Last Will and Testament

Last Will and Testament

Note:  This page of our website provides original archival material relative to the schism that developed following the death of Pastor Russell. We were the first to make these documents available on the world wide web in early 1997.  If you have seen this material on another website we urge you to never download the documents from them. Those unauthorized websites have taken and posted these documents without permission or citation and you could be making yourself vulnerable to computer viruses, adware, and other problems. As we are the only authorized source for much of this original material you can be assured that everything here is completely clean and virus free.

In 1884 Charles Taze Russell founded the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society for the purpose of printing Bible, tracts, and teaching aids. But within only a few weeks of his death in October, 1916 there began a significant schism which ultimately resulted in nearly seventy-five percent of Bible Students ceasing to fellowship with the Watchtower Society by the end of 1928.  Why?  On this page you can download actual scans of the original documents distributed among the Bible Students beginning in January, 1917.  Most of these documents have been hidden by the hierarchy of Jehovah’s Witnesses until now.  By the end of 1928 more Bible Students had left than stayed, after which Joseph Rutherford formed the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but continued to claim that Pastor Charles Taze Russell was their founder, not because it was true, but because of his fame and reputation. A simple comparison of the views, practices, and doctrines of these two men will show their claim to be a misrepresentation of truth.

Here is a brief overview of the facts:   It all began when Joseph Rutherford removed four members of the Watch Tower Society Board of Directors under a legal technicality that equally applied to himself, and then authorized the writing and publication of the book “The Finished Mystery” contrary to Pastor Russell’s Will, the Society’s official Charter, and without approval of the Board, and then falsely advertising the book to the public as the “posthumous work of Pastor Russell”.  As this issue developed, Rutherford began to forcibly and dogmatically alter the existing doctrinal views, organizational structure, and even denied the inclusive spirit of love for all Christians in or outside of any denomination practiced and preached by Pastor Russell.  What had once been a non-judgmental and open association of Christians seeking and searching for Bible truth had quickly turned into an organized religion with a supposed exclusive theocratic relationship with God, an organized creed with rules and heavenly judgments, and a central rulership with a body of leaders that supposedly had a direct link to the Apostles.  As a result of these things, Bible Students began to realize that not only the truth, but even the spirit of truth they held so dear had been compromised.  By the end of 1928 three-fourths had severed their association with Rutherford and the newly changed Watchtower Society.  In 1929 an attempt was made to regather those Bible Students who had grown disillusioned by the obvious change in spirit of Christian love and service at the Society.  These are the same Bible Students who bring you this website.

In the documents offered on this page of our website you will see many charges, and counter-charges.  In the end, there were none from either side who were entirely blameless.  Carefully read these documents, weigh the evidence in your mind, and draw your own conclusions.  We are not providing these documents to create disputes or judge the hearts of others.  It is important that those who claim to uphold truth should always do so with a clear conscience, and without deceit.  You can contact the Bible Students for more information…  (In seeking to protect the integrity of the following documents we have, sadly, found it necessary to watermark the pages.  This is because the intellectual property of this website has been frequently stolen by others who then claim the ownership and scanning was their own work, and then presenting it as their own, without citing as the actual source.  We can provide you with unmarked photocopies on request.  Thank you for understanding.)

Pastor Russell’s Will (June 29th, 1907)  Points of note: The Society is to conduct matters according to his wishes following his death; No new publications are to be produced; Each Watchtower issue must be overseen by a Committee of five, whose names appear therein; ‘Old Theology Quarterly’ tracts should continue to be published.

Statement of Facts and Points (July, 1917)  Joseph Rutherford presents his reasoning and claims for why the old Board is illegal.  Coming Soon!

Letter (July 27th, 1917) This first letter was printed up and sent to as many Bible Students as possible from the deposed members of the Board of Directors to inform them what had just taken place.  1.09 meg

Harvest Siftings (August 1st, 1917)  This paper was written by Joseph Rutherford and printed by the printers under contract to the Society, then distributed to all Watch Tower readers in violation of Pastor Russell’s Will.  3.58 meg

Open Letter to Conventioners (August 4th, 1917)  A quickly mimeographed notice handed out at a Convention in Boston, Massachusetts to clarify that the claims in “Harvest Siftings” were inaccurate.  674 kb

Printed letter (August, 1917)  A printed letter showing correspondence between Frank Cook, colporteur and Pilgrim under Pastor Russell, and a brother Charles Cox, addressing the issue of whether or not “The Finished Mystery” should be accepted by the Lord’s people.  496 kb

Resolution Concerning “Harvest Siftings” (August 31st, 1917)  A statement created and issued by the Los Angeles, California Ecclesia (congregation) of Bible Students reproving both sides for the course taken in the differences.  229 kb

Light After Darkness (September 1st, 1917)  A booklet printed by the members of the Board of Directors who were deposed by Rutherford.  6.68 meg

Harvest Siftings II (October 1st, 1917)  A booklet printed by Rutherford, again utilizing the donated funds of the Society, and published in violation of Pastor Russell’s Will as a response to “Light After Darkness”.  1.40 meg

Harvest Siftings Reviewed (November 1st, 1917)  A booklet written by P.S.L. Johnson, Pastor Russell’s closest friend and associate, whom Rutherford and the current leadership of the Society to this very day accuse of being the true instigator of the troubles.  4.83 meg

Facts For Shareholders of the WTB&TS (November 15th, 1917)  Specific details of the illegal activities of Rutherford, including a statement by legal council, in preparation for elections to be held in January, 1918.  4.24 meg

Open Letter to the People of the Lord (November 21st, 1917)  A petition signed by several individuals at the Brooklyn Bethel desiring both sides to come together and resolve their differences.  791 kb

“Harvest Siftings Reviewed” itself reviewed (December 7th, 1917)  A short booklet printed by Jesse Hemery, the administrator of the London Tabernacle, supporting Rutherford, and denouncing Johnson.  1.25 meg

Another Harvest Siftings Reviewed (August 22, 1918)  A second booklet by P.S.L. Johnson presenting more details regarding Rutherford’s accusations against him.  3.60 meg

Notes and Comments on “The Finished Mystery” (February 19th, 1919)  A 48-page booklet printed by Bible Students in Australia which points out the many errors and misrepresentations apparent in “The Finished Mystery.” This booklet appeared in place of the March, 1919 issue of “The Peoples Paper”, the monthly periodical of the Bible Students Tract Society, founded in Australia after the death of Pastor Russell.  5.14 meg

The Golden Age (July 8th, 1931)  Judge Rutherford claims the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in order to make a final separation from Bible Students who desired to remain faithful to the ministry of Pastor Russell.  808 kb

Witness Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 1 (October, 1931)  Bible Student response to Judge Rutherford’s claiming the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and final attempt at separating the WTB&TS from Bible Students who desired to remain faithful to the ministry of Pastor Russell.  1.18 meg

The Golden Age (October 14th, 1931)  Official response from the Society to Witness Bulletin No. 1.  707 kb

Witness Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 2 (January, 1932)  Second paper written by Bible Student representatives in reply to statements made by the Society in “The Golden Age” magazine.  1.39 meg

Witness Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 3 (Summer, 1932)  Announcement of another reunion Convention of Bible Students, and attempts at regathering all those alienated by Rutherford.  730 kb

Witness Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 4 (October, 1932)  “The Press Still Pressing On” answers the claims that the WTB&TS (a printing plant) can represent all believers as “God’s channel”.  736 kb

Witness Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 5 (July, 1933)  This final printing of the “Witness Bulletin” answers the Society’s claim that they are “God’s Organization”.  1.43 meg

When Pastor Russell Died (1946)  A booklet printed by the Dawn Bible Students Association covering some of the basic details of the division between Bible Students faithful to Pastor Russell’s Will and the WTB&TS during the period from 1917 through to the mid-’40s.  3.56 meg

Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose (©1959 Watchtower Bible & Tract Society This book, printed by the Society in 1959, offers their first official “history” of Pastor Russell, and the early days of the Bible Student movement and the creation of “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. Posted are the relevant section related to the events of 1917. Compare the claims made in this book with the documents provided on this webpage.   1.69 meg

Pastor Russell Not the Founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses (1960’s)  A very short paper published by Bible Students in the 1960’s to clear-up the false impression that the current doctrines and administration of the WTB&TS and Jehovah’s Witnesses have any connection with Pastor Russell and Bible Students.  HTML only – (PDF Coming Soon!)

1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses (©1975 Watchtower Bible & Tract Society The Society’s second “official” history, continues to present P.S.L Johnson as the key trouble maker, and continues to present a somewhat narrow view of what truly transpired.   1.53 meg

Present Truth and Herald of Christ’s Epiphany (October, 1975) This monthly magazine, printed by friends and associates of P.S.L. Johnson and his teachings, presented in this issue an answer to the claims appearing in the 1975 Yearbook.  941 kb

Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom (©1993 Watchtower Bible & Tract Society This is the WTB&TS’s most recent “official” history. Although they appear to take a different turn from their other two histories a brilliant light continues to shine on Rutherford, while Johnson and others are falsely portrayed as the enemies of God and the Truth. We only include the pertinent sections relating to the events of 1917.  2.47 meg

(More scans of original documents will be online soon)