Why the Jehovah's Witnesses don't want you to know about their founder:
Charles Taze Russell.
Charles Taze Russell, founder of the sect known as "Jehovah's Witnesses" (or "Russellites"), was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1852. He explains the origin of his religion as follows:
"Let me begin... at the year 1868 when, as a member of the Congregational church and of the Young Men's Christian Association, I began to be shaken in faith regarding many long-accepted doctrines... Among other theories I stumbled upon Adventism. [The sect founded by Mr. William Miller in 1829, who preached that Christ would come again in 1840]. Thus I confess indebtedness to Adventists as well as to other denominations." (Watch Tower, July 1906; cited in The Jehovah's Witnesses, Hebert Hewitt Stroup [New York: Columbia University Press, 1945, pp. 5,6.])
Although there is no unified historical record concerning the founding of the Witnesses, according to a WatchTower Yearbook, "a few Christian persons met together in a little house in Pennsylvania to discuss the Scriptures relative to the coming of Christ and His Kingdom" (ibid., p. 4). This Bible study group bestowed upon Russell the title "Pastor". In court. Russell was asked, "Now; you never were ordained by a bishop, clergyman, presbytery, council, or any body of men, living?" Russell answered, "I never was." (Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults [Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1985, pp. 4-5.])
Notice the emphasis on the Second Coming of Christ. According to the Witnesses, Armageddon or the "Holy War" between Christ and His disciples and Satan and his followers during which the world as we know it will be destroyed, is always "just around the corner." Many times the WatchTower and Bible Society has given dates for the end of the world. For example, in July of 1917, the year 1925 was established as a "significant date" - that is, the year of Armageddon. Similarly, 1975 was established as a "significant date" in June 1966. Of course, both times thousands of Witnesses left the organization because Christ did not come. (The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, by Heather and Gary Botting [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984, pp. 195-196]) These dates alone, which are the product of faulty - indeed fatuous - Biblical exegesis, render the claim of the Governing Body of the WatchTower Society that they are "God's representatives on Earth" blatantly absurd.
Again, many thousands came to this conclusion when his wife, Maria Ackley (1906), sued Russell for divorce. They reasoned, correctly, that being a prophet of God precluded getting a divorce. Her grounds were four-fold: "That his conceit, egotism and domination were such as to make life intolerable to any sensitive woman; that his conduct in relation to other women was improper; that on one occasion he was silent to his wife for four weeks and only communicated with her by letters of a reproachful character, and that he sought by most despicable means to isolate his wife from society, and designed to get her pronounced insane in order to put her away" (Stroup, p. 9). Mrs. Russell won the suit, and her alimony payment was $6,036 (Martin, p. 39). Moreover, she received back alimony payments from officials of the WatchTower Bible and Tract Society: "Mr. Rutherford testified to the fact that he and four other prominent Witnesses grouped together in 1909 to raise $10,000 which they paid to Mrs. Russell for back alimony. From 1909 until the time of the death of Mr. Russell; these men paid Mrs. Russell $100 a month out of their own funds" (WatchTower, Feb. 1917; Stroup, pp.117-118).
Mr. Russell died on October 31, 1916. Why would these five officials have to pay Mrs. Russell what is due her? After all, her husband owned 990 of the 1000 shares of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Walter Martin observes, "Thus Russell apparently controlled the entire financial power of the Society and was not accountable to anyone" (Martin, p. 39). So any money sent to the Society belonged to Russell. Although he refused to relinquish alimony, he spent very liberally on himself and his cronies. His wife explains at the trial, "His life was one continuous round of expensive touring, at tremendous cost to many of his deceived followers. At a convention ...he and his special favourites were settled in palatial quarters apart from the main company. There he held daily receptions, to which live hundred each day were admitted by ticket, all being treated to refreshments, free boat ride, and carfare from the convention grounds to his quarters" (Stroup, p. 12).
Russell toured the world in 1912 to promote his new religion. But he was dishonest while doing so. The Brooklyn Eagle, a newspaper in New York hat ran an expose of Russell, elaborates: "All during this time the 'Pastor's' sermons were being printed in newspapers throughout the world. [He] caused accounts to be published in his advertised sermons telling of enthusiastic greetings at various places he visited. It was shown in many cases that the sermons were never delivered in the places that were claimed." (Martin, page 40).
Not only did Russell lie while touring the world, he lied under oath. A Protestant minister, J.J. Ross, published a pamphlet calling Russell's religion "the destructive doctrines of one man who is neither a scholar nor a theologian" and who "never attended the higher schools of learning; knows comparatively nothing of philosophy, systematic or historical theology, and is totally ignorant of the dead languages" (Martin, p. 42). Russell sued for "defamatory libel", claiming that Ross' charges were untrue and exposed him to public ridicule and contempt, thereby irrevocably injuring his reputation. In court, however, all of Ross' charges were proven to be true. For example, when asked if he knew the Greek alphabet Russell answered: "Oh, yes." Then when he was asked to identify some letters, he rejoined, "I don't know that I would be able to." Finally, he was asked, "Are you familiar with the Greek language?" He replied, "No." The case, Dr. Walter Martin rightly concludes; "established him beyond a doubt as a premeditated perjurer" (Martin, pages 42-45).
To make more money - as if he did not have enough - Russell lied once again: the Society advertised wheat seed for sale at $1 a pound. It was called "Miracle Wheat" because - are you ready for this? - it supposedly grew five times as much wheat as any other brand. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle noticed the scam and published an incriminating cartoon. Once again Russell sued for libel - and once again, he lost the case (Martin, p. 40).
Knowing full well that Russell was a habitual liar, how can anyone trust what he asserted in his writings? On page after page this pompous man proffers misinformation and propaganda in order to deceive the most naive and gullible people. The following is a typical example: "Few realize that from the time creed-making began, A.D. 325, there was practically no Bible study for 1260 years." (Studies in the Scriptures, Russell's foreword, p. 5).
The Catholic Church, in its Council of Nicaea in year 325 promulgated the Nicene Creed to clarify her doctrine of the Holy Trinity which was given to the Apostles by Christ Himself In any case, Russell rejected the Council of Nicaea's teaching that Christ is consubstantial with the Father; that is, he repeats Arius' heresy that Christ is only a creature - the first one created by God the Father. 'The Church has always taught that Jesus Christ is God - the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
To affirm that there was no Bible Study from 325 to 1585 is absolutely ludicrous. Shortly after the Council of Nicaea, Pope Damasus ordered Saint Jerome to produce a Latin version of the Scriptures from the original languages. Known as the "Vulgate," it is recognized by the Catholic Church as an authentic and authorized version. Moreover, Russell is an intellectual and moral pigmy compared to the giants of Catholicism: Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine, Origen, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Thomas Aquinas - the list is virtually endless. The writings of just these intellectuals are libraries in themselves. More importantly, they were renowned for holiness during their lifetimes and eventually became great saints. Russell; on the other hand, ...
"The testimony... of the so-called Early Fathers," Russell writes; "has been omitted" (ibid., p.7). And we know why - the Faith of the early Fathers is Catholicism. The New Testament writers passed on the Catholic Faith - this is a historical fact. This is why the Catholic Church proclaims that what the Fathers unanimously teach to be of faith, is of faith, and what they unanimously reject as heretical, is heretical.
Although Russell praises Protestantism in general, he voices the following criticism: "But since their day Protestants have made little progress, because, instead of walking in the light, they have halted around their favourite leaders, willing to see as much as they saw but nothing more" (ibid., p. 10). This applies even more to Russell and his followers: they slavishly echo his doctrine and his ideas; blind sheep being led to the slaughter by a deranged wolf.
Despite having only a seventh grade education, Russell boasted that he was the incarnation of truth, for he referred to his Studies in the Scriptures as "not mere comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself" (The WatchTower, Sept. 15; 1910; cited in Martin, p. 46). He insisted that the Bible was not studied for over 1200 years and that only he was competent to interpret it - completely ignoring the Church Fathers. No wonder Mrs. Russell lambasted her husband for his "egotism and conceit."
Like all persons who establish their own religion; Russell set himself up as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth" (lst Timothy 3:15). In reality, however, he was an uneducated liar who managed to portray himself as a reformer, thus bilking (milking) many people out of millions of dollars. He charged that organized religion is a "racket", and his religion shows that in his case it is true.