Where it all went wrong for the WT - JF Rutherford

by LoveUniHateExams 68 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Lee Marsh
    Lee Marsh

    @ Sea Breeze

    Some of what you say if correct but others things no and some you probably never read about.

    I know this is a common and carefully crafted view about Russell. The facts show otherwise. The book below:


    was written only 2 years after Russell started printing the WT. It was written by his peers in the New York area.

    It shows that he:

    1. Had zero bible training what so ever Other than some studies he did with Adventists he had zero training.

    2. Was a clothing salesman for his father True

    3. Assumed the title Pastor without ever having pastored anyone. True - not an official title though

    4. Fostered and promoted the idea that he himself was named in scripture as the faithful and wise servant. Not sure about this one. Some references state that it was Bible Students that gave him that title.

    5. Was a shameless self-promoter and had no problem lying on stage. This one is true.And he was more than willing to teach colporteurs to lie to people at the door. In the 1916 convention there was a special meeting for colporteurs (pioneers). One asked Russell what they should say to a person at the door who asked if the "Millennial Dawn" Books were the same as "Studies in the Scriptures". Russell told him to tell the householder that the books were totally different and they should buy the new books. In reality the Millennial Dawn was a very simple update to the Studies series. She like they have always done - write a book, wait a couple of years, make a few edits, slap a new cover and title on it and resell it to unsuspecting Bible Students and the public. Pure money-making scheme. This episode is written in the 1916 Convention report.

    6. Went on a world-tour to investigate missionaries. This was exposed as a complete fraud. He then packed out the Hippodrome in NYC and denounced all missionaries in the most negative terms. Never heard this before so where did this info come from?

    7. Was divorced by his wife (she was known for having impeccable character & from a good family) for "inappropriate behavior".... like locking himself in the maids bedroom and not coming out for 10 minutes when his wife was knocking on the door. She accused him under oath of doing things like this to both of the women who lived in the Russell home. Yes Maria's impeccable character is one of the reasons he married her. He was a single man living in Bethel with single women. It looked unseemly. So Maria agreed to marry Russell to protect his character. Russell told her that he wanted to remain "pure" so that when he died he would meet his maker in a pure state so Maria married him knowing they would never have sex.

    Then Rose Ball, a young woman who was living at Bethel (about 22 years old and not a child as Russell claimed during the divorce) went to Maria and told her that Russell would make inappropriate advances to her even kissing her. He was found more than one in Rose's bedroom. He claimed he was tucking her in. Yea I don't believe that either. The info about this was researched by Leolaia on this site. Check The Best of .... Russell

    So Maria knew there was inappropriate behavior going on but in the divorce she said she did not think he had committed adultery. Maybe that is what she really thought since he wanted to be "pure" when he died. Or she didn't want to think that he would be with someone else when she was right there. We will never know.

    8. He set up multiple corporations to try and deny her the alimony he was ordered to pay. true

  • Sea Breeze
    Sea Breeze

    Lee Marsh,

    Thanks for your response. Still sorting through some of the details so that I get the facts straight.

    The Hippodrome affair was written about by someone who interviewed Russell. It is in one of the links I posted earlier.

  • vienne

    No 1. Is demonstrably false on two levels. First, most of his religious training came from Age-to-Come believers and Methodists. It was considerable. Secondly, most clergy in the era were not university educated. You can find this in Separate Identity.

    No 2. Is equally misleading. He was not a salesman in his father's store. He was owner, partner with his father in one store. He was the owner of several stores and businesses including major equipment sales, oil wells and patent holder of a lionotype case. He was an owner/manager. Not a salesman.

    No. 3. Is stupid. He was elected pastor of several congregations, first in 1876 in Allegheny. He did not assume the title without having fulfilled the office. Ordination by election was common practice in the era, especially on the frontier and deep south.

    No. 4. Russell was very cautious about claiming to be the Faithful Slave. He does seem to have believed it. And one of his associates said that he admitted to it in a private conversation.

    No. 5. I've skimmed through the 1916 Convention Report and could not find that. Please cite the page.

    No. 6. Complete Fraud? You refer to William T. Ellis' article in The Continent. I see you did not fact check. Ellis claimed that Russell did not, despite a newspaper sermon report saying he had, given a sermon in Hawaii. But Hawaiian newspapers report that he did. Ellis also complained that Russellites ignored the needy and unchurched. This is demonstrably false.

    No. 7. The divorce from bed and board - not an absolute divorce - is best considered by reading the transcript. This abbreviated summary is misleading.

    No. 8. Demonstrably wrong. What's your proof?

    Besmirching someone's character is a substitute for rational argument. It is a major logic flaw, the refuge of those incapable of refuting teaching.

  • Smiles

    Whatever level of "bible training" he had, it was certainly not enough.

  • vienne

    Smiles, you write that only because you differ rheologically. An specific example?

  • Smiles

    He completed no formal theological nor collegiate education, and was not legitimately ordained.

    He is not, and never was, accredited by any reputable institutions of authenticity.

    He appointed himself, just like modern broods of WT charlatans.

    You know this.

    He was just a fairly decent fellow that published his thoughts, and managed to garner a misled following. It happens.

    He is now long dead, as is his debunked eschatology.

    Take heed.

    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    The influence which the WT has comes from the Bible and the widespread acceptance of the Bible by a great many people. If no one believed in the Bible the WT would be powerless to persuade people. The problem is much bigger than the WT and its false teachings. The problem is also the Bible and its numerous false teachings. That message needs to be presented to people. For example, if I had known prior to age 15 that the Bible contains numerous falsehoods, I would never have become baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. A similar situation exists with other ex-Witnesses and other ex-Christians, and other ex-religious people.

    The problem is also with other scripture books, including the Koran and the Hadith and the Hindu scriptures, and their false teachings. That message also needs to be presented to the people. Many people in other Christian religions and many people in non-Christians religions are also suffering greatly from their religions.

  • vienne


    As I wrote earlier, he was ordained by election in the EXACT same way a multitude of protestant clergy were. And most of them had no college education. In fact Eaton, the clergyman Russell debated in 1903, though he called himself Dr. Eaton, never finished college, and what he attended in 1874 would be seen as no more than a second rate Bible school today. Eaton's doctorate was an honorary degree.

    Do you know at all how many protestant clergy made 'predictions' or promulgated a long abandoned eschatology? Among these are clergy whose works are still printed and seen as classics.

    On the matter of Russell's ordination, Separate Identity, vol 2, says:

    In a footnote [Chapter 1; note 3] he [Rogerson] wrote: “The title ‘Pastor’ was purely honorary as far as Russell was concerned, he never graduated from any theological school.” [Comma fault is his.] This is a commonly made claim, and indeed Russell was not educated in any theological school.

    In the United States it was common for ordination to be by congregation election. Many ‘Pastors’ especially among Methodists and Baptists were marginally educated, called to preach by licensure and election rather than by graduation from a religious college, some of which met no real academic standard. While this was changing, especially among Methodists, this practice persisted into the 20th Century. Distinguishing between Russell’s election as pastor by Bible Student congregations and a country Baptist’s ordination by the same means is stupid. Someone suggested to us that ‘ordination’ implied a ceremony, and since he knew of no ceremony in Russell’s case he was not ‘ordained’ in any sense. I suggest that formal election as pastor is a ceremony.

    In 1913 a survey of Indiana churches done by the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions found that “thirty seven per cent of the ministers have had no more than a common school [i.e.: a seventh grade] education.” Liston Pope’s analysis of clergy education in Gastonia County, North Carolina, illustrates my point:

    The policy of the Baptist churches has been even less exacting. The denomination has never erected an educational requirement for its ministers, or maintained an informal standard, or insisted on a course of study. In 1869-70 there were only two college graduates in the Baptist Association which included most of the churches in Gaston County. In 1903 few Baptist preachers in the county had even a high school education and college men were almost unknown. The tendency in more recent years has been to give preference to better-educated men, but only 56 per cent of them at present have college degrees and only 18 per cent have completed a seminary course.

    The newer sects in the county are led by ministers almost wholly uneducated. Several of them find it necessary to have some more literate person read the Scriptures in their services. Others did not go beyond the fourth or fifth grade in the public schools; none have college degrees. Most of them are on sabbatical leave from jobs in cotton mills. There are no established educational requirements for preachers in the sects with which they are affiliated, though there are trends in that direction.

    As compared with Presbyterian and Lutheran standards, Methodist demands have been relatively low. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, did not establish a college degree as a prerequisite to ordination until 1934, and it was possible until 1940 to circumvent this requirement. Less than half of its preachers in Gaston County at present have had seminary training; most of them now have college degrees, but several older men, representative of past standards, have only a high school education or less.[end quote]

    We can add that the Mennonites did not establish a theological seminary until 1912, and with the exception of two men, none of their clergy had graduated from college, and most of them had no more than a “grade school education” which was “about normal.”51 Criticizing Russell for what was common among several denominations is pure hypocrisy. Bible Students saw Russell as ordained. Prentis Gerdon Gloystein [January 6, 1887 – April 19, 1956], writing to The Twin Falls, Idaho, Times, described Russell as the “duly elected-ordained pastor” of several Bible Student congregations including the largest of these. Gloystein wrote as one “intimately acquainted with Pastor Russell, having lived for a number of years in his home town ... besides being an associate worker with him at his present headquarters in Brooklyn, N. Y.” [end quotation from SI v 2]

    The claim that Russell wasn't properly ordained made by his opponents means no more than that they did not seem him as part of their club. The vast majority of Protestant clergy in the late 19th Century were not college educated. Ultimately, this is a side issue meant to distract one from a discussion of his basic doctrines: Trinity, hell-fire, second probation and such.

    Opposing Witnesses by defaming Russell is a non starter. As historians probe more deeply into Watch Tower history a more realistic picture of him emerges and the long-standing falsehoods about him do not stand the test. Stick to what is true and provable.

    An example of mythic nonsense is your comment about why Maria Russell married him. She was not a single woman living in Bethel. There was no Bethel. They both describe how they met and why they married. Those documents are available. Some are quoted at some length by more recently written histories. Separate Identity, for instance, is written by B. W. Schulz who is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and R. M. de Vienne, PhD. Their work is seen as authoritative by other scholars. It makes those who rely on fable uncomfortable. And relying on fable puts us under a spotlight. Want to appear mentally ill as the Watchtower suggests 'apostates' are? Purvey fable.

    You're repeated what you've found on the Internet without extensive fact checking. When we do that, our arguments turn to dust. Present facts that cannot be refuted.

  • Smiles

    No, vienne, we are not interested in these research expeditions to persuade us over into your apotheosis of a false prophet.

    What was stated against him is drawn from his own self-damning recorded testimony in a court of law, under oath. Fact check complete. We need nothing more.

    Even if your flattery of the man was valid, and it is not, it only further implicates him as an bizarre shameful cohort of copious false works which have unremorsefully deluded and misled thousands by means of personality worship and charlatanism.

    Don't be an apologist of the obsolete.

  • slimboyfat
    My impression of Russell is that he was a likeable and sincere person. He got on well with his family and with others and people were drawn to him. That counts for quite a lot in my opinion. This is in contrast with Rutherford who was feared rather than loved, although it’s possible he grew to be a harsher person following his imprisonment and illnesses.
    Russell seems to have been a genuine theological seeker who was at first put off Christianity because of the idea that God punishes people in hell. When he realised that scripture did not need to be read that way he developed a deep interest in the Bible. He read extensively in the Bible and about the Bible and used his own reason to try to work out the best interpretation of scripture. He was studious in his own way, and as many ordinary people are who try to understand the Bible. He was influenced by ideas that where popular in his time, including questioning the Trinity, immortal soul, and focus on chronology and the return of Jesus. He was convinced that God had a plan for humanity to live on earth forever and he devoted his life to spreading that message.
    I don’t think he can be faulted for his sincerity or the effort he put into understanding the Bible and spreading the message about the future for mankind.

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