Just how popular was Pastor Russell?

According to the book, “Pastor Russell – Founder of the Bible Students,” published by Bible Students Christian Classics:

“The Overland Monthly, a noted periodical of that time, reported in 1909 that Studies in the Scriptures, by Charles Taze Russell, was one of the world’s three most circulated works surpassed only by the BIBLE and the CHINESE ALMANAC. The periodical concluded, “In American literature, Mr. Russell stands first.”  A publication, the Continent–whose editor often opposed Pastor Russell–once published the following significant admission:  His writings are said to have a greater newspaper circulation every week than those of any other living man; a greater, doubtless, than the combined circulation of the writings of all the priests and preachers in North America.

The official historian for the Pittsburgh Bicentennial, George Swetnam, in 1958-1959 wrote: Pastor Russell traveled constantly, covering  more than a million miles, delivering more than 30,000 sermons and lectures and talks, writing books totaling over 50,000 pages, which have reached a circulation of more than 20,000,000 copies…his influence has easily been the widest of any man who ever lived in the city [Pittsburgh], not even excepting Andrew Carnegie.

After Cardinal Gibbons’ widely published sermon, “A Plea for United Christendom,” Bret Harte wrote in the January 1911, Overland Monthly: We have heard but one Protestant response, and that, properly enough, from the pen of the best and most widely known Protestant minister in the world–Pastor Russell of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, New York.

The London Graphic (April 8, 1911) described Pastor Russell as having an international reputation: The advent of Pastor Russell brings to this city and country a man of international reputation, who is known almost as well in Great Britain as he is in America. … who is reputed to be the most popular preacher in America. …

And, finally, the Christian Globe (May 5, 1910) of London, commended his prominence:  Since the days of Henry Ward Beecher and Dr. Talmage, no preacher has occupied so prominent a position in the United States as Pastor Russell of Brooklyn Tabernacle holds today.

In the last three years of his life “some eight million people” saw and heard this dynamic speaker on film as Pastor Russell introduced his epic motion picture, “The PhotoDrama of Creation”—the crowning feature of his ministry.  Of course, it broke all records in technology and attendance.  Never before had sound and color been incorporated into motion picture. Never before had people flocked in such droves to see such a presentation of the Bible on the screen.

But Pastor Russell was dead.  An era of excellence in the communication of faith and hope came to an end. Who was he?  Why was he so effective and beloved?   Was he an Adventist?   Was he really the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses?   No, he was not the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.   Nothing could be further from the truth.

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