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Pastor Russell: Messenger of Millennial Hope (FREE download)

This 400+ page book, written by a Bible Student author and a consummate researcher, C. Redeker, offers a thorough history of Pastor Charles Taze Russell and the Bible Student movement he founded.  His doctrinal and prophetic views are presented.  Contemporary Bible Student ministries are examined and their distinctions from the Jehovah Witnesses are explored through historical and doctrinal investigation.  A close looks is taken at Pastor Russell’s last days, his death, and the conspiracy that resulted in a new leadership, as well as big changes in the spirit, doctrines and policies of the Watchtower.  A thoughtful, honest and thorough response is provided to Russell criticisms.

Feel free to DOWNLOAD A FREE PDF version (42 MB) of this informative and inspiring title, or you may CLICK HERE TO  PURCHASE a hard cover book at the Chicago Bible Students online bookstore.  Please note that this is copyrighted material and it may not be used for personal or commercial gain.

Let us know your thoughts and comments about the book and your thoughts about Pastor Russell’s life.

5 comments to Pastor Russell: Messenger of Millennial Hope (FREE download)

  • David Aldridge

    Excellent book!

  • greg (Bible Student)

    I spent yesterday reading chapter 9 “When Pastor Russell Died” from the book linked above, “Charles Taze Russell: Messenger of Millennial Hope.” I verified the citations in the old Watchtower articles dating circa 1923-1927. (available online at: http://avoidjw.org/watchtower-awake-magazines/)

    I sat stunned as I read the following excerpts. All I could hear was Lawyer Speak, Legalese, Baloney, Sneaky Snake Speak, and Arguments that could sound solid but are in fact based on erroneous suppositions and speculations. Reading these sections was, for me at least, just like listening to the elusive answers G.Jackson gave to the ARC enquiry. Moreover, I was really struck by how Rutherford really seems to have condemned himself by his own words. Let me quote:

    Watch Tower Oct. 15, 1923
    Page 310, § 32

    …It is a well-known fact that
    many thus described in the nominal churches outwardly
    claim to be Christians, yet manifest none of the spirit
    of Christ, but on the contrary manifest the spirit of the
    evil one—a stubborn, self-willed, unscrupulous class of
    men who seek the destruction of all that oppose them.

    Need I comment? I think not. And how about this?

    Watch Tower Oct. 15, 1923
    Page 312, § 53
    …The Scriptures seem to indicate that
    those who have knowingly and wilfully repudiated the
    truth during the presence of the Lord, who have substi-
    tuted Satanic doctrines for the doctrine of the Lord,
    who have neglected the Lord’s flock while claiming to be
    his representatives, and who have persecuted his breth-
    ren, may not be counted worthy of a trial for life during
    the Millennial age.

    How could Rutherford not see that he was persecuting the Brothers of Christ? Is Pride that blinding? Or was it something else that got in the way of honest appraisal of reality? Or did he see and persist regardless? Also, do not these words actually condemn also the ones who claim to be “shepherds” of the flock today? These questions are not for me to try and answer. It is sufficient, I believe, to ask the question and then to watch out for fear I follow down a similar path.

    Watch Tower Oct. 15, 1923
    Page 71, § 62

    …Without seeming egotistical, and not intending
    to assume too much, we suggest that the officers of
    the SOCIETY, used of the Lord in a representative
    capacity, may be used to represent his people. The
    personnel makes no difference. The question is, Does
    the Lord use them? He must use some one. God sets
    the members in the Body as it pleaseth him. (1 Cor-
    inthians 12:18) When one is set in the Body, that
    one’s personality counts for nothing. It is the office
    in the Body, or place, that is to be considered, and the
    representative capacity in which the Lord may use the
    one in that office or place.

    Do I understand that clearly? That one’s personality counts for nothing? Could that belief maybe explain some of Rutherford’s attitudes and actions? Wow! I see that as an exceedingly dangerous attitude to adopt.

    Watch Tower, Jan 1, 1927, Page 6, § 34

    Many creatures worship the Devil. It is the policy
    of the Devil to induce others to worship some creature,
    in order that their minds may be turned away from Je-
    hovah God. The Christian should always keep this fact
    in mind. To accomplish his purpose the Devil not only
    resorts to fraud but induces others to become hypocrites.
    He began this practice in the days of Enos, when he
    induced men at that time to call themselves by the name
    of the Lord, who in truth and in fact were the dupes of
    the Devil. (Genesis 4: 26, margin) The cunning and
    wicked policy of the Devil is here disclosed.

    OK, does anyone else have a problem like I do in trying to reconcile this paragraph with Rutherford’s later actions when he began to call himself by the name of the lord, grabbing the name of Jehovah and pinned the title “Jehovah’s Witnesses” on himself and his organization? Have not the cunning and wicked policies of the Devil and the Dupes of the Devil been making themselves manifest for the last hundred years or so?

    As if that’s not scary enough for me, the topper was what I read in this next section. In it, Rutherford claims that Character Development is not only unnecessary, but unscriptural, and a snare of Satan.

    Watchtower, May 1, 1926, Page 131, § 4

    Many have thought that Christian character develop-
    ment means that a man who is a Christian must develop
    something separate and distinct from his being or per-
    son, and that this thing which he develops must be
    developed while in the flesh, by his personal efforts.
    They have believed that this personal development of a
    character must be brought to perfection before they can
    enter into eternal life. This wrong conception of the
    matter has led many to believe that they can reach per-
    fection in the flesh. Thus believing they have attempted
    to accomplish the same, and the effort has generally led
    to one of two things: (a) The complete discouragement
    of the Christian and the giving up of the good fight of
    faith, or (b) pride and self-satisfaction, the disposition
    of “more holy than thou”, causing such an one to lose
    sight of the necessity of the merit of Christ Jesus’ great
    sacrifice wherein the Christian must stand, and therefore
    finally resulting in such an one falling completely into
    the net of the adversary. Past experience has shown that
    one persisting in the course of self-satisfaction in what
    he calls “character development” does not long remain
    in the truth.

    I find it rather ironic that by eradicating the idea of a need for individuals to personally work on Character Development, Rutherford seems to have actually guaranteed that the problems he claimed to be wanting to avoid would exist and fester, namely Pride, Self-Satisfaction, a Holier-than-Thou Attitude, Discouragement, Depression, Etc. It seems to me that common heart-sense would have argued FOR an INCREASE in conscious efforts towards Character Development. It seems to me that only in a head that has no heart to guide it would this plan to do away with Character Development make any kind of sense.

    I allow that Rutherford’s harsh upbringing no doubt played a significant factor in what I perceive to have been an obsessive adherence to rules and laws, details and minutiae, including the erroneous belief that some (even most) people are simply born evil, and nothing one does or attempts will ever change that. Why, Rutherford’s own attitude stands out boldly and frightening to me when he said (only 1 minute 30 seconds into his 1938 discourse entitled “Violence”) “… when Cain, without a cause, murdered his Brother Abel.” (MP3 available here: https://archive.org/details/ViolenceByJudgeRutherford)

    I originally was intrigued by the title of this discourse, “Violence,” because of my own developing awareness of the importance of ridding myself of all forms of violence, confusion (babel), and corruption, especially the subtly hidden forms in our everyday language. (For more information, may I point you towards: Nonviolent Communication – http://www.cnvc.org, also, “Anger and Domination Systems” by Marshall Rosenberg http://nwcompass.org/about-nvc/anger-domination/ and “Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence” by Walter Wink http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/print/6268) But when I listen to Rutherford, when I read his written ideas, all I can hear is violence, confusion, corruption, seething hatred, contempt and disdain for fellow human beings, self-righteous grandiosity, and twisted reasonings.

    I can’t help but think of how these scriptures might apply.

    Romans 16:17-18 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (English Standard Version)

    Jude 19 “These are the people who cause divisions. They are concerned about physical things, not spiritual things.” (GOD’S WORD to the Nations)

    Luke 18:9-14 “He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others… ” (New Heart English Bible)

    Acts 20:29-30 “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (English Standard Version)

    Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are those who show mercy. They will be treated mercifully.” (GOD’S WORD to the Nations)

    Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the log that is in your own eye? Or how will you tell your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the log out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (New Heart English Bible)

    By the way, in my own case, while I carefully endeavour to refrain from “judging” Rutherford, the man, I do in fact see it as important to judge the value of his actions, the worth of his words, and to make an “impact assessment” of them by trying to make careful estimation of the kind of impact his words would have in ripple effect on others. I hope and pray that my words will always truly harmonize with Jehovah’s will, and that they will always reflect my sincere desire and efforts to always have and demonstrate love to all, especially to those who are difficult to love. And I hope and trust that if ever my chosen words did not adequately convey to another the compassionate and forgiving spirit behind my words, I would be willing and able to readjusted, or be permitted to try and more clearly express my thoughts and intentions. Finally, I pray that no one latches onto anything I say and repeats it as truth. I pray that each one resolve the matter in his own heart, rather than adopting my expressions as valid. (James 3:1-2; Matthew 6:14,15)

    Matthew 23:1-28 seems to me to be exceedingly applicable to Rutherford and his followers of today. It reads:

    “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
    “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
    “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (English Standard Version)

    To me, it seems that Rutherford’s ideas and teachings have stuck very well in the minds of many. He indeed gathered like minds to himself. It appears to me to be greatly in evidence today. It’s been my experience that JW’s seem to have been taught that Works Alone are proof of Faith and Righteousness. I see them as gluing apples on a tree and claiming that to be evidence that it is indeed an apple tree. However, for me, the fruitage of the Spirit is precisely that: Fruitage. As with a rose, if I work to provide the proper environment and conditions that nurture the rose, it will flourish and bloom. But if I merely go out and act so as to glue flowers on it, I’m only fooling myself.

    Likewise, if I do what is necessary to cultivate the proper conditions for my growth, and for the growth of others, if I learn to seek and speak real truth with clarity, kindness, and mildness of spirit, if I work at removing violence, confusion, and enemy images from my speech and consciousness, if I work at seeing myself and others (INCLUDING Rutherford himself) as human beings, beautiful fruit will simply come forth. If I work on my Christian Character, my words and actions will naturally arise from and testify to my developing Character.

    Matthew 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (English Standard Version)

    I ask you to look at the news today and determine for yourself what kind of fruit the JW organization is producing. Yes, some of the early Bible Students knew right away what kind of fruitage this type of “fertilization” was likely to produce. But for many of us “youngsters” who have been born and raised in Witnessville, we’ve had to wait to see what kind fruit has developed. It seems abundantly clear to me that it is diseased, rotten and worthless.

    But Rutherford chucked Character Development completely aside as unimportant. He claimed that by simply DOING, one could be guaranteed of one’s salvation. Read what he said here:

    Watchtower, May 1, 1926, Page 136, § 44

    The Christian may put forth his very best endeav-
    ors to do the things mentioned by St. Peter, and yet
    he is always mindful of his many weaknesses and im-
    perfections. He knows he is not perfect. With the
    wrong understanding of “character development” he
    would certainly become discouraged, but with a proper
    understanding of his covenant with God he with joy
    can say: “My Father is the righteous God. He knows
    my heart and he knows that I love him, and I am
    striving earnestly to be his true and faithful witness.”
    To such Christians the message of the apostle joyfully
    rings in their ears: ‘Be not discouraged ; if ye do these
    things, ye shall never fall.’ This means that if you
    faithfully put forth your best efforts to perform your
    part of the covenant you are absolutely certain to win
    and to have an abundant entrance into the kingdom,
    because the Lord has so promised.

    Does that sound more like the narrow and cramped gate that only a few find, or more like the broad and spacious door that many find? You decide, please, for yourself. (Matthew 7:13,14)

    With statements like the ones quoted above, I perceive that Rutherford paved the way for a return to a style of worship like the Mosaic Law, and virtually nullified the Ransom of Jesus. By simply OBEYING everything demanded, one would be counted righteous and perfect. By unquestioningly doing everything commanded by superior authorities, one would (appear to) be freed from the responsibility to one’s own conscience, would (appear to) be freed from guilt, would (appear to) be righteous before God, and one could then rest on one’s own piety and smugness.

    But this is precisely what Adolf Eichmann and the rest of the Nazi Party did under claims of simple “Obedience to Authority.” (See “Minutes of the Wannsee Conference” from the book “Why Bother” by Sam Smith, http://prorev.com/wannsee.htm ) And millions died as a result. Over the past several years I have gradually come to see the hidden dangers associated with Domination Structures and FEAR of Authority. Rutherford established a hierarchy that would sit in judgement of everyone, and absolve the individual of the need to assess the worth of one’s own actions, leaving that instead to an elite few. And many JW’s today, especially the “elite” ones do only that; they care little to none about the impact of their actions, but only of their intentions, and they only need blindly obey and demand that others also blindly obey. As the events of History during the Second World War attest, people get hurt and killed when consciences and principles are ignored and only rules are applied.

    Back in 2005, at the “Godly Obedience” District Convention, it was not obedience to God that was the real subject of the discourses, but rather, the term used was “UNCONDITIONAL Obedience to the ELDERS.” Therein it was stated that to Disobey ANYTHING ANY ELDER commanded was to DISOBEY and DISRESPECT God Himself. That District Convention was the last one I could stomach attending. And yet this controlling, domination structure asserted its disgusting self once again with the Invitation to the Memorial of Christ’s Death for 2012. (You can still view it here: http://paradisecafediscussions.org/forum/showthread.php?tid=608)

    It read:

    How do you view Jesus? You are invited to hear the answer.

    Sounds so sweet and nice, doesn’t it? Let me decrypt that for you by means of an illustration:

    Are you hungry? Don’t answer. I’ll decide and then I’ll tell you.

    Another illustration? OK.

    Do you like the color blue? No, You don’t and here’s why!

    That Memorial Invitation did it for me. From then on I and my family have observed the Memorial as a family, and as sincere Bible Students.

    But there’s more. Last year, in March of 2015, there was a knock at my door. It was two Elders that I recognized from my local congregation. They asked me what I thought about Jesus. I was thrilled by the opportunity given me to speak about my love for Christ Jesus, my heartfelt appreciation for the kindness, love, and mercy he demonstrated to all of mankind, as well as the complex suffering and no-doubt humbling human limitations and emotions he endured while on earth, and especially in his last few hours as a human. When I was done speaking from my heart, these two “poo-flinging monkeys” went up inside their heads and became so bold as to try and override and dictate to me my reality. They TOLD ME I was disrespectful. They TOLD ME how I felt about God and Christ. They TOLD ME I was somehow being disloyal to God because I wouldn’t OBEY THEM, Mere MEN!

    They even asked me if I thought the organization was too restrictive. I smiled and replied, “No. No, I don’t think that at all. Actually, I think the organization is far too permissive.”

    They didn’t ask me to elaborate. If they had I’d have said that the organization permits far too much violence, such as I had just been exposed to. They permit much corruption, add much confusion, fail to rid themselves of satanic influences, and go far beyond both the letter and spirit of the “law” by encouraging all it’s members, and especially Elders, to sit in Judgment of others, to claim to know what a person thinks and feels, and to know what a person’s reasons are for doing what they do by simply looking at appearances. Yes, they judge others by their own speculations derived from ignorance and hasty assumptions arising from outward appearance, but only rarely judge themselves, and even then, only by championing God’s name and their own noble intentions.

    I broke down and wept after they’d finally left. I returned no injury to to them. I held no grudge. I flung no poo back at them. I sincerely endeavoured to hear beyond their brutal accusations and strove to connect with them as human beings who were simply eager but misguided, zealous but ignorant. Sadly, they were still on their own inquisition, determined to burn someone at the stake, and make sacrifices of me and others like me to their God who loves to Destroy.

    Still, I see now very clearly how easy it is for any one of us to become dangerous, cold, heartless, even though well-intentioned. I understand the bitter regrets that must have pained the Apostle Peter so deeply after he both pained and then later denied Jesus. (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 14:72)

    I really appreciate the Bible Students, and all the friends I’ve made here on this website. For me, the compassion and caring of the Bible Students is manifest in their patience, in their tolerance, in their willingness to see frailty and humanness in everyone, in their eagerness to extend to everyone gentle kindness, sensitivity, forgiveness and respect.

    It is in the spirit of the love and compassion that I write this account of my studies and experiences. I sincerely hope that others who might perhaps read this will find the courage to trust their own eyes, their own ears, their own consciences, trust their own experiences, trust their own realities, and stop letting the Witnessville Machinery terrorize and steam-roll them.


  • Peter K. (admin)

    Rod – I put in CAPS above “CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE.” Click on the word PURCHASE and it will take you to the link on the Chicago Bible Students website where you can purchase the book at a very nominal cost.

  • rod

    Is it possible to order a hard copy of the book, Messenger of Millennial Hope?

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