Founder: Charles Taze Russell
Official Name: Jehovah's Witnesses-this name was not used in Russell's time. Rutherford named the group in 1931 based on Isaiah 43:10.
Date Founded: December 13, 1884
1. Charles Russell
2. Joseph F. Rutherford
3. Nathan H. Knorr
1. New World Translation (Bible)
2. Emphatic Diaglott (Greek Testament)
3. Make Sure of All Things (70 Section doctrinal book)
4. Let God Be True (doctrinal book)
Headquarters: Brooklyn, New York (Bethel)
Organization: The Witnesses function under a highly organized program.
1. Headquarters (Board of Directors)
5. Congregations-approximately 200 people that meet in “Kingdom Halls”
Kingdom Hall Program:
1. Presiding Minister (congregational servant)-one who is “spiritually” mature in leading and dedicating the people in their work.
2. Ministerial Servant-assists the minister in these duties:
a. Bible study servant-studies in converts homes
b. Literature servant
c. Magazine servant
d. Accounts servant-expenses to run Hall
e. Pioneer servant-devote 150 or more hours in their territory.
Kingdom Hall Meetings: The J.W.'s either meet in private homes or in the Hall. The Halls are moderate and small in number.
1. Congregation Book Study-Early in week for one hour the people study the N.W.T. (New World Translation Bible) and Watchtower Textbook.
2. Theocratic Ministry School-enroll for life in this course that meets one evening a week–primarily for home- to -home visitation.
3. Service Meeting-A monthly pamphlet from Bethel discusses methods and thinking for the week.
4. Public Meeting-Sunday afternoon or evening to study Watchtower.
5. Watchtower Study-Most important meeting of the week, questions and answers in Watchtower Articles.
Charles Taze Russell: Charles Russell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania on February 16, 1852. His parents, Joseph and Anna Eliza, were Presbyterians. At the age of 15, Charles Russell joined a Congregational Church. However, due to the doctrines of predestination and eternal hell, Russell at the age of 17 became an agnostic claiming organized religion had destroyed his confidence in God and the scriptures.
Russell did, however, begin to look into the subject of religion (see Jude 8). He came across writings by Ellen White and Jonas Wendell (both Seventh Day Adventists) which seemed to offer more than the organized religions, especially appealing were these doctrines-extinction of the soul at death, the annihilation of the wicked, and hell as the grave not eternal punishment.
Charles' father, Joseph, had a chain of clothing stores that would one day net Charles more than a quarter of a million dollars. At the age of 18, Russell then began his own “Bible” study in a basement near his father's store. A group of people met there for five years. It was during this time that Russell became disappointed with the Adventist's view that Christ would return in the flesh and not invisibly. In 1876, he met with N.H. Barbour, a leader of dissatisfied Adventists, who likewise did not believe in the physical return of Christ. These two groups combined and started a magazine “The Herald of the Morning.” This venture later proved embarrassing to the movement as Russell mis-calculated the date of Christ's return. With the start of this partnership, Russell sold his interest in the clothing business. Soon after, though, Russell and Barbour parted ways due to a disagreement of theology.
Russell had set down for himself four goals for his future work:
1. To devote his life to his cause.
2. To invest all his money into the work.
3. To never take church collections.
4. And to depend on voluntary gifts.
With these goals in mind, Russell set out on his own using his magazine “Zion's Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence” as the forerunner. By 1880, seven states had congregations.
Russell married Maria Frances Ackley in 1879. For many years she was active in the Watchtower Society as secretary-treasurer and associate editor. However, in 1913, Mrs. Russell sued for a divorce on the grounds of “his conceit, egotism, domination, and improper conduct in relation to other women.” Upon hearing the evidence, the judge ruled in her favor.
In 1882, Russell made his first attack on the doctrine of the trinity, and it was this article that drove Russell to believe he was appointed as Jehovah's witness to the world. Finally on December 13, 1884, Zion's Watchtower Tract Society was granted a legal charter and became a corporation. This is the official beginning of the Jehovah Witness Movement. It was at this point that Russell began a seven volume series of doctrinal books called Studies in the Scriptures. The first volume appeared in 1886, “The Divine Plan of the Ages,” and the last one was published in 1917 after his death.
The headquarters in Allegheny were too small for Russell's growing religion so they built another headquarters to house them for the next 20 years. Russell continued his writings, traveling, and lecturing while his movement grew. Finally in 1908, one of Russell's most important converts and next president to be, Joseph Rutherford, the Society's legal counselor, acquired some property in Brooklyn, New York. (This is still the location of the world headquarters today-Bethel.)
Russell's health was poor as he began a western speaking tour beginning in Texas. Upon arriving in California his health was going quickly and Russell decided to return to New York. He died returning to New York, October 31, 1916, on the train in Pampa, Texas.
Court Cases Involving Charles Russell: a. His divorce: In 1897, Mrs. Russell left her husband and six years later sued for separation. The divorce was given in 1906 after sensational testimony. There was much litigation that was very undesirable for Russell regarding alimony for his wife but in 1909, it was settled. She was to receive $6,036. The litigation revealed Russell's activities in the religious field were carried on through several subsidiary societies and that all of the wealth that came to him through these societies was under control of one holding company of which Russell held $990 of the $1,000 capital and two of his followers the other $10. Thus Russell controlled all the financial power and was accountable to no one.
b. Miracle Wheat: the newspaper, “The Brooklyn Eagle”, exposed this fraud. Russell's 'Watchtower' published a “miracle wheat” for $1.00 per pound that would grow five times as much as any other brand. The proceeds from the sale would go to the Society. The Eagle exposed this claim in a cartoon in their paper, and Russell sued for $100,000 in damages. Government investigators made the find that the wheat not only didn't produce five times as much, but was in some cases for inferior. The Eagle, of course, won–January 1913.
c. Russell's Imaginary Sermons: From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of February 19,1912, is another report of Russell's hypocrisy. Russell traveled abroad extensively and sent back sermons he delivered to the States. The Eagle contended that Russell never delivered these sermons. For example, in Hawaii he said he delivered a sermon at Honolulu in front of a large audience. The editor of the “Hawaiian Star” wrote that Russell appeared for a few hours in Hawaii but didn't make his expected public address. This was typical of many other documented accounts.
d. The Greek Scholar: Reverend J.S. Ross of Hamilton, Ontario after having written a pamphlet denouncing Russell both doctrinally and morally, was sued by Russell for “defamatory libel.” Ross charged that Russell was anti-rational, anti-scientific, anti-Biblical, uneducated, a pseudo-scholar, and ignorant of the languages. Russell being the plaintiff must prove the charges false, while Ross must prove truth.
Russell claimed all of Ross's claims were false except for the wheat scandal. Russell had now committed a gross error before the high court and Almighty God.
1. Russell only attended school seven years.
2. Russell under oath said he was ordained, but later under pressure of evidence had to say this was a lie.
3. He was asked if he knew Greek. He replied, “Yes”. At this point he was asked to read the letters of the Greek alphabet–he couldn't. He replied, “No” when he was asked again if he knew Greek. Nor did he know Hebrew, Latin, or any other language.
4. He never studied philosophy or systematic theology.
As statement after statement was proved false and Russell stood head down in front of the court—proved a liar and a fraud, the judge threw the case out of court. Russell also had testified that his wife had not divorced him and that he did not pay alimony. Case in Ontario, Canada, December 9, 1912- February 7, 1913, also March 1913.
Joseph Franklin Rutherford: “Judge,” as his followers knew him, was born November 8, 1869 in Booneville, Missouri. His parents were Baptists. His father was a farmer and had very little income. At the age of 16, Rutherford decided to go to college to study law. His father made him pay not only for his education but also for a hired hand to take his place at home. Six years later, two Watchtower representatives approached Rutherford, and by 1906 he had joined Russell's movement. Although he and Russell were direct opposites in personalities-the Judge was here to stay.
After Russell's death, Rutherford took over as the Society's president. He completely reorganized the Brooklyn Headquarters and began to encourage more active member solicitation. However, very soon there arose trouble in the new leadership. Rutherford, a cold, hard man who was never to be opposed-this was equivalent of opposing God himself. The ones who had been loyal to Russell began to have conflicts, and when Rutherford finished Russell's last book in the doctrinal series-this led to a split in the society. The ones who left formed a “Dawn Bible Students” study and stated all revelations had ceased at Russell's death. (J.W.'s also believe in Progressive Revelation.)
The last volume in the doctrinal studies brought charges from the Canadian and U.S. governments on insubordination, anti-war statements (World War I was in progress) and failure to serve military duty in the U.S. Services. On June 20, Rutherford and other Witnesses were sentenced to jail in Atlanta, Georgia for 20 years. However, the war ended in November 1918, and the jailed Witnesses, after having served nine months, were released by a court order. Rutherford returned as a martyr-hero and the work was on the move again. A new magazine “The Golden Age”, later to be called “Awake”, was the beginning of a massive literature campaign.
In 1931, at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, the Society took the name of Jehovah's Witnesses from Isaiah 43:10. Due to the split in the work, Rutherford tried to write off Russell's doctrine or rather to disguise it with his own. On January 8, 1942, Judge Rutherford died. He was president for 25 years.
Nathan Homer Knorr: Nathan Knorr was born in 1905 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At the age of 16, Knorr joined the Society, and at 18 became a full-time preacher and worked at Bethel. In 1932, Knorr was made General Manager of all publishing activities. In 1940, he was made vice-president of the Pennsylvania Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Finally on January 13, 1942, Nathan Knorr was elected as the Society's third (and present) president.
Knorr was not as well known as the two previous presidents although he had demonstrated his ability by beginning a campaign to canvass the neighborhoods as witnesses. This proved to be a drastic change in the Society's growth and development.
Important prospects carried out by Knorr since his presidency:
1. Improvement of the Society's training program.
2. Gilead Watchtower Bible School in South Lansing, New York.
3. Theological ministry school for the congregations.
4. A new set of doctrinal books.
5. Translation of the Bible into modern English- The New World Translation.
6. Expansion to foreign countries.
(As an afterthought, even though it was a rule at Bethel that no one who lived there could get married and some were thrown out because of breaking this rule, Knorr, living there while president, got married.)
Ideas for Witnessing:
1. Be careful about use of the history of the cult's leaders.
2. Let them know if they reject the Gospel, they are on troubled ground.
3. Always use this with the J.W.'s. If we talk about anything in the Bible, we will disagree, so let's talk about important issues and from where.
4. Say, we are both students of the Bible so let's use only the Bible.
5. Do not allow them to jump around. Get on John 6:47 etc., and don't move till it is completely explained.
6. Make sure of the meaning of all the terms.
7. Don't persecute them–this is what they are looking for. Be courteous and agree as much as possible. (Titus 3:9; II Timothy 2:24-26)
8. Don't leave them comfortable.
9. When a witness approaches you, he is programmed to make his presentation–let him. Do not interrupt of disagree-just let him finish. When he is done, you will be expected to reply. At this point, give your testimony in a loving way, stressing grace versus works.
10. Always read the context of their passages.
11. They usually travel in pairs–one has experience, one doesn't. Try to reach the one with less experience (He will be the one who doesn't talk.)
12. Ask these questions to determine the amount of programming they have had:
a. How long have you been a witness?
· A short time can be both good and bad–good in that they don't know much, and bad in that it brings much zeal.
· A long time—the person has experienced much disillusionment.
b. How many hours do you go door-to-door each month?
· A good witness puts in 100 hours.
c. May I have your address?
· They do not like to do this, but explain that you want to visit them also.
13. Do not accept literature.
14. When talking always be well prepared–don't ramble.
15. Get books on Jehovah Witness doctrine.
· William Schnell-Good Source.
Founder: Charles Taze Russell