The introduction to the series that would spawn a 7 million plus person organization impressed me very much. According to the author, there was a very specific focus to this book and its subsequent volumes. The author did not claim any special insight, nor a motive of converting people from their religion to a new religion. In fact, his main purpose seemed to be to make people to feel more secure in as Christians.
In the opening paragraph to this historically significant book, Russell lets it be known that he is disturbed by those that are turning away from God in order to follow the pursuit of atheism. An interesting parallel that I saw to Jehovah's Witnesses today is in his comment that higher education seems to be responsible for this. He also blames High School for the growing disbelief and higher criticism. Even to some of those professing Christianity, he makes this point in paragraph 1, "They believe that Jesus and his Apostles were sincere, though they blundered in quoting from the Old Testament as inspired." I find this true myself to this day. There are many that do not like the character that they perceive God to be in the Old Testament. I myself have heard comments like, "God was a monster for killing children that were not part of the nation of Israel." They view the God of the Old Testament to be a different person from the God of the New Testament.
Russell seemed to want to be a help in damming the trend of atheism and a corruption of belief in Christianity. In this introduction it seems very clear that he was NOT attempting to start his own religion. He says in the 2nd paragraph of the book that he prepared this set of volumes for "Christian people of all denominations to use in lending a helping hand." He wanted to help honest hearted Christians to answer people that had the question "How do we know that there is a God" and "What proofs have we that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?" These were the questions that he claimed he wanted to answer in these books.
Let me interject here and state that I think it is entirely possible that this is true. Later on in the Bible Students history he rejected the idea to be called anything other than a "Christian". He staunchly refuted the need for an "organization" run by men. God's organization was to be run by Christ Jesus. We shall see his statements regarding this in further blogs. And I personally find this honorable.
The main point I got out of the introduction to this 6 set volume that was written by C.T Russell is what he said in the last 2 paragraphs of this introduction. "Ministers can use this book when composing special sermons and addresses." "We invite Christians of all denominations to join us in...extending these "helping hands" to the rising generation. A single friend or relative helped - rescued from doubt or unbelief - would repay the cost of these studies a thousands times."
To this I say that the introduction to this historical piece of literature is a fine and noble one.
What must be asked by us, however, is did C.T Russell follow the intention of these volumes? Did he stick to the Bible ONLY? Did he help to stem disbelief? Did he help to secure people deeper into true Christianity, no matter which denomination they were in, to see the truth as revealed in God's Word?
This will be the focus of the future blogs.