On February 16, 1852, a child was born that would grow up to lead millions of people astray from families, friends, Christianity, and, most importantly, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The teachings this child taught later as an adult lead people down a road that will only end in one destination—Hell. On this seemingly normal day in 1852, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a son was born to Joseph L. Russell and his wife, Anna Eliza. They named him Charles Taze Russell. This child would grow up to form “The Watchtower Society” and later the religious group Jehovah’s Witnesses. Because Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah Witnesses religious group, grew up to be a lying, immoral man and had religious beliefs that went totally against New Testament Christianity, it is imperative that it is exposed both who he really was and the false doctrines around which his religious group was built. Before one can study Russell’s beliefs and proof of his immorality, one must learn the history of his life and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As mentioned before, Russell was born on February 16, 1852, to Joseph and Eliza Russell. He spent most of his early years in Pittsburgh and Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Not much is know about Russell until 1870, when, at the age of 18, he organized a Bible class in Pittsburgh. In 1875, the group elected him “Pastor.” From 1876 to 1878, he was assistant editor of a small Rochester, New York, magazine until he resigned when a controversy arose over his counterarguments against Christ’s “atonement.”
In 1879, Russell married Maria Frances Ackley. Also in 1879, Russell founded “The Herald of the Morning,” which eventually developed into today’s “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.” From 6,000 initial copies, the publication has grown to 17.8 million copies per month in 106 languages (Martin 79).
In 1884, Russell incorporated “Zion’s Watchtower Tract Society” in Pittsburgh. In 1886, it published the first of seven books (Russell wrote six by himself.), now entitled Studies in the Scriptures and originally entitled The Millennial Dawn (Martin 17). From these beginnings, Russell gained many followers and continued teaching and preaching until his death on October 31, 1916, aboard a trans-continental train in Texas.
After Russell’s death, leadership duties were taken over by Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford. Under Rutherford, the official name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was taken at Columbus, Ohio, in 1931, to differentiate between the true followers of Russell and other splinter groups (Martin and Russell 11).
Following Rutherford’s death in 1942, Nathan Knorr, Frederick Franz, and Milton Hanschel have assumed the leadership role, respectively. Through these leaders, Jehovah’s Witnesses has grown to a total membership of 5,413,769, as of the end of 1996 (Martin 93). Now that the history of Charles Taze Russell and Jehovah’s Witnesses has been covered, it is now time to move on to a comparison of basic Jehovah’s Witnesses’ beliefs to accepted Christian biblical doctrine.
There are many tenets to the Jehovah’s Witness faith that are totally against accepted Christian biblical doctrine. The Jehovah’s Witness religious group has made an attempt to separate themselves from the name Charles Russell in the years following his death. Even though the following doctrines mentioned are listed as Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, a careful comparison between them and the writings of Charles Russell would show a clear connection. The following are just a few of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ false doctrines followed up with biblical refutation. The doctrines mentioned are taken directly from their official pamphlets and books. First, here are some of their beliefs on Jehovah God.
Jehovah Witnesses believe there is only one true God and that he has many titles but has only one name. That name is “Jehovah.” Jehovah’s Witnesses arrogantly claim that by using Jehovah, they have “restored” the divine name of God. This is totally untrue. In the ancient Hebrew texts, where Witnesses claim they have found this as God’s name, only the Hebrew consonants “YHWH” or “JHVH” appear. In the Hebrew language, any vowels could be inserted between the consonants, giving any combination from JoHeVaH to JiHiViH, without doing any damage to the grammar of the language. To insist their past leaders had a revelation on this topic is a pathetic and ridiculous claim when Moses himself did not call God “Jehovah!” The next step in studying Jehovah Witness’ unbiblical doctrine is to study their beliefs about Jesus Christ.
“The true Scriptures speak of God’s Son, the Word, as ‘a god.” He is a ‘mighty god,’ but not the Almighty God, who is Jehovah” (Martin 102). These lines are taken directly from works published by “The Watchtower Society” and sum up the Witnesses’ basic beliefs about Jesus Christ. Witness doctrine teaches that Jesus was the first creation of Jehovah and is therefore the firstborn, only-begotten Son of God, but is not equal with God. John 1:1 which states “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (NIV 1590). This verse completely disproves the idea Jesus is not equal with God. Nowhere in scriptures does it say Christ was A god but that he WAS God.
Further proof of this is seen in Jesus’ claims to be “I am” in John 8:58. John 8:57-59 states
“’You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘I tell you the truth, ’Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” (NIV 1610).
In Hebrew law, in only five cases was stoning legal. One of these was blasphemy. Jesus called himself “I am.” These are the words God used when Moses asked who he was. Exodus 3:14 states “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (NIV 90). Jesus called himself Jehovah by calling himself “I am.” Two other refutes to the idea of Jesus not being equal with Jehovah are seen in John 20:28 and John 5:18. John 20:28 says “Thomas answered and said unto him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (NIV 1634). John 5:18 says “but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God,” (NIV 1601). Witnesses believe in the Bible and accept what it says. These are two verses that substantiate the idea that Jesus is equal with Jehovah. If Jesus were not equal with Jehovah, God would not have divinely instructed John to include these verses in his Gospel. The next logical step in studying Witness doctrine is to study the Holy Spirit.
“The holy spirit is the invisible active force of Almighty God that moves his sevants to do his will” (Martin 102). This is the basic belief of Jehovah’s Witnesses concerning the Holy Spirit. Witness doctrine teaches that the Holy Spirit is under the control of Jehovah and is not equal to God. They even go as far as to say “it can be likened to electricity, a force that can be adapted to perform a great variety of operation” (Martin 102). One argument against this doctrine is in Acts 5:3-4. Peter accuses Annanias of lying to the Holy Spirit. Peter then follows that up by saying Annanias lied to God. In Acts 13:2-4 and 21:10-11, the Holy Spirit speaks and sends. Only a personality can do these things, not “an invisible active force.” In John 14:16-17, 26 and 16:7-14, Jesus himself speaks of the Spirit at a “he,” as if it is a real person. Jesus would not have spoken of the Spirit as a person unless it had a personality. The doctrine that the Holy Spirit is an “active force,” has no personality, and is not equal to God is totally unbiblical. It is easily refuted with just a few verses. The Witnesses’ beliefs mentioned in the past few paragraphs lead to a very important question: Do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the Trinity?
“The Trinity doctrine was not conceived by Jesus or the early Christians” (Martin 101). This is a statement, taken directly from a Witness publication, describing Witness doctrine on the Trinity. Witnesses believe the idea of the Trinity came from Satan and, as mentioned before, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not equal with God. The idea Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not equal with Jehovah have been clearly disproved earlier with Scripture. Further verses proving biblical basis for the Trinity are found in Genesis 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8. Both times God uses the word “us,” speaking in the plural form. God is using “us” to refer to himself, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In the Great Commission in Matthew chapter 28, Jesus commanded us to go preach in the threefold name of God. The concept of the Trinity is clearly biblical and Jehovah’s Witnesses are undoubtedly wrong on the subject. One other doctrinal issue that needs to be mentioned is their belief that there is no Hell.
Witness Philosophy on the Existence of Hell is as Follows
“The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true, mainly for four reasons:
- Because it is wholly unscriptural;
- it is unreasonable;
- it is contrary to God’s love; and
- it is repugnant of justice” (Martin 105).
This doctrine is clearly contradicted by the verses Matthew 13:42, 50 and Revelation 14:9-11 and 19:20. All these verses speak of the evil being tormented for eternity in the lake of fire.
The previous doctrines mentioned of Jehovah’s Witnesses are just a few of their unbiblical beliefs. There are many more not mentioned here. Now that some basic Witness doctrine and proof of its biblical inaccuracy has been submitted, it is time to move on to the moral character of Charles Russell, the man upon whose ideas Jehovah’s Witnesses have built their house of unbiblical beliefs.
Charles Russell was a known liar, cheat, and perjurer. Russell was involved in many lawsuits during his life. In at least one, he was caught as a perjurer. Here is the story of that lawsuit.
Reverend J.J. Ross, pastor of the James Street Baptist Church, Hamilton, Ontario, published a pamphlet entitled “Some Facts about the Self-Styled ‘Pastor’ Charles T. Russell,” in June of 1912. Russell quickly brought a libel suit against Ross. Under oath, Russell denied all the charges brought against him in the pamphlet. Some of these charges brought against him included that he had lied about having theological training, knowledge of the dead languages (specifically Hebrew and Greek), and valid ordination under a recognized body. Upon cross-examination by Reverend Ross’ lawyer, Russell admitted all the charges were true. The court threw out the suit and Ross’ charges were proven true. Another example of Russell’s lack of integrity was the “Miracle Wheat” scandal.
Around 1910, Watchtower publications ran advertisements for “Miracle Wheat,” asserted to grow five times as much as any other brand of wheat and priced at $1.00 a pound. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle published a cartoon aimed against Russell and his “Miracle Wheat.” “Pastor” Russell brought a libel suit for $100,000 against The Eagle. Government departments investigated the wheat and agents testified under oath that the wheat was low in the government tests. The Eagle won the suit. One other true story proving Charles Russell was a liar is his so-called “World Tour.”
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle exposed Russell again on February 19, 1912, and January 11, 1913. Russell went on a “World Tour,” mainly to the Orient. He took out space in American newspapers and advertised the tour. He also published sermons he delivered while on the tour, only he never delivered the sermons! The Eagle ran these two articles, stating Russell never gave any sermon he claimed to give. This was substantiated by reliable eyewitnesses. The whole tour was just an advertising hoax! This story just further proves Russell was a lying, immoral man.
“The house Charles Russell built and which he laboriously erected between 1874 and 1914 was completed according to contract in 1914. There was only one thing wrong with it. It had been built upon the shifting sands of human interpretations. The movement it housed was born in rebellion and nurtured in witchcraft and was full of unclean things and heresies” (Schell 65).
This is a quote from W.J. Schell, a former Jehovah’s Witness. This helps sum up how the religious group Jehovah’s Witness was birthed. The group was founded by Charles Taze Russell. Their doctrines come directly from the teachings of Russell. These doctrines go totally against New Testament Christianity. With a few scriptures, their beliefs are quickly proven false. It has been proven Charles Russell was a lying and immoral man.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have volunteered to carry out what to them is a divinely inspired mission to deliver a special message to all the inhabited earth. To that end they are organized and trained, but the true end product of this cult is a denial of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- The Bible. NIV. 1995.
- Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1997.
- The Rise of the Cults. Santa Ana, CA: Vision House Publishers, 1977.
- Martin, Walter, and Norman Klann. Jehovah of the Watchtower. New York: Biblical Truth Publishing Society Inc., 1953.
- Schell, W.J. Into the Light of Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1959.