This is about the second of two pamphlets that 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 Rev. John Jacob Ross (b. 1871) and published in 1912 entitled “Some Facts and More Facts about the Self-Styled ‘Pastor’ Charles T. Russell,” and is the subject of our discussion today. You will find the link to download it at the conclusion below.
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, we’ll share some of the content of Ross’ pamphlet so you can decide if you’d like to download the 48 pages and read it in its entirety. Cook’s pamphlet was the subject of our previous blog and a subsequent one will be on the libel case Russell brought against Rev. Ross for what you will learn about below.
I was unable to find other than Ross’ birth year found on the download page. He was the pastor of James St. Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was so concerned about Russell that he originally wrote a short pamphlet, “Some Facts about the Self-Styled ‘Pastor’ Charles T. Russell,” which is reproduced at the beginning of this much longer one. For Ross’ public warning, Russell’s ire was raised such that he sued Ross for libel.
The remainder of the pamphlet focuses on the libel case with portions of the testimony reprinted for the reader. The title for this section is found on the title page, “The History of the Libel Case: ‘Pastor’ Russell before the Courts.” This will be described in Part 2b, published a week after this blog.
Summary of “Some Facts about the Self-Styled ‘Pastor’ Charles T. Russell”
You’ll notice this title is somewhat different from the title of the pamphlet in our possession because this is the title of the original pamphlet written by Ross exposing Russell some years earlier.
Russell sold his five “men’s furnishing stores” after getting a “considerable following of the common people” so he could devote “all his time to teaching and preaching his peculiar religious doctrines and giving out that he himself ‘was some great one.'” (p. 3)
“He never attended the higher schools of learning, knows comparatively nothing of philosophy, systematic or historical theology, and is totally ignorant of the dead languages …” (p. 3).
He “was never ordained and has no church affiliation.” “Years ago he gave himself the title of ‘Pastor.'” (p. 4)
“In 1879, he married Miss Marie F. Ackley, who divorced him a few years ago on the ground of cruelty and of having wrong relations with other women. In court she proved improprieties between her husband and one Rose Ball.” (p. 4) You may read pp. 20-31 in Ross’ pamphlet to find details of the divorce action and actual court testimony which were part of the libel case against Ross.
Ross talks about Russell’s newly formed International Bible Students’ Association headquartered in London, England, and his subsequent “publishing establishment in Pittsburg” (p.4). When his divorce proceedings became known, and in a effort to thwart paying alimony, he changed the names of his publications and “transferred his head office to Brooklyn, N.Y.” (p. 5). There is then more discussion on name changes with the purpose of deceiving the public. (p. 5)
The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper, discussed in our previous blog on Cook’s pamphlet, exposed many things about Russell including:
- The sale of “Miracle Wheat” at $60 a bushel–in early 20th century dollars! (p. 6)
- “Influencing the sick and dying to make their wills in his favor” (p. 6)
- “Engineering the sale of a property worth $35,000 for $50 for the purpose of defrauding another” (p. 6)
Ross concludes this reproduction of his initial pamphlet with Russell’s aberrant doctrines. Russell denies the “proper deity, incarnation, resurrection, ascension and high priestly intercession of Jesus Christ” (p. 7). “He teaches that the Second Advent of Christ took place in 1874, that those who sleep in Christ experienced their resurrection in 1878, and that the present order of things will terminate in October, 1914.” Ross then states, “It is safer to take the creeds of Christendom than the vagaries of one man.”
Next week, we’ll delve into the libel trial and additional suits brought by Russell against others which makes up the greater part of Ross’ pamphlet; download here: “Some Facts and More Facts about the Self-Styled ‘Pastor’ Charles T. Russell,” by Rev. J. J. Ross
The next and final blog, published on Tuesday April 4, 2023, will examine various court battles Charles Taze Russell engaged in including when he sued the author of the pamphlet, Rev. Ross for libel.
Pamphlets by Christian Leaders Exposing Charles Taze Russell During His Lifetime, Part 2a