Examining an Alleged “History of Jehovah’s Witnesses”

This is a response to many statements being made concerning Charles Taze Russell in an alleged “History of Jehovah’s Witnesses”

By Ronald R. Day, Senior

This post is in response to an alleged “Apologetic Study: Introduction to Jehovah’s Witness Beliefs“, that appears on a site, evidently owned by Catholic. We are not associated with the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, but the article does present several misleading and/or false statements concerning Charles Taze Russell. The article is presented by Alfredo Nevarez. We do not attack Mr. Nevarez personally, but we do wish to present the facts related to many of his statements, especially as related to Charles Taze Russell. This work is in progress, which means that we will be adding more to this, God willing, as time permits.

It is claimed that Russell founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1872. This is false, since Russell never founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses movement at all. Russell was never a member of the Jehovah’s witnesses organization, and he did not believe in such an organization. Russell preached against such human authoritarianism, and certainly should not be considered the founder of that in which he did not believe, and which he preached against.

In 1872, however, I am not sure what one considered that Russell founded or started on that day; Russell was associated with a small Bible study group in Allegheny, PA (now part of Pittsburg); that group, however, was not started in 1872, but was already in existence in 1872. Russell does mention that it was 1872 that the group came to a clear understanding of the ransom; however, the JW leadership today has rejected the view as Russell and his associates came to understand in 1872. After Russell died, Rutherford first began to reject the basis of the ransom around 1923, with his new light concerning the second death. In 1938, Rutherford openly rejected the very basis of the Ransom that Russell and his associates had understood in 1872.

See our research:
The Watchtower’s Self-Contradiction About the Ransom
Adam and the Ransom Sacrifice
Nevertheless, that small group in 1872 could hardly be the founding point of the Bible Students movement, and most definitely not the founding year of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which was actually founded by Joseph Rutherford after Russell died.

For proof, see the research under Charles Taze Russell and Jehovah’s Witnesses

It is asserted that at the age of 20, Russell began preaching that there is no hell. This is misleading, since Russell did preach concerning the Bible hell; he was not preaching that there is “no hell”. Russell learned from some of his predecessors what the real Bible hell is, and that is what he began to preach.

See the archive related to Russell and “Hell”.

It is asserted that Russell borrowed “heavily from the ideas of J. H. Paton who published his works under the title Day Dawn”. Actually, Paton’s “Day Dawn” was a rehash of “The Three Worlds” that had been published a few years before by Russell and Barbour. Russell already his his basic understanding of the divine plan befoe he Paton published the “Day Dawn”.

It is asserted that Russell went on to claim that his works were divinely inspired; actually Russell, unlike Ellen G. White, disclaimed that his works were divinely inspired from the very beginning. See the Russell archive on “Infallibility”.

Russell is referred to as though he were claiming to have been a “prophet” of God. In fact, Russell disclaimed being a prophet, and disclaimed that his conclusions were “prophecy”. See our research on Russell and Bible Prophecy

It is asserted that Russell was “forced by federal authorities to return money to farmers whom he had sold his ‘miracle wheat'”. This is entirely false!!! No government authority ever ordered Russell to return any money concerning the sale of Stoner’s “Miracle Wheat. Russell did offer to return the money to anyone who was dissatisfied with the wheat, but not one of those buyers of that wheat requested a refund, and thus none of that money was ever returned. By stating “his” Miracle Wheat, the impression is that Russell himself invented and made the claims for this wheat, which is false. It was Kenneth Stoner who first discovered this wheat, and who reported his own results regarding the wheat. Russell did present Stoner’s claims and the claims presented in newspapers reports regarding this “Miracle Wheat”, but the “Miracle Wheat” was not Russell’s “Miracle Wheat”, nor was it Russell or anyone associated with the Bible Students who gave it the name “Miracle Wheat”.

It is claimed that “the only miraculous thing about the wheat was it’s exhorbant price and outlandish claims.” Russell never originated any claim for the wheat, except for the suggestion (not actually a claim) that the wheat may present an indication of the Millennial blessings that are yet to come. The fact is that many farmers testified in the court of validity of the claims of Stoner and others regarding the when wheat; although the Daily Eagle ignored all this, and focused on their alleged many government witnesses (which was actually only one witness who presented some alleged findings of some people who evidently somehow had “tested” a few of the wheat seeds and concluded that they were inferior).

Russell himself did not sell the wheat, nor did he set the price for the wheat. Those Bible Students who sold the wheat set the price at $1.00 a pound, which was 25 cents less than Stoner and some others had been selling the wheat. No one seemed to object to Stoner or anyone else selling the wheat for $1.25 a pound, but they did object to the Bible Students’ selling of the wheat for $1.00 a pound.

See our documented research regarding Russell and Stoner’s Miracle Wheat

It is being claimed that Russell “under oath in a court in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Russell stated that he was an expert Scripture scholar and was fluent in Greek.” In fact, the actual court record shows that he disclaimed being a Greek scholar, and certainly that he never claimed to be “fluent in Greek”. J.J. Ross very deceitfully rearranged various parts of the court record so as to make it appear that Russell claimed to be an expert. This has been pointed out many times, and yet Ross’ deceitfulness continues to be repeated over and over.

See the archives on “Perjury” and “J. J. Ross

It is being claimed that “in 1897 his wife divorced him for having adulterous affairs with two different women.” In fact, the court records show that Mrs. Russell did not claim that Russell was had committed adultery at all. Mrs. Russell presented some hearsay testimony that was designed to marr Russell’s character, but she denied that she was claiming that her husband had committed adultery. The testimony concerning this was stricken from the court record, but the Eagle ignored this. At any rate, the court records show that she filed for divorce on the grounds of “mental cruelty”. The real reason for their separation to begin with was over the management she sought for the Watch Tower magazine, and her desire to use that magazine to promote her “women’s rights” agenda, which Russell refused to allow her to do.

It is claimed “When the judge had ruled against him, Russell immediately transferred his property, worth over $240,000 to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.” Actually, although this money was legally in Russell’s name, it was being held in trust for use by the Watch Tower Society. Mr. Russell had created several side businesses that was intended to create funds for use by the Watch Tower Society, among them the one called “The United States Investment Company”. This company was a partnership created by Russell; its capital stock was $1,000. Pastor Russell furnished that $1,000 out of his personal means. Nevetheless, this put any earnings from this “company” legally in Russell’s name, although all the funds created through this company as well as other monies that Russell was holding in trust for the Watch Tower Society were eventually to be turned over to the Watch Tower Society. Mrs. Russell knew of this arrangement long before she even separated from Russell.

For more related to this, see the archive “Russell’s ‘Divorce’

See also the archive regarding the “United States Investment Company

Millennial Dawnists

It is stated that this “sect first was formally know as the Millennial Dawnists, then shortly thereafter as Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society.” Of course, there was no JW “sect” in the days of Russell; Russell was a non-sectarian who believed that God’s people could found amongst all the various denominations and sects that profess to be Christian. In 1881, Russell wrote his first volume of a series of Bible studies which he originally called “Millennial Dawn”. Those who believed in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ as outlined in those volumes were dubbed “Millennial Dawnists” by others; this was never a “formal” name that these groups used of themselves.

“Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” refers to the legal entity; the legal entity name that was used before this was called “Tower Publishing Company”, not “Millennial Dawnists”. The legal entity itself however is not the association of Bible Students that formed as result of Russell’s work. It is correct that in 1896 the name was changed to “Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society”; it continued to have this name until Russell’s death in 1916. It is made to appear in the article that Russell, in 1909, changed the name of “Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society” to “People’s Pulpit Association”, but that also in the same year, 1909, he changed it back to “Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Actually, “People’s Pulpit Association”, as a legal entity, was formed in Brooklyn, NY, but this did not do away with the original entity that had been formed in Pennsylvania. In moving the headquarters to Brooklyn, Russell found that, in order to do business in New York, he had to form a new entity in New York. The formation of the new entity, however, did not do away the old entity. Many years after Russell died, Rutherford later had the People Pulpits Association renamed to “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.”

The Name “Jehovah”

It is claimed that the name Jehovah appears no where in Scripture. It is claimed that the name Jehovah is a mistranslation of the name Yahweh. It appears to be saying that “Yahweh” is found in the original King James Bible; if so, this is definitely false. It is claimed that the KJV “used Greek and Hebrew documents (Textus Recptus) that were later found to have had various mis-tranlations. These were later corrected, but the name Jehovah stuck.” Actually, Nevarez presents several false statements that simply do not conform with the facts.

Regarding the English form, “Jehovah”: Although many refer to this an English translation, it not actually a translation, but a rendering of the Hebrew name of God into an English form. Translated, it means, “He is, He will be, He causes to be”, etc. The English form “Jehovah, as such, is not a different “name” than the name given in the original Hebrew as represented by the Hebrew tetragrammaton of God’s Holy Name.

Nevarez appears to be confused concerning “Textus Receptus”, since the Textus Receptus contains only the New Testament, which was written in Koine Greek, not Biblical Hebrew. However, the KJV rendering of the Holy Name as “Jehovah” appears not in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament. As far as we know, the Holy Name appears in all the known early Hebrew manuscripts and texts of the Old Testament. The KJV used the Masoretic Text for the Old Testament — not the Textus Receptus; the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament is still the basic text that is used by most translations, although there are many translations of the Old Testament are based on the Septuagint, or the Latin Vulgate. God’s Holy Name appears in the Masoretic text more than 6,000 times.

“Yahweh” also is a English form of that same name. Yahweh is based, not on the Hebrew as often claimed, but is evidently a contracted form of the Holy Name given in Koine Greek. The English form “Jehovah” is based directly on one of the forms given in the Hebrew Masoretic text. Neither form (Jehovah/Yahweh) has anything to do with the Greek Textus Receptus, which does not contain the name as either Jehovah or Yahweh. The Textus Receptus, based on the Greek manuscripts that do the same, usually presents the Holy Name in Greek words that are transliterated as KURIOS (Lord), THEOS (God), or some other word. The Textus Receptus does have the poetic short from of God’s Holy Name in the term often rendered as “Hallelujah”, meaning “Praise Jah”. The Textus Receptus also retains the short form the Holy Name in various Hebrew names as rendered into the Koine Greek. Of course, neither the English form “Jehovah”, nor the English form “Yahweh”, can be found in either the Hebrew or Greek manuscripts as such, since neither language is English, and neither language complies completely with English spelling and phonemes. Indeed, there is a degree of uncertainly as to how phonemes were applied in both ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek, and then there is a further degree of being inaccurate in transliterating words with the same exact phonemes of the original Hebrew and Koine Greek.

Indeed, none of the English forms of any Bible name given any in any English translation can be found in either the Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament, nor in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, not the form “Jesus”, “Joshua”, “Yeshua”, “Yahshua”, “Elijah”, “Eliyah”, “Elias”, and on and on — none of these are in the original Hebrew Bible nor in the original Greek Bible.

See our studies on God’s Holy Name:

Denouncement and Hatred of All Religions

It is claimed that in 1872 Russell “stated that God rejected all existing Churches and that from thenceforward only Russell and his followers would be God’s spokesmen.” This is highly misleading. Russell did believe that in 1878, God’s favor to the “nominal church” ended, as Jesus found the denominational systems of confusion to be wanting, and thus the invitation came to for God’s people to get out of her. Russell did not set forth the claim that henceforth, “only Russell and his followers” would be God’s spokesmen, although some statements, taken out of context, and placed in the context of present-day JW theology, could lead one to that conclusion. We do not, however, agree with all of Russell’s conclusions regarding 1874. We may present more research related to this later, but to see what research we have done to date related to 1878 as related to claims people are making concerning Charles Taze Russell, see:
Charles Taze Russell and 1878

Christ is not God

Although this section is directed towards the Jehovah’s Witnesses, since we also believe that the Anointed One is not God, the Supreme Being, we will address this briefly. Of itself, the word “Christ”, as applied to Jesus, indicates the one anointed by Jehovah, thus the word “Christ” itself indicates that Jesus is not God.* (Psalm 2:2; 45:7; Isaiah 61:1) The default reasoning should be that Jesus is NOT Jehovah who anointed him. The wording given in the “History” concerning what Russell believed concerning Michael the Archangel is worded in such a way as to leave a false impression. See:
Russell and Michael the Archangel
Michael the Archangel
* Our trinitarian neightbors, of course, invent and add to the scriptures the idea that it was one person of God who anointed another person of God, and thus explain away such scriptures by reading this idea into the scriptures. In reality, the scriptures are completely at harmony with each other without reading all of the trinitarian assumption into the scriptures.

Charles Taze Russell never denied the divinity of Christ, but he did show from the Bible how that divinity, as it would be applied by scriptural words to Jesus in the Bible, does not mean that Jesus is Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Russell stayed very close to the Bible on this subject, rather than all of the assumptions and additons to the Bible that the trintiarian dogma calls for.

For those who wish to search the scriptures for what they do say and what they do not say on regarding what other matters mentioned in this subheading, we recommend the following studies:

The Deity of Christ
Firstborn of Creation
God’s Creation Through Jesus

See also:
Did Russell Deny the Deity/Divinity of Jesus?
We Believe in the Bible

The Second Coming is Imminent… Again and Again

This heading is highly misleading, especially from the standpoint of Charles Taze Russell, since Russell, in 1876 adopted the belief from Barbour that Christ had returned in 1874, and he held to that belef until he died in 1916. He never spoke of second coming of Christ as being at any other time than 1874.

It is claimed that Russell adopted “the Adventist idea that the world would end any day”. If by “Adventist”, the “Second Adventists” are meant, actually, Russell rejected the Adventist’s view of the end of the world. He rejected the idea that the planet earth and the whole material universe would and that only few of earth’s billions would saved. In 1870, Russell rejected the Second Adventist idea of the end of the world, and never, until the day he died, accepted the Second Adventist idea of the end of the world. However, “Adventist” today often means to most people, 7th Day Adventist. Russell rarely used the expression “the end of the world” because, to many, that expression meant the end of the planet earth. He pointed out the in the Greek, it does not speak of the end of the world, but rather of the end of the age.

If by Adventist, the 7th Day Adventists is meant, Russell never adopted their view at all.

It is claimed that Russell “claimed to have calculated the year [of the end of the world] as 1874.” Before 1874, it was not Russell, but rather Nelson Barbour and his associates who had “calculated” from the scriptures that Christ would return in 1874, and thus that the “end of world” was to be expected then. Russell rejected all of the dates set forth by any of the Second Adventist until the year 1876 (about two years AFTER 1874), when he accepted Barbour’s conclusion that Christ had already returned in 1874 as a spirit being. Sometime before 1874, Russell reported that he and the Bible study group he was associated with had already concluded that Christ was to return in the spriit, not in the flesh, since Jesus had sacrficed his flesh for our sins. He had not, however, set any date for the return of Christ, nor had he accepted any of the dates set forth by the Second Adventists, on up to 1876, two years after 1874. In 1876, he accepted Barbour’s conclusion that Christ had already returned — invisibly — in 1874.

See our research:
Was Russell Expecting the End of the World in 1874?

Although speaking of Jehovah’s Witneses

It is asserted that Russell claimed that Jesus did not actually return to earth, but rather “only to the ‘upper air'”. In reality, Russell never mentioned anything about “upper air”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Russell did believe that Christ had returned invisibly to earth in 1874.

Armageddon in 1914
The statement is made that Russell “stated that Armageddon would begin in 1914.” From 1904 on to 1914, yes, Russell was indeed expecting Armageddon to begin in 1914. However, the statement, as it stands in the context of the following statement, would imply that Russell was expecting something that he was not expecting. Russell did not believe in the Armageddon that the JWs preach; his idea of Armageddon was that it was a period of time in which the peoples of the nations would chastised (not eternally destroyed) in preparation for the Kingdom. It is stated: “While WWII did begin in 1914, by coincidence, the earth and all Churches were not destroyed.” That Armageddon was to begin in 1914 does not necessarily mean the end of the churches, and most definitely Russell not expecting the end of the planet earth at any time whatsoever.

At this point a little history may be relevant:

In 1876, Russell accepted Barbour’s conclusion that Armageddon (the time of trouble) had already begun in 1874 and that it would last until 1914 (40 years); shortly after 1880, Russell rejected Barbour’s conclusion that Armageddon (as representing the time of trouble) had begun in 1874, but still believed that Armageddon would begin sometime before 1914 (1910 or 1911 was given as suggested dates), and that Armageddon would end, not begin in 1914. In 1904 (tens years BEFORE 1914), Russell realized that the ending of the Gentile Times would not signal the end of Armageddon, but the beginning of Armageddon. Russell held to this latter view on up to his death in 1916. Nevertheless, one should especially note — for historical accuracy — that it was NOT UNTIL 1904 that Russell stated that Armageddon was to begin in 1914, not back in the 1870s as implied in the statement given.

More to be added later, God willing.

The following are notes related to some assorted points brought up on the “history”, which we hope to get better organized later.

Russell never claimed to be have “authority” over the church or any any of the Bible Students groups; he claimed to be a fellow-servant of Christ. Others claimed such for him, but he refused such authority until the day he died.

For proof see, the archive regarding Russell and “Sole Channel/Authority”

Russell preached against anyone being a “follower” of Russell.

Making the assertion concerning followers of Russell in the context of the JW organization also leaves the impression that Russell formed such an organization. Russell was actually a non-sectarian who believed that members of the true church could be found amongst all the various denominations that claimed to be Christian.
See Russell and Church Organization

Futhermore, it appears to be implying that Russell rejected 1874 as the date Christ returned, and that he was “then” claiming that Christ was to return in 1914; if this is the thought, it is incorrect. In 1876, two years after 1874, Russell accepted that Christ had returned in 1874, and he held to that view until he died in 1916; he never said anything about Christ as returning in 1914.

Additionally, by stating “Armageddon would begin in 1914” in the context of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, it leaves the impression with the reader that Russell was expecting what the JWs preach concerning “Armageddon”, that is, that virtually everyone earth except the JWs are eternally destroyed. Russell did not believe in this; indeed, this is similar to the “end of the world” expectations held by most of the “Second Adventists” which he rejecte and which preached against. Russell believed that “Armageddon” was a period of time in which the peoples of the nations would be chatised (not eternally destroyed) in preparation for dthe kingdom blessings to follow. Thus, his original acceptance of Barbour’s view that Armageddon was to end in 1914 did not mean that he was expecting millions of unbelievers to be eternally destroyed in 1914, but rather that Satan would have been abyssed and the blessings of the peoples could begin. Of course, in 1904, Russell rejected that earlier view and began to realize that time of trouble was to begin, not end, in 1914, which would then delay the removal of denominationalism until sometime after 1914.

The main thing that Russell was expecting for 1914 was the beginning of the time of trouble, within which to bring about the destruction of Babylon, denominationalism, which Russell often referred to as “the churches”, meaning the denominational churches. Russell expected that with the beginning of the time of trouble, it would not be long afterwards that “the church” denominatinal systems would also pass away. Indeed, God is not going to allow such denominational divisions to continue on into the Kingdom Age. Such denominatinal divisions is indeed the product of Satan, not of God. Once Satan is abyssed, the people will certainly have been freed from such denominationalism. Russell died in 1916 rejoicing in seeing that the time of trouble had begun in 1914, although he realized that he had been in error in expecting too much happen as quickly as he expected.

Rutherford took control after Russell died. Russell did not die until October of 1916. Russell himself died still holding to the belief that Christ had returned in 1874, and that the time of trouble had begun in 1914. Russell himself held no expectations regarding 1916 itself; he died with the belief that that their was still a lot of work yet to be done.

However, Rutherford never moved the date 1914 to 1916; if he would have done so, it would have needed to have been done before Russell died in October of 1916, which would not at all fit historical facts. As far as I can determine, the only one(s) who regarding 1916 to have Biblical significance was Paul S. L. Johnson and those who accepted his conclusions. Johnson used a lot of what he thought to be types and antitypal parallels to designate the year 1916, but he did not replace 1914 with 1916. Nor did Johnson point to the year 1916 before 1916 had arrived. He claimed that in 1916 the last member of the 144,000 were sealed, and that since then all who consecrated themselves were of the “youthful worthies”, those Russell had referred to as “consecrating between the ages”.

Rutherford, however, deceitfully took control after Russell died; he rejected Russell’s provisions for the WTS and deceitfully had new by-laws passed by the shareholders who had never read what was in those new by-laws. Effectually, in a few weeks after Russell died, Rutherford had destroyed the WTS as Russell had intended for it to be, and replaced it with a new WTS that he could use to promote his “organization” dogma. Indeed, Russell rarely used the word “organization” related to the WTS, and when he did, it was simply in the sense of corporate organization, not in the sense that Rutherford and his associates began promoting that term as early as December of 1916. Rutherford’s methods were very insidious however, and while the majority of those working at Bethel headquarters realized what he was doing and stopped supporting him, it took much longer for those associated with the Bible Students to realize what course Rutherford was taking. Neverthless, by 1928, the Bible Students as whole, represented by the vast majority (well over 75%) had rejected Rutherford’s “Jehovah’s visible organization” dogma. The Bible Students — as a whole — never became “Jehovah’s Witnesess”; the Bible Students still exist today, aside from the JW organization.

Rutherford led his followers into accepting another gospel rather than the good news of great joy that will be for all the people that Russell preached, and that the Bible Students still preach today. Rutherford began promoting an alleged gospel that, in effect, is “bad tidings of great woe for most of the people” that they and their children may be eternally destroyed in Armageddon if they do not come to and submit to Rutherford and his organization (which he claimed to be “Jehovah’s organization”) for salvation. This, indeed, is a “good news” that was almost the very opposite of what Russell preached, and which the Bible Students still preach today.