Two pamphlets were written during Charles Taze Russell’s lifetime (1852-1916) that were brought to my attention recently. The first one was written by Charles Cyrus Cook (b. 1861) and originally published in 1881 entitled “All about one Russell.” The edition I have was apparently updated and published shortly after 1912 because the following pamphlet is mentioned in a footnote. The second was written by Pastor John Jacob Ross (b. 1871) and published in 1912 entitled “Some Facts and More Facts about the Self-Styled ‘Pastor’ Charles T. Russell.”
I became interested in these two publications when Perry Little of Bible Ready Fellowship introduced me to them. He was born into the Watchtower organization. He had read both pamphlets and said that the aberrant doctrines of the Watchtower Society today come largely from Russell. I had been led to believe, as had he, that present-day doctrines arose to a great degree from “Judge” Rutherford’s leadership after Russell’s death in 1916.
In this blog, I’ll share some of the content of Cook’s pamphlet so you can decide if you’d like to download the 48 pages and read it in its entirety. A link will be at the end. Ross’ pamphlet will be the subject of a subsequent blog.
I made a cursory attempt to find out more about Mr. Cook, but was unable to find other than his birth year found on the download page. He strikes me as a solid Bible-believing Christian but not a pastor. He was interested enough in Russell to have had his “eye on” him for “many years” and to have “read his books” (p. 3).
He quotes “Mr. W. T. Ellis, who investigated him [Russell]”:
I sought a prophet and found a businessman! Instead of a humble seeker after truth, I found the cleverest propagandist of the age–a man before whom John Alexander Dowie [faith healer, independent evangelist, and founder of Divine Healing Association], Mary Baker Eddy [founder of Christian Science], Madame Blavatsky [co-founder of the Theosophical Society], … and Joseph Smith [founder of what became over 100 branches of the Latter-day Saints movement (Mormons)] pale into puerile ineffectiveness.“All about one Russell” by Cook, p. 4
If Russell is right then nearly all that has ever passed for Christian teaching and doctrine is wrong–for there is no compromise between Russellism and orthodox Christianity,–no common ground. While on the other hand if orthodox Christianity is true then Russellism is a deadly system, giving false hopes and leading tens of thousands of souls to a hopeless perdition.ibid, p. 6
Cook then lays out three main charges against Russell: I) “His incompetency as a teacher of Bible doctrine” (pp. 8-19); II) “he is untrustworthy to a degree that involves common honesty, as to the promulgation of his doctrines” (pp. 19-42); III) “he is Unworthy the confidence of all conscientious Christians, and that all such should … engage in exposing and opposing him as an ill-balanced pretender.” (pp. 42-48)
I. “Incompetency” – While he is intelligent, he lacks “information, logic, power of correct expression, and above all Holy Ghost power” (p. 8). Cook gives a number of examples concluding with “A Summary of Millennial Dawnism” doctrines (pp. 18-19). The most noteworthy quote of Russell’s on this topic is:
The six volumes of the ‘Scripture Studies’ are practically the Bible, topically arranged, … they are practically the Bible itself … Furthermore, … if he then lays [the ‘Scripture Studies’] aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, … our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. [‘Scripture Studies’ are now the seven volume series, The Studies in the Scriptures.]Watch Tower, September 15, 1910, p. 298, as quoted in Cook, p. 13
II. “Untrustworthy” – Russell had no official title of “Pastor.” He went on a “widely advertised world-tour for the investigation of Missions” (pp. 20-21). Upon his return, he was interviewed by “Mr. W. T. Ellis, the Editor-a-field of ‘The Continent'” (p. 21). Mr. Ellis wrote three articles in “The Continent,” in September and October, 1912 entitled “An Investigator Investigated” (p. 22) revealing that Russell met with one missionary in Tokyo but didn’t discuss missions and visited one mission compound (pp. 23-24). Rather, when on shore, he “primarily engaged in delivering speeches for which his advance agent had arranged” (p. 24). And there is so much more that was sussed out by Mr. Ellis.
III. “Unworthy of confidence” – The Brooklyn Eagle, an afternoon daily newspaper from New York City and published from 1841-1955, 1960-1963 (Wikipedia, “Brooklyn Eagle”), “in all likelihood has a wider constituency among Christians, than any other secular paper in the country, … felt called to take effective action” (p. 43). Archived articles which contain Charles Taze Russell’s name can be found here.
Mr. W. T. Ellis wrote articles in The Continent “so thoroughly discrediting Russell” (p. 43).
“Rev. J. J. Ross, of Hamilton, Ontario, Can., has set an example to ministers by writing a leaflet against Russell, and so effective was the effort that Russell brought suit against him,” … but “the jury found no ground for libel …” (p. 43). “In Russell’s suit against ‘The Eagle,’ Pastor Russell declined to take the stand as plaintiff, from which circumstance, our readers may draw their own conclusions” (pp. 43-44). This pamphlet will be reviewed in a later blog.
The pamphlet continues to expound on specifics of Russell’s exposure, proclaiming, “‘Pastor’ Russell, it should be stated, is very ready to cry ‘Persecution!’ whenever a warning voice is raised against him, …” (p. 46).
Conclusion: “Is it not the part of wisdom to place the soul forever beyond doubt, instead of depending upon the deadly novelties and fallacies of a modern self-appointed prophet?” (p. 48)
You may download this pamphlet: “All about one Russell,” by Charles Cyrus Cook
The next two blogs will published on the following Tuesdays. We will examine the pamphlet written by Rev. Ross where you will learn much about Charles Taze Russell’s life through his own courtroom battle with Russell as well as other courtroom intrigue in which Russell engaged.