The Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of two branches of religion stemming from the ideology and organization of Charles Taze Russell, founder of the “International Bible Students Association.” Russell’s family background set the stage for his judaizing heresy – the Russells were German Jewish immigrants first to the British Isles, where they became deeply involved in Freemasonry, and some family members nominally converted to Scottish Presbyterianism, finally moving to America in the late 18th century, where they also played a role in the foundation of Mormonism, various Masonic societies, and other pernicious ventures. Raised nominally Presbyterian, Charles Taze Russell publicly denied Christianity at 17, declaring himself an agnostic. Not long afterward, he followed in the family Masonic tradition, eventually becoming a Knight Templar of the York-Rite Masonry in Allegany, PA. (Knight Templar is a high degree of Freemasonry, the ritual of which includes an oath to work for the destruction of the Christian Church and Christian government [See FREEMASONRY]). After hearing some lectures by the Judaizing Seventh-Day Adventists, Russell decided to found the “International Bible Students Association” in 1870. From the “Bible Students” later sprang Russell’s official propaganda organization, “Zion’s Watchtower Bible and Tract Society”, commonly known today simply as “The Watchtower.” At this point Russell declared himself the “Seventh or Laodicaean Messenger”, seeing himself as the final ‘successor’ of “Paul, John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe, and Luther”, and he began to preach his doomsday message.
Although Russell (who began to call himself “Pastor Russell”) professed a nominal belief in Christ, his doctrine was anything but Christian. He declared that Christianity or ‘Church-ianity’, Civil Government, and Big Business Capitalism were the three chief agencies of the devil in the world, all of which were soon to be destroyed by God. Based upon his occult measurements of Egypt’s Great Pyramid and current astrological charts, he predicted this would occur in 1874 (adding that the Pyramid also revealed that Jehovah resided in the star Alcyon.) When that apocalypse did not come to pass on schedule, he began to move the date back further and further some eight times, with the last predicted date being 1917, only because he died in 1916. Among other false teachings, ‘Pastor’ Russell declared in highly Jewish fashion that the dogma of the Trinity was polytheistic idolatry, that the worship of Christ was idolatry, that Christ was not God but the Archangel Michael incarnate, that He died a non-redemptive death on a stake, not a redemptive death on a Cross, that the immortality of the soul was a false pagan doctrine, and that the damned would be completely annihilated and only the righteous would exist after the Judgment. Besides preaching against Christianity, ‘Pastor’ Russell’s other chief occupation was the tireless promotion of Zionism and Judaism, maintaining close ties with their leadership throughout his life. At the invitation and with the financial support of world Jewish and Masonic leaders, ‘Pastor’ Russell toured the globe lecturing millions, who came to hear the so-called ‘minister of Christ’ declare that the Church’s doctrine that one needed to become a Christian to be saved was a heresy; that Christ was only a teacher for certain gentiles, not the Lord and Savior for all men; that Christianity was idolatry; that Jews must never convert to Christianity, but must remain in Judaism since they are the eternally blessed ‘chosen people’ of God with their own saving covenant; that every man who can must either physically or financially help establish a Zionist state in Palestine since God clearly had blessed this future state in the Old Testament prophecies; and that together with pure worshippers of Jehovah, the Jews would rule the earth in a Messianic millennial kingdom headed by the Old Testament saints, all of whom would soon be ‘invisibly resurrected’ in 1909, …or 1914,…or 1917! However, while no Messianic kingdom materialized, a more noteworthy event did happen, on the sidelines: in 1911, Russell’s wife Maria Ackley sued him for a divorce, revealing to the public proofs of his habitual adultery, child molestation, embezzlement, fraud, and other crimes – hardly the life of a genuine prophet of God. In 1916, Russell died. A large stone pyramid with Masonic emblems and a tombstone inscribed “The Laodicaean Messenger” mark his grave. The covers of Russell’s publications (e.g., “The Divine Plan for the Ages”) and present Watch-Tower works also prominently display ancient pagan and Masonic symbols and slogans – as a clue to the reader, perhaps, as to who the authors are.
Russell’s sudden death precipitated a power struggle in the “Zion’s Watchtower” hierarchy. One of Russell’s lesser disciples, a lawyer by the name of Joseph ‘Judge’ F. Rutherford managed by legal maneuvering to seize control of the organization, and a schism resulted. Some of the senior Bible Student leadership left the Watchtower Society, and more followed over the next decade because of Rutherford’s view that Russell’s doctrines need not be followed with strict accuracy, but could undergo further development by the organization. He also believed he received a continued revelation from angels residing in the star Alcyon (one of the Pleiades). Despite Rutherford’s rejection of older Russellite fundamentalism, the Watchtower continued to follow in the main doctrinal positions of Russell, tirelessly and viciously preaching against Christianity, Civil Government, and Big Business Capitalism as entities that would be destroyed by the coming righteous Jewish-J.W. millennial kingdom, and promoting Zionism. (Perceptive scholars have noted the similarity in character between the preaching and promised J.W. kingdom and the Communist preaching and state). However, one of Rutherford’s innovations was to restrict salvation and the millennial kingdom only to the most spiritually-minded Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses, rather than Russell’s more universalist views that everyone not involved in the big three evil agencies and any other idolatry would be saved from annihilation. The ‘Judge’ also changed the name of the “International Bible Student Association” to “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Lastly, he brought the movement under obedience to a central ‘prophetic’ government organization rather than to a single ‘prophet’ as had been the case under Russell. President Rutherford has been succeeded by Nathan H. Knorr, Frank Franz, Milton Henschel, and now Don Adams. The Watchtower continued the Russelite tradition of predicting the precise date of the immanent apocalypse every few years until the 1980’s since which time, due to public criticism, scandals, and law-suits, the leadership has tried to lie low. Scandalous revelations of wide-spread homosexuality and pedophilia in the J.W. government (and indications of occultism) rocked the Witnesses in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and exposure of the Watchtower’s habit of false predictions and frequent doctrinal changes caused disillusionment in many older Witnesses. However, the iron, unthinking discipline that characterizes their organization has kept many in the fold despite scandals. Until recently J.W.’s were forbidden any involvement in public institutions or non-J.W. organizations, any independent religious thought, and all those who questioned or criticized the organization were immediately shunned; consequently, by fear of being totally ostracized from all family and friends and cast out into a world they are taught is completely evil, they refrain from critical examination of their obviously very fallible and anti-scriptural religion and leadership.
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