PHILIP H. CLIFFORD
CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL
The Rev. P. H. Clifford of Bethany Reformed Church
Arraigns Pastor Russell and His Falseness In Interpreting God's Word (excerpted/edited)
Why have you given your church and pulpit to be used for the purpose of examining Pastor Russell's teachings? This question has been put to me by many during the past week. A few have been presumptuous enough to suggest that I had hosted J. H. Burridge of Bristol, England, because of my own inability to meet Mr. Russell. My own members know better, and will testify that in the past ten months, I have preached a number of sermons on prophetic themes, and warned my hearers against Mr. Russell, who, according to his writings and the published records of his life, is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Any man who, like Mr. Russell, seeks to impress the general public with his orthodoxy and spirit of devotion to God's written word, and at the same time subtly subverts it to further his own ends is one of the most dangerous of false teachers, who makes prey of the general ignorance of Scriptural teaching.
This Mr. Russell poses as a champion of the Bible, and declares that all Godly and noble men from the days of Christ to the present time have not understood God's Word, and therefore have not been able to teach its truths, but he, Mr. Russell, declares himself to be especially raised up to set the Church and the world right. A man making such claims ought to at least have a clean slate of credentials, and be free from inconsistent and studied subtle paragraphs in his writings. If ever the devil used the leaven of false teaching in a dishonest way, he never surpassed the way he is doing it through Mr. Russell.
Mr. Russell's position is that of an egotistical, self-centered, know-it-all, would-be philosophical theologian. According to his own statements in his books, in the world of theology he is "It". His credentials are public property, and according to trusted records, he is questionable in his relations with women; he is separated from his wife, in whose favor the courts gave their decisions, and whom the judges pronounced an intelligent and sensitive Christian woman.
Mr. Russell advertises that he has the Brooklyn Tabernacle, which deceives the people in England and outside of Brooklyn into thinking that he is pastor in Dr. DeWitt Talmage's old pulpit. The Brooklyn building in which he and his followers meet is a small mission building, formerly called the Bethel Mission.
Again, Mr. Russell advertises that he has the London Tabernacle, which makes the general public think that he is preaching in the old pulpit of the great and sainted C. H. Spurgeon. The Rev. Dr. A. C. Dixon is at present pastor at Spurgeon's church, the London Tabernacle. This artful deception in advertising he may claim is unintentional, and one might believe him, but he practices the same kind of deception in his books, and for that reason, I judge him in the matter.
Russell's reported credentials are such that no orthodox body could accept him as a member, and to sanction him as a public teacher and preacher would be impossible.
I did not invite Mr. J. H. Burridge to Bethany Reformed Church. Others sought me out and requested me to obtain the use of the church for these lectures. I gladly welcomed my worthy brother, and the friends of the sainted George Mueller of Bristol, England. My consistory, too, welcomed him, and now that we have heard him, we are doubly glad. At first we hesitated to let the church be so used, because we did not care to help advertise Mr. Russell, but consideration convinced us that we could not advertise him more than be already is, and, feeling it was high time to have some church publicly examine Mr. Russell's teachings, and try to help some of the many of those whom he deceives, we threw open the doors of Old Bethany Reformed Church.
Mr. Russell's teachings are a mixture of half a dozen or more "isms" of the centuries, but so put as to deceive some of the best men and women. While professing to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, he, Mr. Russell, denies Christ's diety. If the first chapter of the Gospel's account of John does not teach the diety of our Lord Jesus Christ, then the doctrines cannot be taught in human language. Mr. Russell claims to accept Scripture. Either Mr. Russell must honestly accept Christ, not as a spirit being made flesh, which he teaches, but as God manifest in the flesh, as Scripture teaches, or else be honest enough to declare the Biblical teaching wrong.
No, he will not do the latter; that would open the eyes of the general public, so he in devilish deception states that he accepts all Scripture and hypocritically subverts it to his own ends.
Death, according to Mr. Russell, is extinction or annihilation. If all this is not the most foolish and dangerous teaching, and unsurpassed blasphemy, then I have yet to learn it. Nothing in the history of Christianity, is more blasphemous than Russellism.
Mr Russell's system reminds me of a very fine cake , which is made of all that is good and best, but in which there is enough poison to kill anyone partaking even of a few crumbs of it. He, while representing himself to champion the Bible and its inspiration, in tbe most artful manner, subverts it to support his most damnable heresy.
His position is egotistical. His credentials are stained, and most questionable. His manner and method of interpretations of the Scriptures is subtle, and denies the fundamental teachings of Scripture. Follow Russell and you will rue it. Read John 4:1-6.
"Pastor" Russell's Doctrine of Demon Spirits
by Rev. Philip H. Clifford
Whenever one can hinder the leaven of false teaching, he owes it as a duty to society and truth to do so. To witness in silence C. T. Russell's efforts to ruin the confidence of church members and dupe an innocent public with his foolish, wicked, soul-damning, self-centered, perverted views of Scripture is to become a partaker of his evil.
I have no desire to hurt the man, nor to put a straw in his way of seeking to do good. It is because I am convinced by clear evidence of his dishonest methods, and studied submission of Bible statements, that I write hoping to hinder his falsely preying upon true people of God.
Let me call attention to one line of belief Mr. Russell advocates. It is more like describing the ideas of a raw heathen African chief or witch dootor. I find it hard to credit, that in Brooklyn, the City of Churches, such a dangerous and destructive belief is being promulgated and tolerated.
In The Watch Tower, vol. 32, No. 1, January 1911 issue, page 5, which paper is Mr. C. T. Russell's official organ, we find advocated the belief that "fallen angels, or demons materialize and personate some of the Lord's people, then commit some flagrant crime, after which they dematerialize, vanishing to leave the non-guilty or innocent person to face the righteous indignation aroused by the crime."
In this same article, Russellism blasphemously suggests that Divine Providence permits such things to be done by these fallen angels or demon spirits, so that a great persecution as unjust as that which came upon our Lord Jesus Christ eighteen centuries ago, might come upon us today. When the writer above says "come upon us", he means Mr. C. T. Russell. I gather this from the fact that he follows up that statement with the following illustration:
"Brother Nicholson of the Australian Branch of Russellism writes us of an astounding circumstance:
"One of the Australian brethren has a wife who is neither for, nor against the truth, and who professes no sympathy for spiritism. Quite recently, the brother, returning home, had a harrowing tale related by his wife. She declared that Brother C. T. Russell had appeared to her (possibly she had seen his photograph). She declared that he, Mr. C. T. Russell, made improper proposals, to which she yielded.
"At such a distance it is easy enough to prove an alibi; to prove that the Editor, Mr. C. T. Russell, was not there. But, suppose the materialization, in all its particulars, had transpired in Brooklyn, or in the Bethel home, or in any of the various cities which the Editor Mr. C. T. Russell visits, or in a Pullman sleeping car in which Mr. C. T. Russell frequently travels? It is easily seen that an alibi might be very difficult to prove in such cases.
"If such matters as this shall form any part of the church's experiences during the year 1911, it will mean very stirring times indeed, and that some of us wholly innocent may have opportunity of dying cruel and very ignominious deaths after the manner of the master."
What conscience, other than a troubled one, would advocate such theories as the above, which are quoted from Mr. C. T. Russell's own official organ, The Watch Tower? A guilty conscience, of course, would do anything to justify itself. A troubled conscience would be capable of fostering such a belief upon the public, so as to prepare for an expected attack. But a conscience as pure as the frosty stars, and free from questionable guilt, could never think, alone stoop, to advocate such a belief. Thinking is creating. If we think with the forces of evil, we create evil. If we think with God, we create with God. Mr. C. T. Russell nor his followers were thinking with God when they concocted such a belief for the present times.
In dark Africa, they may hold such theories, but with such a belief, they also teach that the person whom the forces of evil impersonate is evil; otherwise the evil spirit would not impersonate him.
In the whole article from which I have quoted, there is every encouragement to believe that Mr. C. T. Russell, or any other Russellite, to be innocent of any crime with which he might be charged, and to credit such to some fallen angel or demon spirit, should a case develop in which he, Mr. C. T. Russell, could not prove an alibi. Of course, Mr. Russell quotes Scripture to justify his advocacy of such a belief.
The Epistle of Jude, the sixth verse, distinctly tells how God has made it impossible for fallen angels to do what Mr. Russell would like people to believe, especially should he himself be charged with any crime. There is one other strong verse of Scripture, Epheslans 6:12, which Mr. Russell might twist and turn and subvert to teaching his devilish doctrine of spirit beings personating the Lord's people and committing crimes. But let any honest mind read the chapter, and it will be perfectly plain how impossible and absurd and devilish is Mr. Russell's view.
Again, let me urge the Russellites to throw Russell's books aside, and read the Bible apart from Russellism, and they will be delivered from its gross errors.
Just think how it would sound to read that Mr. Russell committed a crime of this, that, or the other thing, and that he pleaded not guilty, but could not prove an alibi. His only explanation of his innocence would be that some fallen angel of spirit being impersonated him, which happened once before in Australia. In the Australian case, he was able to prove an alibi, being here in Brooklyn at the time.
To permit Mr. Russell's official organs to favorably advocate such doctrines and use the United States mails for the purpose is, in my judgment, worse than to allow impure men to send obscene plctures through the malls.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Nov. 13, 1911
"PASTOR" RUSSELL FLAYED BY THE REV. PHILIP H. CLIFFORD
Latter Calls a Halt on "Devilish Hypocritical Ways of Deceiving Individuals".
As a final warning to the people of Brooklyn against the teachings of Pastor Russell, the Rev. Philip H. Clifford, pastor of Bethany Reformed Church, ... delivered a lengthy sermon last night and emphasized the admonitions given by Evangelist J. H. Burridge of Bristol, England, who has just finished a course of lectures in the same church on, "The Teachings of 'Pastor' Russell'". The sermon of Mr. Clifford was in the main an epitome of Mr. Burridge's sermons, but here and there, the preacher disclosed his own views on the different phases of the question.
Since last Saturday, Mr. Clifford has been the recipient of many letters of an abusive nature from Russellites in several parts of the State, condemning him for his opinion of Pastor Russell, and for permitting Mr. Burrldge to deliver his lectures from the pulpit. Mr. Clifford made answer to these letters in general, saying in part:
"Since The Brooklyn Eagle, of Saturday, November 4, published my explanation of how Mr. J. H. Burrldge, of Bristol, England, came to give lectures at Bethany Reformed Church against C. T. Russell's teachings, and also making known my personal estimate of Russell's position, credentials, and methods of interpreting the Scriptures, I have received communications piously abusing me for 'trying to hurt so holy a man as C. T. Russell'.
"Some of his followers accuse me of falsely charging him with making the Brooklyn preachers a bad and wicked set of men. For the enlightenment of such, and to open the eyes of the general public, let me quote from Russell's own paper, the People's Pulpit, Vol. III, No. 11, where we find the following words:
'When the preachers of Brooklyn had heard that Pastor Russell had come to their city to stay, they were vexed; yea, they were angry; yea, they gnashed upon him with their teeth as certain scribes and Pharisees did toward the Master nineteen centuries ago. They said: "'If this man gets the ear of the people, he will cause us no end of trouble. Our glory will become as a fading flower.'" Cold shivers run down our back when Pastor Russell advertises "No Collections". So they hated Pastor Russell, because he told the truth. The Brooklyn preachers did commune with The Eagle, saying: "Die thee there, scratch Pastor Russell with thy claws; yea, become a vampire and suck his lifeblood. Destroy him, lest he take from us the sheen of tinsel." And because of this attitude of the preachers, The Brooklyn Eagle made several attacks upon Pastor RusseIl."
"When such words are published in Mr. Russell's own paper, and the Brooklyn preachers so misrepresented to all who might innocently read them, how can any sane man think that I am unjust in describing him as a bundle of selfish and devilish egotism?
"To credit such actions to the able and godly men of the Brooklyn churches is one of Mr. Russell's methods of endeavoring to poison the minds of men against men who above all others would oppose the wrong of his new religion, which is a mixture of over a half dozen "isms" of the centuries.
"Because C. T. Russell has succeeded in making false impressions regarding the ministers, and which he methodically continues to do in his publications; because his teaching is absolutely a subversion of Scripture; because while posing as a champion of the Bible, he artfully denies its fundamental teachings regarding the Person and work of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ; because Mr. Russell by his acts and words is a bundle of selfish egotism seeking to make prey of the innocent members of the churches; I, as one of the Brooklyn ministers, for the sake of my own flock, and in loyalty to the truth, use both my voice and pen to the public against such a man whom Scripture describes as 'a wolf in sheep's clothing'.
Has No Wish to Harm or Hinder "Pastor" Russell Unjustly.
"I do not wish to harm Mr. Russell or hinder him or any man in being true to honest convictions. But, when a man like Mr. Russell teaches that all other teachers from the days of the apostles to the present are wrong, and he himself is right; when making such a claim and not presenting a clean slate of credentials; when his methods of interpretation subvert the Word of Rod, he should expect tht any honest man would be true to Scripture principle, and warn all true believers.
"It is true that we cannot read a man's heart, but Christ tells us 'that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.' I judge Mr. Russell by his books, by his methods of interpretation of the Scripture, by his egotistical method of advertising, by his artful way of professing to respect ministers, and at the same time publishing among his followers and to an innocent public such statements which I have above quoted from his paper, 'The Peoples Pulpit, Vol. III, No. II.'
"I have been informed that though Mr. Russell advertises "No Collections", he has received as high as $1400.00 per day in money orders through the Brooklyn Post Office. Does this not show that he is successful in hoodwinking the general public? Sometimes the most effective manner of getting a large collection is to advertise that none will be taken or lifted at a public gathering.
"So far as I can judge, Mr. Russell's method is to win the individual, and he knows the rest will follow, does follow, and he well demonstrates that it does follow.
"I do not criticise his financial methods, but when he advertises that he will not lift a collection, and makes meat of the same in his endeavor to belittle the ministers in whose churches the system of lifting an offering is followed, I call a halt, for it reveals more of his subtlety and devilish hypocritical ways of deceiving individuals.
Collections Necessary for the Support of Churches.
"Ministers are not to be blamed because churches adopt as a method the taking up of public offerings for the support of the work. Personally, I would favor Mr. Russell's method of individuals making private contributions, but the amounts received should be made public property, and not that of an individual. For Mr. Russell to advertise any sentiments against ministers, because churches have and do take up public collections is but another illustration of how he takes advantage of everything which will deceive those who hear him, or who read his publications.
"Let me plead with those who write me to be just in my censure of Mr. Russell, to at least be fair enough to look fact square in the face and be willing to judge their beloved leader as they are willing to judge the godly men of the Brooklyn pulpits whom Mr. Russell artfully and hypocritically seeks to condemn.
"Mr. Russell, in his volumes of "Millennial Dawn", as the "Divine Plan of the Ages", artfully presents truth in contrast with error, and when he has gone far enough to win the confidence of an orthodox believer, he proceeds to pour in the oily teaching of Russellism, which denies every fundamental truth of the Bible, God's love-letter to man.
"Take, for instance, Mr. Russell's concoction of the truth regarding hell, or everlasting punishment. He gives the old argument of human reason, that 'God is Love', and to teach the orthodox view or doctrine of hell is not in keeping with God's character. He further takes the three Scripture words translated 'hell', or its equivalent, and shows how those three words do but mean three different historical places. If any honest reader of Scripture will study the contexts wherever these three words occur he will find that the visible is but a picture to convey to the human reason an invisible thing. Romans 1:20 plainly tells us that we see the invisible, being understood by the things that are made. The best Biblical definition of what hell will be beyond the grave seems to me to be that of Rev. 22:11, 'He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is unrighteous, let him be unrighteous still.'
"In other words, man as a free agent works out his destiny, and God seals it. The gospel is for whosoever will, and hell is for whosoever won't. Mr. Russell's 'No hell' theory, and his revival of the old thought that death is extinction, is very comfortable to stubborn, self-willed sinners, and to persons who would worship a God having mercy, but with no sense of justice; but to nine out of ten men who will put their thinking caps on, such a God is spurious.
Rev. Mr. Clifford's Views on Future Punishment.
"The God of the Bible will punish a wrong. In His love and mercy, He has suffered for the sinner, but if the sinner rejects His mercy and grace, then he and all such sinners will get God's justice. If we sinning mortals punish wrongdoers, will not God punish wrongdoers, especially when they despise His mercy and grace? There is a hell here and hereafter, and though Mr. Russell may help you to feel comfortable in building around truth, under truth, and over truth, he nor any other cannot blot truth out.
"If there is no hell, then there is no sin. If there is no sin, then there is no Saviour. If there is no Saviour, then there is no truth in the Gospel, and the Bible is wrong. Mr. Russell is wrong, and the Bible is right. Life is short. Death is sure. Sin is the cause. Christ is the cure. ... ...
"Mr. Russell might have been honest when he first started to accept such views of truth, but the way he uses language, the method of his gaining the public ear, his slanderous reports of ministers, his preaching humility to others while he practices the opposite, his subtle manner of subverting the Scriptures, his attitude according to published records toward his wife, his readiness to deceive the general public by advertising, such as my article in last week's paper described, all, with many other reasons, convince me that he is not a true man; that his method of teaching is intentionally wrong; and I warn all Christians to beware of Russellism. If I saw that Mr. Russell was true and square, and right in his intuitions and theology, I should be more happy to publicly praise him than I am to censure him in this manner.
Church Members Are Warned Against Mr. Russell's "Theology".
"Again, I warn church members against Mr. Russell's theology, if it can be called such, against his methods of raising money by advertising "No Collections"; against his posing as a martyr when he really is the offending party; against his dishonesty in professing to teach the Bible when he simply subverts it to his own ends. Follow Russell, and you will rue it.
"Russellism is the biggest fraud of the centuries, and the secret of its gripping innocent people, some of whom are and have been worthy members of the various churches, is in that C. T. Russell takes advantage of the general ignorance of God's word. Devout and sympathetic study of the Bible will save the average Christian from the cancer of Russellism.
Daily Bible reading will save any humble follower of Christ from the errors of C. T. Russell, as well as from the foolishness of that which may be called hypercriticism. The Bible needs that we do one thing with it, and that is, read it. Its prophecies are as easily understood as any other portion. Let Russell alone. If you cannot let him go, then test all he teaches, as well as what all other preachers teach, by reading your Bible. Not by taking texts Mr. Russell quotes, but by ignoring Mr. Russell's books, and reading the Bible in the spirit of dependence upon God and the Holy Spirit, who will make plain its truth to all honest seekers. I would to God that people would read their Bibles more, and Russell and other men less."
In conclusion, the Rev. Mr. Clifford urged on his parishioners the necessity of acquainting themselves with the contents of the Bible, so that when such insincere men as Mr. Russell present their doctrines, supported by distortions of the Holy Book, the laymen will be enabled to discriminate between the right and the wrong.
DIVORCE, BLOOD TRANSUSIONS, AND OTHER LEGAL ISSUES AFFECTING CHILDREN OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
EMPLOYMENT ISSUES UNIQUE TO JEHOVAH'S WITNESS EMPLOYEES