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Bible Student movement

A simplified chart of historical developments of major groups within Bible Students

The Bible Student movement is the name adopted by a Millennialist[1] Restorationist Christian movement that emerged from the teachings and ministry of Charles Taze Russell, also known as Pastor Russell. Members of the movement have variously referred to themselves as Bible Students, International Bible Students, Associated Bible Students, or Independent Bible Students. The origins of the movement are associated with the formation of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society in 1881.

A number of schisms developed within the congregations of Bible Students associated with the Watch Tower Society between 1909 and 1932.[2][3] The most significant split began in 1917 following the election of Joseph Franklin Rutherford as president of the Watch Tower Society two months after Russell's death. The schism began with Rutherford's controversial replacement of four of the Society's board of directors and publication of The Finished Mystery.

Thousands of members left congregations of Bible Students associated with the Watch Tower Society throughout the 1920s prompted in part by Rutherford's failed predictions for the year 1925, increasing disillusionment with his on-going doctrinal and organizational changes, and his campaign for centralized control of the movement.[2] William Schnell, author and former Jehovah's Witness, claims that three-quarters of the original Bible Students who had been associating with the Watch Tower Society in 1921 had left by 1931.[4][1][2][6] In 1930 Rutherford stated that "the total number of those who have withdrawn from the Society... is comparatively large."[7]

Between 1918 and 1929, several factions formed their own independent fellowships, including the Standfast Movement, the Pastoral Bible Institute, the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement founded by PSL Johnson, and the Dawn Bible Students Association. These groups range from conservative, claiming to be Russell's true followers, to more liberal, claiming that Russell's role is not as important as once believed.[8] Rutherford's faction of the movement retained control of the Watch Tower Society[8] and adopted the name Jehovah's witnesses in July 1931.[3] The cumulative worldwide membership of the various Bible Students groups independent of the Watch Tower Society is estimated at less than 75,000.[9][10]


  • Foundation 1
    • Watch Tower Society 1.1
    • International Bible Students Association 1.2
  • Formative influences 2
  • First schism 3
  • Leadership dispute 4
  • Associated Bible Students 5
    • Pastoral Bible Institute 5.1
    • Berean Bible Institute 5.2
    • StandFast Bible Students Association 5.3
    • Dawn Bible Students Association 5.4
    • Independent Bible Students 5.5
  • Free Bible Students 6
    • New Covenant Believers 6.1
    • Christian Discipling Ministries International 6.2
    • Free Bible Students Association 6.3
  • Jehovah's Witnesses 7
  • Laymen's Home Missionary Movement 8
  • Other groups 9
    • Friends of Man 9.1
  • See also 10
  • Notes 11
  • References 12
  • Bibliography 13
  • External links 14


Charles Russell in 1911

In 1869 Charles Russell viewed a presentation by William Miller and semi-regular attendee at the Bible study group in Allegheny.[14]

In early January 1876 Russell met independent Adventist preachers Nelson H. Barbour and John H. Paton, publishers of the Herald of the Morning, who convinced him that Christ had returned invisibly in 1874.[13][4][16][5] Russell provided financial backing for Barbour and became co-editor of Barbour's magazine, Herald of the Morning; the pair jointly issued Three Worlds and the Harvest of This World (1877), written mostly by Barbour.[6][19] Various concepts in the book are still taught by the Bible Student movement and Jehovah's Witnesses, including a 2520-year period termed "the Gentile Times" predicted to end in 1914. Deviating from most Second Adventists the book taught that the earth would not be burned up when Christ returned, but that humankind since Adam would eventually be resurrected to the earth and given the opportunity to attain eternal perfect human life if obedient. It also revealed an expectation that all of the "saints" would be taken to heaven in April, 1878.[20][21]

Russell continued to develop his interpretations of biblical chronology. In 1877, he published 50,000 copies of the pamphlet The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return, teaching that Christ would return invisibly before the battle of Armageddon. By 1878 he was teaching the Adventist view that the "time of the end" had begun in 1799,[22] and that Christ had returned invisibly in 1874[23] and had been crowned in heaven as king in 1878. Russell believed that 1878 also marked the resurrection of the "sleeping saints" (all faithful Christians who had died up to that time) and the "fall of Babylon" which he taught to be God's final judgment of unfaithful Christendom.[24][25] October 1914 was held as the end of a harvest period that would culminate in the beginning of Armageddon, manifested by the emergence of worldwide anarchy and the decline and destruction of civilized society.[26][27]

Russell broke with Barbour in July 1879 over the doctrine of substitutionary atonement and began publishing his own monthly magazine, Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence (now known as The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom), and the pair competed through their rival publications for the minds of their readers.[20][28] (Semi-monthly publication of the magazine began in 1892.)[7][29]

In early 1881, Russell predicted that the churches ('Babylon') would begin to fall apart and that the rapture of the saints would take place that year, although they would remain on earth as materialized spirit beings.[20] In 1882 he outlined his nontrinitarian views concluding that the doctrine is not taught in the Bible.[20]

Readers of Zion's Watch Tower formed thirty Bible study groups in seven states in the United States in 1879–80, with each congregation electing its own elders. In 1880 Russell visited the congregations to conduct six-hour study sessions, teaching each congregation how to carry out topical Bible study.[20][30]

Watch Tower Society

In 1881, Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was formed as an unincorporated administrative agency for the purpose of disseminating tracts, papers, doctrinal treatises and Bibles, with Russell as secretary and William Henry Conley as president.[29] Three years later, on December 15, 1884, Russell became president of the society when it was legally incorporated in Pennsylvania.[31] (The society was renamed Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in September 1896).[32] Russell wrote many articles, books, pamphlets and sermons, which by his death totaled 50,000 printed pages, with almost 20 million copies of his books printed and distributed around the world.[20] In 1886, he wrote the first of what would become a six-volume Bible textbook series called Millennial Dawn, later renamed Studies in the Scriptures,[33][8] which presented his fundamental doctrines. As a consequence, the Bible Students were sometimes called Millennial Dawnists.

Russell advertised for 1000 preachers in 1881, and encouraged all who were members of "the body of Christ" to preach to their neighbors, to gather the "little flock" of saints while the vast majority of mankind would be given the opportunity to gain salvation during [34] He wrote in February 1884: "By whatsoever names men may call us, it matters not to us... we call ourselves simply Christians."[35] Elders and deacons were elected by congregations and Russell tolerated a great latitude of belief among members. He opposed formal disciplinary procedures by congregation elders, claiming this was beyond their authority,[36] instead recommending that an individual who continued in a wrong course be judged by the entire congregation, which could ultimately "withdraw from him its fellowship" if the undesirable behavior continued.[9] Disfellowshipping did not mean the wrongdoer was to be shunned in all social circumstances or by all Bible Students, though fellowship would be limited.[38] From 1895, Russell encouraged congregations to study his Bible textbook series, Studies in the Scriptures, paragraph by paragraph to properly discern God's plan for humanity. In 1905 he recommended replacing verse-by-verse Bible studies with what he called "Berean Studies" of topics he chose.[13]

The Watch Tower Society opened overseas branches in London (1900),[39] Germany (1903), and Australia and Switzerland (1904).[40] The Society's headquarters were transferred to Brooklyn, New York in 1909.[41]

In January 1914 the Bible Students began public showings of The Photo-Drama of Creation.[42] It presented Russell's views of God's plan from the creation of the earth through to the establishment and administration of God's kingdom on earth. The Photo-Drama represented a significant advancement in film production, as the first major presentation to synchronize motion pictures with audio by use of phonograph records.[43][44] Worldwide attendance in 1914 exceeded nine million.

International Bible Students Association

In 1910 Russell introduced the name International Bible Students Association as a means of identifying his worldwide community of Bible study groups. He wrote:

Now in the Lord's providence we have thought of a title suitable, we believe, to the Lord's people everywhere, and free from objection, we believe, on every score—the title at the head of this article (IBSA). It fairly represents our sentiments and endeavors. We are Bible students. We welcome all of God's people to join with us in the study. We believe that the result of such studies is blessed and unifying. We recommend therefore that the little classes everywhere and the larger ones adopt this unobjectionable style and that they use it in the advertising columns of their newspapers. Thus friends everywhere will know how to recognize them when visiting strange cities.[45]

Russell explained that the Association would be directed and managed by the Peoples [sic] Pulpit Association which, in turn, represented the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. All Bible Student classes using Watch Tower Society publications could consider themselves identified with the Association and were authorized to use the name International Bible Students Association in connection with their meetings. The name was also used when advertising and conducting Bible Students conventions.

Formative influences

In addition to Russell other early influences include:

First schism

In 1905 Paul S. L. Johnson, one of the traveling "Pilgrim" speakers and a former Lutheran minister, pointed out to Russell that his doctrines on the New Covenant had undergone a complete reversal: until 1880 he had taught that the New Covenant would be inaugurated only after the last of the 144,000 anointed Christians had been taken to heaven,[46] but since 1881 he had written that it was already in force.[47][48] Russell reconsidered the question and in January 1907 wrote several Watch Tower articles reaffirming his 1880 position—that "the new covenant belongs exclusively to the coming age"[49]—adding that the church had no mediator, but that Christ was the "advocate". He also taught that Christians making up the 144,000 would join Christ as a "joint heir" and assistant mediator during the millennium.[50]

On October 24, 1909 former Watch Tower Society secretary-treasurer E.C. Henninges, who was by then the Australian branch manager based in Melbourne, wrote Russell an open letter of protest trying to persuade him to abandon the teaching, and calling on Bible Students to examine its legitimacy. When Russell refused, Henninges and most of the Melbourne congregation left Russell's movement to form the New Covenant Fellowship. Hundreds of the estimated 10,000 U.S. Bible Students also left, including pilgrim M. L. McPhail, a member of the Chicago Bible Students, and A. E. Williamson of Brooklyn, forming the New Covenant Believers.[48][51] The group, which informally referred to members as Free Bible Students, published The Kingdom Scribe magazine until 1975. The group is currently known as the Berean Bible Students Church, with fewer than 200 members.

Leadership dispute

Joseph Rutherford

Russell died on October 31, 1916, in Pampa, Texas during a cross-country preaching trip. On January 6, 1917, board member and society legal counsel Joseph Franklin Rutherford was elected president of the Watch Tower Society, unopposed, at the Pittsburgh convention. Rutherford then announced publication of The Finished Mystery, which he claimed was a posthumous volume of Russell's Studies in the Scriptures.[52] By-laws passed by both the Pittsburgh convention and the board of directors stated that the president would be the executive officer and general manager of the society, giving him full charge of its affairs worldwide.[53]

By June, four of the seven Watch Tower Society directors—Robert H. Hirsh, Alfred I. Ritchie, Isaac F. Hoskins and James D. Wright— had decided they had erred in endorsing Rutherford's expanded powers of management,[54] claiming Rutherford had become autocratic.[54] In June Hirsch attempted to rescind the new by-laws and reclaim the powers of management from the president,[55] but Rutherford later claimed he had by then detected a conspiracy among the directors to seize control of the society.[56] In July, Rutherford gained a legal opinion from a

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

  • Franz, Raymond (2007), In Search of Christian Freedom, Commentary Press .
  • Johnson, Paul SL (November 1, 1917), Harvest Siftings Reviewed (PDF), Pastor Russell, retrieved July 21, 2009 
  • Macmillan, AH (1957), Faith on the March, Prentice-Hall 
  • .  
  • Pierson, AN; et al. (September 1, 1917), Light After Darkness (PDF), Pastor Russell, retrieved July 21, 2009 .
  • Rogerson, Alan (1969), Millions Now Living Will Never Die, London: Constable, .  
  • Rutherford, JF (August 1, 1917), "Part I", Harvest Siftings (PDF), Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, retrieved July 19, 2009 .
  • Rutherford, JF (October 1, 1917), "Part II", Harvest Siftings (PDF), Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, retrieved July 19, 2009 .
  • Wills, Tony (2006), A People For His Name, Lulu Enterprises, .  
  • Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose (PDF), Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1959 
  • Yearbook, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1975 
  • Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1993 


  1. ^ Crompton, Robert (1996). Counting the Days to Armageddon. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. p. 12.  
  2. ^ a b Penton 1997, pp. 43–62.
  3. ^ Rogerson 1969, pp. 52.
  4. ^ Schnell, William J (1956), Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave, Grand Rapids: Baker , as cited by Rogerson 1969, pp. 52.
  5. ^ Watchtower 1959, pp. 110, 312–13.
  6. ^ Wills 2006, p. 167 cites The Watch Tower December 1, 1927 (p 355) in which Rutherford states, "the larger percentage" of original Bible Students had by then departed.
  7. ^ The Watch Tower November 15, 1930 p. 342 col 1.
  8. ^ a b Rogerson 1969, pp. 39.
  9. ^ Present Truth February, 2006 pp 9–13.
  10. ^ Blankman, Drew; Augustine, Todd, eds. (2004), Pocket Dictionary of North American Denominations, p. 79, A smaller group rejected Rutherford's leadership and became the Dawn Bible Student's Association and in the late 1980s had a membership of about 60000. 
  11. ^ Watchtower 1993, pp. 43.
  12. ^   pointed to 1873 for the time of Christ's visible return.
  13. ^ a b c d Penton 1997, pp. 13–46.
  14. ^ Watch Tower, 1906, as cited by Penton 1997, p. 17.
  15. ^ Barbour, Nelson H (1871), Evidences for the Coming of the Lord in 1873: or the Midnight Cry, retrieved February 20, 2006 .
  16. ^ "The Midnight Cry and Herald of the Morning", Herald, March 1874  .
  17. ^ "Harvest Gatherings and Siftings", Watch Tower (AGS Consulting), July 15, 1906: 3822  .
  18. ^ "Emphatic Diaglott", Watch Tower (reprint) (Jehovah’s Witness truth) .
  19. ^ Barbour, NH; Russell, Charles T (1877), "Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World" (PDF), Herald (magazine), retrieved March 15, 2006 .
  20. ^ a b c d e f Penton 1997, pp. 13–46
  21. ^ Three Worlds, pp. 184–85.
  22. ^ "The 'Time of the End,' a period of one hundred and fifteen (115) years, from A.D. 1799 to A.D. 1914, is particularly marked in the Scriptures." Thy Kingdom Come, 1890, p. 23.
  23. ^ Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1993, pp. 631–32.
  24. ^ Thy Kingdom Come (1890), Volume 3 of Studies in the Scriptures, pp. 305–8.
  25. ^ "This spuing out, or casting off, of the nominal church as an organization in 1878, we then understood, and still proclaim, to be the date of the commencement of Babylon's fall..."—"The Consummation of Our Hope" in Zion's Watch Tower, April 1883. Reprints pp. 474–5.
  26. ^ [2] The Watch Tower, July 1881, "Future Work and Glory"
  27. ^ "Things to Come—And The Present European Situation", The Watch Tower, January 15, 1892, Reprints, p. 1355
  28. ^ Russell explained his side of the break with Barbour in the Watch Towerfirst issue of the .
  29. ^ a b "Modern History of Jehovah’s Witnesses", Watchtower, January 15, 1955, page 14.
  30. ^ Rogerson 1969, p. 12.
  31. ^ Holden, A. (2002) Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement. (p. 18)
  32. ^ Pierson et al 1917, pp. 22.
  33. ^ Yearbook 1975, Watch Tower Society, 1975.
  34. ^ Franz 2007, chapter 4.
  35. ^ Watch Tower (reprint), Most holy faith, February 1984  and cited by Franz & 2007, chapter 4.
  36. ^ Jones, Leslie W (1917), What Pastor Russell Said, p. 346 , as cited by Penton 1997, p. 31, "The Lord's word does not authorize any court of Elders, or anyone else, to become busybodies. This would be going back to the practices of the Dark Ages during the Inquisition and we would be showing the same spirit as did the inquisitors."
  37. ^ Russell, Charles T (1904), The New Creation, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, pp. 289–90 .
  38. ^ Penton 1997, p. 31.
  39. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1959, page 32.
  40. ^ "The First One a Hundred Years Ago", Awake, December 22, 2000.
  41. ^ "Organized Testimony to the New World", Watchtower, July 15, 1950, page 215.
  42. ^ Slides and film from the Photo-Drama can be viewed online at AGS Consulting; the book is available online at Herald.
  43. ^ "Trivia", Photo-Drama of Creation (1914) (article), IMDb, retrieved 2009-04-15 
  44. ^ American Movie Classics, "Timeline of Influential Milestones... 1910s", Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  45. ^ Watchtower, April 1910.
  46. ^ , March 1880.Zion's Watch Tower"The Three Great Covenants",
  47. ^ , September 1887.Zion's Watch TowerThe New Covenant vs the Law Covenant",
  48. ^ a b Wills, Tony (2006). A People For His Name. Lulu Enterprises. pp. 63–68.  
  49. ^ , January 1, 1907, pages 9, 10.Zion's Watch Tower"The Mediator of the New Covernant",
  50. ^ , January 1909.Watch Tower"The Word Mediator Used Differently,",
  51. ^ Penton 1997, pp. 42
  52. ^ The Finished Mystery. p. reface, p. 5. This book may properly be said to be a posthumous publication of Pastor Russell. 
  53. ^ Pierson et al 1917, pp. 5,6
  54. ^ a b Pierson et al 1917, pp. 4
  55. ^ Rutherford August 1917, pp. 12
  56. ^ Rutherford August 1917, pp. 22–23
  57. ^ Rutherford August 1917, pp. 14,15
  58. ^ Pierson et al 1917, pp. 9
  59. ^ Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1993, pp. 68
  60. ^ Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1975, pp. 93–94
  61. ^ Rogerson 1969, pp. 39
  62. ^ Rogerson, Alan, Millions Now Living Will Never Die: A Study of Jehovah's Witnesses, Constable, London, 1969. pp 55-56: "In 1931 came an important milestone in the history of the organisation. For many years Rutherford's followers had been called a variety of names: 'International Bible Students', 'Russellites', or 'Millennial Dawners'. In order to distinguish clearly his followers from the other groups who had separated in 1918 Rutherford proposed that they adopt an entirely new name - Jehovah's witnesses."
  63. ^ The Watch Tower, "A New Name", October 1, 1931 pp 291: "Since the death of Charles T. Russell there have arisen numerous companies formed out of those who once walked with him, each of these companies claiming to teach the truth, and each calling themselves by some name, such as "Followers of Pastor Russell", "those who stand by the truth as expounded by Pastor Russell", "Associated Bible Students", and some by the names of their local leaders. All of this tends to confusion and hinders those of good will who are not better informed from obtaining a knowledge of the truth."
  64. ^ a b c Daughters of the Tower
  65. ^ Herald (magazine) .
  66. ^ "Could Not Talk of Loan", The New York Times, April 29, 1918, As Retrieved 2010-03-02, "Rutherford, the President, sa[id] that the buying of bonds was not a religious question, and that the [IBSA] association did not oppose the purchase of Liberty bonds by the members"
  67. ^ Watch Tower, March 1, 1919:"'The International Bible Students’ Association is not against the Liberty Loan.; in Watch Tower, June 1, 1919 Rutherford indicated regret about making any comment on the matter.
  68. ^ a b Frank and Ernest
  69. ^ a b Who are the Free Bible Students and what is their history?
  70. ^ Welcome to Berean Bible Students Church
  71. ^ Whalen, William J. (1962). Armageddon Around the Corner: A Report on Jehovah's Witnesses. New York: John Day Company. pp. 207–209. 
  72. ^ "Right Choices Led to Lifelong Blessings". The Watchtower: 12. 1 January 2007. One of the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known 
  73. ^ The Watchtower, April 1, 1955, "Part 7—New Administration Amid World War I"
  74. ^ The Watchtower: 24. July 15, 2013 
  75. ^ 2014 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. p. 176. 
  76. ^ Rodriguez, Rolando. "Recent Bible Student History". The Herald of Christ's Kingdom. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011. 


  1. ^ Rogerson notes that it is not clear exactly how many Bible Students left, but quotes Rutherford (Jehovah, 1934, page 277) as saying "only a few" who left other religions were then "in God's organisation".
  2. ^ Annual Memorial attendance figures in 1925 (90, 434) with 1928 (17, 380).[5]
  3. ^ 'witnesses' was not capitalised until the 1970s
  4. ^ Barbour had originally predicted a visible return of Christ for 1873, but when that failed to eventuate, he concluded that Christ had returned invisibly in 1874 based on a reference in Benjamin Wilson's Emphatic Diaglott.[15]
  5. ^ Russell explains how he accepted the idea of an invisible return of Christ in 1874 from N.H. Barbour[17]
  6. ^ Though the book bore the names of both men as authors, James Penton (Apocalypse Delayed) points out that in early issues of the Watch Tower, Russell repeatedly referred to Barbour as its author. In the July 15, 1906 Watch Tower Russell said it was "mostly written by Mr Barbour"[18]
  7. ^ Online copies of the Watch Tower from 1879–1916 can be viewed by issue at Most holy faith or by article at AGS Consulting . These are taken from the 7 volume Watch Tower Reprints published by the Watch Tower Society in 1920 which reprinted all the issues from 1879–1919.
  8. ^ The titles of the six volumes are: 1) The Divine Plan of the Ages, 2)The Time is At Hand, 3)Thy Kingdom Come, 4)The Battle of Armageddon, 5)The At-one-ment Between God and Man, 6) The New Creation (PDF) (study) 6, Bible Students .
  9. ^ Russell directed that an unrepentant person be judged by the entire ecclesia, rather than the elders. He directed that the ecclesia not make the wrongdoer's faults public.[37]


See also

Alexander FL Freytag, manager of the branch office of the Watch Tower Society in Switzerland since 1898, had disagreed with Russell's teachings before Russell's death in 1916. He began publishing his own views using the Watch Tower Society's printing equipment in 1917, and was ousted from the Watch Tower Society by Rutherford in 1919. In 1920, Freytag founded the Angel of Jehovah Bible and Tract Society, also known as the Philanthropic Assembly of the Friends of Man and The Church of the Kingdom of God. He published two journals, the monthly The Monitor of the Reign of Justice and the weekly Paper for All.[76]

Friends of Man

Other groups

Paul S. L. Johnson founded the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement in 1919. Johnson's death in 1950 led to an internal disagreement over his role as a teacher chosen by God, and resulted in the formation of new splinter groups, such as the Epiphany Bible Students Association, and the Laodicean Home Missionary Movement. Johnson believed he had been appointed by God as Russell's official spiritual successor, that he was the last member of the 144,000 of Revelation 7, and that hope of a heavenly reward of immortality for the Christian faithful would cease after his death. His associate and successor, Raymond Jolly, taught that he himself was the last member of the "great multitude", also of Revelation 7. After Jolly's death, remaining members of the fellowship believed they would live on a perfected earth in God's kingdom as a group referred to as the "modern worthies", as associates of the "ancient worthies"—the ancient Jewish prophets God would resurrect to guide and instruct the world in his kingdom.

Laymen's Home Missionary Movement

Bible Students who submitted to Rutherford's leadership of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society became known as Jehovah's witnesses in 1931. The Watch Tower Society remains the religion's primary administrative body, and their beliefs and organizational structure have diverged considerably from Russell's.[71] Their literature states that Bible Students is the former name for their group,[72] and does not acknowledge the continued existence of other Bible Student groups. In 1955, the Watch Tower Society claimed that those who separated from the movement during Rutherford's presidency constituted the "evil slave" of Matthew 24:48-51.[73] (The Society altered its view in 2013, calling the "evil slave" a hypothetical warning to the 'faithful slave'.[74]) Jehovah's Witnesses report worldwide membership of approximately 8 million.[75]

Jehovah's Witnesses

Conrad C. Binkele the former Branch Manager of Watchtower Society founded in 1928 the community of "Free Bible Students Association" in the German region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) with other brethren and began publishing "Der Pilgrim" a religious magazine from 1931 to 1934. Free Bible Students in Germany were persecuted during World War II. Only after the war, were rehabilitated in the Bible Students and approved the publication again.

Free Bible Students Association

In 1928 the Italian Bible Students Association in Hartford, Connecticut withdrew its support from the Watch Tower Society and changed its name to the Millennial Bible Students Church or Christian Millennial Fellowship and later to [69]

Christian Discipling Ministries International

In 1909, M. L. McPhail, a traveling elder ("Pilgrim") and member of the Chicago Bible Students, disassociated from Russell's movement when controversy arose over Russell's expanded view of the application and timing of the "New Covenant" mentioned by [70]

New Covenant Believers

The Free Bible Students separated very early from the Watchtower Society, as Russell began to change some teachings.

Free Bible Students

Over the past thirty-five years, controversy surrounded the Dawn Bible Students Association as their publishing and editorial committee began to promote more-liberal points of view, distancing themselves from some of Russell's viewpoints, alienating many Bible Students as a result. In 1974, a group of Bible Students meeting at a convention in Fort Collins, Colorado formally ceased their spiritual fellowship with, and financial support of, the Dawn Bible Students Association. They refer to themselves as Independent Bible Students. The split was not intended to eliminate or restrict personal fellowship, but was viewed as a "stand for the truth" by ceasing sponsorship of elders associated with the Dawn Bible Students, and avoiding attendance at their conventions. In recent years, attempts have been made to reintegrate the groups. The Independent Bible Students publishes a non-doctrinal magazine, The Bible Students Newsletter.

Independent Bible Students

In 1931 Woodworth and others founded the Dawn Bible Students Association to resume publication of Studies in the Scriptures, which the Watch Tower Society had officially ceased printing in 1927. The Dawn Bible Students published a leaflet, The Bible Students Radio Echo, to follow up interest in the radio program. The leaflet was soon developed into a 16-page magazine and renamed The Dawn—A Herald of Christ's Presence, which they continue to publish, along with radio, television, and Internet radio programs.[68]

In 1928, Norman Woodworth, cousin of Clayton J. Woodworth, left the Watch Tower Society after having been in charge of their radio ministry. Woodworth created an independent Bible Students radio program called Frank and Ernest.[68] Funding was provided by the Brooklyn congregation of Bible Students and broadcasting continued into the 1980s. In 1929 the station sponsored the First Annual Reunion Convention of Bible Students at the old Bible House used by Russell in Pittsburgh.

Dawn Bible Students Association

In December 1918, Charles E. Heard and others considered Rutherford's indifference[66] regarding the purchase of war bonds to be a perversion of Russell's pacifist teachings, and contrary to scripture.[67] As a result, they founded the StandFast Bible Students Association in Portland, Oregon, USA. The name originated from their decision to "stand fast" on principles involving war that Russell had espoused. Membership dwindled and the group was eventually disbanded. A splinter group known as the Elijah Voice Society, was founded by John A. Herdersen and C. D. McCray in 1923. They were especially noted for their preaching and pacifist activity.

StandFast Bible Students Association

The Australian Berean Bible Institute (BBI) formally separated from the Watch Tower Society in 1918. It published The Voice, and continues to publish the People's Paper magazine. There are several 'classes' of Bible students in Australia that hold similar beliefs to those promulgated by the BBI, but there is no official affiliation. Two conventions are held annually in Anglesea, Victoria and Alexandra Headlands, Queensland. There is no official creed; members are allowed to come to their own conclusions regarding interpretations of the Bible; the role of fellowship is to provide mutual help and stimulation. The number of Bible Students in Australia is estimated at approximately 100.[64]

Berean Bible Institute

In 1918, the former directors held the first Bible Student Convention independent of the Watch Tower Society. At the second convention a few months later, the informal Pastoral Bible Institute was founded. They began publishing The Herald of Christ's Kingdom, edited by RE Streeter. An editorial committee continues publication of the magazine[65] in a reduced capacity, and reproduces other Bible Student movement literature, including Russell's six-volume Studies in the Scriptures.[64]

Pastoral Bible Institute

The Associated Bible Students groups, which adhere to Charles Taze Russell's teachings, include the Independent Bible Students, StandFast Bible Students and Dawn Bible Students. Congregations are autonomous, and may not necessarily have contact with other congregations, though many do. The Dawn Bible Students collectively form the largest segment of the Bible Student movement separate from the Watch Tower Society.[64]

Associated Bible Students

By mid-1919, about one in seven Bible Students had chosen to leave rather than accept Rutherford's leadership,[60] forming groups such as The Standfast Movement, Paul Johnson Movement, and the Pastoral Bible Institute of Brooklyn.[61] It is estimated that as many as three quarters of the Bible Students associating in 1921 left the movement by 1931 in protest against Rutherford's rejection of Pastor Russell's teachings. To reduce public confusion regarding the existence of several groups of Bible Students no longer associated with the Watch Tower Society, Rutherford's faction of Bible Students adopted the name Jehovah's witnesses on July 26, 1931 at a convention in Columbus, Ohio.[62][63]

On January 5, 1918 Rutherford was returned to office. [59] The former directors were forcibly escorted by police from the Brooklyn headquarters on August 8.[58] Between August and November the society and the four ousted directors published a series of pamphlets, with each side accusing the other of ambitious, disruptive and dishonest conduct. The former directors also claimed Rutherford had required all headquarters workers to sign a petition supporting him and threatened dismissal for any who refused to sign.[57]

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