147, 2012 November)
also known as
Millennial Dawn, was a 19th century cult that experienced many
divisions or splits. The main branch renamed itself Jehovah's Witnesses
in 1931. The transition from Russellism to JWs was gradual, taking
about 15 years, and included hundreds of changes in doctrine.
reprint below is from
a publication called The Life of Faith (May 5, 1915) and
presents a Reverend's view of Russellism in 1915.
"Russellism" Under the Searchlight
THE RED FLAG OF WARNING
WITH REFERENCE TO THE MOVEMENT KNOWN AS "RUSSELLISM" OR "MILLENNIAL
REV. A. C. DIXON,
IT is my
purpose to give
simply a statement of the teachings of "Russellism," believing that to
those who have even a smattering of Biblical knowledge such a statement
is sufficient refutation. And for the public good there should be an
exposure of the methods pursued by "Russellism" in popularising its
Christ was not Divine before he came to earth, but only a created
spirit of an order higher than the angels, and that He was not God in
teaches that, when
Christ came to earth, He dropped that spirit nature and became simply a
human being, nothing more nor less—not a man and God, but only man in
body, soul and spirit; while He was on earth, He was in no sense
Divine. On the cross a man died, and whatever atonement was made for
sin was made by the sacrifice of a mere man.
it all up, Jesus
Christ came from heaven as a mere spirit, created like other spirits,
but of a higher order than the angels. In the incarnation of that
spirit there was nothing but the human, nothing of the Divine. On the
cross the human disappeared entirely, and He became simply a spirit
again with some sort of Divine nature.
A Denial of the
Christ's body, according to "Russellism," never took place. He says we
do not know what became of it. It may have been dissolved into gases,
or it may be preserved as a sort of relic in a museum, but there was
never any physical resurrection.
again, that the Lord Jesus in his second spiritual nature returned to
this earth in 1874. This was His Second advent.
also, that in the year 1878 all the righteous dead were raised and
became spiritual. Just as Christ came out a spirit, so all the
righteous dead in 1878, prophets, apostles and martyrs, and all the
rest, came forth, and that spiritually Christ and these righteous
spirits have been on earth ever since. Nobody has ever known it except
Mr. Russell and his followers; and when you ask him what evidence there
is that the Second Advent has already taken place, his reply in
substance has uniformly been, "You can see it by looking upon the world
and noting the progress that has been made. Its civilisation has
developed; peace congresses have been held." There was a fair promise,
he thought, of the suppression of war by means of these peace
congresses. Every indication shows, according to "Russellism," that the
world has already heard the trumpet and the voice of the archangel in
the advent of Christ in this spiritual way.
the consummation of the Second Coming of Christ would take place in
October 1914. The changes have been rung upon the claim that from
October 1, 1914, "the times of the Gentiles" would be fulfilled, and
the Millennium would begin. It looks now as if Pandemonium began about
that time, and has been going on to a large extent ever since.
with its first
of October approached, Mr. Russell began to hedge a trifle. He
expressed some doubt as to the certainty of the prophecy. He thought it
might run through 1915, and even go into 1916; indeed, he was not quite
certain that it might not take till 1920 to bring it all about.
again that in 1881 God spued out the Churches of Christendom, rejected
them all for "the elect," and we are left, for the most part, to read
between the lines as to who the "elect" are.
death means the cessation of existence. "Death means death," it says —
it means to cease to exist. Dr. I. M. Haldemann, of New York, has
published a booklet entitled "Millennial Dawnism, the Blasphemous
Religion which Teaches the Annihilation of Jesus Christ." The death of
Christ meant the blotting out of His humanity. So it is with all human
beings. Death means the cessation of existence. Whatever takes place
after their death must, therefore, be a re-creation.
it teaches that
death is a cessation of existence, "Russellism" teaches also that all
mankind, wicked and righteous, will be raised from the dead during the
Millennium. That is, they will be re-created, brought forth out of
non-existence. They will have an opportunity then to be saved, a second
chance, and only a little company will refuse because they prefer
is held out to
the wickedest people that they will have a better chance in the time to
come than they have now. That accounts to a large extent for the
popularity of the movement. A gentleman in America heard a friend of
his, the son of Christian parents, say: "I have just bought all of Mr.
Russell's works, and I am going to read them through, for I have heard
that he teaches there is no hell — a thing that I have been hearing
about all my life — and that I will have a better chance in the future
that I have had now." He said: "I am not living a righteous life, and I
tell you, that sounds well! I am going to find out if it is true, and,
if it is, I will be comforted." Of course! Men and women are comforted
to live on in sin, if after death they will have a better chance than
they have now.
wicked dead will be
raised during the Millennium, and they will have the choice then of
heaven or of blotting out of existence. The fantastic interpretations
of Scripture which wrest them into this meaning would be ludicrous
indeed if the matter were not so very serious.
A Rare Example of
of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The rich man, according to
"Russellism," means the Jew, the tribes of Benjamin and Judah; and the
five brothers refer to the ten tribes, making each brother represent
two tribes, without a word of Scripture for it. Lazarus represents the
Gentiles, when the fact is that the Gentiles were the rich folk of that
day and the Jews were the persecuted poor. The Roman world was robbing
the Jews, and the Gentiles were being enriched. Mr. Russell thinks that
the cry of the rich man for a drop of water was partially fulfilled in
the appeal of the United States for the relief of the Jewish
population. You can hardly restrain a smile as you see the effort that
an ingenious man makes to hold intact, so far as possible, an imaginary
theory that must be maintained at all costs.
Moorehead, D.D., of the United Presbyterian Theological Seminary,
Zenia, Ohio, who has written a tract upon the subject, says that there
is a close kinship between "Russellism" and Mormonism. Mormonism
teaches that men become gods. Adam was God with a number of wives. It
declares that we, by the same sort of process, can become gods.
Mormonism is polytheistic; and the teaching of "Russellism," when
reduced to its plain meaning, is that we by a certain process can
who have been
following in the footsteps of Russell are not conscious of it, but in
denying the Trinity, in denying the everlasting Deity of our Lord,
there is, of course, a denial of the Deity of the Holy Spirit. And in
the teaching that we may become gods in the sense that Russell claims
that Christ became God after His death Professor Moorehead sees the
kinship with Mormonism.
said by Russell
about "redemption through the blood," but when you bring it to an
analysis, it is redemption through the blood of a mere man who was
really annihilated at death. What came out of the grave was a created
spirit without any humanity at all. The Bible speaks of "the Son of
man" and "the Son of God," but "Russellism" tells us that there were
not two natures in Christ. He calls such a Being "a hybrid thing."
Man and His
of salvation in
"Russellism" is a plan of damnation. It teaches that there is no New
Birth here, no present salvation at all, that what we call the New
Birth is associated with the resurrection in the future; that the
re-creation and the salvation of the soul come at the resurrection or
after, but that in this life we have no complete sal¬vation in
Jesus Christ. In his first volume he says: "The ransom for all given by
the man Christ Jesus does not give a guarantee of everlasting life or
blessing to any man."
have adopted the policy of "ruse de guerre." The word "Pastor" as
applied to the leader gives him a fictitious standing. So far as I can
learn, he has never been pastor of any church, and I know of no church
in America that would permit him to preach in its pulpit. He goes here
and there renting halls and aban¬doned churches, and advertising
himself as "Pastor," when, as a matter of fact, he is merely
superintendent of his own enter¬prises, which he or his agents
originate and carry forward under various guises. Recently it has taken
the form of a huge picture show with a phonographic accom¬paniment.
"Millennial Dawn." That, however, became unpopular because of so many
exposures in America, and he adopted the "International Bible Students'
Association." "I.B.S.A." is so very like "I.B.R.A" that it makes the
impression that it is a kindred institution. A clever "ruse de guerre"!
Russell goes to
Brooklyn and rents a mission hall that used to be under the charge of
Henry Ward Beecher's church, and he names it "The Brooklyn Tabernacle."
That was after the death of Dr. Talmage, the famous pastor of "The
Brooklyn Tabernacle." Then it goes out all over the world that "Pastor"
Russell is the successor of Dr. T. De Witt Talmage in Brooklyn.
Beecher's old home, and has his picture taken in Beecher's study, so
that he is the successor of both T. De Witt Talmage and Henry Ward
Beecher! Another clever "ruse de guerre."
How false impressions
comes to London,
rents a building and calls it "The London Tabernacle." Then it is
published in a London paper that he is here to establish a work like
that of Charles H. Spurgeon. That London paper is quoted on the other
side, and all over America the papers have it that "Pastor" Russell is
the successor of Charles H. Spurgeon. When the pastors of Chicago were
giving me a farewell, one of them rose and said: "Will you tell me,
sir, how two men can be pastor of the same church? I have just seen it
in the papers that ‘Pastor' Russell has been elected pastor of the
a letter from a pastor in Louisiana, U.S.A., in which he says that the
agent of "Russellism" is in his town, advertising in big headlines that
"Pastor" Russell is the successor of Charles H. Spurgeon. When he comes
to London he advertises himself in big bulletins as "Pastor of Brooklyn
and London Tabernacles." It goes out over the world, therefore, that
this marvelous preacher is the successor of T. De Witt Talmage in
America and Charles H. Spurgeon in London. Another clever "ruse de
Russell brought a
suit for libel against the Rev. J. J. Ross, of Canada, and the
following dialogue took place in the courtroom:
know the Greek?'
asked the attorney. ‘Oh, yes,' was Russell's reply . Here he was handed
a copy of the New Testament in Greek, by Wescott and Hort, and asked to
read the letters of the alphabet as they appear on the top of page 447.
He did not know the alphabet. ‘Now,' asked Mr. Staunton, ‘are you
familiar with the Greek language?' ‘No,' said Mr. Russell, without a
blush." Another "ruse de guerre," which did not work well.
Russell took a world
tour in order to study foreign missions, which he had been speaking
against year after year. He went with a committee, rather a committee
went with him, and when he came back it was widely advertised that he
would give an exposure of foreign missions in the Hippodrome building,
New York City. Money was lavishly spent in advertising. By the way, I
have been asked, "Where in the world does he get so much money?" for
there are no collections. Another "ruse de guerre." There are no
collections in the meetings, and yet he has become noted for great
financial schemes of various hues in order to get money. When he gets
hold of people who come because there are no collections, he has been
careful to impress them with the prophecy that the Lord is coming
very soon, and that the time is short for using their money, and this
"ruse de guerre" has worked well. A well-informed American tells me
that two rich women in Pennsylvania have furnished him millions.
The Exposer Exposed.
at that "exposure" in the New York Hippodrome? Mr Russell told the
people that foreign missions were a conspicuous failure. Missionaries
were discouraged and the heathen did not have much interest in the
movement. What they were hungry for was "the Gospel of the Kingdom"
that he preached, and they rallied to him in order to hear it. One
sermon he preached in a heathen town was reported, and it was said that
a great audience listened in rapture to the thrilling truth.
Investigation was made, and it was learned that the boat touched at
that port, but he never preached at all. There was no audience and
there was no sermon.
Mr. W. T. Ellis, a journalist on the Continent, a great
American paper, had travelled over the world, investigating missions,
and he took it upon himself to investigate Mr. Russell and his
investigation. After a careful inquiry he found that he stopped at
foreign ports just long enough for the ship to take in coal and change
its freight. He did not talk about missions to a single missionary in
the heathen world, except one. He went as a rapid tourist and came back
to hold a great meeting in the Hippodrome, exposing missions as a
gives me pain to say
these things, but some good people in London have been drawn into this
terrible maelstrom of error, and I feel that God would have me raise
the red flag of warning.