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What Are Bible Students?

Bible Students are Christians interested in the study of God’s Word for the promotion of true knowledge.

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Where are the Bible Students Located?

Bible Students can be found in all walks of life and in every land and country.

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What is the origin of the Bible Students?

The Bible Students Association was formed in the 1860s, in Alleghney, Pa. A group of Christians under the eldership of Pastor Charles Taze Russell, who helped form a Bible study group to unearth the hidden mysteries of the Word of God.

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Isn’t Charles Taze Russell the Founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

That is a misconception. Pastor Russell was the organizer of the International Bible Students Association. It was this loosely formed association that helped published the [Zion’s] Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence journal, and the [Zion’s] Watch Tower Society.

This Society was an organizer of Bible Student conventions and other activities, but it did not dictate any creeds or rules to the independent congregations.

After Pastor Russell’s death, The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society began to rise as a hierarchy over the once independent congregations. Many refused to surrender their Christian liberty and here started the work of separation. As early as 1917 this exodus from the Society began, and those who appreciated the wonderful harmony of the Bible as taught by Pastor Russell are today known as Associated Bible Students.

By 1930, the Society no longer resembled that of its former self. Many Bible Students abandoned the Society, and by 1931, the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was adopted by the new leadership to differentiate between the Society’s Bible Students and those independent of the Society.

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What are the doctrinal differences between the two groups, if any?

There are some similarities between the two groups. Both believe in two salvations, an earthly and a heavenly. Both believe in the Kingdom of God as the means of bringing about true peace on earth. Both deny the existence of a place of fiery torment and deny the Trinity doctrine. Apart from these similarties, the two groups are world’s apart.

The following doctrines are an example as to how Bible Students still retain the basic teachings of Pastor Russell in contrast with “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” who do not.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell was led to believe in a future probation because millions have died and continue to die without hearing the Gospel. Of those that do hear, uncertainty and confusion exists in their minds because Christianity of today is burdened with contradictory beliefs and teachings.

JW’S: “Jehovah’s Witnesses” see no further probation for any of the present generation who do not subscribe to their teachings – which means that a large percentage of the world’s population is to perish eternally in Armageddon. In this respect their views are less generous than most established Churches. They not only see no hope for those who live today, who do not subscribe to their teachings, but they entertain no hope for a large percentage of the millions who have gone into the grave since the creation of man. For example, JW’S believe that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. have perished eternally, with no hope for a resurrection.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell pointed to the Scriptures, such as Ezek.16:55, where it declares that these are all going to return to their “former estate.” And our Lord, in Matt. 10:15, confirms this thought when he said, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city”- (speaking of the Jews). Thus our Lord pointed forward to a day of judgment for those people who died centuries ago. And again it says, in Acts 17:31 that, “He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.”

JW’S: “Jehovah’s Witnesses” deny that Adam will ever have a resurrection, while the Scriptures plainly state that Jesus Christ tasted death “for every man.” Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5,6.

BIBLE STUDENTS: Pastor Russell pointed to these scriptures and many others such as 1 Cor. 15:22 – “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Also Hosea 13:14 – “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be they plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.”

Pastor Russell taught, according to the Scriptures, that now is “the day of salvation” for those who are to be the Bride of Christ, the Little Flock; and that another day – a day of salvation is awaiting mankind in general, in the Millennial Age – “the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

One of the main teachings of Pastor Russell was that all would be enlightened with a knowledge of God’s Truth before they are placed on trial and judged for their final destiny. For the majority of mankind this would be when they are raised from the dead at the time of the general resurrection. Their final judgment would be based on their conduct while enlightened, not while in ignorance. This teaching separated Bible Students from all other religious groups. Now it separates them from “Jehovah’s Witnesses” as well. This view broke with the concept of salvation current in his day. At that time nearly all evangelists taught a literal hell of torment for those who did not accept Christ in this life. They felt hell-fire threats were necessary to restrain evil and, if need be, to bring salvation by fear. Many theologians have since broadened their concept of salvation beyond this life, but “Jehovah’s Witnesses” hold strongly to the position that those who reject their message are rejecting salvation.

Contrary to our Lord’s Word, every “Jehovah’s Witness” becomes a missionary of life or death, using the fear of eternal destruction or second death as their final appeal.

The Jewish People: Israel, and the Jewish people, present another major difference between Pastor Russell and the JW’s. After applying the Scripture, “Ye are my witnesses saith Jehovah” (Isa. 43:12) to themselves, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” declare that the Jewish people have no special role in the Divine Plan since the death of Jesus. On the contrary, Pastor Russell taught that the Jewish people and nation have a leading role in the Divine Plan for man, and accordingly during the year 1910 he spoke to vast Jewish audiences, comforting them according to the Scripture, Isa. 40:2 – “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” He encouraged them not to join the various churches of today but to wait for the fulfillment of the many Old Testament promises that they would be blessed as a nation.

While they were yet a scattered and dispersed people, he said, upon the basis of these promises, that they would be regathered to Palestine and established as an independent nation. Time has proven this to be so. Although denied by “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Bible Students today teach that the new state of Israel emerged in Divine Providence and is a precursor to the fulfillment of God’s promise to that nation that, – “Lo the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” (Jer. 30:3)

And again, Jer.24:6, 7, says, – “I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them and not pull them down; and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

And a further promise in Jer. 31:27-34 was that, – “Like as I have watched over them to pluck up, and to destroy and to afflict; so will I watch over them to build and to plant, saith the Lord… and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in that day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they break… but this shall be the covenant that I will make… I will put my Law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts… and they shall be my people… I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more.”

From these facts it can be seen that Pastor Charles Taze Russell was neither in principle nor in spirit, the founder of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

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How are Bible Students governed?

The Bible Students are autonomous. Meaning they are self-governing. The ecclesia [congregation] itself elects it’s own officers [i.e. elders, deacons, etc.] and committees [i.e. witness, comfort, convention] to help the class run as smoothly as possible. There are no paid clergy and no collections are taken during the meetings.

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How are the services organized?

The congregation itself determines what is to be studied, the elected elders [those spiritually mature-minded] conduct the meetings in an orderly fashion.

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How is the work financed?

The work is financed by voluntary contributions of it’s members. Bible Students for over one hundred years have prided themselves on the motto: SEATS FREE – NO COLLECTIONS.

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Where do Bible Students meet and have their services?

Unlike the more established churches, the Bible Students meet in individual homes and rented halls, depending on the size of the congregation. We do not own our own church buildings, as this affords us the opportunity to direct our monetary resources in spreading God’s Word.

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Do Bible Students preach/witness? And if so, how?

BIble Students, individually and congregationally, have the liberty to witness in whatever fashion is suitable to them. We realise that their are many different avenue to witness, thus what may suit one class or individual, may not suit another. Thus we leave it to each consecrated member and class to determine what best suits their environment. That said, let it be known that we take advantage of every avenue open to us, this would include going door to door, tracting in the neighborhood, public showings, advertisments in newspaper, magazines and billboards, county fairbooths, etc.

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What are public showings?

Publics showings are shown in rented halls. They can be in the form of a public discourse on a timely Bible topic, or they can be in the form of a movie or slide presentation.

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Do Bible Students publish any literature?

Yes. The Association as a whole and as individual congregations have published throughout the years volumeously. The six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures by the late Pastor Charles Taze Russell are still republished today. Along with many other older and current writings, reflecting over 100 years of service.

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Are there any Bible Student publishing houses?

Yes. There are quite a few throughout the United States and Europe. Some have come and gone in recent years. There are also individual congregations and Bible Students who published independent of each other. These publication however are used and distributed by the association worldwide, regardless of who publishes them.

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Are there any Bible Student Journals and Magazine in print?

Most congregations publish a monthly newsletter, distributed to those they come in contact with through their independent witness work. However there are several journals and newsletters published for the general public and the association.

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How many Bible Students are there?

Since Bible Students do not take roll-call, that is a difficult question to answer. Bible Students can be seen in all four corners of the earth, some are isolated, and others have abundant association.

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Since the congregations are autonomous, are all Bible Students in agreement, doctrinally? Just how closely are the Bible Students in harmony? Do you still hold to the doctrinal teachings as espoused by Charles Taze Russell?

To say that all Bible Students think alike would be to undermine the freedom in Christ we share. Most Bible Students accept the teachings of Scriptures as set forth in the Studies in the Scriptures as being doctrinally sound and supported by God’s Word. However since Pastor Russell never claimed infallibility, it is safe to say that some of his thoughts are opened to interpretation. However, these interpretations, do not take away from The Divine Plan of the Ages, as espoused by Pastor Russell.

It is safe to say there are those, individually and as publishing houses who have taken liberty with the Plan of Salvation as espoused by Pastor Russell.

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For Years it has been said that Bible Students are guilty of creature worship. What is the creature they are charged with worshipping? None other then Charles Taze Russell, organizer of the International Bible Students Association and founder and first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. And who are these accusers who make such a claim? None other then the very Society Russell founded, the Watch Tower and it’s current members the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Notice this statement found in the book; Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose:

The insistence that Russell had been “that Servant” led many to regard Russell in what amounted actually to creature worship. They believed that all the truth God had seen fit to reveal to his people had been revealed to Russell, and now nothing more could be brought forth because “that servant” was dead.” [1959, pg 69]

As recent as 1988, in the book Revelation – It’s Grand Climax at Hand! The Watchtower makes this claim:

“The John class, however, emerged from the tumultuous days of the first world war with a love for Jehovah and for the truth that impelled them to serve him with flaming zeal. They resisted those who tried to introduce sectarianism through practically idolizing the first president of the Watch Tower Society, Charles T. Russell, following his death in 1916.” [p. 35, 36]

Who were “those” the “John class” tried to resist? And how did “those” try “to introduce sectarianism”? The answer lies in the book; God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1973. It had this to say concerning the issue of idolizing C.T. Russell:

“This view was prominently featured in the book published in July of 1917 by the People’s Pulpit Association of Brooklyn, New York. This book was called “The Finished Mystery” and furnished a commentary of the Bible books of Revelation and Ezekiel and The Songs of Solomon. On its Publishers page the book was called the “Posthumous Works of Pastor Russell.” Such a book and religious attitude tended to establish a religious sect centered around a man” [pg 347]

Who or what was the People’s Pulpit Association? The answer again can be found in the pages of the book Qualified to Be Ministers published in 1967, by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It had this to say about the Association:

“Such a corporation came into legal existence February 23, 1909, and was named People’s Pulpit Association. Thirty years later, in 1939, the name was changed to its present one, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc.” [pg. 309]

So, in essence, the Watchtower Society itself was to blame for promoting the idolizing of C.T. Russell, not a group of individuals. The Book The Finished Mystery was published by the Watchtower Society, it was sanctioned by then president J.F. Rutherford, and was the cause of much schism within the Bible Students Association, not because it was promoting Russell, but because it was filled with misquotes, half truths and perversion of thoughts.

Nowhere within the pages of C.T. Russell’s writings, is there a thought alluding to worshipping him. Never did he ever claim to be “That Faithful and Wise Servant” mentioned in Matthew 24:45-48. Yes … there were those in his day who believe he filled that office, members of the Association, some representatives of the Watch Tower Society, but Russell never made such a claim for himself. In fact his thought on the matter was:

“I have nothing to say about the subject. What I would say would not change matters any way. You have your right to your opinion and they have their right to theirs. [Convention Reports 1909, pg. 25]

Russell did teach “that servant” to be a class, representing the church as early as 1897 in the book, The Battle of Armageddon, but some years later, would change his mind and believed it to be an individual. Yet he never claimed to be that individual.

In fact, the thought of promoting Russell as “That Servant” and giving him prominence was J.F. Rutherford. In the 1916 Watchtower it stated:

Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell’s writings believe that he filled the office of “that faithful and wise servant,” and that his great work was giving to the Household of Faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation. [pg 357]

The only ones who admitted to these so-called private conversations were, Rutherford, VamAmburgh and MacMillan, the three individuals responsible for seizing control of the Watch Tower Society. Their motives behind such a promotion was to appease the close friends, colleagues and supporters of Russell. Rutherford vowed to continue the work Russell had started. But in promoting Russell, elevating him and his writings to that of equal par to the Scriptures, he created a monster. Many Bible Students parted company with the Society. Some actually believed and accepted this new idea. It was even taught through the pages of The Watch Tower that Russell was still directing the affairs of the Society from heaven.

Evidently Rutherford, decided to slay the monster he created, by cunningly denouncing all he had stated and written in The Watch Tower. Not only was Russell pushed to the background, but the Scriptures had been reinterpreted. Russell’s books were left to go out of print, with no new editions being published. His name if mentioned at all, was done only in passing, as “first President” of the Society. His writings were replaced by newer ones. This cause more schisms and departures by Bible Students who could not and would not accept the Society’s leadership, and autonomous rule.

For years afterwards, Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses grew apart, animosity and hatred was promoted by the Society towards the independent Bible Student groups who rejected the Society as God’s Sole Channel of communication. The Society rewrote its history, omitting many important facts, and in the cases cited above distorted many events, to place them in a good light and branding Bible Students as evil opposers who would rather follow and worship a man, rather than their organization.

For years, the Society shifted the blame on Professor Paul S.L. Johnson, a colleague of Russell, an ordained minister, born a Jew, who joined the Bible Students Association and became an important promoter of Bible Truths. He was the Society’s scapegoat for many years. Most of the attacks on Johnson came after his death in 1950, and continued until the 1980s, it was as the old saying goes “beating a dead horse”, as Johnson was not alive to defend himself.

The Society tried to silence the Bible Students, by holding on to the copyrights of such works as Studies in the Scriptures and the Watch Tower Reprints. As Bible Students, they relied on their Bibles and nothing more. When the copyrights ran out, Paul S.L. Johnson, decided to reprint the Studies in the Scriptures. He contacted Rutherford, as they at one time were like brothers. Rutherford’s reply came in the destruction of the original plates. It was a slow process, but Johnson in 1937, made the Volumes available to the brethren. In 1940, the Dawn Bible Students Association, also reproduced the volumes. And years later, the original Watch Towers were made available to the brethren by way of the Chicago Bible Students.

The Society’s publications having a much larger circulation then all the Bible Student literature combined, tried a new tactic, everytime they mentioned the term “Bible Students” they always had in parenthesis “as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known as”. Giving the reader the thought that Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses are one and the same. When people came across the name or writings of Russell or Bible Students, they would automatically associate it with the Witnesses.

In recent years, with the advent of computers, and counter cult ministries, Witnesses were being made aware of the Bible Students, and the real issues being raised by the Watchtower Society. Some did their research, many returned to their roots, namely the Bible Students Association. Some were simply enlightened to their history as Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was not until the Society was forced to write a new history, still intent on perverting the truth, they nevertheless, did admit a distinction between Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses:

“After the death of Brother Russell, some former associates refused to cooperate with the Watch Tower Society and the International Bible Students Association, even opposing the work of these societies. Such fragmented groups used a variety of names, some of them clinging to the designation Associated Bible Students.” [Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, pg. 151]

This however does not state that the Bible Students still exist today, it merely referred to “fragmented” groups during the schism of 1917. However the fact that you are reading this … shows that you now know … that Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two distinct groups, with distinct beliefs. It is not so much the importance that we stress the individuality of both groups, for we do recognize the Watchtower Society, and do recognize our Jehovah’s Witness friends. But the fact that we have been misrepresented, not by Christians in general, but by the very association we helped build.

It is very strange … that the Watchtower Society, forbids its members from associating with the “evil slave class”, namely the Bible Students, and have chastised those witnesses, who possess and read Russell’s writings, and at the same time, the Society has been in contact with various Bible Student groups, exchanging literature and purchasing one anothers books. This has been verified by both correspondence to and from the Society from Bible Students, as well as eye-witness accounts of Bible Student literature sitting on not only Kingdom Hall libraries, but Watchtower libraries as well.

One would be apt to conclude this is a love/hate relationship on the part of the Watchtower Society. But we know the promises contained in Scriptures will not allow this relationship to continue. For one day, in God’s due time, all of mankind will learn the truth, and all will reside under His loving care.

For Years it has been said that Bible Students are guilty of creature worship. That this “creature worship” led to the largest schism in Watchtower history, and separated the “Faithful Slave Class” from the “Evil Slave Class”. What is the creature they are charged with worshipping? None other then Charles Taze Russell, organizer of the International Bible Students Association and founder and first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. And who are these accusers who make such a claim? None other then the very Society Russell founded, the Watch Tower and it’s current members the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Notice this statement found in the book; Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose

The insistence that Russell had been “that Servant” led many to regard Russell in what amounted actually to creature worship. They believed that all the truth God had seen fit to reveal to his people had been revealed to Russell, and now nothing more could be brought forth because “that servant” was dead.” [1959, pg 69]

As recent as 1988, in the book Revelation – It’s Grand Climax at Hand! The Watchtower makes this claim:

“The John class, however, emerged from the tumultuous days of the first world war with a love for Jehovah and for the truth that impelled them to serve him with flaming zeal. They resisted those who tried to introduce sectarianism through practically idolizing the first president of the Watch Tower Society, Charles T. Russell, following his death in 1916.” [p. 35, 36]

Who were “those” the “John class” tried to resist? And how did “those” try “to introduce sectarianism”? The answer lies in the book; God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in 1973. It had this to say concerning the issue of idolizing C.T. Russell:

“This view was prominently featured in the book published in July of 1917 by the People’s Pulpit Association of Brooklyn, New York. This book was called “The Finished Mystery” and furnished a commentary of the Bible books of Revelation and Ezekiel and The Songs of Solomon. On its Publishers page the book was called the “Posthumous Works of Pastor Russell.” Such a book and religious attitude tended to establish a religious sect centered around a man” [pg 347]

Who or what was the People’s Pulpit Association? The answer again can be found in the pages of the book Qualified to Be Ministers published in 1967, by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It had this to say about the Association:

“Such a corporation came into legal existence February 23, 1909, and was named People’s Pulpit Association. Thirty years later, in 1939, the name was changed to its present one, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc.” [pg. 309]

So, in essence, the Watchtower Society itself was to blame for promoting the idolizing of C.T. Russell, not a group of individuals. The Book The Finished Mystery was published by the Watchtower Society, it was sanctioned by then president J.F. Rutherford, and was the cause of much schism within the Bible Students Association, not because it was promoting Russell, but because it was filled with misquotes, half truths and perversion of thoughts.

Nowhere within the pages of C.T. Russell’s writings, is there a thought alluding to worshipping him. Never did he ever claim to be “That Faithful and Wise Servant” mentioned in Matthew 24:45-48. Yes … there were those in his day who believe he filled that office, members of the Association, some representatives of the Watch Tower Society, but Russell never made such a claim for himself. In fact his thought on the matter was:

“I have nothing to say about the subject. What I would say would not change matters any way. You have your right to your opinion and they have their right to theirs. [Convention Reports 1909, pg. 25]

Russell did teach “that servant” to be a class, representing the church as early as 1897 in the book, The Battle of Armageddon, but some years later, would change his mind and believed it to be an individual. Yet he never claimed to be that individual.

In fact, the thought of promoting Russell as “That Servant” and giving him prominence was J.F. Rutherford. In the 1916 Watchtower it stated:

Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell’s writings believe that he filled the office of “that faithful and wise servant,” and that his great work was giving to the Household of Faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation. [pg 357]

The only ones who admitted to these so-called private conversations were, Rutherford, VanAmburgh and MacMillan, the three individuals responsible for seizing control of the Watch Tower Society. Their motives behind such a promotion was to appease the close friends, colleagues and supporters of Russell. Rutherford vowed to continue the work Russell had started. But in promoting Russell, elevating him and his writings to that of equal par to the Scriptures, he created a monster. Many Bible Students parted company with the Society. Some actually believed and accepted this new idea. It was even taught through the pages of The Watch Tower that Russell was still directing the affairs of the Society from heaven.

Evidently Rutherford, decided to slay the monster he created, by cunningly denouncing all he had stated and written in The Watch Tower. Not only was Russell pushed to the background, but the Scriptures had been reinterpreted. Russell’s books were left to go out of print, with no new editions being published. His name if mentioned at all, was done only in passing, as “first President” of the Society. His writings were replaced by newer ones. This cause more schisms and departures by Bible Students who could not and would not accept the Society’s leadership, and autocratic rule.

For years afterwards, Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses grew apart, animosity and hatred was promoted by the Society towards the independent Bible Student groups who rejected the Society as God’s Sole Channel of communication. The Society rewrote its history, omitting many important facts, and in the cases cited above distorted many events, to place them in a good light and branding Bible Students as evil opposers who would rather follow and worship a man, rather than their organization. The Society claiming to be “The Faithful and Wise Slave Class” denounced all independent Bible Students outside of the Society as “The Evil Slave Class”, The Watchtower of June 15, 1987, had this to say:

“By the summer of 1918 … At the time of the Society’s conventions that summer, some apostates turned away and formed their own opposing religious groups. Manifesting the traits of an “evil slave,” they were ‘winnowed’ like “chaff” to be separated from Jehovah’s faithful remnant. (Matthew 3:12; 24:48-51) The Memorial of Christ’s death was celebrated on Sunday, April 13, 1919, with 17,961 attending in many lands. As compared to a partial report for 1917, the Memorial attendance had dropped by more than 3,000, indicating the effects of sifting.”

It was not so much that Bible Students “opposed” the work of the Society, the issue was the Bible Students and the Society were no longer in harmony doctrinally, the 3,000 or so who “dropped” out by 1918, eventually grew in the coming years, by 1930 seventy-five percent of the original Bible Students had abandoned the Society.

For years, the Society shifted the blame on Professor Paul S.L. Johnson, a colleague of Russell, an ordained minister, born a Jew, who joined the Bible Students Association and became an important promoter of Bible Truths. He was the Society’s scapegoat for many years. Most of the attacks on Johnson came after his death in 1950, and continued until the 1980s, it was as the old saying goes “beating a dead horse”, as Johnson was not alive to defend himself.

The Society tried to silence the Bible Students, by holding on to the copyrights of such works as Studies in the Scriptures and the Watch Tower Reprints. As Bible Students, they relied on their Bibles and nothing more. When the copyrights ran out, Paul S. L. Johnson, decided to reprint the Studies in the Scriptures. He contacted Rutherford, as they at one time were like brothers. Rutherford’s reply came in the destruction of the original plates. It was a slow process, but Johnson in 1937, made the Volumes available to the brethren. In that same time period the Dawn Bible Students Association, also reproduced the volumes. And years later, The Watch Tower Reprints were made available to the brethren by way of the Chicago Bible Students Republishing committee [with the exception of the years 1917-1919.]

Through the years many Jehovah’s Witnesses, upon obtaining these writings, have come to know the Truth, not only in regards to the Watchtower but in regards to God’s Plans and purposes. In 1971 the Watchtower had this to say, about the Bible Students and their witness work:

“The modern-day history of Jehovah’s witnesses shows that attempts have been made by some, making up an “evil slave” class, to assume control over Jehovah’s work and his people. This was especially seen during the World War I period. Jehovah, however, has cleansed his organization, and made it wholly theocratic. The credit is due to him, not to man.” [pages 436-7 ]

This led the Watchtower to warn Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, to read only those publications stamped with the insignia “Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society”. Russell’s books were viewed as “old light” and many were tyold to not waste time reading errors. In some cases Russell’s writings were on a “blacklist” on books not to read. Yes it is true that many Kingdom Hall libraries have Russell’s books, but there are there as a result of donation from a deceased witness, or there simply as a ornament of sorts. There have been documented cases of Jehovah’s Witnesses being disfellowshiped simply because of their reading, studying and apllying what they read in Russell’s volumes. Notice this quotes from the Watchtower:

“Individually, careful watch has still to be kept. The records show that, in our congregations, some need to be warned, others put on probation, and others have to be disfellowshiped. Why? Because, while claiming to be in the truth, they do not practice the truth. This often starts in a small way, but, if persisted in, it leads away from the light into the darkness. [ibid]

What is this “truth” these Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be “in”? it is the truth of the scriptures, the truths they learned in regards to God’s plans and purposes, the truths they learned from such works as “Studies in the Scriptures” written by the late Charles Taze Russell. Elders, Ministerial Servants, Pioneers, Bethelites and rank and file members of the Society, have been disfellowshiped because of their accepting these writings as containing truth.

The Society’s publications having a much larger circulation then all the Bible Student literature combined, tried a new tactic, everytime they mentioned the term “Bible Students” they always had in parenthesis “as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known as”. Giving the reader the thought that Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses are one and the same. When people came across the name or writings of Russell or Bible Students, they would automatically associate it with the Witnesses.

In recent years, with the advent of computers, and counter cult ministries, Witnesses were being made aware of the Bible Students, and the real issues being raised by the Watchtower Society. Some did their research, many returned to their roots, namely the Bible Students Association. Some were simply enlightened to their history as Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was not until the Society was forced to write a new history, still intent on perverting the truth, they nevertheless, did admit a distinction between Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses:

“After the death of Brother Russell, some former associates refused to cooperate with the Watch Tower Society and the International Bible Students Association, even opposing the work of these societies. Such fragmented groups used a variety of names, some of them clinging to the designation Associated Bible Students.” [Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, pg. 151]

This however does not state that the Bible Students still exist today, it merely referred to “fragmented” groups during the schism of 1917. However the fact that you are reading this … shows that you now know … that Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two distinct groups, with distinct beliefs. It is not so much the importance that we stress the individuality of both groups, for we do recognize the Watchtower Society, and do recognize our Jehovah’s Witness friends. But the fact that we have been misrepresented, not by Christians in general, but by the very association we helped build.

It is very strange … that the Watchtower Society, forbids its members from associating with the “evil slave class”, namely the Bible Students, and have chastised those witnesses, who possess and read Russell’s writings, and at the same time, the Society has been in contact with various Bible Student groups, exchanging literature and purchasing one anthers books. This is has been verified by both correspondence to and from the Society from Bible Students, as well as eye-witness accounts of Bible Student literature sitting on not only Kingdom Hall libraries, but Watchtower libraries as well.

One would be apt to conclude this is a love/hate relationship on the part of the Watchtower Society. But we know the promises contained in Scriptures will not allow this relationship to continue. For one day, in God’s due time, all of mankind will learn the truth, and all will reside under His loving care.

The Bible Students association is the outgrowth of the events of the early nineteenth century. As you probably know, it was at that time that Bible Societies came into being. Their work of printing and distributing the Scriptures was unprecedented in both volume and geographical reach. Even those of meager means were enabled to have the Word of God. This resulted in much personal study of the Bible as well as a great deal of international Christian sharing through various publications.

One area of renewed interest was the Second Coming of our Lord. This gave birth to the Second Adventist movement (not to be confused with the Seventh Day Adventist movement). At that time the Christian world largely ignored this doctrine being almost exclusively Post Millenialist in its prophetic understanding. (The churches believed they would convert the world for Christ and then He would return). Renewed study of the scriptures regarding the second coming revived the historic Reformation doctrine of pre-millenialism. Thus premillenialism is a comparatively recent phenomenon. There is a direct line of heritage through the Second Adventist leaders to Pastor Charles Taze Russell.

Pastor Russell was not the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He was the founder of the Bible Students’ Associations in the 1860s. In 1879 the Watch Tower publishing house was established by Charles Taze Russell. Following his death in 1916 Joseph Rutherford forcibly seized control of the Watch Tower. He dismissed the majority of the Board of Directors, began to instill a revisionist theology and established dictatorial authority. Within the first year of his takeover one fourth of the Bible Students left Rutherford and remained true to the teachings of the late Pastor Russell.

Aggressive promotions by Rutherford resulted in a large increase in new members but generated opposition from the Bible Students remaining from Pastor Russell’s era. In response to this opposition Rutherford embarked on a campaign from the years 1925 to 1931 to purge Pastor Russell’s followers. Thus, by 1931, over three quarters of those associated with the Bible Student movement in Pastor Russell’s day separated from Rutherford to remain faithful to the teachings promulgated by Charles Russell. The lineage of today’s Bible Students congregations traces back through these separatists to Pastor Russell their founder.

In 1931, fifteen years after Pastor Russell’s death, Jehovah’s Witnesses was founded. Its founder, Joseph Rutherford, presented a startling resolution entitled A NEW NAME which was adopted at their international convention on July 26, 1931. The resolution first observed that neither “Russellites” nor “Bible Students” were any longer appropriate names (over 75% of Bible Students from Pastor Russell’s era had already separated. Thus there was little opposition to Rutherford’s resolution). Henceforth they would call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The separation between Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses was, and still is, rigidly enforced by the Watchtower leadership. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses can read the writings of Baptists, Methodists, Catholics & etc., however, some have been excommunicated and ostracized for reading, studying and agreeing with the writings of Charles Taze Russell.

Recent history has not been kind to Pastor Russell, as he is his name is synonymous with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This, as can be seen from the above history (which is well documented), is not so – it is a well known misconception.

Bible Student congregations today are autonomous. There is no central authority or publishing house. There are no membership rosters. There is no solicitation for funds. We meet as an association and strive for the organizational simplicity of the early church. We find our head or central authority in our one Lord and Master, Christ Jesus.

We acknowledge that there are a few similarities of belief between Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses. As well, one might speak with a Roman Catholic regarding their doctrine and then with a Presbyterian. There would be obvious similarities; but to say that the two are the same because of their obvious similarities is inaccurate.

The major doctrinal difference between the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses regards the breadth of salvation. Shortly after Rutherford founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931, they developed a “narrow salvation” theology similar to that taught by evangelical Christians. Both of these groups teach that one must accept Jesus now (through the “window” of their doctrinal systems) or else be eternally lost. That means that comparatively few of the groaning billions of earth’s humanity may expect to enjoy the salvation our God has provided in His son. This places evangelical Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses poles apart from Pastor Russell’s and the Bible Students’ “Broad Salvation” theology which will extend to all.

Another major difference between Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses is in regard to the Jewish People. Joseph Rutherford claimed that his Jehovah’s Witnesses replaced the Jewish people as such. All the promises of future blessing to Israel after the flesh were “confiscated” and applied to Rutherford’s organization. (Interestingly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses “Replacement Theology” follows the pattern of the Christian church’s historic anti-Semitic position regarding the Jewish People). Pastor Russell taught and the Bible Students still teach that the Jewish people have a separate and distinct destiny from the Christian Church that the Jews are still in covenant relationship with God. We are sharply criticized by both Jehovah’s Witnesses and evangelicals for our beliefs regarding the Jews which, of course, we trust are in fullest harmony with the word of God.

There are many more areas of difference between the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding Justification, Sanctification, Salvation, Prophecy and Christian living. Some of the differences are vast, some are subtle but important.

We hope that this information is helpful to you. We realize the unfounded stigma associated with the name of Pastor Russell but choose not to delete his name from such works as THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES. The message must stand on its own Scriptural merit and sometimes the Lord permits tests of association “can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” If you haven’t already done so, we hope that you will take time to read the book. It presents the Plan of God in beautiful clarity. May the Lord be with you and thank you for visiting.

Below is a document that will be of interest to all interested in the events of 1917 following the death of Pastor Charles Taze Russell. For those who may question the validity of this document, we offer scanned copies of the original pages. And for those who may question that the scans are fake and that such a letter never existed, we supply a scan copy of the Januray 1, 1918 Watch Tower, where Vice President A.N. Pierson, mentions the letter.

_______________________________________

THE FOLLOWING WILL BE OF SPECIAL INTEREST

Crowell, Conn., July 26, 1917

Mr. A. I. Ritchie,

My dear Brother Ritchie:

I thank you for your favor of the 21st, received last Monday. meanwhile I have been waiting on the Lord to know what to say in reply. After reading the letter, the words of the Psalmist came to my mind, recurring many times since: “The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way.” Consequently I have taken time to make this reply:

On entering the meeting room at the Bethel a week ago last Tuesday morning I was very much surprised to find that Brother Rutherford had appointed a new Board, and so expressed myself to those present. Presently we heard the reading of a letter from a Philadelphia law firm, in which were set forth the facts mentioned in the resolution read before the Bethel Family, viz., that the board of Directors, as constituted, was not a legal one, therefore its members were not legally directors. Thereupon I expressed the thought that if these brethren were not legally members of the Board of Directors — which position some of them had held for many years in the eyes of the friends in general — then the fact remains that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has never had a legal Board. To this Brother Rutherford assented. I further stated that if it was true that the Society’s business had been carried on for so many years in a manner not entirely in harmony with the requirements of the law, it surely could be continued in the same way for a few more months, until another annual meeting. This was not a motion, but merely a criticism or suggestion, upon which no action was taken.

When the Committee which had drawn up the resolution presented it to me. I told them frankly that, while I had nothing whatever against the Brethren chosen, I did object to the appointment of a new Board. After hearing the discussion by the different brethren, including Brother McGee’s summing up the articles of the charter, I came to the conclusion that the statements concerning the legal standing of the members of three, who had been elected as the Society’s officers by the shareholders, would have the same standing so far as membership in the Board of Directors is concerned. While the charter, as published in the little blue covered booklet we receive, makes no provision for the selection of the members of the Board of Directors and specifies that “the members of the Board of Directors shall hold their respective offices for life, unless removed by a two-thirds’ vote of the shareholders.”

You ask why I signed the resolution that was so detrimental to yourself and the other brethren. I felt that there was a measure of wrong on both sides. Some of you brethren had made statements at Philadelphia and other places which called for an explanation, and a letter of some kind was due the friends who asked for such an explanation. This resolution was drawn up by a committee, whose original intention was to have it published, to which I objected. While I admire Brother Rutherford’s ability and his wisdom in settling many difficult questions for the Society, and while I fully believe that it is the Lord’s will that he should be our President, yet I cannot approve of some things he did in connection with this matter.

One of my principal weaknesses, as far as I know myself, is that it is very hard for me to say “No,” especially to brethren I love as much as I do all the members of the Board, including the brethren newly appointed; in fact, all who are truly the Lord’s. When signing the resolution, I had strong hopes that reconciliation might be made between the two parties who differed, and that neither publication of the resolution nor any other publication from either side might be necessary. Before I signed, however a number of statements to which I objected were stricken out. After being thus modified, it was further agreed that copies of this resolution should be set only to Classes and brethren that had heard of the trouble and requested an explanation. I held out for some hours against a thing I did not believe in, but since the brethren had changed it, eliminating some objectionable paragraphs, and agreeing to send it only to inquiring friends, I finally signed, as a compromise.

When our Secretary showed me a copy of the resolution which had been sent to the Class, I could not help but think that it had been sent far and wide to all Classes; and I felt that I had not taken the proper course in signing even after it had been amended. Now that I have reason to believe a general circulation of this resolution has been made, I want to assure you that had I foreseen this I should never had signed the paper. I feel that this had done you four brethren a decided injury, because, in my opinion, none of you has any desire to do any harm to the Society or bring about a division, but that you simply differ with Brother Rutherford about the control of the Society; that it is your desire to stand by the charter and the principles of Brother Russell, which recognize the Board of Directors as having the power of control. I have not concluded to take a firmer stand for what I believe is the right, viz., that the appointment of the new members to take the place of the four who were not legally members according to the decision of the Philadelphia law firm was not the proper course, and will therefore stand by the old Board.

A copy of this letter goes to Brother Rutherford.

With much Christian love, as ever,

Your brother in Christ,

A. N. PIERSON

P. S. You have my permission to make such use of this letter as you may deem wise.

 

 

DAVIES, AUERBACH & CORNELL

MUTUAL LIFE BUILDING, 34 NASSAU STREET

JULIEN T. DAVIES

JOSEPH S. AUERBACH

EDWARD CORNELL

CHARLES E. HOTCHKISS

BRAINARD TOLLES

CHARLES H. TUTTLE

NICHOLAS F. LENSSEN

WARNER B. MATTESON

 

New York, July 23, 1917.

Gentlemen:

You have requested our opinion concerning your present title to office as Directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, and concerning the views as to the law expressed by Mr. Rutherford in his “Statements of Facts and Points,” a copy of which you have received.

As to the proposition which is so much emphasized in Mr. Rutherford’s “Statements” that even if his course of conduce in ousting, as he claims, you four gentleman, a majority of the Board, from your Directorships, was wrongful and in violation of law, the matter cannot be redressed in the New York courts, it is enough to point out that he, in his own statement says:

“In 1909 said Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society removed its activities from the State of Pennsylvania to the State of New York; and since that time it has transacted no business of consequence in the State of Pennsylvania, and never had a meeting of its Board of Directors in said State during that time.”

If this be so, it goes without saying that the courts of the State of New York have ample jurisdiction to see to it that the affairs of the corporation, which, according to Mr. Rutherford’s own admission, are being conducted almost entirely within the State of New York, are not taken out of the hands of a majority of its Board of Directors and turned over to other men whom the President chooses to appoint and regard as Directors. No lawyer familiar with the New York law would have any difficulty in finding legal methods of preventing the usurpers from exercising control over the affairs of the corporation in this State.

The second proposition in Mr. Rutherford’s “Statements,” to-wit, that the affairs of the corporation could not be brought before the courts in the State of New York, because it is no registered in this State, would involve, if true, very disastrous consequences for the corporation, in view of Mr. Rutherford’s own admission that all of its affairs are being substantially transacted in this State. If, in truth, it be an outlaw here — if, in truth, its affairs are not under the protection of the State of New York — it is easy to see that the corollary of the proposition that it is not competent to be sued in the courts of this Sate, is that for the same reason it is not competent to sue, and that in consequence its affairs, its disregard of the constituted Board of Directors, whose presence in office had expressed the will of Pastor Russell and of the membership of the corporation for years.

As a matter of law, however, it is utter fallacious to say that because the statutes of this State provide no means for registering a foreign membership corporation, that therefore such corporation in transacting affairs here is not subject to the courts of this State. All corporations may lawfully carry out within this State the purposes of their charters and may exercise such powers incidental thereto as may be fairly necessary, unless otherwise forbidden by the laws of this State; and the requirements of the statutes of this State for registry apply only to foreign stock corporations. (Demarest vs. Flack, 128 N. Y. 205.) That the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is not a foreign stock corporation within the meaning of the statutes of this State is shown by the following definition in Section 3 of the General Corporation Law:

“A stock corporation is a corporation having a capital stock divided into shares, and which is authorized by law to distribute to the holders thereof dividends or shares of the surplus profits of the corporation. A corporation is not a stock corporation because of having issued certificates called certificates of stock, but which are in fact merely certificates of membership, and which is not authorized by law to distribute to its members any dividends or share of profits arising from the operations of the corporation.”

Pastor Russell, therefore, was not so ill advised as to the law, that in conducting the affairs of the corporation in this State since 1909 (as Mr. Rutherford himself says) he committed the mistake of placing those affairs outside of the protection of courts of justice.

The third proposition made by Mr. Rutherford is that the provision in the charter of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, approved in 1884 and still incorporated in the said charter, that “the members of the Board of Directors shall hold their respective offices for life,” is invalid, since the statute of the State of Pennsylvania, providing that Directors shall be chosen annually by the stockholders or members, is said to be applicable to this corporation. It is a little surprising that one who for years was connected with the management of this corporation should not have discovered this alleged illegality until after the death of Pastor Russell, and then for the first time should bring forward a claim which is well calculated to subvert the whole scheme of government as planned and desired by Pastor Russell, and should use that claim to justify the possession of power in himself alone to oust a majority of the Board of Directors and to fill their places, notwithstanding that a number of the persons whom he thus seeks to exclude held that office for years with the acquiescence and approval both of Pastor Russell and of the membership of the corporation. In this connection it is significant that the charter of the Society is endorsed, as required by Pennsylvania law, with a certificate of an Associate Judge of the Common Please that such judge had examined the charter and found the same “to be lawful and not injurious to the community,” and that therefore the incorporators and their associates were entitled to have leave to be a corporation for the purposes and upon the terms therein stated.

Even if, however, an election or appointment “for life” could not lawfully be made, your right to office would not be in any way affected, since no successors to you have been chosen by the members of the corporation. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that as Mr. Rutherford claims, the Pennsylvania statutory provision that “Directors shall be chosen annually by the stockholders or members,” has some application to this corporation, there would then come into play the very next clause in the statute, to wit, that such Directors or Trustees “shall hold their office until others are chosen and qualified in their stead.” As the members of the corporation have never chosen anyone in your place, your terms of office would (if the statute cited by Mr. Rutherford were applicable) be extended beyond the expiration of one year until such time as successors chosen, not by Mr. Rutherford, but by the members of the corporation, should qualify. Even if the term for which you had been elected were longer than the law allowed, you would not thereby be disqualified from holding office during the lawful period.

Furthermore, this provision of statute that Directors do not lose office solely because of the failure of the members of the corporation to appoint their successors, but continue until such time as the successors have been appointed and qualify, is merely expressive of the common law rule on the subject, and hence would be applicable to your case, even though the statute which we have been discussing be not applicable to the corporation.

As to the claim that at least three Directors must be residents of the State of Pennsylvania, it would seem to be enough to reply that if this be so, the defect in title to office would apply to the entire Board of Directors and not merely to such individual members thereof as Mr. Rutherford (not himself a resident of Pennsylvania) might choose to consider affected by such disqualification. We are, however, unable to find any provision of Pennsylvania law enacted when this charter was adopted or which affects this charter which makes it mandatory that a certain number of Directors in a membership corporation (as is this one) shall be residents of the State of Pennsylvania.

As to the claim that Mr. Rutherford, as President, is “the executive officer and General Manager” of the corporation, and as such “has the legal right to manage the corporation,” we cannot but feel that the conclusion which is sought to be reached from the development of this claim, to wit, that as “Manager” he may fill the Board of Directors with his own appointees, is founded on the use of the word “Manager” in a double sense. The term “Manager” of a corporation is the title of an office thoroughly well known to the law and in the business community; and it has never been thought before that this office was in any way connected with the appointed of Directors. It has to do solely with the executive management, and the Manager is the representative and executive officer of the Directors and not the overlord or source of power. The argument that the incumbent of the office of Manager has the “legal right to manage the corporation” is of course unsound, if the word “manage” is meant to imply the exercise of all the powers of the corporation, including the right to appoint Directors.

As to the filling of vacancies, it is enough to say that if Mr. Rutherford is right in his contention that certain portions of the charter are invalid because of the statute laws of Pennsylvania as to corporations, then he is wrong in his contention that as President or Manager of the Society he has the right to fill vacancies, because this statute expressly provides that “in case of the death, removal or resignation of the President or any of the Directors, Treasurer or other officer of any such company, the remaining Directors may supply the vacancy thus created, until the next election.” Furthermore, even aside from this statute and taking the charter solely by itself, he has no right to fill your places, since “vacancies” have not occurred in your respective offices, and also because in the event of any such vacancy it would have been his duty, or the duty of any other president, to call the Board together in special meeting, and he could not deprive the Board of such power and obtain it for himself merely by failing to call a special meeting for such purpose.

But even if for any reason your original title to office might have legal defects, you, or at least three of you, have been in office so long and your title to office has been so long recognized by the entire membership of the corporation and by its late President, that you are no de facto Directors, even if not de jure Directors.

Finally, it is important to observe that if the provision of the Pennsylvania statute that directors shall be chosen annually, had the effect which Mr. Rutherford claims, to wit: as rendering vacant the office of every director at the end of one year, he himself would have no title to his office as director or as President, for the charter requires that the President “shall be chosen from among the members of the Board annually.” Mr. Rutherford claims that because he was elected by the members of the corporation to be President, such election constituted impliedly an election of him as a director, although he was not expressly so elected. This claim has been overruled by our Court of Appeals in a similar case (People ex rel Nicholl vs. New York Infant Asylum, 122 N. Y. 190.) If he were not in fact a director, the mistake of the members of the corporation in supposing that he was already a director and therefore eligible to be President, would not render him eligible in law to be president or constitute him a lawfully elected director. For this and other reasons, we are of the opinion that he propositions of law advance by Mr. Rutherford, would, if sound and pushed to their logical conclusion, defeat his own title to office as director and president.

Very truly yours,

DAVIES, AUERBACH AND CORNELL

TO:

MESSRS.

A. I. RITCHIE,

J. D. WRIGHT

I. F. HOSKINS,

R. H. HIRSH.

Please address us P. O. Box No. 179, Brooklyn, N. Y.

Brooklyn. July 27. 1917.

DEAR BRETHREN: —

A situation of such seriousness has arisen in the management of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society that we, writing to you as a majority of the Board of Directors, have felt it necessary that you should be acquainted with the facts. The point, in brief, is that an effort is being made to change the scheme of government of the Society as Brother Russell himself devised it and desired it to be perpetuated; and, to that end, to declare illegal provisions in the Charter of the Society which Brother Russell himself placed there, and to use this claim of illegality to oust Directors who have held office for many years with the approval of Brother Russell and the Society.

J. D. Wright, who is one of those now writing you, became a Director in 1906; I. F. Hoskins became a Director in 1908; A. I. Ritchie became a Director in 1911, and R. H. Hirsh became a Director on March 29, 1917. We four are a majority of the seven Directors of the Board. A. I. Ritchie was Vice-President of the Society at the time Brother Russell died; and Brother Russell’s Will appointed R. H. Hirsh and I. F: Hoskins, with three others, “as possibly amongst the most suitable from which to fill vacancies in the Editorial Committee” of The Watch Tower.

The Charter of the Society, which was procured from the State of Pennsylvania in 1884, and was written by Brother Russell himself with his own hand (as Brother Rutherford said in his funeral oration) provides that:

“The members of the Board of Directors shall hold their respective offices for life, unless removed by two-thirds vote of the shareholders, and vacancies in the Board occasioned by death, resignation, or removal, shall be filled by vote of a majority of the remaining members of the Board, who shall meet for that purpose within twenty days from the time when such vacancy or vacancies shall occur, and in the event of a failure to fill such vacancy or vacancies, in the manner aforesaid, within thirty days from the time when such vacancy or vacancies shall occur, then the said vacancy or vacancies shall be filled by the appointment of the President, and the person or persons so appointed shall hold his or their office or offices until the next annual election of officers of the corporation, when such vacancy or vacancies shall be filled by election, in the same manner as the President, Vice-President and Secretary or Treasurer are elected.”

This Charter bears the endorsement, as required by the Laws of Pennsylvania, of an Associate Judge of the Pennsylvania, Court of Common Pleas, certifying that it is “lawful,” and that the incorporators were entitled to form a corporation “for the purposes and upon the terms therein stated.” The validity of this Charter was again confirmed in 1896 by the Pennsylvania Court, when it approved the petition of Brother Russell, asking that the name of the Society be changed from Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society to its present name. This Charter expressly provides:

“The corporation is to be managed by a Board of Directors consisting of seven members.”

In a pamphlet entitled “A Conspiracy Exposed, and Harvest Siftings,” April 25, 1894, Brother Russell said, concerning the members of the Board of Directors of the Tract Society:

“Having up to December 1, 1893, thirty-seven hundred and five (3,705) voting shares, out of a total of sixty-three hundred and eighty-three (6,383) voting shares, Sister Russell and myself, of course, elect the officers, and thus control the Society; and this was fully understood by the Directors from the first. Their usefulness it was understood, would come to the front in the event of our death.”

And in his Will Brother Russell, further referring to the special reasons for his personal conduct of the affairs of the Society, said

“However, in view of the fact that in donating the journal, Zion’s Watch Tower, the Old Theology Quarterly (now “The Bible Students’ Monthly”) and the copyrights of the “Millennial Dawn Scripture Studies” books and various other booklets, hymn-books, etc., to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, I did so with the explicit understanding that I should have full control of all the interests of these publications during my lifetime, and that after my decease they should be conducted according to “my wishes.”

Obviously, these special reasons for Brother Russell’s personal conduct of the affairs of the Society do not hold good in the case of any other person.

Since Brother Russell’s death, Brother Rutherford has for the first time declared that this scheme of government by Directors who are to hold office for life, is illegal under the Laws of the State of. Pennsylvania, and that directors can lawfully hold office only for-one year. He has also for the first time declared that under the jaws of the State of Pennsylvania at least three of the Directors must be residents of the State of Pennsylvania. With these claims as a lever, he has undertaken to say that we who are now writing you are not lawfully directors of the Watch_ Tower Bible and Tract Society, and that he has authority to appoint other directors in our place; and he claims to have done so, naming four brethren, none of Whom was a Director of the Society during the life time of Brother Russell. He also undertakes to say that, in view of his assertion that the law of Pennsylvania requires three directors to be residents of that State, the penalties of non-compliance with such supposed requirements shall fall upon us, rather than upon him and the other Directors, although neither he nor Brother Pierson nor- Brother Van Amburgh is a resident of the State of Pennsylvania. On the other hand, the undersigned, Brother Hirsh, has his home in the State of Pennsylvania.

We are advised by our counsel, Messrs. Davies, Auerbach & Cornell, of 34 Nassau Street, New York City, that the claims of Brother Rutherford in these respects are entirely without warrant; that we are lawfully Directors of the Society; that those whom Brother Rutherford has undertaken to appoint in our places have no title to office; and that if the claims of Brother Rutherford were sound in law, he could have no legal title to office either, as a director or as president. We annex a copy of counsel’s opinion.

What concerns us most, however, is not the legal or technical rights of the matter, but rather the sacred necessity of preserving the scheme of government laid down for the Society by Brother Russell himself and of preserving in the Society faithful loyalty to each and all of the provisions of the Charter and of his Will concerning this Society, quite irrespective of ‘legal technicalities. That scheme of government was very simple and has well performed its purposes through the years. It has, without exception, met with approval from the membership of the Society; and no one has heretofore thought or attempted to upset it by raising legal questions.

It seems to us, therefore, to be a matter of the gravest concern that, after Brother Russell’s death, one holding a high position in the Society should undertake to expunge from the Charter, on technical grounds, provisions which Brother Russell himself put there, and which the experience of years has justified; and should undertake, through his mere declaration that such provisions are invalid (contrary to the opinion of counsel), to draw to himself complete power in the selection of the members of the Board and to appoint new men of his own choice in the place of those who served for years with the approval and at the wish of Brother Russell.

The extent to which this course is subversive of the constitution of the Society, and the degree in which it is a lately conceived expedient apparently adopted for a special purpose, is shown by the fact that The Watch Tower in its issue of December 15, 1916, shortly after the death of Brother Russell, gave the following accurate and comprehensive account of the organization and purpose of the Society:

ORGANIZATION OF THE WORK

“It is recognized that everything must be done decently and in order; that there must be a regular organization to properly carry on any work. How, then, may the Harvest work be thus conducted since Brother Russell is no longer in our midst? Many of the friends throughout the country are asking this and other questions, and we take pleasure in answering:

“The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was organized in. the year 1884 as a means of putting forth the Message of the Kingdom in an orderly and systematic manner. The Corporation is controlled and managed by its Board of Directors and officers. The Board of Directors is composed of seven members. The Charter of the Corporation provides that the Board of Directors shall be self-perpetuating; that is to say, when a vacancy occurs by death or resignation the surviving members are empowered to fill such vacancy. Brother Russell was a member of the Board of Directors. Two days after his death the Board met and elected Brother A. N. Pierson as a member of the Board to fill the vacancy caused by Brother Russell’s change. The seven members of the Board as now constituted are A. I. Ritchie, W. E. Van Amburgh, H. C. Rockwell, J. D. Wright I. F. Hoskins, A. N. Pierson and J. F. Rutherford.”

At the time when this article was written Brother Rutherford was one of the Editorial Committee and must have passed upon its composition.

We feel it our duty, therefore, to lay all the foregoing facts before you and to ask for your advice and guidance.

We would not willingly, in our own private interests, take even defensive measures; but we are bound to realize that we are in a very high sense fiduciaries who are charged with the duty of preserving, whole and unbroken, the traditions of the Society and the provisions by which Brother Russell desired it to be governed during his life and after his death. Under these circumstances it seems to us clear that the moral influence ‘of all the brethren should immediately be brought to bear, in order that what we conceive to be these injuries to the fabric o f our beloved Society may be repaired from within; and that thereby means may be found to avert what otherwise will be the lamentable certainty of litigation in the courts.

If you desire a more detailed statement of the facts, we shall be prepared to furnish it upon request. Please address us at Post Office Box No. 179, Brooklyn, New York. Your Brethren in the Service of Our King,

J. D. WRIGHT,

A. I. RITCHIE,

I. F. HOSKINS,

R H. HIRSH.

Further Note: — On Friday, July 27, Brother Rutherford, representing the Peoples Pulpit Association, ordered the above named brethren to leave the Bethel Home.