finished Mystery, does not say what Ankerberg and Weldon claim it says. The quote is taken out of context and placed in such a context that it is designed to mislead; it would, in effect, deceive the reader in joining in condemning Brother Russell, very evidently in order to denigrate Brother Russell in the reader’s mind so as to discourage the reader from looking for the truth, similar to the same kind of false accusations heralded against Jesus.
Let us look at the quote in context:
The word “Baal” means “Lord.” The clergy have set themselves as lords over God’s heritage (1 Pet. 5:3), the Church. By perversion of the plain meaning of literal Bible statements, they have set up in the place of God the deity of the Devil. This God of Romanism and Protestantism is not one, but three; he inflicts tortures eternal; his favor can be bought for money; he dwells in earthly buildings (Acts 7:48), which are consecrated to him; he teaches the direct opposite of the Word of God- that the dead are alive; he favors spiritual adultery- the union of the church with the governments of this world; he fosters lordship of the clergy class. The clergy’s God is plainly not Jehovah, but the ancient deity, hoary with the iniquities of ages- Baal- the Devil himself.
Note that what is stated is that “the clergy’s God is plainly not Jehovah”, not that the Christian’s God is not Jehovah. Although Russell would probably never had stated the matter in such terms, the authors of the book were not stating that the Christian’s God is not Jehovah, but rather that the clergy’s God is not Jehovah. The spirit that prevaled in the book “The Finished Mystery”, however, was more judgmental than what Russell himself ever stated concerning the clergy.
Now let us present some true statements made by Charles Taze Russell concerning the Christian God:
The arm of God means, symbolically, Divine power. He revealed this arm in the arrangement which He made for the payment of our death penalty, in the sending of His Son, the Man Christ Jesus, who, “by the grace of God, tasted death for every man.” As a perfect man had sinned, God provided a perfect man to be the Redeemer, “that as by man came death by a Man also should come the resurrection of the dead; for us all in Adam die, even so shall all in Christ be made alive, every man in his own order.” (1 Cor. 15:22) Do you now catch a glimpse of the mercy, the compassion, the love of the Christian God to us, who appeals to the heart as being different from any other god of whom you have ever had knowledge! Think of a God, infinite in power, as being careful of His fallen creatures, and providing, even at self-sacrifice, for their recovery!
The God of the Bible, the true God of Christianity, is all-loving, all-kind, ever-merciful and tells us so. It is a great fallacy which declares that He has damned humanity to a hell of torture at the hands of fireproof demons. On the contrary, the Bible declares that the wage or penalty of sin is death and that this is the explanation of the general prevalence of human weakness and frailty, mental, moral and physical death. In our text St. Paul tells us that the whole creation all mankind are groaning and travailing in pain now because of sin and its death penalty. This has been in progress for 6,000 years. It comes not through divine persecution of His creatures, but by natural laws of heredity passing on the weakness, mental, moral and physical, from parent to child, from generation to generation, by a law of nature. God has simply permitted this law to take its course in disobedient man.
Surely all will admit with me that no god of any people has ever manifested such a love and interest in his creatures as has the God of the Bible the God of Christianity. It is the Love of God which constrains us draws us. And His exceeding great and precious promises work in our hearts, “both to will and to do His good pleasure.” And this is the test His wisdom has provided. Although Messiah will use coercion to some extent during His reign of a thousand years, yet the Heavenly Father will not use coercion in respect to any of these sons whom He is now inviting. He seeketh such to worship Him as worship Him in spirit and in truth such as need no coercion–such as delight to know and to do the will of the Father in Heaven such as in these respects are copies of His Son, the Redeemer.
— From: Peoples Pulpit, “The Whole Creation Groaneth and Travaileth in Pain Together Until Now”, January 25, 1912, as reproduced in Harvest Gleanings, Volume 3, pages 526,527
The religion of Christ, of which we are not ashamed, is best in this that it is the most God-like religion, because of its breadth, because of its justice, because of its impartiality, because of its love, its goodness and merciful qualities; it shows forth as does no other religion the Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power of Jehovah, our God. To Him be glory and honor and dominion forever.
— “The Gospel of Christ”, Sermon by Pastor Russell on Board S. S. Shinyo Maru (by request of Captain Smith), Sunday, December 24, 1911, as reprinted in Convention Sermon Reports, page 194.
“JEHOVAH OUR GOD IS ONE–JEHOVAH”
If this statement was true at the time of its utterance, it is still true; if its importance put it at the very top of the list of injunctions, it should still be regarded as the most important amongst the doctrines or teachings of the Lord’s Word. Yet what do we see? We see as respects Fleshly Israel that they soon forgot the words of Moses, and time and again they were punished on the score of idolatry — for recognizing other gods, for forgetting the declaration that there is but the one, and his name Jehovah. Quite similarly we find amongst Christian people a tendency to forget this great integral truth that there is but one God and his name Jehovah. Our Roman Catholic friends make many gods: the Father, the Son, the holy Spirit, Saint Mary, all the apostles and saints, are gods of higher or lower dignity, with various degrees of reverence, and objects of adoration and prayer. And even Protestants, while rejecting many of the lesser gods of Romanism, yet, contrary to this Scripture and every other Scripture and without any reason, persistently declare that we have three Gods in one; nevertheless they reject this statement also and reverse it, saying, that there is one God in three persons! If we attempt to question them and to ask a reason for their hopes and beliefs on this subject they are silent, except to say that it is a great mystery, which neither they nor any one else can understand — how there could be three Gods in one person or one God in three persons. No reasonable mind could grasp this; it would be a mystery indeed. But why should we make a mystery out of the plain, simple statement of God’s Word? Why not accept the inspired statement of Moses that there is but one God, and that he has not three names but one name, Jehovah.
From “The Dying Message of a Great Man”, The Watch Tower, September 1, 1907, page 263 (Reprints page 4051).
No, Brother Russell never claimed that the Christian God was not Jehovah, for he most certainly did so believe that the Christian’s God is Jehovah.