Mark Twain once said, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” The same can be said of the association of International Bible Students. It has often been reported that we died off back in the days of J.F. Rutherford. Actually, we have existed continuously since the days of Brother Charles Taze Russell to the present.
In Brother Russell’s day, the IBSA was a cooperative association of Bible Student congregations worldwide, all united by their love for Jehovah, Jesus, and the Truth. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was merely a publishing house and lecture service, with NO central control over these thousands of associated, but independent congregations worldwide. In those early days, full Christian liberty was encouraged for each brother and sister to study and determine the Truth form themselves. Guided by the Holy Spirit, these independent congregations, worked together cooperatively under the loving and gentle leadership of Brother Russell.
After the death of Brother Russell in 1916, J.F. Rutherford took control of the WBTS, contrary to the instructions in Brother Russell’s Will and the Watchtower Bylaws. By 1931 J.F. Rutherford had fundamentally transformed the WBTS into an authoritative theocratic organization. J.F. Rutherford renamed the group from Bible Students to “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” in order to distinguish itself from the various groups formed by the 75% of original Bible Students no longer associated with the WBTS. Hundreds of these Bible Student congregations worldwide have continued to the present, thus constituting a continuation of the original IBSA.
The International Bible Students have always been actively engaged in witnessing the Truth to the world and our beliefs remain unchanged since the days of Brother Russell. We continue to treasure the Studies in the Scriptures, early Watchtowers and other writings of Brother Russell. We believe that the light continues to shine brighter (clearer), but that it never changes. If we agree that the Truth has changed, then it never was the Truth in the first place.