Just wondering hate to give the devil his due
Did Russell come up with the no hell fire and no Trinity doctrine or did steal that belief from another religion as well?
He did not come up with either of the two ideas, but to be fair, being repulsed by the idea of a burning hell is a point in his favor.
The reason he rejected Wendell's brand of Adventism and embraced Barbour's was because the former was about fiery judgment, while the latter was about restitution.
Russell's views have a very long history, back to the Second Century CE at least. Adopting an idea does not mean you've stolen it. Do you believe the world is round? From whom did you steal that idea?
Mom's books, including forthcoming volume 2 of Separate Identity, trace the history of Russell's doctrines. That a doctrinal set has a history does not mean believing it is intellectual theft. If we adopt that viewpoint, then everything we personally believe we 'stolen' from someone.
In the 1790s Joseph Priestly wrote a multi volume history of non-Trinitarian belief, taking it back to the start of the second century. [99-200 CE]. Non-Trintarian belief was common in the United States among Congregationalists in New England. Some of them were Arian, some were Sebellian, some were Socinian, and some were Subordinists (Russell's belief system). But they were all non-Trinitarian.
L.E. Froom wrote an abbreviated history of conditional immortality doctrine called The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers. It describes the history of those who rejected eternal torment doctrine. Russell came to it through Jonas Wendell, George Storrs and G. Stetson. There was in the 19th Century a proliferation of books denying Hell Fire doctrine. Many of these were written by prominent clergy.
Can't say for sure, but like most charlatans, he probably borrowed bits and pieces from other charlatans and formulated enough bs together to make his religion different enough to be called a different religion! If you twist, spin, use symbolic, figurative, ambiguous language and interpretations, you can convince a lot of people who want to be convinced!
I've said it many times, but the Org has a long, proud history of cribbing from other sources.
Why should its founding father be any different?
"Charlatan" is inflammatory, and in this case it is unwarranted. He was a 'true believer'. Wrong in many respects, but a true believer nevertheless. Calling him a charlatan suggests that he purposely deceived people. He was flawed. But he believed what he wrote and taught.
All of his doctrines, even his date system, came from others, but who were these? Without exception they were respected clergy who had preceded him. If his doctrine seems strange to us today, it was not foreign to his contemporaries, though as Mom and B point out in Separate Identity, the combination was novel and controversial.
I read on these boards claims that he was in it for the money. The historical record does not sustain this. Several court cases opened portions of the Society's books. it was a money losing concern, sustained out of Russell's pocket and contributions from followers. On his death it was nearly bankrupt.
I read on these boards claims about his morals. They derive from newspaper articles. But the transcript of the Russell divorce is in the public record in Allegheny County. A copy is expensive, but it is available. No-one making assertions about his morals here or on other discussion boards seems to have read it. You really should before you believe what newspaper articles say. And I can hear someone muttering, 'but have you read it?' Yes, my Mom, her writing partner, B. W. Schulz, and my uncle Karl all have copies.
Don't foster nonsense. Dislike Russell? Fine by me. Hate what he taught? Okay. But if you wish to state your distaste, do not present a false narrative. Someone will notice. And as quality research is published, more and more will notice. There are some really good books out there now, including my Mom's. And somewhere on the site she posted a longish bibliography of worthwhile books.
Mom would have presented this in a clearer fashion than I have and with more detail. Unfortunately she died this year at only 41. We miss her daily.
Personally I think he pretty much stole everything. He wanted to be different and so I think he went for different fringe Christian ideas and then took the ones he liked and rolled with it.
I like the term borrowed rather than stole. I also believe Russell believed what he wrote and sought to please God in his affairs. Unfortunately it seems that his successor was not so principled.
Thanks for the interesting posts. Russell has always struck me as a reasonable and a likeable person. He investigated various religions in his youth, and concluded that God would not burn people in hell, but wanted most people to be saved. When he arrived at those opinions he decided it was a message worth sharing. He used his resources and energy and business acumen to spread the message. He must have treated people well because his contemporaries often spoke about him affectionately and he attracted a huge following. The evidence seems to suggest, for whatever reason, he was not a very sexual person, and I am not persuaded by the allegations against him. At the same time it’s fair to admit we are simply not in a position to know for sure. His power and influence went to his head at times and he made mistakes, such as with the miracle wheat, and his insistence of a vow of loyalty. But overall, compared with many other sectarian leaders, it seems that he was a good person with good intentuons.