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  1. Yesterday I responded to a months-old comment, here, about putting Charles Taze Russell on a pedestal, and it was under the wrong topic, so I am moving it here, and editing and splitting it into two or three comments because it is so long. The part about "canonizing" refers to the God's Kingdom Rules book, *** kr chap. 2 pp. 13-14 pars. 3-6 The Kingdom Is Born in Heaven *** For instance, consider the prophecy of Malachi 3:1: “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will clear up a way before me. And suddenly the true Lord, whom you are seeking, will come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant will come, in whom you take delight.” In the modern-day fulfillment, when did Jehovah, “the true Lord,” come to inspect those who were serving in the earthly courtyard of his spiritual temple? The prophecy explains that Jehovah would come with “the messenger of the covenant.” Who was that? None other than the Messianic King, Jesus Christ! (Luke 1:68-73) As the newly installed Ruler, he would inspect and refine God’s people on earth.—1 Pet. 4:17. 5 Who, though, was the other “messenger,” the first one mentioned at Malachi 3:1? This prophetic figure would be on the scene well before the Messianic King’s presence. In the decades before 1914, did anyone “clear up a way” before the Messianic King? . . . Those taking the lead among them—Charles T. Russell and his close associates—did, indeed, act as the foretold “messenger,” giving spiritual direction to God’s people and preparing them for the events ahead. Let us consider four ways in which the “messenger” did so. I can't help but see that he very carefully and deliberately put himself on a pedestal. It appears to have been his plan from the moment he began spending money to put himself on Barbour's masthead. His publishing career started with material he borrowed and presented as his own, but with added "humility" about how he is just God's servant which soon turned into a very humble way of saying that he was "God's mouthpiece." It's just that he was so good at 19th century "mock humility" that people truly thought he was humble. But a good portion of the Bible Students acted in the ways in which we think of certain groups as "cults" today, in a pejorative sense. Many members of the Bible Students worshiped Russell but would never have noticed this, thinking of it as only love for their leader. Russell didn't ask for a high level of control at first, but the format of his interactions with them were mesmerizing, including the way the Watch Tower publications presented ideas. The Proclaimers book very clearly admits the "cult" attitudes: *** jv chap. 6 p. 65 A Time of Testing (1914-1918) *** Others, on account of their deep respect for Brother Russell, seemed more concerned with trying to copy his qualities and develop a sort of cult around him. People were naming their first male child after Russell and additional children after his most trusted associates. People were willing to believe constantly changing, contradictory and failing information about when the rapture would occur, when the door of opportunity to heaven was being shut, the "divination" of lengths of the entrails (passages) criss-crossing within the pyramids. Russell could do no wrong. Russell made up stories about his divorce trial that can now be shown to be outright fabrications. But he continued to print letters of praise about himself and letters that called him the "faithful and wise servant." Without a kind of cult following, you can't get away with claiming that you are the one and only faithful and discreet slave, and the one and only mouthpiece of God, and the one and only channel of communication through which the "wise virgins" can prove themselves to be wise and not foolish. Rutherford, who wanted the high level of control, but without the mesmerizing charisma, was very clear about the fact that Russell was being worshiped. Referring to the attitudes toward Russell, Rutherford said the following, according to the Watchtower (and "Faith on the March" by MacMillan): *** w66 8/15 pp. 508-509 Doing God’s Will Has Been My Delight *** Why, brother, if I ever get out of here, by God’s grace I’ll crush all this business of creature worship. The 1975 Yearbook says the same: *** yb75 p. 88 Part 1—United States of America *** With the passing of time, however, the idea adopted by many was that C. T. Russell himself was the “faithful and wise servant.” This led some into the snare of creature worship. They felt that all the truth God saw fit to reveal to his people had been presented through Brother Russell, that nothing more could be brought forth. Annie Poggensee writes: “This caused a great sifting out of those who chose to stay back with Russell’s works.” In February 1927 this erroneous thought that Russell himself was the “faithful and wise servant” was cleared up. Of course it was Russell himself who pushed that idea that he alone was the "faithful and wise servant." He was satisfied for years to say it was all true Christians in this role, even while claiming that "meat in due season" came through the channel of the Watch Tower Society. But after about 18 years of publishing such claims in the Watch Tower he finally claimed (in 1896/7) that this role could be only one individual person at a time. He published several letters addressing him as "that Servant, faithful and wise" ["the faithful and discreet slave"] who provides "meat in due season" ["food at the proper time"]. *** yb74 pp. 97-98 Part 1—Germany *** For that reason Brother Balzereit asked Brother Rutherford for permission to buy a rotary press. Brother Rutherford saw the necessity and agreed, but on one condition. He had noticed that over the years Brother Balzereit had grown a beard very similar to the one that had been worn by Brother Russell. His example soon caught on, for there were others who also wanted to look like Brother Russell. This could give rise to a tendency toward creature worship, and Brother Rutherford wanted to prevent this. So during his next visit, within hearing of all the Bible House family, he told Brother Balzereit that he could buy the rotary press but only on the condition that he shave off his beard. This type of thinking was evidently still going on. Rutherford knew that up until the 1920's pictures of Russell and his close associates were still being sold. (I have a couple from about 1915 with Russell, Rutherford and my great-grandfather.) But this evidently was still going on in 1931: *** yb74 p. 106 Part 1—Germany *** Now at the Berlin assembly [1931] he called attention to the many pictures of himself and of Brother Russell that were being sold in the form of postcards or pictures, some of which were even framed. After discovering these pictures at the numerous tables in the corridors around the hall, he mentioned them in his next talk, urging those in attendance not to buy any of them and asking the servants in charge in plain words to remove the pictures from their frames and to destroy them, which was then done. He wanted to avoid anything that could lead to creature worship. Even in one of our most current and recent study books, we have a similar claim about Russell: *** kr chap. 2 pp. 22-23 par. 32 The Kingdom Is Born in Heaven *** From within, the organization suffered turmoil as well. In 1916, Brother Russell died at only 64 years of age, leaving many of God’s people in shock. His death revealed that some had been placing too much emphasis on one exemplary man. Though Brother Russell wanted no such reverence, a measure of creature worship had grown up around him. Rutherford himself said this about Russell at his funeral: "Charles Taze Russell, thou hast by the Lord, been crowned a king, and through the everlasting ages thy name shall be known amongst the people, and thy enemies shall come and worship at thy feet." Then of course, Rutherford approved and praised the importance of a book in 1917, The Finished Mystery, and proudly distributed it until 1932. It said the following (with page numbers, unchecked, as copied from Gruss): "The special messenger to the last Age of the Church was Charles T. Russell.... He has privately admitted his belief that he was chosen for his great work from before his birth" (53). "Pastor Russell was the voice used. Beautiful voice of the Lord: strong, humble, wise, loving, gentle, just, merciful, faithful, self-sacrificing; one of the noblest, grandest characters or all history...Without a blemish in his character, with the loftiest ideals of God, and the possibilities of man, he towers like a giant, unmatched"'( 125). 'The mind of Pastor Russell was filled with Truth.... The mind of God's steward was as adamant. Adamant is literally, in Hebrew, 'a diamond point"' (383). "In 1878 the stewardship of the things of God, the teaching of Bible truths, was taken from the clergy, unfaithful to their age-long stewardship, and given to Pastor Russell" (386-87). "Then, in 1881, he became God's watchman for all Christendom, and began his gigantic work of witness.... He listened to the word direct from the mouth of God, spoken by holy men of old as moved by the Holy Spirit.(2 Peter 1:21.)... Pastor Russell's warning to Christendom, coming direct from God.... He said that he could never have written his books himself. It came from God, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit" (387). "Pastor Russell was the most prolific writer of Biblical truth that ever lived.—Ezek. 9:2,3" (65). "The man in linen" was the Laodicean servant, the Lord's faithful and wise steward, Pastor Russell" (418). "The preaching and writings of Pastor Russell were heard by all classes of believers and unbelievers. It was the voice of Jehovah, represented as almighty to save, that was heard throughout the world" (422). The June 1, 1917 Watch Tower published by Rutherford, says: "Truly there lived among us in these last days a prophet of the Lord.... Any thoughtful man can interpret prophecy after is has been fulfilled. Pastor Russell interpreted these prophecies twenty years ago...." Throughout the 1920's, the Society began distributing the "Biography of Charles Taze Russell" included with Studies in the Scriptures claiming that Russell himself privately admitted to others that he was the "faithful and wise servant."

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