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First Century Patterns The Bible Students are a small religious body who are following in the faith and character of the early Christian Church. We have been in existence for over 100 years. The Bible Students are located in many parts of the United States with many groups in the United Kingdom and Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America, South East Asia and Africa. Like the first century Christians, we meet in homes, rented rooms and, in some cases, our own halls. Acts 1:13-14, 2:46-47, 18:7, 19:9, 28:30

We are a lay community patterned after first century Christianity. Each congregation is called an “ecclesia” (the New Testament word for Church). We have no paid clergy or church hierarchy. Members of each congregation are addressed as ‘Brother’ or ‘Sister’, and ALL are involved in organizing our activities. All members contribute their time and energy voluntarily in service to God. A strong common belief binds our brotherhood together. Rom 12:4-8; 1Cor 12:4-27; Gal 3:28

We accept the Bible [Old and New Testament] as our guide and believe it to be the inspired word of God.

Our Purpose

The purpose of the Bible Students Association and this website; is set for the defense of the only true foundation of the Christian’s hope now being so generally repudiated –

Redemption through the precious blood of “the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price, a substitute] for all.” 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Timothy 2:6.

Building up on this sure foundation the gold, silver and precious stones of the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Peter 1:5-11

Its further mission is to – “Make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery which …has been hid in God,…to the intent that now might be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.” – “which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed.” Ephesians 3:5-10.

To “show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:4

To reach others of the household of faith. Heb. 11:1, 6; Gal. 1-3

To witness the love and plan of God to all who have a hearing ear. Isa. 61:1-3.

Free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into the fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken – according to the Divine wisdom granted unto us to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God.

A Brief History

The Bible Students had their humble beginning in the late 1860s. In 1868, a young businessman named Charles Taze Russell, who feared the Lord, began studying with a small band of Christians independent of the creeds of the Churches, they soon discovered that many of the doctrines that were popularly taught and believed were inconsistent with the Bible. Dissatisfied, Mr. Russell devoted himself to a careful independent study of the Scriptures. He made no claim to any vision or personal revelation.

The work of Mr. Russell attracted the support of others in America and Britain who were convinced of the truth of his conclusions. Together they formed the Bible Students Association. Since then, Bible Student communities have been established in many countries all over the world. [for a more fuller detailed account of Charles Taze Russell and the Bible Students, please visit the following Link: Soldiers of the Cross

What we believe

The Bible is God’s only revealed message to mankind, given to bring responsive individuals to the obedience of faith. The Bible is our only authority and we teach that it should be read prayerfully and with care at every opportunity. Acts 17:11; Rom 16:26; 2Tim 3:16-17; 2Pet 1:20-21

There is one Almighty God, the Father, of whom are all things. 1 Cor. 8:6; Psa. 83:18; 90:1, Ex. 3:14; 6:3; John 14:28

There is one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things. 1 Cor. 8:6; John 3:16; Col. 1:15-18

The Holy Spirit is the divine will, influence, or power of the Almighty Creator. Psa. 33:6-9; 1 Cor. 2:9, 10; Joel 2:28, 29; Luke 11:13

Because of disobedience, Adam was condemned to death – not eternal torment. Gen. 2:16, 17; Ezek. 18:4, 20; Rom. 6:23; 5:17

The seed of Abraham is in Christ, Head and body members, who sacrifice their earthly hopes in exchange for the heavenly hope of becoming heirs of God. Gen. 22:15-18; Gal. 3:16, 29; 4:28-31; Rom. 12:1; Psa. 50:5

The New Covenant, whose mediator between God and man is the Christ, will be sealed with the precious blood of the dear Redeemer after all of his merit has passed through the fully consecrated of the Gospel Age. The New Covenant will be inaugurated with those with faith in Israel, but in the course of time all others will have a full opportunity to become the earthly seed of Abraham. Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:7-12; Gen. 25:1; Acts 3:22; Heb. 9:22-26

The man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time. 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 2:9

Shortly after the spiritual phase of the kingdom is fully set up, the heavenly Father, by or through the elect Christ, will terminate the trouble, and then the earthly phase of the kingdom will begin at the time the ancient worthies are resurrected to become princes in all the earth. Zech. 14:3; Matt. 24:22; Heb. 11:35-40; Psa. 25:16

The soul (being) who refuses to accept and obey the better Mediator will be destroyed or devoured (not tormented). Fire is a forceful symbol of destruction – not preservation. Acts 3:23; Ezek. 18:4; Rev. 20:9

So what’s the Difference?

Often we are asked, “How are you different from other Christian groups”? Apart from our distinctive organization (with no clergy or hierarchy), some of our doctrines are quite different from most churches. For example:

The Trinity

We reject the doctrine of a ‘Trinity’. This doctrine developed 300 years after Jesus and His Apostles died as a result of disputes within the orthodox church. The Bible teaches that Jesus was the Son of God, nowhere does it speak of him being ‘God the Son’.

The Soul

We also reject the idea of an “immortal soul” that goes to heaven at death. The Bible teaches that the only hope for eternal life is through a resurrection when Jesus returns.

Baptism

We believe that baptism is an outward manifestation of ones consecration to the Lord, after they have been enlightened by His Holy Spirit. We believe that sprinkling of babies is not baptism.

The Lord’s Return

We believe that the Lord’s promised return is not physical to the eye, but spiritual, an invisible presence.

Our Way of Life

The Bible gives effective direction to our lives. We try to rely fully upon God and develop a faith which is active in prayer and good works. At the same time, however, we recognize that salvation is by grace.

With God’s help, we seek to please and obey him every day, striving to imitate Christ who faithfully obeyed his Father. We therefore endeavor to be enthusiastic in work, loyal in marriage, generous in giving, dedicated in preaching and happy in our God.

A widespread custom amongst Bible Students is to read the Bible every day using a reading plan which enables us to systematically read the Old and the New Testaments once, each year. Of course, many read much more widely than this.

We may also attend one or more evening Bible Study classes each weekday. Each Sunday, we attend two meetings. These meetings vary between ecclesias. There are “Bible Studies”, “Topical Studies”, “Testimony Meetings” and “Discourses.” Attendance at these meetings is the focus of our religious life.

There are also monthly conventions sponsored by various ecclesias and associations and an International Conventions held outside of the United States.

We also have Sunday Schools for young ones of various ages; During the summer, Bible Students sponsor Youth Camps for Bible Study and fellowship.

Some members travel overseas on mission work; others care for the elderly in our retirement centers. There are several monthly magazines to read.

The Bible Students are a close-knit community working in God’s service in whatever ways we can.

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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.

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.

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

Where do Bible Students meet and have their services? Unlike the more established churches, 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.

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 avenues to witness, what may suit one class or individual, may not suit another. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 as set forth in Pastor Russell’s 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.

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.