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“WITH WHAT JUDGMENT YE JUDGE”
RECENTLY we received a copy of a letter sent to Rev. Moorehead. We have not learned if it received a reply. The spirit of the letter is kind and moderate, hence we publish it. It is in marked contrast with the various slanderous attacks made upon the Editor of THE WATCH TOWER. A number of religious papers of various denominations attack Brother Russell with slander and abuse, and such a manifestation of alarm and viciousness as to suggest that they are terrified and fearful that all their honor of men and titles and scholarship and musty creeds will be scattered as the chaff of the summer’s threshing floor.
We trust that Brother Russell’s friends, as well as his enemies, recognize how different is his attitude. He does indeed attack false doctrines unsparingly, but he never, in his sermons or any of his writings, descends to personalities. It is because the clashing creeds cannot be sustained by their devotees that the latter manifest their displeasure by attacking Pastor Russell.
The letter follows:
REV. WILLIAM G. MOOREHEAD, D.D.
DEAR DR. MOOREHEAD:
I read some time ago your article in the seventh volume of Fundamentals on “MILLENNIAL DAWN,” the teaching of Mr. C. T. Russell. I felt like writing you at that time but did not. Recently I read the summary of your article in one of my religious papers and have had an increasing impression to write you. I hesitate to do so because of the high regard I have always had for you as one of my teachers of twenty years ago, and also because of the high esteem in which you are held in the company of Biblical expositors and Christian workers in general. Yet I feel also that in the interest of truth and fairness your article should have some attention.
I feel that this article from your pen is unworthy of a man like you. I cannot understand why such a careful student as yourself should make statements such as you make in this article, when they are so manifestly and greatly in error.
In addition to reading five of the six volumes of “MILLENNIAL DAWN” carefully, and the sixth volume in part, I have also read many other pamphlets, magazine articles and sermons of Pastor Russell’s, and also every criticism I have found or heard of in opposition to his teachings. I was one of his critics for about fifteen years, and I based my criticisms upon reading about half of one chapter of one of his books. A few years ago it occurred to me that I might not understand his full thought, so I took time to inform myself on the subject I had been criticising, and when I obtained more information I became an admirer of his work, though I do not agree with him in all his conclusions. I have reached the conclusion concerning the authors of the criticisms that I have read, that they do not know any more about Pastor Russell’s teachings than I did in the days when I was so liberal with my condemnation. They all remind me of the testimony of the two witnesses who offered testimony before the Jewish council when Jesus was on trial. They said, “We heard him say: ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.'” Now Jesus had said something like that—though essentially different. These critics seem to have read Pastor Russell’s works with the same methods and motives that Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll and others of their class read the Scriptures and criticized them. This seems very unfortunate since it has been done by men who have been eminent for Christian character and leaders of Christian thought.
Coming now to your article: I cannot take up all the mistakes you have made in this, but will confine myself to those lying on the surface. In the opening sentence you assure us that in the MILLENNIAL DAWN series there are “six rather bulky volumes, comprising in all some two thousand pages.” On page 123, you speak of “a careful reading of these volumes,” so we conclude that you have read them all carefully. (This is what you should have done before putting yourself on record in criticism of them.) I note that in your references to and quotations from these books you confine yourself to the first three volumes, and chiefly to the first two. I note also that you quote a single sentence, or part of a paragraph, giving only a partial presentation of the author’s thought, and then proceed to criticize it. This is a most unfair method. It reminds me of an article I read a few years ago in which the writer was opposing the doctrine of the total depravity of man, and as a proof text he quoted John 9:3, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents,” and said that Jesus here taught that here were at least three persons who had never sinned. Your method with Pastor Russell is identical.
Under the heading, “Ninth Error,” in your article, you say: “One of these, the ninth error, essential and fundamental in Christianity, is the person and work of the Holy Spirit. There is a strange and ominous silence regarding this most important
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subject very apparent in the writings of Pastor Russell. A careful reading of those volumes, comprising more than one thousand pages, has discovered but one solitary reference to the Spirit; it is a casual mention of the Spirit in connection with the Day of Pentecost. The statement is simply made as a historic fact, or rather as an event which marks a stage in the development of the Christian Church. Not one word of teaching has the writer found in MILLENNIAL DAWN as to the distinct personality of the Spirit, or as to His supreme agency in the salvation of sinners.”
Now I must say frankly, though courteously, that I cannot understand how, or why, a man with your record for accuracy could be so careless or dishonest as to make such a statement. In your opening statement you say, “There are six volumes of two thousand pages;” and here you say that you have given these volumes a careful reading, and count but ONE thousand pages, and then you make a bold and erroneous statement—that the author ignores the Holy Spirit.
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A judge would not think of rendering a verdict with only half the evidence in, but you speak boldly in condemnation of Pastor Russell when you are only half way through his books. Now, if you have gotten these volumes a “careful reading,” I do not see how you missed in the fifth volume, pages 163 to 300, where the author gives ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SEVEN PAGES to a full presentation of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, in connection with the redemption of the race of man. How can you explain this?
It is true that Pastor Russell may teach some things concerning the Holy Spirit that you will not agree with, but he does not ignore the Spirit, as you say he does. It is evident that in making this criticism you were very careless, to say the least, and this should make those who are seeking the Truth very cautious about accepting your statements without full verification.
Another mistake which lies on the surface in your article is found on page 125, where in reference to Pastor Russell’s lecture on the subject of “To Hell and Back Again,” you say: “Crowds have listened with no little satisfaction to his assertions that there is no hell, no eternal punishment, no hopelessness after death.” Now I have not heard Pastor Russell speak at any time, nor have I read this particular lecture, but if he in this lecture teaches that there is no hell, and no punishment for the finally impenitent, then he in this lecture flatly contradicts what is very clear in all his writings. I have never read an expositor who speaks with more clearness and earnestness of the eternal punishment to be meted out to the finally impenitent. It is true that he does not believe in a literal lake of fire of burning brimstone, and that men are eternally tortured in this, but in this he is not out of harmony with thousands of other good, orthodox teachers.
I hope you will not think me impertinent if I, as one of your former students, ask you a question here, as we used to have the privilege of doing in the class-room. In this article of yours, in Fundamentals, on page 126, you say: “We read in Revelation 19:20; 20:10, that after a thousand years in the lake of fire the Beast and the False Prophet are still there undestroyed.” Now, I have looked up the several translations that I have in my library and I do not find that word “undestroyed” in any of them. In what translation will I find it, and what is the authority for putting it into that passage? I am a seeker after the full Truth, and if that has any authority for being in that passage I would like to know it, for it is important.
Now, in closing, I want to say that you need have no concern about one of your pupils following Pastor Russell. I have his books in my library and consult them freely, as I do every other good expositor I can find, and afford to buy. I have gotten beyond the early stage of the disciples who wanted to forbid some to teach or cast out devils because they “follow not US.” I have gotten unlimited aid from you, and also from Pastor Russell. I do not feel like saying with you that he is “being used of the evil one to subvert the truth of God.” My church officials still regard me as sufficiently orthodox that they can go to sleep and allow me to continue preaching to the congregation.
With kindest regards for you and highest appreciation of the help I have received from you, I am
Yours in His service, T. S. THOMPSON.—N. Dak.
— June 15, 1913 —