A hundred years is a long time when calculating anything whether good or ill. The year 1914 is significant in the world’s history marking the beginning of World War I, although the United States did not enter the conflict until April 6, 1918. At that time, it was a grievous affair the likes of which the world had never seen. As with all wars young soldiers on all sides died in the prime and vigor of life. These dead were and have since been honored, but, what is that to them? What good is a bouquet of flowers laid on a tomb to one who no longer has life? What benefit is that to a grieving wife or mother, to orphaned children or a family whose loved one they can see no more? Like the wars that have followed evil men promote war for their own ends not for the betterment of men. Still, the world at large steadfastly refuses to learn.
Not only was 1914 a crucial mark in the secular world, but it proved to bring havoc in the religious world as well, the effects of which are still with us. Since these pages are concerned with religious, moral and spiritual things, some of these I wish to call to your attention presently.
THE JEHOVAH WITNESSES
Jehovah Witnesses was founded by Charles T. Russell (also the first president). The formal group was organized in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1870. A board of directors was elected by vote of all members who subscribed $10.00 or more to the work (a considerable amount at that time). Until 1931, they were known as Russellites, then Millennial Dawn People, next as International Bible Students. Russell was influenced by Adventist thought, which was much in vogue around the turn of the century. He developed his own adventist ideas and his lectures attracted large crowds. To date some 13,000,000 have been circulated influencing much of Jehovah Witness thought. In 1884, Zion’s WatchTower Tract Society was incorporated. In 1939, the name of the corporation was changed to Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It remains one of the world’s largest publishers’s. Interestingly, none of their material today has a byline and the author’s are not named. Russell enriched himself greatly from the sale of books. His character as a man was nothing of which to boast. The courts of Pennsylvania ruled that he tried to perpetuate a fraud upon his wife claiming he was penniless when she sued him for divorce. It was developed that he had transferred $317,000.00 to Zion’s Watchtower Bible Tract Society, with the intent to avoid paying his wife alimony. His wife obtained her divorce on account of his unmanly conduct and gross familiarity with other women. In court he testified of himself, “I am like a jelly-fish; I float around here and there; I touch this one and that one, and if she responds, I take her to me, and if not, I float to others.” He predicted that the consummation of the ages would occur in 1914 viewing World War I as the final apocalyptic struggle that would usher in the return of Christ. Russell died in 1916, and of course, Jesus had not returned.
Joseph F. Rutherford followed Russell as President. He was a lawyer and occasionally sat on the bench as a circuit court judge in Missouri, so he was proudly known as Judge Rutherford. A strange thing considering how the Witnesses’ have been taught to act toward the government. Rutherford’s numerous books, pamphlets, and tracts supplanted those of Russell, but his neglect of some aspects of Russell’s teaching brought dissension. (These things were taken from Handbook of Denominations 11th Edition, by Frank S. Mead and Samuel S. Hill; and Churches of Today by L.G. Tomlinson).
Russell wrote, “Remember that the forty years of Jewish harvest ended Oct. AD 69, and was followed by the complete overthrow of that nation; and that likewise the forty years of the Gospel harvest will end October, 1914, and that likewise the overthrow of Christendom, so called, must be expected to immediately follow.” (Studies in Scripture Vol. 2, page 245). Russell was a false prophet and was not of God. 1914 has come and is 100 years gone and it did not happen. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken.””(Deut. 18:22).
As a group these people go about spouting Bible verses but are some of the most ignorant in actual teaching of the Scripture. They deny the fundamental truths of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel. One primary example of their felicitous doctrine and teaching should suffice to illustrate the point.
The very fact that they call themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses” is an open and obvious demonstration to even the causal observer. Isaiah foretelling the fact that the Gentiles would embrace the will of God said of His people, “thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.” (Is. 62:2). God’s people in times gone by were called brethren, saints, disciples, sons of God, etc. When we address one another by these, understand none is the “new name.” Saul of Tarsus was appointed to have a part in dispensing this new name. Jesus told Ananias that Saul was “to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15). When Saul assembled with the church at Antioch we are told “the disciples where called Christians first at Antioch. From this time forward, the Lord’s people were known by this name, the name that set them apart from others. King Agrippa understood that Saul (now Paul) wanted him to become a Christian, by saying, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,” (Acts 26:28). Nothing said about his being converted to the Jehovah Witnesses cult. Peter spoke to encourage suffering disciples, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this behalf” (I Pet. 4:16). The American Standard Version translates the latter part of that verse, “let him glorify God in this name.” What name? The name CHRISTIAN. No person—not a single one—was ever called a Jehovah Witness in the New Testament Scriptures. The reason they are insistent on the name Jehovah Witness is that they deny Jesus Christ and His work. From Studies in the Scripture, Russell said of Christ, “He is the highest order of Jehovah’s creation, so also He was the first, the direct creation of God, the only begotten” (Vol. 5, Pg. 84). “In our issue of 1906, page 20, we said ‘Our Lord Jesus, in His own person, has been the Mediator, between the father and the household of faith, during the Gospel age.’ This statement is incorrect. No Scripture so declares. It is a part of the smoke of the dark ages, which we are glad to now wipe from our eyes.” (Watch Tower, Sept. 15, 1909, pg. 283). They, as was Russell from the beginning of the organization are false teachers (albeit many of them are blind).
ASSEMBLIES OF GOD
A group of former Pentecostal pastors met in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1914 and formed The Assemblies of God. One thing that Bible students know immediately is that the church of Christ existed some 2,000 years before there was an Assembly of God Church on the earth. We read in Acts 2:47, “Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” One can be a member of the church revealed in the New Testament without having any affiliation with the Assemblies of God Organization. In addition, since the Lord adds those being saved to the church revealed in the New Testament there is no proof or indication that the Lord adds anyone to the Assemblies of God. Or, that He operates in any other way with that Church. That alone should give anyone pause for reflection who is a member of or about to associate with the Assemblies of God.
Among the things they teach are two ordinances, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They also believe in divine healing and the second advent of Jesus and His millennial reign, eternal bliss for believers and eternal punishment for the wicked. They stress Baptism in the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts to be evident in the church, and that members should practice separation from the world and a life of holiness. Although many of the things they formally believed demonstrated this separation they have for the most part abandoned. In habits and dress, they are no longer different from the world. I have observed in the last 50 years, that the women who once would not cut their hair nor wear trousers now openly practice such, and more, ridicule others who now live as they once did. The transformation of singer Vestal Goodman of the Happy Goodman Family is a prime example. In government they are a mixture borrowed from the Presbyterian and Congregational systems. Local churches are independent in policy and local affairs. Work is divided into fifty-six districts in the USA and Puerto Rico. The general counsel consists of all ordained ministers and lay representatives from local churches. A biennial General Council elects officers, sets doctrinal standards, and provides for church expansion and development. The National headquarters is in Springfield, Missouri. The Gospel Publishing House produces curriculum, resources, and several periodicals, including the weekly The Pentecostal Evangel.
When the leaders of the Assemblies of God are studied, it becomes obvious that everything revolves around money. There was the infamous scandal at the Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri exposed by the Springfield Leader and Press involving the misuse of tithes and offerings of more than 8,500 Assembly of God churches by the President, Thomas F. Zimmerman. He used these church funds for personal gain.
The Assemblies were shot into fame and notoriety by the use of television. For example:
1. The PTL Club is well known for its rise and collapse. Jim Bakker the founder lived in luxury having raised millions of dollars from his viewers. Tammy Faye, Jim’s wife presented herself more like a floozy than a Christian. Finally, some of Jim’s immorality came to the public and his mishandling of finances landed him where he “did not want to go,” as he was imprisoned for his exploits.
2. Pat Robertson using his 700 Club to make a bid for the Presidency of the US until his ministry was investigated by the IRS to determine if his tax-exempt ministry donations had been misused to support his political campaign. His wife made accusations against Robertson’s opponent, Gary Hart, which she could not prove. Robertson is a disgrace to the name of Jesus Christ, although he is the only one that does not seem to know it.
3. The songster and smooth-tongued Jimmy Swaggart, the king of fire and brimstone preachers, who had bilked the people out of untold thousands, came to the forefront. A prostitute (Debra Muphree) claimed that Swaggart wanted her to bring her nine-year-old daughter in to watch them engage in sex acts and then to take part in the sex. He came back after Oral Roberts (by telephone), cast the demon of lust out of him.
4. Pat Boone who had claimed Christianity for years, suddenly found his white-buck shoes changing colors, his career floundering and his marriage on the rocks, received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost (likely mistaking it for repentance) and began to hit the religious program circuit on television demanding $10,000.00 for each appearance with $5,000.00 up front. It is strange how getting the Holy Ghost can enrich a person.
5. Austin Miles the well know preacher (former Ringmaster), billed as “the Show Business Chaplain,” coined the phrase “everybody is special,” finally threw up his hands at the corruption in the Assemblies of God.,” and left (See his book, Don’t Call Me Brother).
There is not to be found a more corrupt religious organization in its leadership and hierarchy than the Assemblies of God, (unless it is Roman Catholic Church). As before stated, it is all about money. Locally a lady I tried to convert, told me that she worked near a large Assembly of God church-house that also ran a “day-care.” She inquired about the price and was told, “if you will join the church, you will receive a substantial discount.” That had a good ring to it, until she was further told, “of course, as a member of the church, you will be required to give 10% of your earnings to the church.” It sickened her on religion generally. Considering these examples, 1914 was quite a year among secular and would be religious people. Barney Owens 1404
Unless there is within us that which is above us,
we shall soon yield to that which is around us.