a teenager, with no theological training Charles Tazer Russell discarded organised
religion and became the leader of a breakaway group known then as the
Through the teachings of a man called Nelson Barbour he came to believe that Jesus had
invisibly returned to earth in 1875.
Involved in many public conflicts. His wife, Maria
Ackley, in the earlier days of their marriage had proclaimed him publicly as the
faithful and wise servant of Matthew 24:45-47, but later she publicly denounced him
as the evil servant spoken of in the verses that followed and took him to
court to obtain a divorce.
In 1913 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran a front page story
relating to an advertisement that Russell placed in the pages of the Watchtower
advertising wheat at a dollar a pound that would yield five times more than any other
Many of these conflicts are recorded in Walter Martins book The kingdom of
the cults and Ruth Tuckers Strange Gospels.
He elevated his writings on the bible, in value, above the Bible on its own. By the
1890s he was strongly urging his followers to study only his teachings saying that
his studies were practically the Bible topically arranged.
Took a great interest in the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, believing it was a prophetic tool
from God, and on the basis of its measurements he made many prophecies - written in his
studies in scriptures. This Bible in stone doctrine was renounced
in 1928 by Russells successor, but books containing this doctrine were still being
distributed by the organisation as late as the 1940s.
He was a Freemason, used Freemasonry symbols, and when he
died in 1916 he was buried under a massive pyramid gravestone engraved with masonic
By the time he died his six volume series 'Studies in Scripture' had more than
13,000,000 copies in circulation, and in a 1910 edition of Watchtower he gave greater
importance to the reading of his books than reading the Bible.
Todays J.Ws go to some lengths to distance themselves from much of what he
said and did, but the whole movement grew from this root called Charles Taze Russell..