WHY I AM A “BIBLE STUDENT” —— In response to Robert C. Hill, Th.B.’s article Why I Am NOT A Bible Student
A Bible Student
Over the worldwide web there are numerous articles claiming to debunk and “expose” the works of Pastor Charles Taze Russell, a well known Christian religious teacher from the late 19th and early 20th century. While some of them attempt to debate Russell’s teachings from a scholarly standpoint, most simply resort to unproven slander regarding his personal life, as well as gross distortions of his actual teachings. As is the case with many things, when lies are passed down from generation to generation real facts get tossed out the window. Most of the claims by such “experts” on “cults,” such as the late author, Walter Martin, in his best selling book, “The Kingdom of the Cults,” regarding Mr. Russell, have been widely debunked not only by sources loyal to Russell, but also by outside news services and public court records covering the events in question. For example, Pastor Russell was never charged or even credibly accused of “perjury” in a liable lawsuit that he brought against Pastor J.J. Ross, a Russell opposer, from Ontario, Canada. Even more disingenuous on the part of Martin is that he failed to tell his readers that Pastor Russell actually WON the case in question! Instead of examining the facts, Russell haters willfully advance unproven falsehoods. Opponents of Charles Taze Russell have repeated the same lie for years that he was guilty of adultery in his marriage to Maria Russell. To refute this all one needs to do is examine the records of the Russell’s divorce proceedings. Mrs. Russell testified under oath that her husband had NEVER been unfaithful.
Those opposed to Pastor Russell have reported as an “established fact” the claim that he defrauded fellow Bible Students to invest in what was known as “Miracle Wheat.” Once again it is clear that these critics have done little homework in examining the actual facts. The truth is that Russell himself was deceived into the venture. He did encourage other Bible Students to invest as well. When it was apparent that the wheat was not what it was said to be, Pastor Russell offered in writing to refund every single dollar invested by his brothers in Christ. Apparently none of them felt too terrible about it because not one requested their money back!
Latter day Russell critics, especially since the dawning of the Internet age, have taken their hatred several steps further by claiming that he was a “child molester.” In doing so, they offer not a shred of proof, just vague insinuation. Other “Christians” have provided what they claim is “proof” that Pastor Russell was “deeply involved,” with the Occult and that he was a “33rd degree Mason.” The “Freemason” claims are so absurd to most truly familiar with Mr. Russell’s work that they don’t even bother responding to them. He wrote several articles opposing the concept of secret organizations such as the Freemasons. Bible Students to this day take a vow at the start of every convention gathering to avoid “all forms” of spiritism and occultism.”
During his ministry, Charles Taze Russell, was by far the most prominent Christian pastor in the United States and perhaps the world. His columns ran in hundreds of newspapers. His books, the “Studies in the Scriptures” series became the most circulated religious books in history other than the Bible itself. More than fifteen million copies of his “Divine Plan of the Ages” have been distributed around the world. The book continues to be a blessing to devoted Christians in our day. In his time, Russell was seen as a serious threat to the various denominations. People were leaving their churches in large numbers due to what was revealed in Pastor Russell’s writings. In spite of the attempts of envious clergy to destroy him with character assassination, Russell’s work flourished until the time of his death in 1916.
Charles Taze Russell
Pastor Russell’s cause has not been helped due to what occurred inside of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society following his death. New leadership came upon the scene taking over the board of directors in a highly questionable manner. Under the leadership of J.F. Rutherford, the original teachings of Pastor Russell were replaced by the gospel according to Rutherford. By 1927, two thirds of the Russell era Bible Students had departed the Watchtower. Russell is wrongly credited by many as the “founder” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses denomination. In truth, he died in the year 1916 and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, as we know them today, did not come into existence until 1931. By this time the teachings of Charles Taze Russell, as well as the humble spirit of the man, were nowhere to be found. Russell advanced a doctrine of hope, mercy, and forgiveness for all mankind through the blood of Jesus Christ. Rutherford adopted a gospel of fear, dread, and condemnation to all who refused to join his new Jehovah’s Witness movement.
There are plenty of web sites and reference books that set the record straight when it comes to Pastor Russell. That is not the point of this article. This presentation is an attempt to state why this Bible Student is a “Bible Student” in contrast to an article found on the Internet written by one Robert C. Hill, ThB, for the on-line publication, “The Discerner,” where he states why he is NOT a “Bible Student.”
To Mr. Hill’s credit he does not possess the usual venom of those opposing the ministry of Bible Students loyal to the work of Charles Taze Russell. He lays out in his mind why he feels we are incorrect in our scriptural interpretations. He even compliments us for having a kinder spirit towards those of whom we disagree than other “cults.” This article will not attempt to deal with the specifics of Mr. Hill’s comments. Instead, I am going to explain why I enthusiastically wear the label of “Bible Student.”
I AM A BIBLE STUDENT BECAUSE
Over the years I have listened to the various doctrines offered by what would be called “Orthodox” Christian Churches. As a child, I attended Catholic school and sat in on more than my share of masses and Catechism classes. Upon hearing the various teachings, what I found were contradictions and impossible to believe scenarios that I was told to accept based upon “Faith.” Later, I was exposed to the “born again” doctrine, where I was told that one must accept Jesus Christ as ones “personal Saviour” now or else suffer an eternity in a place called “Hell,” where I would be burned alive forever. Simply put, this idea makes a God of “Love” out to be an evil despot. What of the billions of people who have lived and died on this planet over these thousands of years who had never known of Jesus? What about all of the people born before Jesus came to the earth? Are they all going to burn in Hell simply because they were unlucky as to when they were born? If “Orthodox” Christians are being honest in their belief, they have to conclude that all of these people are now burning in Hell with no future hope. Some kinder spirited Evangelical Christians have been known to say, these souls are redeemed because they didn’t know any better. If this be the case, the idea that ignorance can save, why do Christian ministries spend so much time and money to send missionaries around the world? Would it not be better just to leave the “unsaved” in their ignorance? Fortunately for me, I had a parent who was aware of the teachings of “Bible Students” to offer an alternative to the confusing creeds of “Orthodox” Christendom.
I am a “Bible Student” because of all the religious concepts that I have examined, the biblical interpretations as presented by Charles Taze Russell, are the only ones that concisely harmonize the teachings of the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible. That being the fall of the human race into sin and death in Genesis and the recovery of mankind due to the “ransom” sacrifice” of Jesus Christ in the final chapter of the Book of Revelation.
I am a Bible Student because other beliefs make the love of God out to be too narrow. They simply ignore the promise of God to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 that in his seed “ALL the families of the earth will be blessed.” His seed of course, was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. We are told in the gospel of Luke that the coming of Messiah would be “Tidings of great joy which will be to ALL people.” Luke 2:10. Simply put, “Orthodox” Christianity does not see Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross as something to benefit ALL people. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:6 that the man Christ Jesus, “gave himself a ransom for ALL.” Then in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive.” Now, if Jesus gave himself for all, shouldn’t we be looking for ways in which his sacrifice truly benefits ALL?
ALL shall be made alive in Christ —-1 Corinthians 15:22
Bible Students who adhere to the works of Pastor Russell are wrongly accused of accepting the concept of “universal salvation” or claiming mankind is going to get a “second chance” in the future. What Bible Students believe is that the vast majority of mankind has not yet had their first chance to accept Christ. That is the purpose of the one thousand year period of Revelation the 20th chapter. This is the Biblical “day of judgment.” This will be a trial period for the human race to prove their worthiness for eternal life. As we have shown, billions of human beings have never had a first chance to accept Christ. If judgment has already been determined, why are we told that the “Saints,” the true followers of Christ, will in the future take part in the judging of the world? 1 Corinthians 6:2. Why is judgment “given” to those who partake in the “first resurrection,” Revelation 20:4? For what purpose do they judge if the outcome is already decided?
I am a “Bible Student” because it is one of the few Christian religions that deal with the biblical promise of God setting up a future kingdom right here upon the earth. Most “Orthodox” Christian faiths simply discard the very concept. They have everyone either going to Heaven or to a Hell of torment. In doing this, they ignore large parts of the Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus tells us that he came to the earth to “Seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10. We ask, what was it that was lost? Was it not the punishment of Adam that he would forfeit the chance to live forever on a paradise earth? Jesus died to restore this opportunity to mankind. The New Testament speaks of this regarding the “Times of restitution of all things, spoken of by all his holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:19-21. Why does the Book of Revelation speak of the setting up of a “New Heaven and a new earth?” Who are the “Meek?” Why does Jesus say they will inherit the EARTH? What is the book of Isaiah speaking of in the 25th and 35th chapters if not an earth returned to paradise conditions?
Bible Student critics, such as Mr. Hill, ThB, wrongly claim that we do not see a future punishment for sinners. As mentioned above, we do not believe in universal salvation. Clearly, at the end of the 1,000 year “Day of judgment,” there will be those who die the “Second death.” There is no ransom provided for those who die the second death, they will be dead forever.
I am a “Bible Student” because Pastor Russell revealed the fact that “Orthodox” teachers have often confused symbolic scriptures with literal scriptures. This is especially true when it comes to the doctrine of “Hell.” An honest examination of how “Hell” is translated shows that the words are simply meant to illustrate death or the grave. These words are “Sheol” in the Hebrew, which is the grave, and Hades and Gehenna in the Greek. These words are symbolic of destruction. Gehenna in the literal sense was a place kept outside of Jewish cities where trash and waste were disposed of. The fire was kept burning night and day. If Hell were a literal place of fire, sinners and non-believers would be literally cast into a Gehenna outside of a city in Israel. Even worse, they would be being eaten alive by worms that do not die!
The Orthodox view of Hell as a place of literal torment is often based on the parable of the “Rich man and Lazarus.” While it is evident to most students of scripture that the Lord’s parables were symbolic, those advocating literal Hell-fire insist that this parable is one hundred percent literal. Luke 16:20-31, “But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21] desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22] So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23] And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24] “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25] But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26] And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ 27] “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28] for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29] Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30] And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31] But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”
For those who see this as literal consider this– What is it the “rich man” did to merit an eternity in Hell? Is it a sin in itself to be wealthy? What is it that the “poor man” did to merit Heaven? Does being poor give someone a free pass to Heaven? In addition, if the rich man is literally in a Hell of torment, the poor man has to be literally in Abraham’s bosom! If Hell is as hot as many claim it to be, how in the world would one drop of water from Lazarus’ finger serve to cool the rich man? This parable is a symbolic picture of the Jewish nation at the time of Jesus’ first advent. The “rich man” is the nation of Israel, the poor man represents the gentile nations who were to receive the future blessings of Christ’s kingdom because of the Jews rejecting him.
For more than seventeen hundred years now, misguided Christian’s have been accusing their creator of doing something that he would not even consider doing. That being burning human beings alive in a fire. In Jeremiah 19:5, God is found admonishing the Jews because they had offered up their children as burnt offerings to the pagan god, Baal, “they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind.” All through the Bible the condition of the dead is said to be “sleep” or an unconscious state. Stephen upon being stoned to death is said to have fallen “asleep.” Acts 7:60. Jesus told the Apostles that Lazarus upon his death was sleeping. John 11:11. When Peter writes of last day “scoffers,” he refers to the “Fathers” who had died as falling “asleep.” 2 Peter 3:4. We are told in Ecclesiastes 9:5, that “The Living know that they shall die; but the dead know nothing.” Verse 10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Now ask yourself, if someone were in a literal place of eternal torment, would they not know they were in horrible pain and suffering?
“The wages of sin is death,” —–Romans 6:23
During Job’s suffering upon the earth he prayed to go to what many translate as “Hell.” He asks God to hide him in “Sheol” until his wrath had passed. If Hell is a literal place of torture, why would Job wish to go there as a relief for the misery that he was already enduring? Job 14:13. Lastly, if Hell is a literal place of torment, what is meant in Revelation 20:14, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death?”
I am a “Bible Student” because Pastor Russell took an honest look at the doctrine of the “Trinity.” According to author Hill, in his article on why he is NOT a “Bible Student,” he states that disbelief in the Trinity is common among most “Cults.” If this be the case, then early Christians must have been part of a “Cult.” It is indisputable that the idea of the “Trinity” or one God in three persons, and that Jesus himself is God, did not exist in Christianity until the third century after the death of Jesus and the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine. In spite of this, accepting the Trinity is considered essential by “Orthodox” Christians even to obtain salvation. I would like to ask Mr. Hill to show us even one place in scripture where Jesus claims to be God? Jesus stated clearly that the Father was “greater than” he. John 14:28. What of other scriptures where Jesus claims he is acting on authority GIVEN to him by his Father? Luke 22:29 “All authority has been given to me in Heaven and on earth.” “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father.” John 6:57 “My doctrine is not mine but his who sent me.” John 7:16 “For the Father judges no one, but committed all judgment to the SON.” John 5:22 “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon me.” Matthew 28:18 “All things have been delivered to me by my Father” John 11:27 “In this love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be a propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
Orthodoxy attacks the beliefs of Bible Students because we claim that Jesus was a created being. In doing this they ignore Jesus’ own words in Revelation 3:14. “These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness. The BEGINNING OF THE CREATION OF GOD.”
Jesus’ subjection to the Father’s rule is shown to be AFTER his work with mankind is complete. When he hands all things back to the Father. “Now when all things are made subject to him, (The Father) then the SON HIMSELF WILL BE SUBJECTED TO HIM who put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:28 Now we ask, if Jesus is part of some “godhead” why would he ever be “subjected” to another?
The Trinity has its roots in paganism
The concept of the Trinity is supported by a slew of poor translations as well as one glaringly fraudulent passage, 1 John 5:7, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” There is an enormous problem however in using these verses to bolster the trinity doctrine. The passage is not authentic! These words only appear in five later manuscripts and are not found in any of the earlier New Testament texts. These verses are such obvious forgeries that even staunch Trinitarian scholars have been forced to admit as much. Among them are the publishers of the New King James translation and various study bibles. For a more detailed refutation of the Trinity we recommend you go to this site .
I am a “Bible Student” because Pastor Russell offered verifiable proof as to the true nature of Jesus Christ. He was an angelic spirit being in Heaven in his pre-human existence. He was the “Logos.” He gave up that existence to become a perfect human being in the mold of Adam. He was sent to fulfill the scales of God’s exact justice. A perfect life for a perfect life. This was the “ransom” price that he paid at Calvary. Upon his obedience to the will of his Father he received a greater resurrection, one of the “Divine nature,” as mentioned by the Apostle Peter. The scriptures tell us that following his resurrection he appeared differently to his followers. This is because he could still take on the appearance of a human being, but he was now a resurrected spirit being. The Apostle Paul tells us that the “first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam (Jesus) BECAME A LIFE GIVING SPIRIT.” 1 Corinthians 15:45 Jesus upon his obedience to his Heavenly Father, was rewarded with a new nature, “the divine nature” as mentioned by the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 1:4. Jesus was the first, as the HEAD of his symbolic BODY; the saints are to receive the reward of immortality, meaning that they cannot die. Over these the “second death has NO power.” Revelation 20:6
So yes, we do deny that Jesus was resurrected as his former human self. During the time he spent around his faithful followers after his resurrection, he took on different appearances and he often would appear out of thin air. The only time in which he took on his former appearance was to show the Apostle Thomas that he had indeed come back from the dead.
I am a “Bible Student” because the teachings of Charles Taze Russell offer a realistic and scriptural concept as to the manner and the object of Christ’s second advent. If I am to believe the concept of “Orthodox” ministers, there is a glaring contradiction in the New Testament on this subject. Jesus says in John 14:19 “A little while the world will see me NO MORE.” Revelation 1:7 says “Every eye shall see him.” On the surface it would appear to be inconsistent, until you consider the meaning of the word “see” in Revelation 1:7. The proper context of this word “see” in this scripture means to discern or perceive. If this be the case it is in perfect harmony with Jesus’ claim that “in a little while the world will see me no more.” Every eye shall discern the presence of Jesus Christ during the establishment of the earthly phase of his kingdom. The clouds here are symbolic with the “time of trouble” mentioned by Daniel or the “great tribulation” mentioned by Jesus. The 97th Psalm describes what occurs when the Lord takes up his reign, “The Lord reigns; Let the earth rejoice. Let the mountains of the isles be glad! Though clouds and darkness surround him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. A FIRE goes before him, and burns up his enemies round about. His lightnings light the world. The earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax at the PRESENCE of the Lord.” Psalm 97:1-4.
It is after this great time of trouble and the Lord’s intervention on behalf of mankind that the general world of mankind will recognize his presence. When they see the dead being restored to life, the earth being made perfect, and the opportunity to obtain eternal life, this is when “every eye shall see him.” The only people who will behold him face to face are his true saints, the “little flock,” the pure at heart. That is when they receive their spiritual reward in heaven.
“As in the days of Noah,”
The Bible Student belief that Christ’s second advent has already begun is based upon the proper understanding of the Greek word “Parousia.” Most Bible students, when searching the scriptures for the promise of Jesus’ second advent, look upon the gospel of Matthew, the 24th chapter. This is when Jesus sat upon the Mount of Olives and a few of his followers came to him inquiring, “When will these things be? What will be the sign of your “parousia” and the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3. In several Bibles, the translators interpret the word “parousia” as coming. The Greek word parousia in its proper interpretation should read “presence” or possibly “arrival.” Several literal translations properly use the word “presence” for parousia. Among these are The Rotherham Emphasized Bible, The Young’s Literal Translation of Holy Scripture, The Emphatic Diaglot, and several others. It is crucial when examining critical doctrines, such as the Second Advent, that we take a look at several translations before drawing our conclusions.
By properly translating the word “Parousia,” it becomes clear that the presence of Christ would at first be unknown to the world. Christ’s second advent is compared by him with the “Days of Noah.” Since Jesus refers to the days of Noah as an example of the events surrounding his second advent, what does this tell us? In Noah’s day the people were “eating, and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark.” Verse 39 tells us that these people did not know “until the flood came.” Ask yourself, was Noah not present during that time period? In Luke 17:28, Jesus goes on to compare his presence to the “days of Lot.” Lot was an Old Testament character that God found to be righteous in the land of Sodom. Sodom was a place where gross immorality was occurring in the eyes of God. The people of Sodom didn’t fear God as they went about their business of sin and degradation. They were unaware of the destruction about to engulf them. If we are to believe that we are living in the “Time of the end” as mentioned in Daniel the 12th chapter, it is logical to believe that Christ is now present.
I am a “Bible Student” because Charles Taze Russell was essentially correct about what he taught about the year 1914. In spite of all of the ridicule and the charge that he was a “False prophet,” something very big happened in 1914. Russell freely admitted that he was incorrect in all of his expectations for 1914 and 1915. He saw as early as the year 1889 through various biblical prophecies that 1914 would be a significant year in the stream of time based upon the “Gentile times,” a period of 2520 years, expiring that year. Pastor Russell said that the “Time of trouble” of Daniel 12:1 would begin in 1914 AD. He was wrong in the fact that he felt that this time of trouble would be over quickly and that God’s earthly Kingdom would be set up by 1915. It is clear that Mr. Russell was not wrong about the date, just wrong about all of his expectations. He believed that by this time, Israel would be back in existence, this did not occur until 1948. Instead of this being the end, it was the beginning of the end. Russell critics may wish to re-examine this concept. Something very, very big did occur in 1914, an event that was unprecedented in world history. That being WORLD WAR ONE. This war changed the world as we know it forever. Since 1914, more than 150 million people have died in wars.
World War I began in 1914 and brought the first use of weapons of mass destruction. Then in 1945 the world was changed forever with the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Never before was there the ability to “destroy all flesh”. —-Matthew 24:22 The world in the 20th and now 21st century has endured problems that never before had to be addressed, not at least on any large scale. We are threatened by pollution, over population, starvation, and destruction on a much larger scale than ever before. All of this is a sign that “Michael” has stood up! Daniel 12:1
I am a “Bible Student” because Pastor Russell offers numerous scriptural proofs for his teachings. He opens the door to numerous “Types,” “anti-types,” and other illustrations showing old Testament events as “shadows’ of greater events to come. For example, Moses leading the Jewish people into the promised land is a picture of Jesus later leading the whole world into the true promised land, that being the kingdom of God.
Charles Taze Russell has been ridiculed for his suggestion that there is biblical significance to the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Keep in mind, this was never considered essential doctrine by Russell. He only offered it as a corroboration of certain scriptural teachings. This is based upon Isaiah 19:19-20, “In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.” Is it not fair to ask, if this is not the Great Pyramid, what is it?Pastor Russell’s presentation on the Great Pyramid has been greatly distorted by his critics. As with most issues, Russell critics have distorted what he taught regarding the pyramid. He did NOT get his chronological dates from the pyramid. He only felt that the measurements inside of it might have confirmed them. His measurements were confirmed as accurate by the late Professor Piazza Smyth, considered in his time, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Great Pyramid. Smyth was not a Bible Student or a Russellite. Pastor Russell is not the only student of the scriptures to suspect the Great Pyramid had Biblical implications. There are other web sites unrelated to the Bible Student movement suggesting this concept. Here is just one example of many.
Charles Taze Russell’s actual grave site.
Those opposed to Pastor Russell have attempted to brand him as this eccentric “Pyramidologist,” and someone flirting with occult beliefs. In truth, of all his writings he covers the pyramid at length in one chapter of “Studies in the Scriptures.” As for the pyramid “grave marker” seen near his burial plot, it is important to know that Russell did not have this monument placed in the cemetery. This was done years later by the Watchtower leadership of J.F. Rutherford. Russell’s actual grave marker is a simple stone marker, not the scale pyramid.
From the Last Will and Testament of Charles Taze Russell
“I desire to be buried in the plot of ground owned by our Society, in the Rosemont United Cemetery, and all the details of arrangements respecting the funeral service I leave in the care of my sister, Mrs. M. M. Land, and her daughters, Alice and May, or such of them as may survive me, with the assistance and advice and cooperation of the brethren, as they may request the same. Instead of an ordinary funeral discourse, I request that they arrange to have a number of the brethren, accustomed to public speaking, make a few remarks each, that the service be very simple and inexpensive and that it be conducted in the Bible House Chapel or any other place that may be considered equally appropriate or more so.” Given Pastor Russell’s own instructions for his burial, can Russell critics show us where he requested a “pyramid grave marker?”
“Days” of Creation
I am a “Bible Student” because through Pastor Russell’s writings I was offered a reasonable alternative to the theory of evolution. That the “days” of creation did not consist of literal twenty-four hour periods, but of longer periods of time. This is based on the Hebrew word of “YOWM” (Strongs 3117) which can easily be translated as “epoch.” Simply put, it is not reasonable to assume that the earth and all life were created by God in six literal days as claimed by “Orthodox” Christians.
Russell was an early Christian Zionist
I am a “Bible Student” because Charles Taze Russell was one of the very first Christian ministers to adopt Zionism. Prior to the advent of the Christian Zionist movement in the 1800’s many Christians dismissed Jews as “Christ killers.” They saw no future hope for Israel or the Jewish people. Russell was a renowned Zionist at a time when little was heard on the subject from Christian pulpits. He was often invited to speak before orthodox Jewish groups. In addition, his views on Zionism have been hailed by the likes of current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and former United Nations Ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Biblical prophecy in both the Old and New Testament show future blessings coming towards the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. We are told in Romans 11 that the “natural seed” is to be grafted back into God’s plan. This grafting began in 1948 and will go on until the establishment of God’s Kingdom upon the earth. The subject of natural Israel is one of the major areas of disagreement between Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Witnesses believe that once Jesus cast off the Jews, they were cast off forever. They believe that they, as an organization, are the “Israel of God.” Bible Students see Jerusalem as the capital of the world in the future kingdom of God.
Bible Students are not a sectarian organization
I am a “Bible Student” because of how the organization is set up. Unlike other denominations, Bible Students do not have a central authority or governing body ruling over them. While there are various service organizations such as the Dawn Bible Students, the Chicago Bible Students, Ft. Worth Bible Students, and the Herald of Christ’s Presence, these serve only as publishers of various materials. They work to assist the local study groups, they do not dictate to them what they can and can’t believe. There are small Bible Student groups all over the world. These classes operate independently. They elect their own study leaders and deacons. The groups decide by a vote what will be studied in class. Most study the “Studies in the Scriptures” series along with the Bible. Some classes have open Bible Study as well. Many Bible Student classes host yearly conventions where believers from all over come for fellowship. Once again, each group decides on their own the activities of these gatherings, who will be the speakers, etc. Unlike most religious groups, Bible Student have NEVER solicited money from the public. The various publishers exist on unsolicited contributions. Never have Bible Student publications, dating back to the days of C.T. Russell, been sold for a profit. All materials are sold at cost. Anyone who can not afford them are given them for free. No one is turned away.
“Be thou faithful unto death.”
There are many other reasons why I am a “Bible Student.” The concept of “consecration,” giving your life to do the will of God, denying self, the presenting of one’s body as a “living sacrifice,” and the hope for the long promised kingdom of God on earth as in Heaven, provides a true motivation to keep tarrying on.
“Bible Students” do not hold the man Charles Taze Russell up as infallible, nor are we guilty of “creature worship.” We are free to disagree with his writings. Unlike others claiming to be “infallible,” Russell encouraged his fellow servants to question. Just like the Apostle Paul, he said that we should “Prove all things.” We see Pastor Russell as a “fellow brother in Christ.” Just as he never claimed divine inspiration, neither do we. He lived his life as an example to others. Russell existed on a salary of just ten dollars a month plus room and board. He placed every dollar that he ever possessed from previous business ventures right back into his ministry. Unlike certain unsavory preachers of today, he never sought to bring glory upon himself.
In closing, I hope that this article will cause at least a few Russell critics to go back and take a second look into what he presented so many years ago. If you throw out all pre-conceived biases, there just might be a wonderful blessing to be gained.
A Fellow Servant