During his time as editor of the Watch Tower magazine, Charles Taze Russell answered scores of questions. Additionally, at conventions he would hold question and answer sessions in which the questions submitted to him as well as his answers were taken down stenographically.
After Russell died, a Bible student named Leslie W. Jones (M.D.), of Chicago, Illinois, saw fit to compile a sampling of such questions and answers and put them in book form. The result was entitled, WHAT PASTOR RUSSELL SAID---HIS ANSWERS TO HUNDREDS OF QUESTIONS . The following excerpts from this publication provide a sampling of Russell's expressions that give a ready sampling of his thoughts and feelings on certain matters. This should prove both interesting and thought-provoking to any connected with the Watch Tower Society today.
C.T. Russell's remarks give insight into his sensitivity to (1) what the Scriptures actually say, versus (2) matters that are not commented on therein, and hence, open to surmise, conjecture, speculation, guesswork, and the like. And though it will be apparent that Russell was not always successful in keeping these two areas distinct himself---still in reading the following it should be obvious that he was clear on the overall issue. As he put it, "I would always want a difference between what is written and what is guess work. Some people put their guesses and Bible so much together you cannot tell when they are guessing and when they are telling about what the Bible says. Whenever it is a pure guess I want to say that it is." Also, it will doubtless be enlightening---even humorous at times---to learn of some of Russell's positions on certain subjects, ranging from rule-making to chronology.
The Watch Tower of 1915 printed the following question: "From what School of Theology were you graduated?" Russell's answer in part: I am still in the School of Christ and have not yet been graduated. We get our theology from the Bible. Some of our friends have taken their theology otherwise, have taken it from human instructors, and have afterwards found that they had wasted their time. Some things which they were taught were Scriptural, and some things were sectarian. We are simply trying to find out what the Bible teaches. . . . Some of our number have been graduated from a theological seminary. At the time of their graduation they thought that their school was the best there was. But since they entered into the School of Christ, they find that really they would have been much better off if they had not gone to the seminary at all; for it took many months and years to get out of their heads the errors which were there drilled in. (p. 518)
Every doctrine must be in accord with the Bible or be wrong. If you square your views with the Bible, you can readily see that many doctrines accepted by people generally are entirely erroneous. (p. 561; 1915)
In taking such a passage as this, we must be careful to take other passages of Scripture with it, so we may be sure we are within the proper limit. If one passage of Scripture could contain the whole message of God, we would not have the entire Bible. Therefore the importance of the matter, if we would understand the way of the Lord, and the will of the Lord in many things, that we should have a comprehensive view of all the Scriptures that might bear on the subject. (p. 9; 1907)
Ministers are less able to interpret the Bible than any other class of people in the world. The Theological Seminaries do not teach Bible interpretation, but instruct the student how to defend the various creeds, and how to choke off investigation, and to make the investigator feel foolish. Nothing troubles a minister more than Bible questions. Our advice to those who want to know the Truth is to search the Scriptures and use Concordances and every Bible help that will assist them in a proper and rational understanding of the Scriptures. But be sure that the subject is approached honestly and prayerfully, with a desire to know the Truth and without sectarian prejudices. Remember the words of the Master, "Sanctify them through Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth." (p. 42; 1912 Watch Tower)
Is Roman Catholicism Christianity? Yes, it is Christianity; that is, it claims to acknowledge Christ, and to be a system of religion based on that knowledge of Christ. And the Catholic Church has some doctrines which are very good. And the Methodist Church has some that are very good, and the Presbyterians have some that are very good, also the Baptists. And the Catholics have some that are very bad, and the Methodists have some that are very bad---and so on through the list. What you and I want to do is to throw away all these creeds and get right back to what Jesus and the apostles and prophets said. (p. 536; 1911)
We often complicate subjects in our minds by a great amount of reasoning. The more simple we can keep our mental processes the better. (p. 138; 1916)
Question (1908)--2--I am asked to explain Mark 9:38,39,40: "And John answered him saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbade him because he followeth not us, and Jesus said forbid him not: for there is no man that shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our side."
Answer.--I hardly know how to make it any plainer than it is. I think we have to believe it as it reads and not explain it at all. If we explained it, we would have to explain it away, because it could not be made any plainer. If any person is doing a miracle in the name of Jesus, we are not to interfere with him nor to forbid him; we are not to say, "Because you do not come with us, we will speak evil of you, or forbid you, or stop you." We will leave that to the Lord. If the Lord wants to stop him, He can stop him. It is not your business or mine to stop him. It is our business to try to attend to ourselves and keep as near to the Master as we can, and keep our hearts as clearly in the truth as we can, and avoid everything that would confuse us; and if a brother or sister have something to which we cannot agree, we let them alone; if they are doing something, either teaching or anything else, that is doing a good work, and doing it in the name of the Lord, then we had better keep our hands off and not say anything against them. Let others say and do as they please.
Then somebody may say, "Well, Brother Russell, how about Christian Scientists; they are doing miracles, are they not?" Some of them. "And spiritualists, they are doing miracles, are they not?" Some of them. "And Mormons do some miracles, don't they?" Yes. "Well, don't these all do their miracles in the name of Jesus?" No, we answer, they do not. "Why, they all claim to acknowledge Christ; the Christian Scientists even put Christ right foremost 'Christian Scientists.'" I know they do, my dear brother, but it is one thing to say Christian, and it is another thing to think Christian, and it is another thing to mean Christian. Now whether anyone is going to examine whether another is in harmony with the Lord or not, you and I want to have before our minds a very simple rule that will help us every time we use it, and every time we use it it will be clearer in our minds and make us stronger and quicker to use it again. We are not to have some little shibboleth that will say, because you do not sit down when you pray, I cannot worship with you, or because you want to sing hymns and I psalms, we cannot worship together. We are not to make distinctions of that kind. If some say, We like to meet in a church with a cross on it, and if others say, We like to meet in some other kind of a room, that is not a ground for separation amongst Christians either. We could not say they were not Christians because they wanted to meet in some other kind of a building than we think proper. If somebody wants to wear a different kind of clothing from what we think is most proper, we are not finding fault with them for that; they might be true Christians and have all these peculiarities. He even might go to some of the things that are not so apparently unimportant. I might say, here is a man for instance that uses tobacco, shall I say he is not a Christian because he uses tobacco? By no means, if he is otherwise giving evidence that he is a child of God. I shall expect that the Lord will show him ultimately how all the cleansing work is to go on, not only outwardly but inwardly, and I will talk about the inward cleansing, and I will make no remarks about the out ward cleansing, and I will do as little as I can to offend his sense and his ideas along the lines of his apparent weakness or blindness. I will leave that to himself and to the Lord's providence to teach him. You will notice in the Dawns for instance that there is no attempt to go after a person's dietary arrangements, as to what he shall eat and drink, or what he shall wear, and yet we have had many evidences that a great many have gotten the truth, nevertheless, along these lines. . . . (pp. 492-494)
Question (1910)--1--Can you quote any statement in the Scriptures to the effect that the Abrahamic Covenant did not have a Mediator?
Answer.--We answer that there is no direct statement in those words, nor is it necessary. What is not stated is not to be understood. That is a rule of all reason and logic. It is what is stated that is to be taken into consideration. (p. 184)
We should not go trying to overthrow one text by another. We should rather be for trying to bring all the texts of Scripture into full harmony with each other and with the whole. (p. 210; 1912)
. . . So I would think it quite possible for Satan to transform himself into a minister of righteousness. The Apostle used these words, they are not original with me. I do not have anything original. Mine is all copied, and is what I find the Apostles and Jesus said, I hope I never shall be original. (pp. 622,623; 1910)
. . . God is not speaking to us now in these last days, but has spoken to us through His Son and the Apostles, and we have the words of Jesus and the Apostles; this is God's Word. (p. 624; 1913)
Regarding interpolations, Russell said:
. . . Now, I do not go in for all the additions to the Word of God; I merely stand for what God said, as written by his prophets and apostles, nothing more. (p. 325; 1911)
. . . Prophecies that are not yet fulfilled are not expected to be clearly and forcibly seen in all their details. . . . Our Lord seems to have given prophecy more to be understood after it is fulfilled; and so you will find the prophecies relating to Christ were not understood until after they were fulfilled, and nearly all the prophecies relating to the second coming of Christ were not seen until they were fulfilled. [AND IN SO SAYING, RUSSELL REFERS TO PERCEIVED EVENTS FROM 1874 AND AFTER.] (p. 353; 1906)
. . . We are looking to see what this means. We are not to expect the prophecy to be clearly understood until the fulfillment. Look back at the First Advent. The prophecies relating to that time were not understood until after they had been fulfilled. It was so with the disciples after the Lord was risen from the dead. When He explained the prophecies to them after His resurrection they understood. When He told them before what would take place, they did not understand. It was not then due time for them to understand these things. So it may be with us, that we will not understand until we are in the midst of the fulfillment. We had better leave it for the present with an interrogation point. (p. 427; 1915)
Question (1911)--1--In Revelation we read about the four winds of heaven being holden by four angels that they should not blow upon the earth nor hurt the trees and grass, etc. What do we understand these winds to signify and how soon may we expect them to be let loose?
Answer--It is a symbolic expression, of course, dear friends. All the book of Revelation is symbolic. . . . (p. 737)
These passages are taken from Revelation, and the book of Revelation is a symbolical book; that is exactly what it purports to be. We read that Jesus sent his angel and signified or made signs of certain things, and those signs, or symbols, have been with us and have been examined for 1,800 years. Now we will not undertake at this time to investigate the entire book of Revelation , but content ourselves briefly by saying, first, that all teachers will admit that no doctrine should be based wholly on a text of Scripture found in Revelation, if it does not have some foundation in other parts of the Word of God; no one may build a doctrine merely upon a passage of Scripture which has only Revelation for its basis, because that being a symbolical book, nearly all the statements in it are symbolical. (p. 225, 1911)
Question (1911)--1--We understand in symbolical language that a day means a year, a month thirty years, and a year 360 years. Since this same manner of figuring time is used in the book of Revelation, why is the period of Christ's reign for blessing all the families of the earth called one thousand years when by the same process of figuring it would be 360,000 years?
Answer.--Well, any who prefer to count it 360,000 have my full consent. I think I cannot be more liberal than that. I would say, however, dear friends, to my understanding some of the numbers in Revelation are symbolical and some are not; and I am inclined to think, for instance, that the 144,000 sealed ones is a literal number, and so I understand this 1,000 of the book of Revelation repeated over and over, refers to a thousand years literally. . . . (p. 686)
. . . But eventually when the last elect one shall have gone in, no one else can get in; that is the end of it. When the last one shall have been tested, and perfected, and gone in, the door must be shut, because there is only to be a hundred and forty-four thousand of that class, or whatever the number is, if anyone is disposed to dispute the number and think that it is symbolical. I do not know that it is a literal number; I am inclined to think it is. But no matter whether it is literal or figurative, there is a limited number, a positive number which God has predetermined shall constitute the elect class, and it is for you and me to make our calling and election sure by getting into that elect class. . . . (p. 230, 1908)
Question (1905)--3--Will Satan's binding be gradual and extend the full thousand years after 1914?
Answer.--That is more than I know. I take it for granted, dear friends, that the word Satan, here in Rev. 20, is the one referred to and that the chain is a symbolic one, a power, a restraining power. "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him (with a chain Verse 1) for a thousand years." We might conjecture what influences are represented by the chain, etc. To my understanding these terms---devil, serpent, satan, etc.,---not only include Satan himself, but all the evil institutions as well. It means restraining the evil in general, probably by the institution of laws of righteousness. I would think it would be after 1914. . . . (pp. 620,621)
[Regarding the parable of the penny found at Matthew 20:]: . . . I do not know definitely how this will turn out. You are aware that most of the things of God's Word that are prophetical are difficult to understand in detail until they have been, or, are in the process of fulfillment; and I think this parable is about to be fulfilled. I can give only a suggestion. . . . (p. 531, 1916)
[Regarding the parable of the penny, and any parable]: It is a parable, dear friends, and no explanation is given, and neither you nor I can say that this or that is absolutely the way of it. The best we can do with any parable to which the Lord has not given an explanation is to make as close an application as our judgment will permit, and then tentatively hold that as our view of its meaning. That is as much as any have a right to do. . . .
. . . When it is fulfilled we will then be able to see it. You know no prophecy is to be understood until it is fulfilled. Just so; it was stated of our Lord that He would be born in Bethlehem, but it was not understood then, but when it was accomplished, then we could look back and see clearly. Prophecy is not given merely to satisfy curiosity, but it shows that God foreknows the things that are to take place. Known unto God are all His works and they are all being done according to the counsel of His will. (p. 500, 1914 Watch Tower)
[Regarding Luke 15:7]: This being a parabolic statement, it is not proper that we or anyone else should speak dogmatically. Neither the Lord nor the apostles have given us the interpretation. We must merely give you our guess; and our broad guess would be that the Lord here means to teach that there is great sympathy in heaven for all of those who have fallen in sin and who will be recovered out of it. . . . (p. 509, 1911)
Question (1909)--1--Who is that servant? Do you believe and acknowledge the statement as put forth by representatives of the "Watch Tower?"
Answer.--As far as I know nearly all the talk about "that servant" has been by my enemies. I have nothing to say about this subject. What I would say would not change matters anyway. You have your right to your opinion and they have their right to theirs. In the fourth chapter of the sixth volume of "Millennial Dawn," this Scripture is brought to your attention. That is all that I have ever written on the subject. (p. 644)
Question (1916)--4--What are the "Goods" referred to by our Lord Jesus in Math. 24:47 when He says, "Verily I say unto you that he shall make him ruler over all his goods?"
Answer.--I think this would depend a little bit upon each individual's judgment. The Lord has not said what goods He refers to, and therefore leaves it with you and me for each one of the Lord's people, for the church to decide what kind of goods is meant. If the Lord had said, we would have no liberty in the matter; that would settle it. But since He has not told us, we have a good chance to speculate on what we think about it. Each one is entitled to his own opinion about the matter. (p. 286)
Question (1910) Part 1:--Is it not stated in your writings that male and female were made for the purpose of filling the earth and that the six thousand year day (epoch) was the limit of time for that work, and the seventh thousand year day was for restoring them to the image of Adam before he was divided and made sex?
Answer.--I would answer that that is partially true, but not exactly as stated. We do not understand that God made man male and female for the purpose of filling the earth. He made man because he wished to make man, then divided man into two separate parts that the earth might be filled.
Part 2:--Why, then, does a Pilgrim teach that children will be born all during the Millennium, thus leading away many, and say you teach it, also that God has to have the children born of the Blessed, to take the places of the 144,000?
Answer.--I do not know what Pilgrim is referred to. The Society cannot be responsible for every word that is uttered by every Pilgrim. It tries to leave as much liberty of thought and expression as possible and as seems reasonable to each one, and tries to have only those in the service of the Society who are pure and honorable in their intentions, and clear in their understanding and presentation of the Truth. The Society cannot guarantee that every Pilgrim shall speak exactly as the President of the Society believes to be the Truth.
Unfortunately, an article appeared in the Watch Tower some time ago, which I think is in line with this question. At the time it was handed to me, I recognized that it was from a brother quite clear in the truth, and I did not scan the letter quite as carefully as I should otherwise have done, and I over looked this little feature. It is not my thought that children will be born during the Millennial Age to take the place of the 144,000. I would advise that none of you trouble your heads with any such questions. We have plenty to think of that bears upon our interests in the making our calling and election sure, without bothering with such details of the next age. Had I noticed that particular feature of this letter it would not have been published. I admit that I was not as careful as I should have been. I suppose I will continue to learn as long as I live. We try to be careful about every word that goes into the Watch Tower, but we do not claim to be infallible; we are doing the best we can. It was a mistake to publish that article, but it should not worry anyone, for it is not very important, anyway. What difference to you and me? It is not of sufficient importance to say that such a brother, having that view, does not belong to the Lord; it is not a part of the Truth. My suggestion to any Pilgrim brother along the line of this question, or any other such questions, is that it would be better to leave them alone. There is nothing to be gained by the agitation of such questions. (pp. 56,57)
. . . It is very difficult to write and keep from tramping over somewhere in your writing and to remember all the different attitudes of mind, and how someone may look at it from this standpoint, and some from that, and some from another. You will have to read more carefully and I will have to write more carefully; so we will both take a share. (p. 303, 1910)
Question (1911)--1--Is it your thought that the ancient worthies receive spirit nature? If so, will they occupy a higher nature than the Great Company?
Answer.--I have no private information on this subject, dear friends. The Lord has not told me anything about it. You know there are always people to whom it would seem as though the Lord is always talking so much that they would have to neglect nearly everything else. I am not one of that kind. I am only a plain man who knows what is written. I have told you all I know on the subject, and that is, that, so far as I can see, the ancient worthies will come forth human beings, perfected in human nature to be princes in all the earth for the thousand years of Messiah's reign, and at the end of that time, certain things that I have already indicated to you seem to my mind to be implied; but I am not sure; it seems to be implied, I think, that God will then grant them the reward of a higher nature. That is all I can say. And I don't know whether it will be any higher than the great company, but I think not. I do not know. You see it is good to be able to say you do not know, sometimes. Some people try to make out that I claim I am infallible, and know everything. You are all witnesses that that is not true. (p. 14)
Question (1909)--1--In Revelation 3:5, we read: "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels." How soon after the last member has passed beyond the veil, will this take place?
Answer.--I have no inside information, dear friends. I think the Lord is here referring to the present time, because unless you have in this present life, and before you pass the veil, the white raiment, and your name written in heaven, and unless it remains unblotted out, you will never pass into the Most Holy, as a member of the Christ. So this, to my understanding, refers to this side the veil. "I will confess your name before my Father, and before His angels." If your name and my name is there, I suppose the Father knows it, and I suppose the angels have some way of knowing it, but if we fail to overcome, then our names will not be confessed, but will be blotted out. (p. 522)
Question (1911)--1--What is your explanation of Acts 12:15, "And they said unto her, 'thou art mad,' but she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, 'it is his angel.'"
Answer.--You remember the circumstances. It was Peter who had been in prison, and the angel had led him out of prison, and led him a certain distance , and he went to a house where prayer was being made; it was in the middle of the night, and they were still praying when Peter knocked at the door. You remember little Rhoda came to the door, she ran back and told them that Peter was at the door, and then they said, "Oh, it could not be him."
"Oh, it is him," said Rhoda.
"Well, it must be his angel." Why should they say it was his angel? Well, my dear friends, they were not inspired to say it was his angel. We do not know that any of those people who were praying on that night were inspired, so I would not pay a particle more of attention to what they would say on the subject that I would to what you might say. We take our instruction from whatever the Lord and the apostles said. The apostle did not say anything about him being an angel. What they meant we might all guess alike. You have my full liberty to guess all you please. If you would like to know what I guess, I suppose they had some of the ordinary ideas that there might be some kind of an impersonation, or something like that. I do not know what they had in mind; nobody else knows. (p. 20)
Question (1910)--1910--When will the Federation of the churches be an established fact, in 1911 or 1913, and become the false prophet?
Answer.--I do not know. How could I? I am not a prophet. The very most I try to do, dear friends, is to interpret prophecy, and I know of no prophecy which gives a clue to the question. So far as my expectation was concerned, I thought it would be years ago. I am surprised that it has been so slow. When I first called attention to the matter, none of the churches were thinking of it, but way back in 1880 we saw it clearly in the Scriptures, and we were naturally inclined to think things would come more rapidly than they do. . . . (p. 272)
Question (1913)--2--On the chart the Great Company is represented above plane M of spirit begetting, yet we are told in the finished picture in the Tabernacle type they will be in the court condition below the spirit begetting. Please harmonize this.
Answer.--The chart is a picture of the progress of the Church upward to the attainment of the High Calling, and then in the large pyramid at the end of the chart the different relationships of these the one to the other is pictured . We cannot say that we can harmonize it to everybody's mind. Take as much of it as you can and leave the rest. Some can get more nutriment out of a slice of bread than another can, so we cannot hinder the one that gets only a little nutriment from eating the bread, and, if he need it, eats more. (p. 315)
Question (1915)--3--Cannot Revelation 7:9-17 be applied to the saved world of mankind, rather than to a Great Company class? Is there not a very serious danger in teaching that there is to be a great company on the spirit plane, and that those who lack a thorough appreciation of the high calling, and a consecration thereto, will be saved notwithstanding?
Answer.--It would be very dangerous for any person who does not see a thing to presume to teach it. The questioner evidently does not understand this subject, and that cuts the answer short. When we leave a subject as the Lord puts it, we have it right. "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully." "We speak that we do know." This is the privilege that we intend to have until we die. Is it not? (pp. 315,316)
. . . No, I see no reason to change my views [regarding a specific subject treated in one of the Dawns], not that we hold that our views could not be changed; we have the same right to change our views as anybody else. (p. 23, 1909)
Answer.--There are certain things that we ought not to tell anyone; and among these are those things which we do not know. (p. 646)
Question (1910)--1--Should we consider it necessary to call attention to other prominent dates than 1874, 1878, 1881 or 1914? Should 1911 be included?
Answer.--I am glad that question is there, my dear brothers and sisters. You will notice that in my own teachings and writings I am careful to avoid any other dates than these. I know nothing about other dates. In the third volume of Scripture Studies there is a suggestion, but it is offered only as a suggestion, merely that a certain measurement in the Pyramid (not in the Word of God) looks as though it might point down to 1910 or 1911, but we do not say that it does mean anything, but merely throw out a suggestion. Don't anticipate, don't say things are to occur, for we do not know, at least I don't, and don't believe anyone else does. My advice is to follow the Apostle when he says, "We speak those things that we know." Don't say anything about those things that you do not know. Quite likely you will wish you had not after awhile. . . . (p. 76)
. . . Of Enoch, we are told that he was not because God took him, and that he did not see death. That is all we know about it. I am not at liberty to use my bump of imagination and tell you of things that are not written. . . . (p. 713, 1909)
. . . I am going to speak and give my guess so you will not make any mistake and think I am inspired. . . . (p. 565, 1916)
This is a very peculiar passage [1 Tim. 2:15]. I am not sure that I have the right understanding of it, and whenever I am not sure what the Lord's meaning is, my rule is to speak very cautiously. (p. 53, 1911)
. . . And as to what will take place [relative to giving in marriage] during the Millennium, I could only give you a guess, because there is no Scripture on the subject. My guess would be that this matter would be gradually getting less and less. That is only a guess, and I make a distinction between my guess and what the Scriptures say. (p. 462, 1911)
Question (1913)--1--Will restitution, physical perfection, in any way be helped by medical and surgical discoveries, or will restitution be wholly brought about by the power of Jesus to the willing and obedient?
Answer.--I can tell you about that, I hope, in about two years. I could not more than guess now, and I would always want a difference between what is written and what is guess work. Some people put their guesses and Bible so much together you cannot tell when they are guessing and when they are telling about what the Bible says. Whenever it is a pure guess I want to say that it is. Now I guess that . . . (p. 545)
Question (1909)--1--Will the fallen angels be destroyed at the end of this harvest period, or will they be bound with Satan and be destroyed with him at the end of the Millennial age?
Answer.--I, of course, do not know, but I can give my guess and my reason. . . . We do not know; that is merely our guess. You may guess different, and if you do, we will not quarrel. Where the Lord's Word speaks positively, we will speak. If you want my thought, you have it, but if you want your own, keep it. (p. 22)
Question (1913)--2--Do you think those going beyond 1914 will go into the Great Company class?
Answer.--I do not know, and my think, or guess, would not be of any value. I think the less guessing we do the better. . . . (p. 313)
Question (1915)--1--Pastor Russell says, "The children of Israel's journey through the wilderness toward the land of Canaan was typical of the Christian's journey through this world of sin toward the Heavenly Canaan." Typical Israel did all their fighting after they got into the land of Canaan. Where is the antitypical Canaan, and what are the antitypical Canaanites, and how are they fought by antitypical Israel?
Answer.--The Apostle Paul intimates that this whole matter of Israel's history was typical of the experience of Christians. (1 Corinthians 10:11, margin.) But we need to be very cautious; for in some instances we are leaning, in a certain degree, to our judgment. But my thought would be that this traveling toward Canaan typifies the attempt to enter into a proper relationship with God. . . . (p. 47)
. . . Where will the Church be then? Part of the question here. I am giving a liberal interpretation of this question and answer at the same time a half dozen other questions that will be asked. What about the Church? I do not know. I can only guess, and as I said before, guesses are very unsafe. Our supposition would be what we have always understood that when He would appear, when He would be manifest in the flaming fire, we would appear with Him. That would imply that we would be gone from here. (p. 98, 1914)
Question (1911)--1--How did God answer by the Urim and Thummim?
Answer.--Nobody knows exactly how this was done. . . . but it is all guess work, nobody knows anything about it. It was supposed to be a yes or no. If it would be dark it would be no; if it would be light it would be yes, to whatever question was asked. . . . But it is all guesswork. (p. 728)
Question (1915)--2--Will all of the saints be taken beyond the veil before the Time of Trouble is over?
Answer.--I am not wise enough to answer. I think no one is. We had thought so. We had supposed that all the saints would be beyond the veil before the Times of the Gentiles ended. God did not say they would be, but we inferred so, and you know our inferences may prove wrong, and in this case did prove wrong. We were not taken. The Times of the Gentiles have ended and we are still here. So we do not know just when our time will come. To say that we will all be taken before the Time of Trouble is ended, would be to say what I believe. There is one thing I think we will all agree upon---that we believe we will all be taken before the "Armageddon" feature. . . . (p. 617)
Question (1911)--1--Do the Scriptures teach that in the resurrection, a lost eye, or the hearing will be restored at the awakening?
Answer.--There is nothing in the Scriptures to indicate on this particular point, but we think it reasonable to suppose . . . My thought, then, would be . . . But this also is conjectured, because the Scriptures do not enter into the matter and give us the particulars. (p. 589)
. . . When the Church shall thus be changed, all the peculiarities of male and female will be obliterated, for there is neither male nor female amongst the angels; and the Scriptures tell us there will not be in the glorified Church. The perfection of spirit being will be one. All will be alike, sexless. As for mankind: We think the Scriptures clearly indicate that Divine provision for mankind will be that they will all be sexless when perfection shall have been reached. That is to say, at the close of the Millennial Age, all having been gradually perfected, each sex will, in their development, have taken on more of the qualities of the other; during that Age the woman will gradually add to her womanly graces the qualities that belong to man; and man will likewise gradually take on with his manly qualities the finer sentiments and qualities of mind and body that belong to the female. Thus man will receive again that which was taken from him originally, represented by the rib. So all will then be perfect; and they will neither marry nor give in marriage; for all will in this respect be "like unto the angels."---Luke 20:34- 36. (pp. 461,462, 1911)
We do not know enough on this subject to permit us to give a very full, clear and satisfactory answer. So far as we could reason on the subject, our Lord could not know of His pre-existence, before He was begotten of the Holy Spirit, except by natural means. . . . Our supposition is that . . . (p. 547, 1912)
Question (1909)--1--When did Jesus know of His prehuman existence?
Answer.--I do not know; He did not tell us. We merely read . . . How did God give Him this knowledge? That is not revealed, but I can give you a suggestion that is helpful to my own mind. . . . (p. 364)
Question (1911)--2--Did Christ remember his prehuman existence?
Answer.--Very evidently he did. . . . We do not know how; we can only merely surmise. My surmise is that when our Lord was begotten of the Holy Spirit and the higher things were opened to him, that in some manner it gave him memory and recollection of the spirit things. We could not be so impressed, because we never had such a spirit existence. . . . (p. 371)
Question (1914)--1--Since all were condemned in Adam, is it proper to say that the Jews were doubly condemned, or should we say that their failure to keep the law was an additional proof of their condemnation?
Answer.--It is proper to state it the way God's Word puts it, for we do not know very much about it ourselves. . . . (p. 137)
Question (1913)--1--Enoch was translated. What did it mean? What did it represent? Answer.--The Bible does not explain; I will not do so either. I do not know. (p. 262)
Question (1905)--1--Did Jehovah taste of the fruits of the garden when he beheld that they were good?
Answer.--That is too deep for me. I will not tell what the Lord did; the Bible does not. (p. 283)
Question (1909)--3--Will earthly records to deeds to property be recognized at all in the Millennial Age after the time of trouble?
Answer.--It is very difficult for us to determine to what extent a title-deed to property will have value after the time of trouble, because we do not know to what extent the records will be destroyed. It is very difficult to speak about a matter which is so obscure, and of which there is no record in the Scriptures. Our supposition is that . . . (p. 221)
Question (1909)--1--Who will compose the Elisha class?
Answer.--In the first place we do not know that there is to be an Elisha class, because the Bible doesn't say strictly that there will be. Do we infer it? Yes. . . . (p. 260)
Question (1910)--1--A thought is being advanced among the friends that the work will close next spring. Do you find any Scriptural proof for such thought, and are you in sympathy with the advancing of such theory?
Answer.--I do not find any ground for such a thought. I am not in sympathy with the advancement of such a theory. I think it would be far better for the dear friends not to speculate about things of which they have no knowledge. At least, I will say that I think I would do best not to speculate about things of which I have no knowledge. If they have any knowledge on this subject, they have some knowledge I do not have, and if they are sure that they have knowledge, of course to their own Master they are responsible for the using of it. But so far as I can see, dear friends, discussing such matters as that merely takes away from the friends opportunities for usefulness, and we would far better stop talking about such things and be busily engaged in the harvest work, doing what we can do, never minding whether it is going to stop next spring or not. I will tell you next spring how it will be. In the meantime, as far as I can see, we all have plenty to do. Do not anybody stop for lack of work. (p. 320)
Question (1911)--1--We read in Second Kings, respecting the sons of the prophets. Whom do they typify?
Answer.--I am not sure they typify anybody. It is unnecessary to think that everything is a type, you know. . . . (p. 666)
. . . Now, is he [Enoch] a type? He may be. We are not told that he is a type and therefore it would be rash for us to say he was a type. We are not inspired to say this is a type, and this is not a type. If we could find anything in the Scriptures to say Enoch was a type, then we would be justified in saying he was a type. But anything in the Scriptures not specified to be a type we do well to be careful how we turn in into a type and make something out of it that might trouble us. There is a statement respecting this that gives a suggestion, a bare suggestion, that he was a type and that is a statement to the effect that Enoch was seventh from Adam. There the "seventh from Adam" is made prominent---seven, of the seventh generation. Now there is just a bare chance of building a little bit of speculation upon that. I call it by its plain name---"speculation." Since seven is always in the Scriptures recognized as a perfect number and indicative of perfection, we might understand that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, would represent that perfect man---the perfection of man, or man in his future state when he will be perfect and when he will not die. And in this sense of the word, Enoch may be considered as representative of that class of mankind which in the future will be in harmony with God and have eternal life---the ones who will be brought to perfection during the Millennial Age. (pp. 261,262, 1908)
Question (1907)--1--How may we distinguish the Elisha class from the Elijah class?
Answer.--We have pointed out that Elijah was very distinctly a type of the overcoming Church. But as for Elisha, we have no positive proof in the Scriptures that he was a type at all. Some might infer that he was a type, and others might infer that he was not, but since the matter is one of doubt, it behooves us not to fasten very much weight to it. (p. 259)
Question (1909)--2--In what manner in the type did Abihu represent the Great Company class?
Answer.--There were two sons of Aaron, and we read that they served in the office of priests, and we read that they offered strange fire before the Lord. Nothing more than that is said and we have to guess as to what is meant. Nobody knows, but we believe it to be a type; for, as Aaron was a type of our Lord Jesus, so the under-priests were a type of the Church. So these two who offered strange fire and perished in so doing would seem to represent a class. Whether a class going into second death, I do not know; or whether one stands as a representative of that class, and one for another class, I do not know. . . . (p. 300)
Question (1909)--3--When will we be living in the parallel time when the Joseph class will be made known to their brethren, the Benjamin class?
Answer.--Well, it is only a speculative answer, for the Scriptures say nothing definite on this question. Our inference would be . . . (pp. 380,381)
. . . Now we know in part on any subject more or less distinctly seen some have more accurate judgment and some less. But God does not propose that His people in the present time shall walk by sight, but by faith. . . . In the matter of chronology, we remind you of what we said in the Studies in the Scriptures. It is not a thing that can positively be known. . . . (p. 89, 1914)
. . . Now these prophetic dates seem to be, 1874, October; 1878, in the spring; and then 1881, in October; and then October 1914. Now these, as far as we can tell, are the dates marked in prophecy, and to these we do well that we take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place, as St. Peter says. That does not mean that we know now, or that we ever knew, nor that we say now, nor that we ever said, that the suggestions made respecting these dates which are based upon prophecies are indisputable; nor that we have ever claimed infallibility in the interpretation of the prophecies in connection with them. What do we say, in the Scripture Studies, you will remember, is this: That to our understanding, this teaches this, and that teaches that, and the other teaches the other. We do not see any other way they could be held together, or any other conclusion that could be reached; and for my own part, therefore, I believe that those dates signify such and such things. That is all we have ever said; we never said we were infallible in these things. We believe them. We have believed them from the first; we are acting upon that belief. But, my dear friends, if October, 1915, came, or October 1920, came, and no great time of trouble, and no change of all the Church came, it would not overthrow my faith in the divine plan of the ages for a moment. . . . (p. 556, 1914)
Question (1910)--3--Is it your understanding that since 1878 all the consecrated who are faithful pass immediately at death to the spiritual plane beyond, and would this include any of the Great Company? And do you understand that any of those of the Great Company who died previous to the present harvest-time were awakened at that date? And if this is true, how would it harmonize with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins?
Answer.--I answer: I do not know anything in the Scripture that would give us a proper ground for reaching a conclusion, and I do not know that it is very important that you should reach a conclusion. The conclusion that you and I want to settle is that we make our calling and election sure, and that we try to keep out of the Great Company class, and try to get into the Little p Flock. I can see no difference to any of us as to whether the Great Company were awakened in 1878 or not. That is our understanding respecting the Little Flock, that from that date, all those who were members of the Body of Christ experienced a change; but as for the Great Company, we would not undertake to answer. We do not know. We are rather inclined to think not, but we have not ground on which to answer. (pp. 306,307)
Question (1916)--2--In a certain Tower, whose date I cannot remember, you suggested a method of election wherein all the nominees receiving at least 50 per cent nominating vote should be unanimously elected. In a class where there is considerable difficulty and friction, would it be better to adopt this method, or to insist on a 75 per cent vote on each nominee for election as an elder?
Answer.--We should remember, first of all, that the Bible does not tell us what shall be done. That being so, it is really a matter of judgment to find out what would be the most advantageous way for doing this. It is a matter of judgment as to what would be the best way. Mine might not be as good as yours. When I offer any suggestions in the Watch Tower on any subject like this, it is merely my opinion. Brother Russell has no wish to give commands, or to be a dictator in any sense of the word. He merely endeavors to give his opinion in such matters---about which the Bible does not speak. . . . (p. 256)
Question (1906)--1--The modern hat is certainly anything but a convenience in an audience, and some of the sisters wish to know if any one can suggest some method by which women can have the head covered during service without wearing the objectionable hat, and yet be something that would not call undue attention to the fact?
Answer.--Am I a Solomon, that I would have the wisdom to decide questions like this? I will tell you, dear friends, what I have noticed some sisters do, and thought that if I were a sister it is quite probable I would adopt it, though this is the first time I have ever mentioned it, I believe. I have noticed some of the sisters wearing a little lace covering, and thought, now that looks very neat, and as far as I know, that covers everything the Apostle had in mind. It is merely a sign, and I would not know any reason why that would not be proper. But, mind you, I am not laying down any law. (pp. 322,323)
. . . There must be consistency in what we do. All who become members of an ecclesia more or less give up their personal liberties that they may have the advantages of co-operation. But this would not mean such bondage that we could not have a Bible study, but must spend the evening playing games instead. (p. 125, 1916)
Question (1909)--2--Is promiscuous kissing advisable among the sisters in the truth?
Answer.--Well, I might be entrenching upon somebody's rights if I were to give some law on the subject, but I am not a law-giver, merely a law interpreter, that is all. Some people might like it, and some sisters might not; so, love in the matter should be the rule, and it should lead us to be very careful and considerate, and if I were one of the sisters that liked to be kissed, I should not take offense if they did not. Besides, scientists tell us that kissing is a means of communicating diseases, and therefore, not a very wise proceeding. I should think that as a rule a good, hearty handshake would be quite sufficient, but if any like to kiss, I do not know of anything in the Scriptures to hinder, and the law of love is the only thing between the sisters kissing each other and the brothers kissing the brothers. (pp. 430,431)
Question (1916)--2--Would you advise the Class here at Los Angeles to formulate a set of by-laws to govern business meetings, etc.?
Answer.--Some of the Brethren are very much given to by-laws, or rules. Now certain rules are, of course, necessary; for without them we would be anarchistic; and yet we must observe the law of love and justice. These two laws especially observed will regulate almost everything. Justice, however, must always come first. I am to be just toward you in everything; yet I am not to exact justice from you in return. However, you should not desire to do anything less than justice toward me, and surely I should do nothing less toward you. But while I hold myself to strict justice, yet I am not to require it of you. I may require less. With these two by-laws, Justice and Love, operating, we shall not need very many more laws. We could have too many by-laws; but these two kept steadily in mind will help out in a great many cases. (p. 483)
Question (1916)--1--Is it proper for the Elders to sit at a court of inquiry and cite any supposed to be walking in a disorderly manner to appear before them and explain their conduct? Or should the Lord's advice given in Matthew 18:15-18 be followed?
Answer.--I agree with the suggestion of the question that it should be handled in harmony with the Lord's direction in the passage cited. The Lord's word does not authorize any court of the Elders, or anyone else, to become busybodies. This would be going back to the practices of the Dark Ages during the inquisition; and we would be showing the same spirit as did the inquisitors. The Lord has put the matter in a simple way and we could not improve upon it. . . . We should not bring any small or trifling matter before the Church. It is my judgment that three-fourths of the things that are brought to my attention---matters of this kind---had better be dropped; and nothing at all be done with them. However, there might be an exception in case the matter had gone beyond the individual, and had somehow involved the whole congregation. In such event, it might be impossible to deal with the matter in an individual way. Then the Elders might constitute themselves into a Board or Committee, and get one of their number to look into the case and see if the wrong could not be stopped, or adjusted. When the matter gets beyond the individual, we have no advice beyond the Word of God. Let us be careful not to become like Babylon, and hold inquisition and mix our selves up. The Word of God is our sufficiency, and we should follow it closely and thereby avoid confusion. (pp. 479,480)
The Bible says nothing about how many or what kind of meetings we should have. That is left to be decided by the spirit of a sound mind.
Question (1906)--1--Is it necessary for women to wear hats or some other covering during meeting?
Answer.--Well, ask the Apostle Paul; he is authority on the subject and I am not. (p. 323)
Question (1909)--2--Have appreciated very much the discourses of this Convention in which the speakers have shown the impropriety of looking for spiritual food from any other source except that which the Lord has been using during this harvest period, to set before us the meat in due season, but do not see just where to draw the line. Would it be wrong to read Convention Reports, and reports of discourses by Pilgrims and Elders? How would we treat those who hand us tracts misrepresenting the truth? Should we tear up the tracts in front of them, or should we accept them with thanks and destroy them privately?
Answer.--I am afraid you have given me too hard a question. I rather think I can't answer that question. (p. 578)
Question (1910)--2--In view of the clearer light on justification and other Scriptures, what is the basis of the sonship mentioned in Proverbs, "My son, give me thine heart"?
Answer.--During this Gospel Age, dear friends, God is calling out sons, and that is the whole work of this Gospel Age. Adam was originally a son, but he failed, became disloyal to his Heavenly Father, and was not worthy to be further called a son of God, and was sentenced to death, and so you and I were all born with a share of that condemnation, so that we were not worthy to be called his sons. God purposed that eventually he would give the whole world an opportunity to come back into sonship during Messiah's reign. Now, during this present time, he proposes something for a special class, those who have an ear to hear and the heart to appreciate when they do hear, and he is calling to see how many have the ear. Many are called. Many hear the call, but few are chosen, for the reason that many refuse to respond to this call when they hear it. . . . (p. 398)
. . . You and I are not to try to smash people's hearts, or their heads either. Let the providences of God do all of the breaking of hearts. The Gospel He has given to us is to bind up the broken hearted, and take hold of the sheep and lambs and feed them; that is God's proposition. We want to stand by the Lord's Word. We have not the confidence in our own hearts that we are wiser than the Lord; we would not take a bundle of bramble bushes and tie a few bunches of grapes on them and say, these are genuine grape vines. (p. 295, 1907)
Question (1913)--2--Does the I.B.S.A. pretend that it is the only true church? Are you trying to build up a new denomination?
Answer.--The one true Church, dear friends, is the church of the Bible. There never has been but that one true Church. All others are false, and if I build up another church I would be building up another false one. That is not our proposition at all. The I.B.S.A. holds out the proposition which the Bible stands for, namely, that all people who are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, and consecrated to follow in his steps, are of the church of the living God whose names are written in heaven. The I.B.S.A. recognizes no other church. It does not say that only those in the I.B.S.A. constitute the church. It recognizes that all true Christians in the various churches should be awake, and we are trying to awaken them to the truth. The I.B.S.A. recognizes that these true Christian people are in danger of falling into infidelity, unless they get the true light of God's Word, and so is trying to bring all Christian people to study the Bible, and thus into complete union as the church of Christ. (p. 348)
Question (1915)--2--What should be our attitude toward nominal church people? Must we differentiate between them and their doctrines?
Answer.--The Bible says that we should "do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the Household of Faith." (Gal. 6:10). Therefore we should do good to our Roman Catholic neighbors, our Methodist neighbors, and all other neighbors. We should be glad to do good to every one. But if we have the choice of doing something for the saints or for a neighbor, then we should give the preference to the Lord's saints, whether they be Presbyterian saints or what not. They would include whoever is a son of God. We are the children of God, and we are glad to serve any other child of God, though we would be glad to see them all enjoying the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, not being entangled in any yoke of sectarian bondage. If the Son makes us free, then are we free indeed---Galatians 5:1. (p. 644)
Question (1913)--1--We are sometimes asked why the author's name is not given in the Studies of the Scriptures. We are assured in our own mind that your reason is a good one, but we would like to have a definite personal answer from yourself to give to all enquirers.
Answer.--Well, a number of reasons could be assigned and any one of them be true enough. I do not know of any particular reason why the name might not appear there; I do not know whether it would be to advantage or not. The "Studies in the Scriptures" are given forth not merely as representing something of a personal kind, but something as representing teaching, and the teaching is supposed to stand on its own basis by the reference to the Bible, rather than upon the authority, or word, or name of any individual. The book is really less sectarian, if we wish to use that expression, by reason of not having the name, but I could not have any particular objection, and if anyone would like the name, kindly write it in for them. (p. 634)
Question (1913)--2--Why do all of the International Bible Students' Association speakers publicly advise people to abandon all denominational affiliations?
Answer.--I did not know that they do. We do, however, dear friends, hold that it would be proper to break down the denominational barriers. That is to say, these different creed fences, some of which have existed for centuries and some for but one century, are keeping Christian people more or less apart. Some have high fences and others low ones, but they are separating in their tendencies, and we advise God's people to get over these barriers and get together. Get together in Bible study. These creeds are like so many stakes driven down and we have been chaining ourselves to them. Why not get free from these? We sing, "Send out Thy light and truth, O Lord, let them our leaders be," but are unable to follow because chained to the creed stake. Let us leave the stake and follow the light. We believe that is God's way. We are not saying anything unkind regarding Christian people in these denominations. What we say is against the creeds, for they have done us a great deal of harm, and are doing others harm still. If all creeds were smashed there would be a good opportunity for the people to come together to study God's Word and make more progress as the days go by. (p. 345)
Question (1911)--1--Do you consider Roman Catholics who take the wafer, after it has been blessed by the priest, and eat it, are cannibals?
Answer.--I do not think, dear friends, there is any change in the bread and wine. I do not believe it is any flesh at all. I think our Catholic friends are just as sincere as we Protestants, and I do not know that they have been any more hindered by superstition than the rest of us, and I do not see that I have any stones to throw at Catholics. I think they are ahead of us on some points. They at least have the merit of believing and acting up to their belief. We Protestants cannot claim that. I hope you and I are determined by the grace of God that we will be thoroughly honest with ourselves and with the Bible hereafter. The Catholics will get up at five o'clock in the morning and go to mass, but you and I, because we do not believe in the same, do not go to mass. And so, in various ways, I see much to admire in them. I will admit that they are in superstition, and I will admit that I have been in superstition, and we have all been. But the pot need not call the kettle black, either. (p. 714)
Question (1910)--2--I am a Sunday School superintendent of a class of children; they love me and I greatly love them, and although I am greatly interested in the truth, I do not feel called upon to give the work up. I owe a debt of gratitude to the Methodist church in shepherding me while young, and I wish to feed the lambs, as Christ did. Do the Scriptures teach other wise?
Answer.--Well, I would say that if I were in your place I would not so much feel a debt of gratitude to the Methodist church as I would feel a debt of gratitude to the Lord, from whom every good and perfect gift comes. There fore if you are a member of the Wesleyan Methodist church, or any other which gives you a measure of light and truth, be thankful for it, but let the chief gratitude go out to God. If you are thoroughly the Lord's you will belong to him, as we sing, "I Belong to Christ, My Lord." So I would give up any thought of special indebtedness, or of belonging to anybody. I do not think we want to belong to anybody except the Lord. We belong to him and we cannot have two masters, and we had better make up our mind which we are going to serve and settle that part first. Who is the master? I know a great many people who belong to the Presbyterian church, others to the Episcopal church, others that belong to the Methodist church, and they would of course not deny that they belong to the Lord, yet here is an acknowledgment of belonging to two masters. There is something wrong. The Methodist friends may have given you a great deal of light and truth, for many of them have not much left. . . . Not the Methodist, Presbyterian, or the will of any other church or system, but what you understand to be God's will. . . . (pp. 683,684)
. . . "Flee out of Babylon, saith the Lord; deliver every man his soul." Now no one is responsible to flee out unless he sees that it is Babylon, but the very suggestion that it is Babylon to every honest person means that he should make an investigation, and a thorough one, to know whether or not he is in Babylon. If he says, "Well, God's voice says, 'flee out of Babylon,' and I believe that the system is Babylon, but I do not wish to look into it for fear I find it true," that means he is dishonest with himself; he is defiling himself. There is only one way of being thoroughly honest, and that is to be honest. (p. 65, 1911)
Fear is a mental condition which is begotten of uncertainty. (p. 450, 1913)
. . . The Scriptures say that through much tribulation shall we enter the kingdom, and if we pay attention to our duties, we will get enough without taking time to tell them about the time of trouble. The world will not be profited by our telling, either. We do not wish to scare anybody. We see the bad effects of this scare-religion in times past. While we can tell them that there is a storm coming, we can also tell them that God is going to make that a blessing, and we are glad for the whole world of mankind, that this time of refreshing is near, "Speak of the time of rest that nears." They have enough tribulation, and I advise not to talk too much about the tribulation. I think of one brother who had a large bump of imagination, who told his wife all about the time of trouble and told it as though he had been there already, telling her what flour would be a barrel at that time, etc., so that his poor wife was almost afraid of the Truth. If he had said, My dear, there is a time of trouble coming and those who make the Lord their refuge, he will have a supervising care over them, I think it would have had a better effect. I have very little faith in any kind of scare religion, it does not work well. (p. 76, 1910)
What would C.T. Russell have thought of television? The following at least provides a suggestion:
. . . I think of a vow I took some years ago. It was after some of the revolving picture-shows that they have in all cities---moving pictures---came before the public. I looked through several of these and after I had gone away I thought the matter over and said: I don't believe it is to my advantage to look through that box. I made a vow that I would never look through one again. You ask: Was there any sin in looking through? No, not at all. But to me it would be sin now if I did it. (p. 101, 1909)
An examination of the history of the International Bible Students Association during Russell's lifetime, as well as a fuller consideration of his writings will reveal that due to his mature understanding of Scripture and his ability to expound same, he gained a certain prominence and appears to have been touched in his own way with a bit of megalomania---probably impossible for any imperfect man to totally avoid under such circumstances.
Still, by his own candid admission C.T. Russell was a "plain man" with "no inside information." And really, as one reads his expressions it is clear that his overall conception of himself and his associates was that they were mere students of Scripture and mere students of Scriptural prophecy. And obviously from his own words such study included "simply trying to find out what the Bible teaches" since some things which they were taught previously were Scriptural, and some things were sectarian. And regardless of what may be otherwise contended, how really different is it today?
If it is actually true that the first president of the Watch Tower Society was a "plain man" with "no inside information," then logically wasn't the same true of the second, third, fourth and now the fifth president? If C.T. Russell expressed hesitancy to use his "bump of imagination" to authoritatively expound on matters not revealed or really detailed in the written Word, what basis is there for believing that anyone else should rightly do so, then, or even since then?
Russell noted in his day that some of his contemporaries were "very much given to by-laws, or rules." Doubtless those of this element played some part in the development of what has come to be a rather rigid, authoritarian structure. Ask yourself the following questions relative to today's arrangements:
In addition to what is clearly revealed in Scripture, are not many surmises, conjectural interpretations, and guesses, actually being advanced as CLEAR TEACHINGS of the written Word of God?
Aren't we today exposed to many presentations detailing positively a multitude of "types" and "classes" where there is NO REAL BASIS for doing so? And isn't this the product of some 'plain men' using their "bump of imagination," no matter how good their intentions are?
And in actuality aren't we still faced with the challenge of "simply trying to find out what the Bible teaches", sorting out what is a genuine Scriptural teaching from a sectarian viewpoint?
Aren't the majority of the "dear friends" (as Russell would say) essentially led to believe that there are a FEW individuals who DO HAVE "inside information," and as a consequence are viewed by many as something MORE than "plain" men?
And whatever the intentions or reasons given---hasn't the simple advice to individually apply justice and love in our dealings with others, been largely overrun by policies, "too many by-laws" and rules?
C.T. Russell believed that the various religious systems claiming to be Christian actually constituted "Babylon." Note his thoughts as quoted in the Overland Monthly:
"Our contention is that none of these human systems, Catholic or Protestant, is recognized by the Bible---none of them is recognized of God. They are all human institutions---originated by men and maintained by men---sometimes good men and sometimes bad men have had to do with their organization and its maintenance. Indeed, we hold that such a reformed, consecrated believer is equally a child of God in whatever denomination he may be, or if he be outside of all denominational walls or creeds. It is our contention that the various creeds of Christendom have been so many stumbling blocks and hindrances to honest souls who sought their God and the light of his Word. True, they may have assisted in some particulars, as well as they may have done injury in other respects. All the same, none of these institutions has Divine authority. None of them is sanctioned by the Word of God, the Bible. They are one and all built upon false assumptions."
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