Do you agree with this?

by vienne 5 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • vienne

    New post to the history blog:

    I agree that in the Russell and Rutherford eras there was little actual scriptural refutation. Fine! True ... But, if 'truth' pours out the the mouth of a disreputable man, is it ethical to note his behavior as part of one's refutation? I hope that sentence made sense. I'm thinking in general terms. Much of what is written about Russell and Rutherford's character is myth. And, of course, those reporting accusations should verify them first.

    When mom was assisting uncle B write the first two Separate Identity books, she talked B into removing part of a footnote that reported the prison sentence of the author of an academic article. So the footnote only focuses on the man's sloppy research. What do you think?

  • Phizzy

    It depends upon whether the guy's Prison Sentence was for something pertinent to the Paper you quote, otherwise I agree with your mum's judgement, you don't wish to be appearing to be making a pointless ad hominem attack upon him.

    In the cases of Russell and Rutherford, truthful reporting of their shortcomings, misdemeanours and in Rutherford's case, crimes, is very relevant and important to write about.

  • Vidqun

    Perhaps if there are facts involved, e.g., verified in court it, it would be relevant. I'm thinking of Russel's marital difficulties, which is an indication of the role of women at the time and his philosophy in life. At one time he said he was like a butterfly, not being able to develop close human connections, etc. Certainly that would have influenced his scriptural interpretation. I agree, unverified ad hominem attacks on a person's character would not contribute anything.

  • TonusOH

    There was a site that detailed a lot of Russell's business dealings, and those did not put him in a good light. I wish I could find it again, it was pretty detailed. It did cover his divorce proceedings as well. It was jarring to find that he was so different from the person the WTS makes him out to be, in that it is difficult to believe that he was as sincere in his faith as I once thought.

  • dropoffyourkeylee

    I think it is difficult to judge a person's character after so many years. One thing I would say is that his business dealings, the way the Society was set up and funded, Russell's personal donations, all these things were done very sloppily. When he died there was no clear succession plan and the resulting chaos harmed the Society and caused most of the Bible Students to leave association with the Watchtower Society. I despise Rutherford, but much of his actions (appointing elders, requiring field service time to be reported) came into being in reaction to legal pressures.

  • slimboyfat

    I agree a lot of the attacks on Russell and Rutherford focussed on personality rather than theology. Because I’ve been reading church history, it reminds me of how Athanasius attacked the character of Arius, even implying that his untimely and ignominious death (possibly involving sudden gastrointestinal symptoms) was a divine, or at least just punishment. It has also been suggested Arius might have been poisoned.

    I have the impression that Russell was generally a kind person who got on well with others. Hundreds of people turned out for his funeral and were genuinely upset, including apparently his ex-wife—despite their acrimonious divorce—who laid a flower on his coffin. People who knew him well, and those who met him only briefly, alike seem to have been left with favourable impressions.

    Rutherford on the other hand seems to have been disliked with good reason. Even his allies tend to talk about him in terms of respect rather than affection. I think it’s possible that his experience of prison, and subsequent ill health in later years, made him a harsher person than he would otherwise have been. But plenty of people suffer adversity and still manage to treat people kindly. If there is any truth to the claims that he all but abandoned his wife and had affairs then that’s a whole other level of nastiness.

    About the footnote, it sounds like it was better to stick to the scholarship, unless the criminal behaviour was directly relevant, but it’s hard to know without the full details of the situation.

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