JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AND THE WATCH TOWER,

by Walter R. Martin

 

Part 1

 

 THE WATCH TOWER - A BRIEF HISTORY

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses

 

 

Charles Taze Russell: the Founder

 

Charles Taze Russell

Charles Taze Russell was the found­er Of what is now Jehovah’s Witnesses and the energetic administrator that brought about its far-flung organiza­tion. The name Jehovah's Witnesses, incidentally, was taken at Columbus, Ohio, in 1931, to differentiate between the Watch Towr and the true followers of Russell as represented by The Dawn Bible Students. (1)

 

C. T. Russell was born on February 16, 1852, the son of Joseph L. and Anna Eliza Russell, and spent most of his early years in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where at the age of 25 he was known, to be manager of several men's furnish­ings stores.

 

At an early age he rejected, the doctrine of eternal torment, prob­ably because of the severe indoctrination j he had received as a Congregationalist"1 and as a result of this act entered upon': a. ,long and varied career of denuncia­tion aimed at "Organized Religions."

 

đ     InT870, at the age of 18, Russell or­ganized a Bible class in Pittsburgh which in 1876 elected him "Pastor" of the group. From 1876 to 1878 the I "Pastor" was assistant editor of a small Rochester, New York, monthly maga­zine, but resigned when a controversy arose over Russell's counter arguments on "the atonement" of Christ.

 

Their Publications surpassed Russell’s Dreams

 

Shortly after leaving his position, Russell founded "Zion's Watch Tower" ( 1879) which is known today as 'The Watch Tower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom." From 6,000 in 1879 to the staggering figure of nearly 244,000,OOQ 1n 1975 (in 78 different languages),(2) this magazine has grown until it has surpassed even Russell’s fondest dreams.

 

Il sole alato

In the year 1884 "Pastor" Russell incorporated "Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society" at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which in 1886 pub­lished the first in a series (3) of seven books (Russell wrote six) entitled, Studies in the Scriptures. The sixth volume was published in 1904 and the seventh in 1917 after his death.

 

The seventh volume, The Finished Mystery, caused a split in the organization, which culminated in a clean division, the larger group following J. F. Rutherford, the smaller remaining by itself. This group subsequently be­came "The Dawn Bible Students Association." Meanwhile, under Ru­therford's leadership, the" Society" became known by its present name" Je­hovah's Witnesses."

By July, 1963, The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society founded (1896), which is the focal point of the organiza­tion, had known branches in more than 92 lands, and missionary works and Kingdom preaching in over 214.

 

Transferred to Brooklyn

 

In the year 1908 the headquarters of the movement were transferred to Brooklyn, New York, where property was purchased (17 Hicks Street) and became known as "The Brooklyn Tab­ernacle." Large tracts of property wee purchased by the Society on Columbia Heights, as it grew and prospered, until today whole blocks are i their possession. Among the other things the Society owns are: a large up-tel-date printing plant which has produced billions of pieces of literature Since its inauguration in 1928 and expansions in 1949 and 1957, a modern apartment building and office quarters; three "Kingdom Farms," which supply food, wood for furniture, etc.; a Bible school, "Gilead" (4);  and many more enterprises of like character. All employees in the factory are allowed a nominal sum, receive room and board, and work for nothing – no salaries are paid.

 

Russell’s Life

 

Russell continued his teachings until his death on October 31, 1916, aboard a transcontinental train in Texas. The erstwhile pastor had a remarkable life highly colored with legal entangle­ments, but not without success in his chosen field.

đ     In fairness to the reader and in the interest of truth, the following account is quoted from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 1, 1916 (Obit. Column), and has been inserted at this point to authenticate beyond doubt the true history of Russell

đ     so that even his most devoted followers may realize the character of the man to whose teachings they have entrusted their eternal destiny.

 

A year after this publication,. The Watch Tower, had been established Russell married Maria Ackley In Pittsburgh. She had become interested m him through his teachings, and she helped him in running the Watch Tower.

Two years later, in 1881, came . The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the agency through which in later years "Pastor" Russell's sermons were pub­lished (as advertisements). In newspapers throughout the world. This Society pro­gressed amazingly under the joint ad­ministration of husband and wife, but in 1897 Mrs. Russell left her husband. Six years later, in 1903, she sued for separation. The decree was secured in 1906 following sensational testimony and "Pastor" Russell was scored by the courts.

There was much litigation then that was quite undesirable from the "Pastor's" point of view regarding alimony for his wife but it was settled m 1909 by the payment of $6,036 to Mrs. Russell.

 

č The litigation revealed that "Pastor Russell’s activities in the religious field were car­ried on through several subsidiary societies and that all of the wealth which flowed into him through these societies was under the control of a holding company in which the "Pastor held $990 of the $ 1,000 capital and two of his followers the other $10.  

 

Thus Russell apparently controlled the entire financial power of the Society and was not accountable to anyone.

 

The Eagle column goes on to say:

 

After the "work" had been well started here, "Pastor" Russell's Watch Tower publication advertised wheat seed for sale at $1.00 a pound.

It was styled  “Miracle Wheat" and it was asserted that it would grow five times as much as any other brand of wheat. There were other claims made for the wheat seed, and the followers were advised to purchase it, the proceeds to go to the Watch Tower and be used in publishing the Pastor’s sermons. The Eagle first made public the facts about this new venture of the Russellites and it published a cartoon picturing the "Pastor" and his "Miracle Wheat" in such a way that "Pastor" Russell brought suit  for libel, asking $100,000 damages.

đ     Gov­ernment departments investigated the wheat for which $1.00 a pound was asked, and agents of the Government were important witnesses at the trial of the libel suit in January, 1913.

đ     The "Miracle Wheat" was low in the Government tests, they said. The Eagle won the suit.

 

A Religious Cult to Make Money

 

Prior to entering court the Eagle had said,

The Eagle goes even further and de­clares that at the trial it will show that "Pastor" Russell's religious cult is nothing more than a money-making scheme.

 

The court's decision vindicated the Eagle's statement and proved its reliability.

All during this time the "Pastor's" sermons were being printed in newspapers throughout the world, notably when he made a tour of the world in 1912 and caused accounts to be published in his advertised sermons telling of enthusiastic greetings at the various places he visited. It was shown in many cases that the sermons” were never delivered in the places that were claimed.

For the benefit of any naive Jehovah's Witness who may think that the "Miracle Wheat" fraud (5) is an invention of the "jealous religionists" who are trying to defame the "Pastor's" mem­ory, we document the scandal, trial, and verdict as follows:

 

Several scandals and trials against Russell

 

From The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, ob­tainable at the Montague Street branch of the Brooklyn Public Library-

(1) January 1, 1913, pages 1,2. Mir­acle Wheat Scandal

(2) January 22, 1913, page 2. Testi­mony of Russellite beliefs.

(3) January 23, 24, 1913, page 3. Testimony on wheat.

(4) January 25, 1913, page J6. Fi­nancial statements proving Russell's absolute control, made by Secretary-Treasurer Van Amberg.

(5) Van Amberg's statement: " ... We are not responsible to anyone for our expenditures. We are responsible only to God."

(6) January 27, 1913, page 3. Gov­ernment experts testify on "Mir­acle Wheat" and ascertain beyond doubt that it is not miraculous or overly excellent.

(7) January 28, 1913, page 2. Prose­cution and Defense sum-up. Russell assailed, but not present to hear it.

(8) January 29, 1913, page 16, Rus­sell loses libel suit."

   

 The Brooklyn Eagle led the fight to expose the hypocrisy of "Pastor" Russell and nothing could be more appropriate than their on-the-spot testimony as to his many fraudulent claims.(6)

 

č The following documentary evidence is taken from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, page 18,  February 19, 1912, and is  titled "Pastor Russell's Imaginary Sermons - Printed Reports of Ad­dresses in Foreign Lands that He Never Made -One at Hawaii, a Sample." These excerpts concern the Pastor's "World Tour" and arc very enlightening with respect to his reliability and truthfulness

"Pastor" Russell, who has found the atmosphere of Brooklyn uncongenial ever since the Eagle published the facts concerning his methods and morals, is' making some new records in the far parts of the world. He is delivering sermons to imaginary audiences on tropical islands and completing "searching investigations" into the missions of China and Japan by spending a few hours in each country.

 

The idea of the World Tour

 

Following the Eagle's exposing "Pastor" Russell's "Miracle Wheat" enterprise and the publication of the testimony on the basis of which Mrs. Russell ob­tained a separation and alimony, the "Pastor" developed the "world tour" idea. He set his printing plant to work to get out advance literature, huge bundles of which were sent to every place where he intended to appear. Then he contracted for advertising space in many American newspapers to print his imaginary sermons.

 

Fantasy and Reality

 

His first stop after sailing from the Pacific Coast was Honolulu. And Presto! - the newspapers in which advertising space had been engaged printed long cable dispatches which presented the "Pastor's" discourses. In one paper which printed the advertisement the opening sentences read "Honolulu Ha­waiian Islands:

"The International Bible Students Committee of Foreign Mission investi­gation stopped at Honolulu and made observations. Pastor Russell, Chairman of the Committee, delivered a public address. He had a large audience and attentive hearing."

 

Then follows the sermon, full of local color and allusions to the “Paradise of the Pacific":

"1 can now well understand [the print­ed report makes the 'Pastor' say] why your beautiful island is 'The Paradise of the Pacific.' 1 note your wonderful climate and everything which contributes to bring about this Paradise likeness."

And so on for two columns.

 

It has long been known that "Pastor" Russell has  a strong imagination, but now it appears that he is even capable of delivering imaginary sermons.

č Pastor Russell never spoke in Honolulu during the few hours that his ship stopped there to take  on coal.

č In the hope of securing an accurate report of his sermon, the Eagle wrote to the editor of the Hawaiian Star, which is published in Honlulu. The following reply was shortly thereafter received :

"In answer to your inquiry of Decem­ber 19th concerning Pastor Russell, I would say that he was here for a few hours with a Bible students' committee of foreign mission investigation, but did not make a public address as was anticipated." Walter G. Smith, Editor, Star.

 

(On page 18 of the same edition of the Eagle, February 19, 1912, photographically reproduced evidence of the "imaginary sermon" and Editor Smith's letter branding it a lie can be found by the interested reader and leave no doubt as to "Pastor" Russell's character.)

 

Tour of Orient branded huge advertising scheme.

 

As to the "Pastor's" methods of carrying Russellism to the heathen and the speed with which his searching investigations into the missions of the world are being conducted, the Japan. Weekly Chronicle of January II supplies some interesting information. After explaining how the office of the paper had for weeks been bombarded with Russell literature and advance agents with contracts "just as if the reverend gentleman were an un-regenerated theatrical company" the Chronicle says:

 

"These gentlemen arrived in Japan on Saturday the 30th December. On the following day 'Pastor' Russell delivered a sermon in Tokyo entitled 'Where are the Dead?' which, though the title is a little ambiguous, does not seem to have any special connection with the mission work.

č On Monday it is assumed that the mission work in Japan was begun and finished. for the next day seems to have been devoted to traveling, and on Wed­nesday 'Pastor' Russell and his co­adjutors left Kobe for China in the same vessel in which they had arrived in Yokohama . . . the truth is that the whole expedition is merely a huge advertising scheme!"

 

(See The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 11, 1913.)  

 

Russell carried on many such ad­vertising stunts, and despite his protestations about earthly governments and laws being organizations of the devil, he was always the first to claim their protection when it was convenient for him to do so.

To mention one instance in addition to the Eagle suit, Russell brought suit for "defamatory libel" against the Reverend J. J. Ross, pastor of the James Street Baptist Church of Ham­ilton, Ontario, when the fearless minister wrote a blistering pamphlet denouncing Russell's theology and personal life.

č Russell lost this attempt (see The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan­uary 11, 1913) with J. F. Rutherford as his attorney.

č For the benefit of the interested reader, at this time we recount the facts concerning the libel suit as it actually occurred.

Denunciation of Rev. J. J.  Ross:

“That doctrine is a perversion of the Gospel!!

 

In June, J 912, the Reverend J. J. Ross, Pastor of the James Street Baptist Church, Hamilton, Ontario, published a pamphlet entitled, "Some facts about the Self-Styled 'Pastor' Charles T. Russell which minced no words in its denunciation of Russell, his qualifications as a minister, or his moral example as a "Pastor."

 

č Russell promptly sued Ross for "defamatory libel" In an effort to silence the courageous min­ister before the pamphlet could gain wide circulation and expose his true' character and the errors of his theology.

č Mr. Ross, however, was unim­pressed by Russell's action and eagerly seized upon the opportunity as a means of exposing Russell for the fraud, he was. In his pamphlet, Ross assailed Russell's teachings as revealed in "Studies in the Scriptures" as "the destructive doctrines of one man who is neither a scholar nor a theologian" (page 7).

č Mr. Ross scathingly denounced Russell's whole system as "anti-rational anti-scientific anti-Biblical, anti-Christian, and a 'deplorable perversion of the gospel of God's Dear "Son" (page 7).

 

Russell is not a Theologian, nor a Philosopher…

He has no knowledge of the “dead languages “…

 

Continuing his charges in the pamphlet, Ross exposed Russell as a pseudo-scholar and philosopher who "never attended the higher schools of learn   ing; knows comparatively nothing of philosophy, systematic or historical the­ology, and is totally ignorant of the dead languages" (pages 3,4).

č It must be clearly understood at this point by the reader that in a libel suit of the type pursued by Russell, the plaintiff (Russell) had to prove that the charges lodged against him by the defendant (Ross) were not true.

č It is significant to 'note that Russell lost his suit against Ross when the High Court of Ontario, in session March, 1913, ruled that there were no grounds for libel; and "the case was thrown out of Court by the evidence furnished by 'Pastor' Russell himself" (page 15).7. (7)

 

"Pastor" Russell refused to give any evidence to substantiate his "case" and the only evidence offered was Russell's own statements, made under oath and during cross examination by Ross's law­yer, Counselor Staunton.

 

č By denying Ross's charges,  Russell automatically claimed  high scholastic ascendancy, recognized theological training (systematic and historical), working knowledge of the dead languages (Greek, Hebrew, etc.), and valid ordination by a recognized body (page 18) (8)

 

č To each part of Mr. Ross's pamphlet (and all was read) Russell entered vigorous denials, with the exception of the "Mir­acle Wheat Scandal" which he affirmed as having "a grain of truth in a sense" to it (page 17). (9)

 

č "Pastor" Russell had at last made a serious mistake. He had testified under oath before Almighty God, and had sworn to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.': He was soon to regret his testimony and stand in jeopardy as a perjurer, an unpleasant experience" for the "Pastor" which more than explains his aversion to tile witness chair.

 

Evidence of Russell’s dishonesty

 

In order to clarify the evidence as irrefutable, I refer any curious doubt­ers to the files of the High Court of Ontario - Russell vs. Ross - "defamatory libel, "March 17, 1913.

č Jehovah's Witnesses cannot deny this documen­tary evidence; it is too well substantiated. This is no "religionist scheme" to "smear" the "Pastor's" memory; I offer it as open proof of their founder's inherent dishonesty and lack of morals, that they may see the type of man to whose doctrines they have committed their eternal souls.

 

The following reference quotations are taken in part from Mr. Ross's second pamphlet entitled Some Facts and More Facts About the Self-Styled Pastor - Charles T. Russell:

 

But now what are the facts as they were brought out by the examination on March 17, 1913? As to his scholastic standing he (Russell) had sworn that what was said about it was not true. Un­der the examination, he admitted that at most he had attended school only seven years of his life at the public school, and that he had left school when he was about fourteen years of age ...

 

Perjury…He didn’t know the Greek Alphabet

 

The cross examination of Russell continued' for five hours. Here is a sample of how the "Pastor" answered.  

đ     The following reproduction of the Russell vs. Ross transcript relative to the perjury charge made against Russell is taken from a copy on file in the headquarters of the cult in Brooklyn and is presented in the interests of thorough investigation.

 

Question: (Attorney Staunton) ­ "Do you know the Greek alphabet?"

Answer: (Russell) - "Oh yes." Question: (Staunton) - "Can you tell me the correct letters if you see them?"

Answer: (Russell)-"Some of them, I might make a mistake on some of them."

Question: (Staunton)-"Would you tell me the names of those on top of the page, page 447 I have got here?"

Answer: (Russell) - "Well, ] don't know that I would be able to."

Question: (Staunton) - "You can't tell what those letters are, look at them and see if you know?"

Answer: (Russell)-"My way ... " [he was interrupted at this point and not allowed to explain]

Question: (Staunton) - "Are you familiar with the Greek language?"

Answer: (Russell) - "No."

 

č It should be noted from this record of the testimony that Russell frequently contradicted himself, claiming first to "know" the Greek alphabet, then claiming under pressure that he might make mistakes in identifying the letters, and then finally admitting that he couldn't read the alphabet at all when confronted with a copy of it.

 

From this it is easy to see that Russell did not "know" the Greek alphabet in any proper sense of the term, since it is assumed that when we say we "know" the English alphabet, for example, we shall be able upon request to name the letters by their correct titles.

č "Pastor" Russell in failing to name the letters of the Greek alphabet, there­fore, proved himself a perjurer, for he had previously stated that he "knew" them, thereby implying the ability to recite them, which he could not do.

č It makes very little difference, therefore, whether the Watch Tower wants to admit Russell's guilt or not since their own transcript shows that Russell said he "knew" what was later proved he did not know.

č Here is conclusive evidence; the "Pastor'; under oath perjured himself beyond question. Can one sincerely trust the teachings of a man who thought nothing of such evidence?

 

…But he knew nothing about Latin, Hebrew, Philosophy, Theology ….

 

This, however, was not all of Rus­sell's testimony, and as Counselor Staunton pressed him further the "Pastor" admitted that he knew nothing about Latin and Hebrew, and that he had never taken a course in philosophy 'or systematic theology much less attended schools of higher learning.

č Bear in mind now that Russell a short time before had sworn he did have such knowledge by denying Mr. Ross's allegations.

č But there was no way out now; the "Pastor" was caught in a bold-faced fabrication and he knew it. However, all was not over yet.

 

What about his “ordination”?....

 

It will be remembered that Russell claimed "ordination" and equal if riot superior status to ordained and accredited ministers. Counselor Staunton next smashed this illusion by demanding that Russell answer "Yes" or "No" to the following questions:

 

Question: (Ross' lawyer) - "Is it true you were never ordained?"

Answer: (Russell)-"It is not true."

 

It was necessary at this point for Counselor Staunton to appeal to the magistrate in order to make Russell answer the question directly. The mag­istrate presiding ruled that Russell must answer the questions put to him. Here is the result of the cross-examination.

Question: (Counselor Staunton) ­"Now, you never were ordained by a bishop, clergyman, presbytery, council, or any body of men living?"

Answer: (Russell, after a long pause) - "I never was."

 

.... and about his moral life?

 

Once again Russell's "unswerving" honesty received a rude blow; the situ­ation was out of his hands and Russell stood helpless as Counselor Staunton wrung statement after statement from him which established him beyond doubt as a premeditated perjurer.

đ     Russell further swore that his wife had not divorced him, and that the Court had not granted alimony from him, a statement he soon regretted when Counselor Staunton forced him to admit that the Court did divorce (10) him from his wife, and did award his wife alimony. The evidence was in; the case was clear;

đ     Russell was branded a perjurer by the Court's verdict "No Bill."

đ     As a result of the Court's action Mr. Ross's charges were proven true and the real character of Russell was revealed, that of a man who had no scruples about lying under oath and whose doctrines were admittedly' based on no sound educational knowledge of the subject in question.

Much evidence is available concerning Russell's moral life, but I see no reason to inject lewdness into the text. The character of the man is evident for all to see.

 

How did he “live” the Gospel?

 

The easily offended "Pastor" might have practiced what he preached for once and heeded Christ's injunction concerning the patient enduring of "reviling and persecution" (Matthew 5: 11, 12), but in Russell's case it is not at all applicable. However,

 

His real purpose: make money

 

Russell took every opportunity to make money, and legal clashes were frequent as a result. He maneuvered masterfully just one jump ahead of the law and had it not been for Rutherford, who was a clever lawyer, the "Pastor" might not have been so fortunate.

 

đ       Russell hid, whenever cornered, behind the veil of a martyr for religious toleration, and despite the denunciation of churches and ministers he somehow succeeded in escaping the effects of damaging publicity.

đ       The Christian Church fought him openly but without the unified effort needed to squelch his bold approach.

Some churches and pastors were united (see The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan­uary 2,1913, page 18) and called for Russell's silencing as a menace. The "Pastor" was also deported from Canada because he hindered mobilization (see The Daily Standard Union, November 1, 1916), and in the early stages of World War I he was a promi­nent conscientious objector as all of his followers (Jehovah's Witnesses) still are today.  

 

Who influenced  – Christian doctrines denied ….

 

As a speaker, Russell swayed many; as a theologian, he impressed no one competent; as a man, he failed before the true God. Russell traveled extensively, spoke incessantly, and campaigned with much energy for "a great awakening" among the people of the world.

In the course of his writings and lectures Russell denied many of the cardinal doctrines of the Bible

- the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the physical Resurrection and Return of Christ,

- eternal punishment, the reality of Hell, the eternal existence of the soul and the validity of the infinite Atonement, to state a few.

 

A radical ignorance

 

The honest fact is that Russell had no training or education to justify his interpretation of Scripture. By this it is not meant that great education is a necessary qualification for exegesis,

đ     but when a man contradicts practically every major doctrine of the Bible he ought to have the edu­cation needed to defend (if that is possible) his arguments.

đ     "Pastor" Russell did not have that knowledge, or even the qualifications for ordination by any recognized body.

đ     The title "Pastor" was assumed, not earned, and to document this fact we quote from the November 1, 1916, edition of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. "Although he styled himself a 'pastor' and was so addressed by thou­sands of followers all over the world,

he had never been ordained and had no ministerial standing in any other "religious sect than his own."

 

A selfish character

 

Psychologically, the man was an egotist whose imagination knew no bounds and who is classed (by his fol­lowers) along with St. Paul, Wycliffe and Luther as a great expounder of the Gospel. These are trite words for a man who proffered his writings as necessary for a clear understanding of the Scriptures and who once declared that it would be better to leave the Scriptures unread and read his books, rather than to read the Scriptures and neglect his books.

 

đ     For the benefit of those so naive as to believe that the "Pastor" did not make such a claim, we document the above assertion from The Watch Tower, September 15, 1910, page 298, where the "Pastor" makes the following statement concerning his "Studies in the Scriptures" and their "indispensable" value when examining the Bible.

 

His “Scripture Studies”:  their Bible and doctrine.

 

If the six volumes of "Scripture Studies" are practically the Bible, topically arranged with Bible proof texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes 'The Bible in an Arranged Form." That is to say,

 

č they are not mere comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself.

č Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see. also, that if anyone lays the "Scrip­ture Studies" aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years - if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years,

č our experience shows that within two years he goes info darkness. On the other hand. if he had merely read the "Scripture Studies" with their references and had not read a page of the Bible as such, he would be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures. (11)

 

Nowhere was Russell's egotism or boldness better revealed than in that statement. Think of it –

đ     according to the "Pastor" it is impossible to understand God's plan of salvation independent of Russellite theology, and to relegate one's study to the Bible alone void of Russell's interpretations is to walk in darkness at the end of two years.

đ     But there is a ray of hope for all those foolish enough to study God's Word alone. If all will adopt Russellism as a guide in Biblical interpreta­tion, ,mankind will enter into a "new" kingdom Age; for then, in virtue of the "Pastor's" expositions, true understanding of the Bible's basic doctrines will have been arrived at.

To quote Mr. Ross: 'This inspiration has its origin in the pit" (page 42).

 

Jehovah's Witnesses pursue this same line of theological interpretation today. Russellism did not die with Charles Taze Russell; it lives under the new title "The Watch Tower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom."

č The "Pastor's" dream has survived its author and re­mains today a living challenge to all Christians everywhere.

Let us recog­nize it for what it is and unmask the unsound principles upon which it stands.,

 

Judge J. F. Rutherford: the new leader

attacks the doctrines of “organized religion”

 

Upon Russell's death the helm of leadership was manned by Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford, who acquitted himself nobly in the eyes of the Society by attacking the doctrines of "organized religion" with unparalleled vigor, and whose

đ     radio talks, phono­graph recordings, numerous books, and resounding blasts against Christendom reverberated down the annals of the organization until his death on January  8, 1942, from cancer, at his palatial mansion, "Beth Sarim," in San Diego, California. He was 72.

Rutherford's career was no less amazing than Russell's, for the Judge was an adversary of no mean proportions, whether in action against "organized religion" which he termed "rackets" or against those who questioned his decisions in the Society.

Throughout the years following Russell's death, Rutherford rose in power and popularity among the "Russellites" and to oppose him was tantamount to questioning the authority of Jehovah Himself.

đ     An example of this one-man sovereignty concerns the friction that occurred in the movement when Ruth­erford denounced Russell's pyramid prophecies scheme as an attempt to find' God's will outside the Scriptures ( 1929). Many followers of Russell's theory left the Society as a result of this action by Rutherford, only to be witheringly blasted by the vituperative Judge. who threatened that they would '"suffer destruction" if they did not repent and recognize Jehovah's will as expressed through the Society. (See The Kingdom, page 14, by J. F. Rutherford, 1933. )

 

Impudent and disdainful

 

Rutherford also approached at times the inflated egotism of his predecessor Russell, and especially when, in his textbook Why Serve Jehovah? (page 62)

đ     he declared in effect that he was the mouth-piece of Jehovah for this age and that God had designated His words as the expression of divine mandate.

đ     It is indeed profitable to observe that Rutherford, as do all would-be "incarnations of infallibility," manifested

unfathomable ignorance of God's express injunctions, especially against the preaching of "any other gospel" (Ga­latians 1:1',9).  

 

Fear of retaliation or rebuke was 'never characteristic of Judge Ruther­ford, and quite often he displayed complete contempt for all "religions" and their leaders. Lashing out against  the persecution of "The Witnesses" in 1933, the tireless Judge challenged the Pope or any qualified representative of the Roman Catholic Church to debate with him on the plight of "Jehovah's Witnesses" (Religious In­tolerance - Why?, page 41, by J. F. Rutherford). Needless to say, he was ignored.

 

đ     Rutherford also battled against the Federal Council of the· Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and even of­fered to pay half the time cost for a radio debate on the subject of perse­cution (Jehovah's Witnesses- Why Persecuted?, page 41).

đ     When ignored, Rutherford abated for a time. Few things, however, were allowed to dampen the Judge's vociferous thunderings and even a term in Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for violation of the "Espionage Act" in 1918, failed to silence the Judge's attacks.

 

Rutherford was released from Atlanta in March, 1919, and returned to the Witnesses fold a martyr-hero, a complex readily appropriated by all Witnesses upon the slightest pretext. Indeed they enjoy greatly playing the role of persecuted saints. One only regrets that some of our less prudent ad­ministrators have so obligingly accommodated them.

 

J. F. Rutherford’s personal character

 

The person of J. F. Rutherford, then, in the light of these facts, cannot be ignored in my true evaluation which seeks valid data concerning the Soci­ety's history. The great personal mag­netism and the air of mystery which surround the man account most probably for his success as a leader, for he was almost a legendary figure even during his lifetime. The Judge shunned photographs, although he was most photogenic and presented both an imposing and impressive figure when attired in his familiar wing collar, how tic and black suit. Reading glasses, which hung on a string across his honor's portly profile, accentuated the illusion of dignified importance, along with the title of Judge, which, contrary to popular opinion, he did hold from the days of his early legal career, when he was a special judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit' Court of Boonville, Missouri.

 

č Rutherford also possessed a deep, powerful voice which was capable of holding large audiences with its crescendo-like effect - but he seldom appeared in public and lived a closely guarded private life. Toward the end of his life, Rutherford's reign was not overly smooth, notably when the de­posed head of the Witnesses' legal staff, Mr. Olin Moyle, sued Rutherford and several members of the Watch Tower's Board of Directors in 1939 for libel and won his case, a judgment of $25,­000, in 1944, two years after Rutherford's demise.

 

His culture

 

In comparing Russell and Rutherford it must be noted that the former was a literary pygmy compared to his successor.

đ     Russell's writings (approxi­mation) were distributed, some fifteen or twenty million copies of them, over a period of sixty years, but Rutherford's in half that time were many times that amount.

 

đ     The prolific Judge wrote over one hundred books and pamphlets and his works as of 1941 had been translated into eighty languages. This, then, was the Society's second great champion, who, regard­less of his many failings, was truly an unusual man by any standards.

 

Russell and Rutherford are the two key figures in the Society's history, and without them no doubt the organization would never have come into existence. But conjecture never eliminated a prob­lem, and

č Jehovah's Witnesses are now a problem with which every intelligent Christian must cope.

 

Nathan H. Knorr, the next president

 

       The new president of the combined organization is Nathan H. Knorr, who was elected president after Rutherford's death. Mr. Knorr is responsible for the Gilead Missionary Training School in South Lansing, New York.

đ     Mr. Knorr is following diligently in the footsteps of Russell and Rutherford, and under his tutelage Christianity can expect much opposition in the future.

 

Complete disregard for historic facts

and existing literature

 

č One of the most distressing traits manifested in the literature and teach­ings of Jehovah's Witnesses is their seemingly complete disregard for historical facts and dependable literary consistency. At the same time, how­ever, they condemn all religious opponents as "enemies of God" (12) and perpetrators of' what they term "a racket." (I3)

 

They deny “Pastor” Russell – in words….

 

For some time now the author has been considerably disturbed by Jehovah's Witnesses' constant denial of any theological connection whatsoever with "Pastor" Charles T. Russell, their admitted founder and first president of The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.

đ     Since Russell was long ago proven to be a perjurer under oath, a sworn adversary of historic Christianity, and a scholastic fraud, it is obvious why the Witnesses seek to avoid his influence and memory whenever possible.

 

Be that as it may, however, some light should be thrown on the repeated self contradictions which are committed by the Witnesses, in their zeal to justify their position and the ever-wavering doctrines to which they hold. It is my contention that they are following the basic teachings of Charles T. Russell in relation to many Biblical doctrines which he denied, and from their own publication I shall document this accusation.

 

đ     In their eagerness to repudiate the charge of "Russellism," the Witnesses dogmatically say: " ... but who is preaching the teaching of Pastor Russell? Certainly not Jehovah's Witnesses! They cannot be accused of following him, for they neither quote him as an authority nor publish nor distribute his writings." (14)

đ     This is the statement of the Witnesses' magazine. Now let us compare this with history, and the truth will be plainly revealed.

“Pastor” Russell, quoted after his death

 

Historically, Jehovah's Witnesses have quoted "Pastor" Russell numerous times since his death in 1916. The following is a token sample of what we can produce as concrete evidence.

Ř      In 1923, seven years after the "Pastor's" demise, Judge J. F. Rutherford, then heir apparent to the Russellite throne, wrote a booklet some fifty-odd pages in length, entitled World Distress – Why and the  Remedy. In this in­formative treatise, the new president of The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and the International Bible Students quoted "Pastor" Russell no less than sixteen separate times; re­ferred to his books, Studies in the Scriptures over twelve times;

-          and devoted six pages at the end of the book­let to advertising these same volumes. Further than this, in a fifty-seven-page pamphlet published in 1925 and entitled Comfort for the People, by the same Rutherford, "his honor," in true Russellite character, defines clergymen as "dumb dogs (D. D.)," proceeds to quote "Pastor" Russell's prophetical chronology (1914 A.D.), (15) and then sums up his tirade against Christendom universal by recommending Russell's writings in four pages of advertisements at the rear of the book.

 

The dark specter of historical facts thus begins to creep across the previously happy picture of a "Russell­free" (16) movement. But let us further consult history.

 

In the year 1927, The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published Judge Rutherford's "great" literary effort entitled Creation, which was circulated into the millions of copies, and in which this statement appeared concerning "Pastor" Russell:

 

The second presence of Christ dates from about 1874.

From that time forward many of the truths long obscured by the enemy began to be restored to the honest Christian.

As William' Tyndale was used to bring the Bible to the attention of the people,

Ř      so the Lord used Charles T. Russell to bring to the attention of the people an understanding of the Bible particularly of those truths that had been taken away by the machinations of the devil and his agencies.

Ř      Because it was the Lord's due time to restore these truths, he used Charles T. Russell to write and publish books known as Studies in the Scriptures by which the great fundamental truths of the divine plan are clarified.

Ř      Satan has done his best to destroy these books because they explain the Scriptures. Even as Tyndale's Version of the Bible was destroyed by the clergy, so the clergy in various parts of the earth have gathered together thousands of volumes of Studies in the Scriptures and burned them publicly. But such wickedness has only served to advertise the truth of the divine plan.

 

Please consider, if you will, this statement by the then president of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization. Rutherford plainly quotes Russell and his writings as authoritative material,

č yet The Watch Tower today claims that Jehovah's Witnesses are free from the taint of "Russellism”!

Concluding this brief historical syn­opsis of the Watch Tower Society's past, we quote the grand finale of J. F. Rutherford's funeral oration over the prostrate remains of “dear brother Russell”  who, according to the floral sign by his casket, remained "faithful unto death." Said the Judge:

đ     "Our brother sleeps not in death, but was. instantly changed from the human to the divine nature, arid is now forever with the Lord."

This episode in Jehovah's Witnesses' history is cited for its uniqueness, to show the adoration in which Russell was once held, by the theological ancestors of those who deny his influence today.

 

Russell quoted after Judge Rutherford’s death

 

Leaving the past history of the Wit­nesses, I shall now answer those who say: "The Society may have quoted him in the past, but that was before Judge Rutherford's death. We do not do it now, and after all, didn't we say  ‘neither quote . . . publish . . . nor distribute his writings'? This is in the present tense, not the past."

Ř      This would, we agree, be a splendid refutation of our claims if it were true, but as we shall now conclusively prove, it is not!

Ř      Not only did Jehovah's Witnesses quote the "Pastor" as an authority in the past, before Rutherford's death in 1942, but they have done it right up until 1953, eleven years after his death.

In the July 15, 1950 edition of The Watch Tower (page 216), the Witnesses quoted "Pastor" Russell as an authority regarding his chronology on the 2,520-year-reign of the Gentiles, which reign allegedly ended, according to his calculations (and Jehovah's Witnesses), in A.D. 1914.

 

To make it an even more hopeless contradiction, they listed as their source, The Watch Tower of 1880, of which "Pastor" Rus­sell was editor-in-chief!

č Now if they "do not consider his writings authoritative and do not circulate them," why

(l) publish his chronology,

(2) quote his publication as evidence and

(3) admit his teachings on this vital point in their theology?

 

To shatter any misconception as to their literary shortcomings, I refer the interested reader to a pamphlet pub­lished by the Watch. Tower, entitled Jehovah's Witnesses, Communists or Christians? (1953).' Throughout the major content of this comparatively recent propaganda, Jehovah's Witnesses defend the thesis that they are not communists (which they ate not), but, in their zeal to prove "their skirts clean," they quote "Pastor" Russell's writings no less than five times, refer to them with apparent pride twice (pages 4,5), and even mention two of his best-known works, The Plan of the  Ages (1886), and The Battle of Arma­geddon (1897).

 

Further than this, The Watch Tower of October 1, 1953, quotes "Pastor" Russell's Studies in the Scriptures (Vol. IV, page 554) (and Judge Rutherford's Vindication [Vol. II, page 311] - ), convincing evidence indeed that The Watch Tower still follows the Russellite theology of its much denied founder. All this despite the fact that they say, in their own words,

 

č "Jehovah's Witnesses ... neither quote him [Russell] as an authority nor publish nor distribute his writings" (Awake. page 26).

Through a careful perusal of these facts, it is a simple matter to determine that Jehovah's Witnesses. have never stopped being "Russellites," no matter how loudly they proclaim the opposite.

 

Ř      To those who are enmeshed in the Watch Tower's web, we can only say that you are not following a "new" Theocratic organization; you are fol­lowing the old teachings of Charles Taze Russell, a bitter antagonist of historic Christianity, who has bequeathed to you a gospel of spiritual confusion.

Ř      Those who are contemplating becoming members of the Watch Tower Society, we ask to weigh the evidence found here and elsewhere (17) and to judge for yourselves whether it is wiser to trust the plain teachings of the Scripture and the' guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Christian Church or to cast your lot with a group of zealous but misled people who are "blindly leading the blind down the broad way which leads to destruction,.”

Ř      These persons, it should be re­membered have abandoned practically every cardinal doctrine of Biblical Christianity for the dogmatic doctrinal deviations of Charles Taze Russell and J. F. Rutherford.

Ř      In the light of Holy Scripture, however, Russellism is shown to be a snare from whose grip only Jesus Christ can deliver.

 

This then is the history of Jehovah's Witnesses, the product of Charles Taze Russel1; who, because he would not seek instruction in the Word of God, dedicated his unschooled talents to a lone vain search without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

This attempt has produced a cult of determined people who are persuaded in their own minds and who boldly attempt to persuade all others that the Kingdom of God is "present," and that they are Jehovah's Witnesses, the only true servants of the living God.

 

 

 

From the Book: THE KINGDOM OF CULTS, by Walter R. Martin - Chap.4: JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AND THE WATCH TOWER, page 34-110. - (Part 1: Page 34-45 ) Bethany House Publishers – Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438U.S.A.

 

 


1 And The Layman',; Home Missionary Movement.

2.  Awake magazine, the other Watch Tower publication, has a comparable yearly circulation.

3. "Originally titled "The Millennial Dawn."

4. The Watch Tower conducts classes for both men and women ministers at Gilead,

 

5. "In recent years The Watch Tower has main­tained that Russell never made a cent on the "Miracle Wheat." and that it was a contribution to the Society - "as open and above board as a church cake sale." They ,characteristically omit the fact that Russell' .1 controlled the Watch Tower. owning 990 of  the 1.000 shares of its stock: therefore, any contributions to it were actually to him. This fact explodes nicely another Watch Tower attempt to dodge the issue.

6. Some Watch Tower adherents deny the documentation of the above listed nel·.spaper editions. hut they are on microfilm and are available for confirmation.

7. Some Facts and More  Facts About the Self· Styled Pastor Charles T. Russell. Mr. Ross' second pamphlet.

10. Neither party, however, obtained an abso­lute decree.

11. Emphasis is ours.

12 . F. Ruthe'rford, Deliverance p. 91; also Religion, pp. 263, 268.

13 Religion, pp. 88, 104, 133, 137, 140, 14I. etc.

14 – Awake, May 8, 1951, page 26.

15. Jehovah's Witnesses still hold today and teach it as dogma.

16.  In recent years, Jehovah's Witnesses have been forced openly to acknowledge Russell owing to the effect of my book Jehovah of the Watch Tower, which gave the true his­tory of Russell's infamous doings, thus neces­sitating an answer from the Witnesses, even if it was an unreliable one in many respects and highly colored. The historical series was run in The Watch Tower for some months and was entitled "A Modern History of Je­hoyah's Witnesses." It was a very weak apologetic.

17. Jehovah of the Watch Tower, Martin and Klann (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1956), Chapter 1.