Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
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Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 06:56:01 AM EST
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while normally poles apart, converge at one crucial point; Christian Zionism.
While Hagee is now regarded as one of the worlds foremost Christian Zionists, he could only hope to be as accepted among the circles of influential Jewish Zionists as was Russell.
As a contemporary of Theodore Herzl, the Vienna-born cosmopolitan Jew who famously took up the cause of Zionism, Russell was arguably the most widely read Christian Minister in the newspapers of the day. Although he has been relegated to a footnote in American History, his influence was so that on October 9, 1910 he addressed a mass meeting of `wealthy Hebrews' who had taken notice of Russell's non-proselytizing stance towards Jews. -speech-by-c-t-russell-october-9-1910/

Four-thousand mostly American Jews came that day to listen to an American preacher that their own leaders had invited to speak. This event remains unprecedented, even to this day. Russell's message to them was basically the same as what Hagee espouses today: return to the Biblical Land of Israel, Aliyah, follow your own Jewish scriptures, stay Jewish and fulfill your unique and separate (from christians) destiny.

The link between the two men seems strengthened by an event (reported here at Talk2Action) which possibly changed the course of a presidential election. After John McCain courted John Hagee's endorsement, it turned bad for McCain. The infamous `fishers and hunters' quote, ascribing the `fishers' to the Zionists and the `hunters' to the Nazis had already appeared in a video called `Israel: Appointment With Destiny".

This video, which by that time was available online, contains a reference to the Jeremiah 16:16 text being interpreted as `nazi/hunters' and `zionists/fishers' -- which interpretation, as far as I am aware, comes from the Bible Student movement -- the movement started by Charles T. Russell. Indeed, in 1906 (Reprint 3855) C.T.R. made application of `fishers' in Jer. 16:16 to Zionism, and applied `persecution by revolutionaries' to the role of the `hunters'.

Israel: Appoinment With Destiny was released at least 6 years before the 2004 election, and received quite a bit of attention in Israel, with endorsements by major Jewish religious and political figures. It's reasonable to assume that someone at the Hagee organization caught wind of it and watched it.

Bible Students have traditionally had very good access to Israeli leaders. In the early 1960's some American Bible Students built a scale model of Israel's ancient Temple, and David Ben Gurion himself accepted their request to meet with him and show him the model. Indeed, during a trip to Israel in the late 1990's, a group of Bible Students not only toured the Holy Land, but gave out copies of Israel: Appointment With Destiny to Israelis and also encouraged and helped West Bank settlers to plant grapevines ( to fulfill Jer. 31:5) and attended a meeting with an Israeli official who applied Psalm 126 to the Bible Student movement.

In the history of Christian Zionism, the shadow of Charles Taze Russell continues to loom large and try as they may to ignore his legacy, evangelical Christian Zionists of today must acknowledge the continuing influence of Russell upon the Christian Zionist movement -- for good or for ill.

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