The Perils of Russellism
Alex W. Bealer, Eastman, Georgia, 1914
Russellism makes absurd the story of the second coming of Christ. It never hesitates to ignore the plain teachings of the Bible, when they interfere with its plans. Russell bends the Bible to support his plan, instead of seeking to show that his plan harmonizes with the Bible.
The Bible says, that no man knows the day or the hour of Christ's second coming. Russellism says that the Wise Virgins went out to meet the bridegroom in 1844, which was just thirty years before bis second coming. The exact date of his second coming was 1874. The churches, which are the body of Christ, rose in 1878. Since 1878 the faithful who have died have gone into the presence of God immediately, and they will
willhave no resurrection. In October, 1914, the work of the Lord will be finished, and he will begin his reign of a thousand years on earth. During this time Adam, Cain, the Sodomites, Judas and all others who have died in wickedness will have been led by their experiences to see their mistakes in having been sinners and they will turn to the Lord for salvation. If any are so stubborn that they shall not repent during the Russellism Millennium, they will be annihilated and this will be the sure-enough final annlhillation of these persons. The Bible on the Last Days.
HOW TAME is the story of Russellism when compared with the sublime words of the Bible in telling of this great event! Here Is the way as appeared to Zechariah: “His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a great valley; and half of the mountains shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.”
Jesus told the story in these striking words: “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Paul’s account is no less striking: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
John tells us that as soon as Christ comes back the devil will be chained and cast into a pit where he will be sealed up for a thousand years.
Has the reader heard of any great upheaval in the neighborhood of the Mount of Olives, of any one who has seen the Lord coming in the clouds of heaven? Have you heard of any one who has hearkened to the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, of any one who has been changed in a moment and caught up to meet the Lord in the air? Have you heard any rumor that would lead you to believe that the devil has been chained? All these things must take place before Christ comes back and we must conclude that the story of Mr. Russell is an impudent fabrication.
Russellism Tears Down But Does Not Build.
RUSSELLISM would put the churches of Christ out of business. Russellism says (volume one, page 269) that, since the Kingdom of God is in the future, there Is no need to be concerned now about saving the world. The best thing is to let it alone, as it is a waste of effort, worse than useless, to try to influence it for Christ in the times in which we live. But our Lord says: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.”
Russelllsm would disband every church, recall every missionary, close every Christian school, break down every institution that works for the betterment of mankind. This is exactly the plan that appeals to the most depraved and the most unenlightened people in every community.
Russelllsm says that God has turned his back upon the so-called churches, but fails to account for the wonderful work of grace that is going on in many communities. He fails to account for the thousands who are forsaking sin at the call of Christ through the churches, and are devoting their lives to the worship and service of God.
Russelllsm repudiates the doctrine of regeneration. Jesus said to Nlcodemus: “Ye must be born again.” Russellism says this means that Nicodemus and all others will have to be regenerated in the time of restitution, after they have all been annihilated.
THE MAIN THEORY of Russellism is that in the Millennial Age all who have not accepted Christ will have a second chance to do so. This second chance theory is designed to make Russellism attractive to the persons who wish to live sinful lives. Russellism says (Vol. 1, P. 124) that God has designed to permit evil because having a remedy to relieve man from sin he would be led to see Its exceeding sinfulness and would thus learn to love his creator for providing virtue and truth to which he could turn. Sin Is not the hideous thing It is painted to be in the Bible. The way to learn to love virtue is to plunge into sin. By sinning man win learn about sin and will learn to hate it when he has drained the last bitter dregs of the cup. "A man's sin in this life will be but an angel, a black angel perhaps, but an angel nevertheless to lead him to the powers of virtue in the life that Is to come." Men may sin as much as they please in this life and in the life to come they can turn away from it and receive the approving smile of God.
This fearful "second chance” theory makes it consistent to belittle the churches and repudiate regeneration. It does away with the necessity of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said he would send as a Guide. Therefore, Russellism has very little to say about the Holy Spirit.
Religious Purpose of Russellism.
IT IS A PURPOSE of Russellism to break down the present church organizations. This has been its actual history everywhere it has found a foothold. Its promoters delight in creating a division in a local church and in changing peace into discord. Like Its sisters, Mormonism, Spiritualism and Unknown Tongueism, it makes little effort
among the unregenerate but seeks follower from among the organized churches.
It is the purpose of this so-called religion to exalt its founder, Mr. Russell. A man of rather humble origin, he is ambitious; with masterly skill in advertising he has managed to get his name and his picture In thousands of papers and his religion bears his name.
The chief purpose of Russellism is to make money for its leader. With an Impudence born of the father of lies, Mr. Russell declares that the world will come to an end in the year nineteen hundred and fourteen. Now that the time is upon us he is reported in the press as saying It may be a few years later Instead of nineteen hundred and fourteen. Absurd as are his claims of special knowledge on this subject, thousands of his Ignorant and misguided followers will accept any new date which he may set in professing to know a definite date for the end of the world, which our Lord Jesus said no man knows. It is a profitable thing for Russell to get his followers to believe the end Is nigh. In this fact they will find their earthly goods of less value and he will find It easier to separate their possessions from them. Many of his followers have already willed their property to the Watch Tower Society, which is but another name for Mr. Russell.
Religious Purpose of Russellism.
THIS MAN claims to be without money, and poses as a faithful ambassador of the penniless Christ. He preys on the prejudice of the people by advertising that he takes up no collection in connection with his meetings. As a matter of fact he does not need to get money this way, he has a more artistic manner In which to separate the people from their possessions. A few years ago he sued the Washington Post for defaming his character and In the course of his trial it developed that he had two hundred shares in the United States Coal A Coke Company, capitalised at one million dollars and that he also had shares in a number of other stock companies, among them the Watch Tower Society which received $150,000 for the sale of Its literature in 1910. Many people have left money to the Society, and It was brought out in the trial of Russell's wife for divorce that the “Pastor” was quite a plunger Into the commercial world. One witness swore that Russell's investment in one concern had brought him in about two million dollars in the last ten years.
And yet there are poor deluded people in scores of sections throughout the South who are pinching themselves in order to circulate the pernicious books of this man, helping to make him a multi-millionaire. In scores of sections throughout the South where faithful and true men have lived out their lives before the people and have taught the whole truth of God In Christ, there are misguided and Ignorant people who turn a deaf ear to the truth, that they may follow the anti-Christ teachings of a discredited and self-seeking man.
Paul said: "Though an angel from heaven should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be accursed."
We may in the spirit of righteous indignation apply the words of the Apostle to the perverse teachings of this unholy man. His teachings are a caricature of the Christian religion and he is a reproach and a stumbling block in his own life. In the name of Christ who loves men and would save them, let Russellism be accursed.
[From Victor I. Masters, editor, The Home Field Magazine, December 1914, pp. 3-5; via Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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