JW Refutations of Criticism of Russell and Rutherford

by Duvduv 43 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Duvduv

    What exactly do they mean that the Second Coming was "spiritualized"? What does that mean in relation to all the special predictions of the leadership?

    Is their belief about 1914 similar to that of the Seventh Day Adventists sanctuary theory?

  • TD

    What exactly do they mean that the Second Coming was "spiritualized"?

    What was supposed to happen was the establishment of God's kingdom on earth. When this failed to occur, they said that the kingdom had instead been established invisibly in the heavens.

    The tangible event that was hoped for became a spiritual event that nobody could prove or disprove.

    In the book, Broca's Brain, the late Carl Sagan made a humorous comment about this phenomenon:

    "One prominent American religion confidently predicted that the world would end in 1914. Well, 1914 has come and gone, and while the events of that year were certainly of some importance, the world does not, at least so far as I can see, seem to have ended. There are at least three responses that an organized religion can make in the face of such a failed and fundamental prophecy. They could have said, “Oh, did we say ‘1914’? So sorry, we meant ‘2014.’ A slight error in calculation. Hope you weren’t inconvenienced in any way.” But they did not. They could have said, “Well, the world would have ended, except we prayed very hard and interceded with God so He spared the Earth.” But they did not. Instead, they did something much more ingenious.

    They announced that the world had in fact ended in 1914 and if the rest of us hadn’t noticed, that was our lookout. It is astonishing in the face of such transparent evasions that this religion has any adherents at all. But religions are tough. Either they make no contentions which are subject to disproof or they quickly redesign doctrine after disproof. The fact that religions can be so shamelessly dishonest, so contemptuous of the intelligence of their adherents, and still flourish does not speak very well for the tough-mindedness of the believers. But it does indicate, if a demonstration were needed, that near the core of the religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry."

  • Diogenesister

    I can answer your original question in one sentence if you are refering to rank and file witnesses..

    Witnesses are prevented from reseraching their own religion using anything but approved sources, and by approved I mean Watchtower sources.

    They simply dont know about the lives of these two men, outside of what those sources print.

  • Duvduv

    How is it possible that so many millions of people can adhere to this and live even professional lives but agree to restrict their access to information to this extent as authorized simply by what, eleven men in New York??

    At what point in history did this level of control begin? How do they control internet use??

  • sir82

    What do you mean "the light gets brighter"? That all the changes and failed prophecies

    were some kind of progressive revelation? How did Rutherford react to the failure of

    ,1914? How did Franz react to the failure of 1975?? That God was playing tricks?

    Why can't they become more liberal about blood transfusion?!

    Those are all excellent questions.

    If you want reasoned, rational answers, talk to a reasonable, rational person. Poster TD provided some good answers above.

    If you ask these questions to a JW, don't expect reasonable, rational answers.

    Your most likely responses will be along the lines of:

    1) There were a lot of strange ideas in the past. Jehovah has clarified matters in his due time. Ain't Jehovah wonderful?

    2) I don't care about the ancient past, I just want to get into paradise.

    3) If the JWs are wrong, where else will be go?

    4) What are you, some kind of apostate*?

    *For JWs, "apostate" is literally the worst, most foul, disgusting, obscene and profane insult imaginable. Think of the worst insult you can come up with, multiply its power by 10, and that might come close to scratching the surface of how a JW will react if he thinks you are an "apostate".

    For JWs, an "apostate" is anyone who criticizes their organization in general, or any of its governing body in particular, or who points out inconsistencies in their doctrine. It doesn't matter if the criticism is true or valid, or if the question is sincere - if you are in any way slightly critical of the organization or its leadership, or ask questions to which there is no pat answer, you are an "apostate".

    Yes, I know that makes no sense to normal people. But that is life in Watchtower-world.

  • Duvduv

    Right now I'm trying to get my understanding around the idea that the central Committee or "Politburo" was able to maintain control over access to information until the present. How has that been accomplished, even if one says that the JWs of the last 40 years or so aren't interested in the "complications" and controversies of earlier years?

    And of course the extent of constant adherence to the teachings and beliefs with some kind of "disfellowshipping" hanging over their head? Does the JW Governing Body now work essentially like a Politburo of the Soviet or Maoist times? And what difference has it made that the leadership of the Watchtower and that of the Governing body were separated and divided between a handful of individuals?

  • reslight2

    i cannot address all that is being said here. I am not with the JWs. I am a Bible Student as was Charles Taze Russell. There are indeed many, many false accusations and distortions of history being told about Russell, what he taught, what he did, etc.

    I will be making references to my CTR site:


    I have been studying Russell's works and life for more than 55 years. I do not claim to know absolutely everything about him, and I still come across things that I did not know before. I do try to be as accurate as I can.

    Russell was never a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses organization; he did not believe in such authoritarian sectarianism. Nor did believe in the organization method of salvation that Rutherford created and which is evidently still taught today by the JWs.

    It would not be fully accurate to say that more than 75% of Bible Students "left the organization." They did leave or were separated from the legal entity the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which could be referred to as legal business organization, but as the term "the organization" is often used by Jehovah's Witnesses, that would be misleading. The more accurate statement would be that the majority of the Bible Students worldwide rejected Rutherford's "Jehovah's visible organization" dogma; in effect, they refused to join themselves to "the organization". I will say that I don't know that Russell ever used to the word "organization" regarding the Watch Tower of his day. As a legal entity, I suppose the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of that time could have been referred to as an organization, but it was definitely not an "organization" in the sense that Rutherford and the JWs later made it to be.

    For more related to Russell and Organization, click on the "Authority/Organization" option listed at the top of the CTR website.

    I had some correspondence with some one workng on the book, "Nelson Barbour: The Millenium's Forgotten Prophet", before the book was published. If I remember correctly, I was sent a preliminary copy. At any rate, the thing I remember objecting to mostly was the reference to Barbour as a prophet. I have not seen Shultz' "A Separate Identity". I have ordered a copy of the book.

    Russell was definitely never a member of the Freemasons.

    For more related to this, click on the "Freemasons" option listed at the top of the CTR website.

    While not all that Russell was expecting for 1914 came about as quickly as he thought, as far as Russell is concerned, 1914 was not a failure. Russell was never expecting Christ to return in 1914, and he did not spiritualize 1914 due to any failure of such an event. About 1872, Russell came to realize that Christ's return would not be in the flesh, but in the spirit. In 1876, he accepted Barbour's conclusion that Christ had returned in 1874.

    Russell was expecting that the earthly phase of the kingdom would be established in Jerusalem in 1914 or shortly after; he did not change this expectation to something spiritual; I would say that most Bible Students are still expecting that the kingdom will be established in Jerusalem, whenever that may be.

    One speaks of dates for "the end" as being 1874, 1914, 1975. The two dates that would be related to Russell would be 1874 and 1914. I am not sure what is meant by "the end", but usually this is supposed to mean "the end of the world."

    Of course, Russell, before 1874, had no expectations regarding 1874 at all. Many Second Adventists were expecting the earth to be literally burned up with most its inhabitants eternally lost while a few would be saved. Russell rejected that idea. It was not until 1876, two years after 1874, that Russell accepted Barbour's conclusion that Christ had returned in 1874.

    For more details regarding 1874, one may click on the 1874 option at the top of the CTR website.

    As far as 1914 is concerned, before 1904 Russell accepted Barbour's conclusion that the time of trouble had begun in 1874 and that it would last for 40 years, thus ending in 1914. Before 1904, then, Russell was expecting that the world would be at peace in 1914. Russell never held to any views similar to what the JWs claim about Armageddon. He viewed Armageddon as a period of time when the people of the nations were to be chastised (not eternally destroyed). Such chastisement was to prepare them for the kingdom blessings to follow.

    In 1904, however, Russell changed his view concerning the time of trouble, rejecting the view that the time of trouble had begun 1874. He then believed that it was to begin, not end, in 1914, and that rather than peace coming in 1914, the nations would be in the time of trouble. He was definitely not expecting "the end of the world" in 1914. He was expecting the Gentile Times to end in 1914, and the time of trouble was to begin in 1914.

    Regarding the time of trouble, one may find more in the the posting, "Beginning of the Time of Trouble - Quotes From Russell" on my CTR site.

    Russell presented several different scriptural methods for arriving at the date 1914, all of which the JWs have dropped except one, that of Daniel 4.

    Russell accepted 607/606 as the date of Jerusalem's destruction because of the chronology based on the Bible, and the many ways this date interlocked and produced a symmetry for many other time features. Still, he was not dogmatic about this, and not all Bible Students in his day accepted his view that Jerusalem was destroyed in that year. Russell mentioned this several times, but he never insisted that one had to accept the 606 date or in any other of the chronology in order to be accepted in fellowhsip. I have a collection of research on one of my websites related to Russell and 1914, and also another regarding Russell, authority and organization. One may click on "Authority/Organization" and "1914" options on my CTR website.

    Russell did nothing wrong regarding Miracle Wheat, despite all of the Eagle's distortions. I have much information related to this; one may click on "Miracle Wheat" option on my CTR site.

    Contrary to much false information often being spread, I do not believe that Russell did anything wrong towards Rose Ball. I consider this matter incomplete, as evidently no one sought to verify any of the accusations made in court with Sister Henninges, who had married and was living in Australia with her husband at the time of the divorce trial. Sister Henninges, however, was of the belief that Brother Russell had "gone out of the truth" because of his beliefs regarding the new covenant, and thus there was some friction between her and Russell over this. As far as I know Sister Henninges during her lifetime never mentioned, affirmed, or disaffirmed any of the statements attributed to her or regarding her that were presented in court. At any rate, many do like use the hearsay testimony presented in court as a weapon for character assassination of Russell. Due to the the fact this was considered too old to be accepted as testimony in court, the testimony concerning Miss Ball was stricken from the records. Nevertheless, in all that testimony that Mrs. Russell presented, it fell short of accusing Brother Russell of adultery, and Mrs. Russell herself stated that she was not accusing her husband of adultery.

    See "Russell and Rose Ball" on my CTR site. See also the "Marriage Problems" selection at the top.

  • Duvduv

    Hello, reslight2. This is now getting quite interesting. For the sake of clarification, do you have a chart or description of the development of the JW separate from Russell, and the phases it has gone through to the present, especially in terms of changing beliefs and doctrines starting with those inherited from Russell?

    It seems that one of the key aspects is the JW manages to operate like a Communist or Maoist party, with its Central Committee or Politburo, engulfing the entire life of millions of people worldwide mainly through the communications medium of the arm of the Watchtower Society, and which now has to separate sources of leadership - the administrative arm (Governing Board) and the ideological arm (Watchtower Society) that work hand in hand almost miraculously able to keep all these people in line, despite the internet and other sources of information.

    How do you think this is similar or different from the operations of the LDS Church?

    For that matter, the extent to which the Watchtower Society is deemed to be God's organization makes it similar to the Vatican's role. And the exclusivity of its role for salvation isn't any different than the similar claims of the Catholic Church that salvation is with the Church. So how do JW differ from Catholics? Because of this or that doctrine or change? The Catholics also made changes with Vatican II etc. It seems that the focus is mainly in the area of shunning and coercion, which does not formally exist in Catholicism or even the LDS as far as I know. Your thoughts on all these matters will be most interesting. I did notice that in Awake! of March 1993 it emphasized that the WTS was not "infallible," and that even JW have made mistakes in predictions.

  • Duvduv

    In terms of classification as a cult perhaps by virtue of seeking to keep the followers within the fold, it doesn't seem that the JW are more in that situation than other groups. And of course the JW have features that resemble the Catholic Church as well (central ideological control).

    Other aspects such as secrecy seemed to be more prevalent among the Mormons who have secret rituals and who don't even reveal financial records for tithing to their members. Perhaps a better description of JW is "eccentric." That seems to me to be more appropriate. Perhaps even "very eccentric." It seems to me it would be awfully difficult to describe a sect composed of millions of people worldwide as a cult which corresponds to Branch Davidians or some Far Eastern neo-Hindu sect.

  • Duvduv

    Hello, reslight2 and others. I would like to continue this thread. Thanks.

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