Looking at the Facts – Jehovah’s Witnesses and Charles Taze Russell
A blogger has presented a post entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, under the category “Charles Taze Russell”. Much of the post has to do with Charles Taze Russell, however, and no distinction is being made between the Russell’s conclusions and the dogmatism of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ leadership. Much of what is being stated is in error, or is misleading, so we have decided to address most of what has been posted. No doubt, the poster does believe that what he/she has posted to be without error, and probably received much of the information from unreliable sources.
The “Church” of The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
The claim is that the Jehovah’s Witnesses church was known soley as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society until 1931. Actually, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in the days of Charles Taze Russell was not “a church”.
Russell’s view of the church was that members of the true church could be found amongst all denominations. Russell was a non-sectarian who did not believe the true church to be any such legal entity, not even the WTS. Those associated with Russell, however, generally called themselves “Bible Students”, not the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. After Russell died, Rutherford, by means of deceit and legal trickery, gained control of the legal entity and used it to begin creating a religious organization, which organization he dubbed “Jehovah’s organization.” By 1928, the Bible Students in general, represented by the vast majority, had rejected Rutherford’s “Jehovah’s organization” dogma.
See also the links provided at:
Focus on Charles Taze Russell – Church Organization
It is being alleged the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society began in 1876; this date is incorrect, since the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society did not actually begin until 1881, and then, not as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, but as “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society”; it was renamed in 1896 as “The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society)
It is claimed that Russell had some “unorthodox ideas” about the Bible. This is true, if by “orthodox” one simply accounts man’s self-proclaimed “orthodoxy” to be “orthodox”. I is claimed that Russell “read things into” the Bible which are not typically read into the Bible. Actually, Russell, by showing what the Bible says and what it does not say as related to much of man’s self-proclaimed orthodoxy, did indeed come to the conclusion that many of the doctrines of men were in conflict with the Bible. Russell demosntrated from the Bible itself how many of doctrines have to be added to, and read into, the Bible, and, if they were true, would actually negate the basis of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus as revealed in the Bible.
Did Russell Write the New World Translation?
It is being claimed that although Russell was “very amateur in Greek and Hebrew”, that he wrote the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Actually, Russell did NOT write the JWs’ New World Translation of the Bible, nor any other translation of the Bible. Russell was never a member of the JW organization, and he was not alive when the JWs produced that translation. Russell generally used various translations already available.
It is further claimed that Russell claimed to have written by New World Translation through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is evidently confusing the claims of Joesph Smith (of the Mormons) with Russell. Russell, of course, never wrote the New World Translation at all, and he never claimed to have written anything as being “inspired” by the Holy Spirit.
Russell disclaimed that his writings were inspired, or that his conclusions were infallible. Russell never taught anyone to NOT question his conclusions. Indeed, not all the Bible Students associated with Russell agreed with all of his conclusions, and this is still true to this day. Indeed, despite the claims of some, I have not met one Bible Student who agrees 100% with all that Russell presented.
Additionally, although Russell himself was never trained in Hebrew or Greek, Russell was assisted by Paul S. L. Johnson, who had been thoroughly trained in both Biblical languages.
Did Russell Claim That His Writings Were “Inspired” by the Holy Spirit?
It is claimed that New World Translation is not the only “inspired” writings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses; it is stated: “In 1879, the first of these was ‘The Watchtower: Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom’. This is incorrect on two counts. The magazine that Russell created in 1879 was entitled “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence”, not “The Watchtower: Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom”. Russell disclaimed that his writings were “inspiried”. Russell stated:
“Neither must you lean upon the DAWN and the TOWER as infallible teachers. If it was proper for the early Christians to prove what they received from the apostles, who were and who claimed to be inspired, how much more important it is that you fully satisfy yourself that these teachings keep closely within their outline instructions and those of our Lord; — since their author claims no inspiration.” (Watch Tower, June, 1893)
Russell and Armageddon
One should first note that Russell did not believe in the Armageddon that is taught by the JWs. Indeed, he preached against such an Armageddon. His view of Armageddon was that it was to be a period of time in which the peoples of the nations are chastised (not eternally destroyed, as the JWs preach) in preparation for their being blessed by Jesus. Thus, in his expectations, from 1904 to 1908, that the time of trouble was to begin in 1914, Russell was not expecting the all of a sudden Satan’s kingdom would be destroyed and that all unbelievers would be eternally destroyed. He was expecting that the time of trouble would begin and that it would end some time after 1914. History shows that the world did indeed come into a time of trouble in 1914, and that we have been that time of trouble ever since.
Russell and “Jehovah”
It is claimed that the JWs teach that if you do not call God “Jehovah” that you are not actually praying to God, but are committing idolatry.
Jehovah is One Person
The statement is made that the JWs believe that Jehovah is One Person, and the JWs believe that Jesus is Michael. Russell would agree that Jehovah is one person, since that is what we find in the Bible. Jesus revealed that his God and Father is “the only true God.” (John 17:1,3) Russell found and demonstrated that from beginning to end in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is always presented as being one person or individual, and never as being more than one person or individual. It is only by calling upon the spirit of human imagination so as to formulate a lot of assumptions beyond what is actually written, and then reading those assumptions into the scriptures, that one can “see” trinity in any scripture presented.
It is claimed that the JWs teach that although Jesus suffered for sins, good works are also necessary to merit salvation. Russell taught that salvation from sin and death in Adam is only through the atonement, the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Russell did not teach any one will be saved in any other way. Nevertheless, forms of the terms “save” and “salvation” in the Bible are not always referring to being saved from sin and death in Adam.
God’s Holy Spirit
Brother Russell did not believe in a “literal hell” of literal fire and literal brimstone, if that is what is meant by “literal hell”. One could say, however, that Brother Russell did believe in the “literal hell” as described in Ecclesiastes 9:10. Russell, however, realized the differences between hades – sheol, Gehenna, and tartaroo. We have expounded more on this on our site: Life Now and Hereafter
The statement is made concerning the Jehovah’s Witnesses that they believe that the blood of no one else should enter your body. While this is a belief of the JWs, this belief did nor originate from Charles Taze Russell. See our study, “Blood Transfustions and the Bible“, where we have presented Russell’s views and our views regarding eating blood and blood transfusions.
Birthdays and Holidays
It is stated that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays and holidays. Brother Russell never assumed any authority to tell anyone whether they should or should not celebrate birthdays and holidays. Our thoughts on holidays and idolatry may be at present found on Focus on Idolatry Subdomain. However, God willing, that domain is soon to be dismantled and all posts will be transferred to the Christian Living Subdomain.
Brother Russell never presented the thought that any sign of patriotism itself was to be considered idolatry, although we are sure that he would have agreed that patriotism can become idolatry if taken to extremes.
From the standpoint of Brother Russell, since he never gave any prophecies, he never had any failed prophecies. Russell presented his conclusions and expectations as related to many Bible prophecies, but he disclaimed that his conclusions and expectations should be considered as “prophecies”.
End of the World in 1914
It was stated that the Jehovah’s Witnesses had predicted the end of the world for 1914. Since there was no Jehovah’s Witnesses organization before 1914, that organization could not have predicted anything. Were the Bible Students expecting the end of the world for 1914? Russell himself directly stated that he was not expecting the end of the world for 1914. From 1914 forward, Russell had been expecting that the time of trouble — not the end of the world — was begin in 1914. Russell, however, did not state his expectations as though he were the “authority” for an organization, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization.
End of the Word in 1916
In saying that the Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed that the end of the world was to come in 1916, since there was actually no Jehovah’s Witnesses organization before 1916, the thought is indirectly implied that Russell was expecting the end of the world in 1916. In looking through Russell’s writings and the writings of other Bible Students before 1916, we have not found where either Russell or anyone else was expecting anything at all for 1916.
End of the World in 1918
Again, by stating the Jehovah’s Witnesses were expecting the end of the world in 1918, the thought is implied that Russell claimed that the end of the world was to come in 1918. Actually, although Brother Russell once suggested that the end of harvest could end in 1918, we have not found any place where he ever said that he was expecting “the end of the world” in 1918. Some may surmise such a thought from the book, The Finished Mystery, but that book was not written by Brother Russell.
End of the World in 1920
It was stated that the Jehovah’s Witnesses had predicted the end of the world for 1920. Between 1916, when Russell died, and 1920, Rutherford had already begun to create his “organization”, although it had no yet taken the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. As best as we are able to determine, the date 1920 was first introduced in 1905, when Brother Russell presented some parallels of Brother E. G. Lee, which indicated that the time of trouble was to last from 1914 to 1920, and also the parallels of John Edgar, which indicated that time of trouble would last from 1914 to 1915. Russell, however, had stated that time prophecies only bring us to the year 1914, and he did have any indication from any time prophecies as to how long he time of trouble was to last beyond 1914. One could surmise that Brother Lee’s parallels would mean that Satan’s kingdom would be fully gone in 1920, although such was never stated; Russell himself, however, maintained that “following that trouble would come the reign of righteousness, blessings, increase of knowledge, God’s favor among men, and the living nations would all be more or less brought to a knowledge of the Lord. How long that would require I do not know.” (1911, What Pastor Russell Said, Q589:3.
End of the World in 1925
1925 is another date that some Bible Students, long before 1914 had presented with various expectations. Although Rutherord, after Russell died, made much ado about 1925, Russell, before he died, had stated that he held no expectations at all concerning that date.
Russell held no expectations for 1941, 1975, 1984, 1994, nor for the year 2000.
The author then begins to present a lot of standard assumptions that he has evidently borrowed from others that have to be added to scriptures presented in an effort to defend the trinity and other doctrines. We will simply, for the most part, offer links to where we have discussed these assumptions elsewhere:
The Holy Name = commonly given in English as: Yahweh, Jehovah, Ehyeh
ELOHIM does not mean three parts all of whom are equal to the whole, as claimed for the trinity dogma. If ELOHIM means more than one person in one God, and one also believes that Jesus is called ELOHIM in Psalm 45:6, then, to be consistent, one would have to believe that Jesus is more than one person. Genesis 1:2, however, by using the phrase “spirit of God [ELOHIM]”, demonstrates conclusively that ELOHIM does not mean three persons.
The “worse punishment” of Hebrews 10:29 is that of being without any further redemption (Hebrews 10:26) for those who have been sanctified in the blood of Jesus, and then who willfully trample upon Jesus. This punishment is worse than that of the punishment of those of Old Testament times (Hebrews 10:28) because the curse (condemnation) under the Law is coverd by the blood of Jesus. — Galatians 3:13.
Jesus gave the parody of the Rich Man and Lazarus in connection with the thought that the Law and the Prophets were until John the Baptist. — Luke 16:16.
The presentation of Jesus’ humanity to his God was not completed until after his ascension. (Hebrews 8:4,5; 9:14,24-28) If Jesus is still a human being, then either Jesus did not complete his sacrificial offering for sin (Ephesians 5:2), or else he took back that offering for sin; either way, we would be left without a redeemer. — Luke 22:19; John 6:51; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 11:24; 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; Hebrews 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18.
Regarding the other various points raised, see the respective subdomains and pages linked to at: