Tolerance and our Friends
“If in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: only, whereunto we have attained, by that same rule let us walk” (Philippians 3:15-16 ASV).
More than a century ago, Pastor Charles Taze Russell stressed that each Christian should decide for oneself how to harmonize the Bible, whether or not it was what the Pastor said. The following are from “What Pastor Russell Said” (or simply QB, for Question Book).
Q. (1914) Do you think the saints will all be sealed by October, 1914, whether they are here or not?
A. (Rationale omitted here.) … Why do you think it will be in October, 1914? … We do not claim infallibility, but as nearly as we are able to know, from all the history there is to be known, we believe that to be the year 606 BC. We will not go into all the proofs. That would take us all afternoon, and you have it in print, you have read it for yourselves and you know whether you believe it or whether you do not believe it and you were not urged to believe it. I simply set before you what I found there, what seemed to be, to me, the most reasonable answer to the matter, and you believed as much of it or as little of it as appealed to your heart (QB, page 83 f.)
And again, Q. (1913) I am a Catholic. Do I need to renounce my affiliation with my church to take up study in one of the I.B.S.A. classes?
A. Not at all. You are welcome to take part in any number of them. We do not claim to have a mortgage on them. Whether Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, or of no denomination, if you come in the spirit of the Lord and desire to know the truth, you are perfectly welcome.
(In answer to a similar question), There is no qualification for membership, no grips, no passwords. Any person of good deportment is welcome to our meetings at any time (QB 347).
Add good advice for each of us: “If you find yourself growing wise above all your teachers, inclined to become dogmatic, to criticize your fellow disciples and set yourself up as a standard for the whole church, you have no little reason to fear that you are not controlled by the Spirit of God. Self-wisdom may easily assume the place of divine wisdom; and “Satan may appear as an angel of light even in one who concerns himself with the most holy things. In no way are his ends more effectually secured than by inducing people to promote the subject of holiness by exceptional methods, and in an unteachable and arrogant spirit” (R77, February 1880).
Q. (1915) If the I.B.S.A. headquarters should promulgate methods not understood or approved byus, are we to apply Revelation 18:4, “Come out of her, My people,” and if so, how?
A. I think if the I.B.S.A. can be shown to be a section of Babylon, we all ought to get out of it. If we all get out on the same side, where shall we be then? I think we shall be pretty close together if all get out on the same side (QB 351).
J. Parkinson had opportunity to ask Bro. Joseph Russell Land (nephew of Pastor C. T. Russell), How did Bro. Russell handle it when there were differences in the class (ecclesia)? He replied: Well, there were others back east who knew my uncle better than I did, but I’ll tell you what I remember. He would let this one have his say with scriptures, and then let that one have his say with scriptures. He might let this one have his say with more scriptures and that one have his say with more scriptures. And then he would cut it off and summarize. (Nothing more.)