What is CT Russell's motive?
What is Russell's motive when he started examining the Bible with a group of bible students? Did he intend to form a cult and to mislead others?
Russell appears to have been a thoughtful young man who had his faith shaken when an atheist bested him in an informal debate. He stumbled upon the Adventist movement while still a teenager and eventually bought into it hook line and sinker.
There's little question that he was sincere in the beginning. The book, The Divine Plan of The Ages positively drips with the optimism and enthusiasm of a true believer.
There is no evidence that he intended to form a new religion, but this was likely the unavoidable consequence of the message he promoted.
But he later set the date of christ's parousia at 1874 and then change it to 1914.
No. Russell bought into the 1874 date after the fact. And the change to 1914 happened in the 30's, well after Russell's death. Rutherford was running the show at this point.
As a general observation, It is a peculiarity of human movements that starry-eyed dreamers are followed by a hard-fisted pragmatists. Orwell illustrates the phenomenon humorously in the novel, Animal Farm.
It started in 1870 where Russell attended a presentation by Jonas Wendell, who had been a Millerite.
In 1872, Russell met George Stetson at a church where he pastored. George Stetson was part of the Advent Christian Church (and had worked with George Storrs, another Adventists that was influential on Russell). Russell’s bond with George Stetson was great enough that he actually conducted George Stetson’s funeral.
Then in 1876, Russell read one of Nelson Barbour's magazines Herald of the Morning that talked about 1874 being the invisible presence of Christ, ect, ect. He met with them and was bought the whole thing, including Barbour’s prediction for 1914.
Barbour predicted that the rapture would be in 1878. Russell bought into it so much, he sold all five of his clothing stores, and backed Barbour’s publications.
Of course, the 1878 failure caused Russell to rethink things, and by 1879 broke out on his own with Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. Of course, he retained the whole thing about 1874 and 1914, and retooled 1878 into something invisible.
I believe this is classic sunk cost fallacy. He had sold everything around believing the belief that the rapture was coming in 1878. Therefore, a failure meant that he rallied around that belief system.
When Russell started his own magazine, he was anti-organization and the umbrella of Watchtower was big enough to accommodate varying viewpoints, including even Trinitarians. That changed after 1881.
He evidently became a successful writer with the help of his wife Maria. But by the 1890’s, Russell seemed a very different person than he was when he started out. And by the end of his life, he had a following who regarded him the Faithful Slave and the Laocedean Messenger. As he died on a train in Texas, he asked to be dressed in a toga, and that is how he passed away.
Russell held to a core belief that Christ was to return and start the end times, eventually leading to the final day of judgement (Armageddon) , drawn out from self speculating Adventists, this was such a exciting and alluring thing to happen that he got personally involved with this theology roaming about at the time.
He helped another Adventist preacher N Barbour who published his own teachings. When slight disagreements occurred Russell started out on his own, drawing in W Conley who put up most of the money to start up the WTS. publishing house.
One might say Russell got caught up in these highly speculative but alluring doctrines of Christ's return, but I'm sure he also realized they were valuable doctrines toward the public proliferation of literature which could be published.
he asked to be dressed in a toga
What is a toga? Why did he want to dressed in a toga?
Wearing a toga means he is a holy man? a prophet of god?
hahaha! I also read that he sold off 5 of his clothing stores while anticipating the end of harvest in 1878.
It is straight from the Watchtower article about his death.
Here are a few places this forum discussed it:
What is a toga?
Most likely a white sheet which used on the train he was on at the time of his death.
The toga part is most likely an exaggeration by his followers who made up the IBSA.
These followers even after his death retained that he was a wise faithful servant of god, that's why they eventually built a Pyramid monument at his grave site.
He was really a novice bible theologian who acquired his own particular theology which he expressed into his own written publications.
One can only theorize how much he actually believed in his doctrines and how much he assumed they were worthy toward alluring the public to his publications.
I suspect only the most heinously cynical people would start a religion exclusively, or even primarily, for the power & control over others.
But, somehow, in most cases, there seems to be some sort of "natural law" that the new organization cleaves to, in which power & control become the focus. Then, the true cynics with a lust for power glom on (e.g. Rutherford) and the rest, as they say, is history.
Russell seemed to start out sincere, although very mistaken and deluded, but by no means an authoritarian. But I think success went to his head and he gradually became corrupt.
By the turn of the century, he was mired in all sorts of scandals and shady business dealings. Miracle Wheat, the Solon Society, his separation and divorce from Maria (as well as what this revealed of his harsh treatment of her), his efforts to transfer his assets to Watchtower to avoid paying anything to Maria...whatever happened between himself and 25-year-old Rose Ball and his deception regarding this…and all this just scratches the surface.
As Londo111 pointed out it easy to see the roots of corruption within the WTS organization started while Russell was still its controlling leader.
Russell put so much money into the WTS. Inc. that it became just too enticing for anyone to not grab a hold of this religious publishing house, involving false doctrines in all.
There was still large group of people who were willing to distribute the WTS's literature after Russeel's death.
The heighten illusion that Russell created was still in the mind set of the IBSA followers.
Russell was approx 9 years old when the civil war began. His mother would have died four months before. Over 300,000 Pennsylvanian men died in the Civil War, Gettysburg being only 195 miles from his home. What are the odds that he knew many men/neighbors who died in that war. If he had such an inquiring mind I'm sure he wondered where they had all gone when they died. Then at the end, Lincoln gets gunned down. Would he have wondered why such a "good" man who saved the union went? He would have been 13 or so by then. Could he have been one of those who rode out to watch battles as a boy?
His bio says he was disillusioned by the creeds of Christendom. I can imagine why. What kind of answers did the Presbyterian and Congregational ministers give him when he asked why and where had all these dead men laying in the fields go? Sincere then a victim of his own success.