Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Was Charles Taze Russell the founder of the JW's? Part 1

I received the following comment and instead of putting it under the comment section for that blog I decided to turn it into another blog.

The Comment:
"Russell was not the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses, nor did he believe in such an organization, nor did he believe in the teachings of that organization. The quote from Russell is out of context. Read some more quotes from Russell concerning the Bible as related to his writings."

My Response:
Russell not the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Judge for yourself. The history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses began with the forming of a group for Bible study in Pittsburgh, (some sources say Allegheny), Pennsylvania by a man, Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916) in the early 1870’s. This same man, Charles Taze Russell, formed the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1879, which is the legal instrument of the present day Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 1909, he moved the Societies headquarters to Brooklyn, New York—the present day headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

What has changed since the days of Russell? (1) Russell died in 1916. In January of 1917 a new president was elected, Joseph Rutherford. Seven months after his selection 4,000 members of Russell’s group (about 20%), then known as Bible Students or International Bible Students and unhappy with Rutherford as President, split off and are now known under various names. Four such groups split off between 1917 and 1919 with many more occurring between 1919 and the present. It should be noted that two groups (New Covenant Bible Students, and New Covenant Believers) split during Russell’s presidency, unhappy with some of his doctrines.

(2) Russell’s group, the International Bible Students, had their name formally changed by Rutherford in 1931 to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

(3) JW’s are infamous for their many doctrinal changes that have occurred since 1917. I am researching a blog, working title “New Light or No Light,” that will look at the problems the WT has with doctrinal “flip-flops” (for instance: the WT teaches doctrine A, changes to doctrine B, and then changes back to A.)

One tradition that Russell started that has been carried on with great gusto by the WT has been that of predicting future events that do not come to pass.In 1876, Russell wrote an article that appeared in the October, 1876 issue of the Bible Examiner under the title, “Gentile Times: When do they End?” On page 27 he was writing about Luke 21:23-25,

[23] Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;

[24] and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

[25]There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves.

He said that the “Seven Times” will end in AD 1914. However, the anticipated Kingdom of Jehovah did not come. Big surprise! None, zero, zip, nada of the events concerning Jerusalem, mentioned in Luke 21:24 occurred in the predicted year, 1914. The Society then concluded that 1914 was not the end of the “Seven Times” but was to be a turning point in human history. Two years later, Russell died. (Maybe the dejection and depression that God was actually not using him took its toll.)

In Part 2, I will look at some other failed prophecies of Russell plus did I quote him out of context?

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