Why JWs still hold to C. T. Russell as their founder is a mystery. Part of it, no doubt, is an effort to make the Org seem "antique", as if it had always existed. But if he were alive today, Russell would be branded the worse type of apostate - and he would no doubt loathe the Org.
From Thy Kingdom Come, pp. 184-187
There are various degrees of bondage among the different sects of resent the utter and absolute slavery of individual conscience and judgment, required by Romanism, are quite willing to be bound themselves, and anxious to get others bound, by the creeds and dogmas of one or another of the Protestant sects. True, their chains are lighter and longer than those of and the Dark Ages. So far as it goes, this surely is good--reformation truly--a step in the right direction--toward full liberty--toward the condition of the Church in the apostolic times. But why wear human shackles at all? Why bind and limit our consciences at all? Why not stand fast in the full liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free? Why not reject all the efforts of fallible fellowmen to fetter conscience and hinder investigation?--not only the efforts of the remote past, of the Dark Ages, but the efforts of the various reformers of the more recent past? Why not conclude to be as was the apostolic Church?--free to grow in knowledge as well as in grace and love, as the Lord's "due time" reveals his gracious plan more and more fully?
Surely all know that whenever they join any of these human organizations, accepting its Confession of Faith as theirs, they bind themselves to believe neither more nor less than that creed expresses on the subject. If, in spite of the bondage thus voluntarily yielded to, they should think for themselves, and receive light from other sources, in advance of the light enjoyed by the sect they have joined, they must either prove untrue to the sect and to their covenant with it, to believe nothing contrary to its Confession, or else they must honestly cast aside and repudiate the Confession which they have outgrown, and come out of such a sect. To do this requires grace and costs some effort, disrupting, as it often does, pleasant associations, and exposing the honest truth-seeker to the silly charges of being a "traitor" to his sect, a "turncoat," one "not established," etc. When one joins a sect, his mind is supposed to be given up entirely to that sect, and henceforth not his own. The sect undertakes to decide for him what is truth and what is error; and he, to be a true, staunch, faithful member, must accept the decisions of his sect, future as well as past, on all religious matters, ignoring his own individual thought, and avoiding personal investigation, lest he grow in knowledge, and be lost as a member of such sect. This slavery of conscience to a sect and creed is often stated in so many words, when such a one declares that he "belongs" to such a sect.
These shackles of sectarianism, so far from being rightly esteemed as shackles and bonds, are esteemed and worn as ornaments, as badges of respect and marks of character. So far has the delusion gone, that many of God's children would be ashamed to be known to be without some such chains--light or heavy in weight, long or short in the personal liberty granted. They are ashamed to say that they are not in bondage to any sect or creed, but "belong" to Christ only.
Hence it is that we sometimes see an honest, truth-hungry child of God gradually progressing from one denomination to another, as a child passes from class to class in a school. If he be in the Church of Rome, when his eyes are opened, he gets out of it, probably falling into some branch of the Methodist or Presbyterian systems. If here his desire for truth be not entirely quenched and his spiritual senses stupefied with the spirit of the world, you may a few years after find him in some of the branches of the Baptist system; and, if he still continues to grow in grace and knowledge and love of truth, and into an appreciation of the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, you may by and by find him outside of all human organizations, joined merely to the Lord and to his saints, bound only by the tender but strong ties of love and truth, like the early Church. 1 Cor. 6:15,17; Eph. 4:15,16
The feeling of uneasiness and insecurity, if not bound by the chains of some sect, is general. It is begotten of the false idea, first promulgated by Papacy, that membership in an earthly organization is essential, pleasing to the Lord and necessary to everlasting life. These earthly, humanly organized systems, so different from the simple, unfettered associations of the days of the apostles, are viewed involuntarily and almost unconsciously by Christian people as so many Heaven Insurance Companies, to some one of which money, time, respect, etc., must be paid regularly, to secure heavenly rest and peace after death. Acting on this false idea, people are almost as nervously anxious to be bound by another sect, if they step out of one, as they are if their policy of insurance has expired, to have it renewed in some respectable company.
But no earthly organization can grant a passport to heavenly glory. The most bigoted sectarian (aside from the Romanist) will not claim, even, that membership in his sect will secure heavenly glory. All are forced to admit that the true Church is the one whose record is kept in heaven, and not on earth. They deceive the people by claiming that it is needful to come to Christ through them--needful to become members of some sectarian body in order to become members of "the body of Christ," the true Church. On the contrary, the Lord, while he has not refused any who came to him through sectarianism, and has turned no true seeker away empty, tells us that we need no such hindrances, but could much better have come to him direct. He cries, "Come unto me"; "take my yoke upon you, and learn of me"; "my yoke is easy and my burden is light, and ye shall find rest to your souls." Would that we had given heed to his voice sooner. We would have avoided many of the heavy burdens of sectism, many of its bogs of despair, many of its doubting castles, its vanity fairs, its lions of worldly-mindedness, etc.
Many, however, born in the various sects, or transplanted in infancy or childhood, without questioning the systems, have grown free in heart, and unconsciously beyond the limits and bounds of the creeds they acknowledge by their profession and support with their means and influence. Few of these have recognized the advantages of full liberty, or the drawbacks of sectarian bondage. Nor was the full, complete separation enjoined until now, in the harvest time. Now the Lord's words are heard, Come out from among them: be ye clean (free, both from wrong practices and from false doctrines), ye who bear the vessels (truths-- doctrines) of the Lord. Isa. 52:11