JW Early History - The Untold Story!
"Jehovah is also the Great Exposer of false messengers. How does he expose them? He frustrates their signs and
predictions. In this way he shows that they are self-appointed prognosticators, whose messages really
spring from their own false reasoning - yes, their foolish, fleshly thinking! Watchtower - May 1st, 1997 page 8 para. 1 -
Why is it necessary to have a category "JW History" page, you may wonder? After all, you are familiar with much of the history through various articles of the Watchtower, and other publications such as the "Kingdom Proclaimers" book. In short, I can tell you, by experience, that what you know is exactly what the Governing Body wants you to know and believe. Part of the reason for
divulging the following (which is only a small portion of what I found), is to help the reader understand and conclude (on their own)
if they honestly feel that the men comprising the leadership were and are any different than any other men who had a sincere interest in identifying bible truth, whether they are men of the past, or present.
I came to a clear and definitive realization that the leadership of yesterday (whom have been highly exalted by the modern day GB)
were honestly no different than any other men who loved God, and worked toward righteousness. They had their imperfections, but so do all men!
After my research, my conclusion was that these men were very much self-appointed, even in light of their sincere interest in peering into the deep things of God - perhaps due to an extra level of
spiritual enthusiasm, or keen interest in study. They believed that they had been chosen by the highest authority to represent God's interests on earth. But the fact is, their fallacies are as equally pronounced as any other man's, and perhaps much more. In lieu of a complete lack of scriptural support that God would raise up an organization above all else 1900 years after Christ, we must be willing to analyze the facts and decide if these men were set aside by God as they claim.
Yes, these early leaders of the organization had no special ability I could discern from any other lover of God and truth. It was a blessing to have correct understanding of such false doctrine as "hell" and the "trinity" made clear, the latter a belief that different God-fearing men, before the time of Russell, had also realized were false and were teaching it to their churches, though few they may have been.
It remains fact, not conjecture, that during the early years of the organization, and even prior, there were a number of sincere men (including women) who loved the deep things of God. But they likely were not in the financial position to build a spiritual and corporate empire as was Russell and then Rutherford, who were very wealthy and prominent men. But they
certainly had their fallacies - the kind of fallacies that should not have been prevalent in people that claim their appointment was by God.
Many of these fallacies were delivered to the adherents by implying or insisting (by certain "verbage") in a carefully designed manner. They told them what they wanted them to know. Many of the side-details were left quiet lest those details got out and pose great problems for the leadership. And through the many decades, it has morphed into putting into print what they want the reader to know, and obey. This has been the status quo down to our day. Please notice the following recent example:
A while back in one of the Study Edition's of the Watchtower there was a portion of the study focused on "not saying a greeting," to one who was disfellowshipped. To assist in their argument, they gave an experience of a brother who was disfellowshipped and working toward reinstatement. They quoted the brother as saying that when others would pass him in the parking lot at the meetings, their attention to NOT saying a greeting to him helped him to strive harder to be reinstated to once again associate with the friends. I whispered in my wife's ear, "those are not the feelings of the majority." When I read that, I knew exactly what the Governing Body was doing, for I had seen many times in the organization. I told her, "if that story is true, it is by far the exception and no way the rule!" I have known far too many to know that literally 99 percent of the time it was the other way around! A simple greeting, as expressed to me by previously disfellowshipped members, was desperately needed, and gave them just what they needed to keep going! Surely, what encouraging knowledge to have! But such does not fit the agenda of the GB. So yes, the Governing Body generally puts in print what they want us to believe. And then they reason on a couple of scriptures in effort to make the decision appear holy. And this is why research is important for us! Nothing out of the ordinary here when things are done in this manner! (In way of note, I always thought it unholy and convoluted that GB allows us to greet someone in the territory that repeatedly sends us away, sometimes with a shout and "words." But we could not say a greeting to a fellow lover of God who erred and was working to come back).
There is no denying, however, that the leadership has been successful in providing a fine social atmosphere for the adherents. They focus on high moral standards that our Father is no doubt proud of. They have also helped us all appreciate the necessity of learning about God's purposes. But it has been delivered through the lens of the leadership that has purposely clouded the view so that you see what they want you to see.
So when it comes to the various features laid out before the friends (by the GB) as it relates to the history of the organization, I can assure you (from my research and experience) that we are getting a story through the lens of partial truths, and/or leaving out details.
It is very important that we have an interest in knowing the manner in which the information is delivered. Our assembly halls are appointed with
remnants of machinery, old pictures and collectible's of the men who served in the "high offices" of the organization (i.e. Rutherford, Russell, etc.).
We see their pictures in magazines, books, brochures, tracts, film. Yet much of the history that is relevant to informing a person
of the established order of things as it relates to the past are clouded. After all, this organization boasts that it is
the one only true channel God is using on earth. And it is, and always has been
claimed that God has been appointing these men (beginning with Russell). Therefore, is it not vital to know the entire story? Let's begin.
Charles Taze Russell was a man who I believe (from reading a vast sum of literature) loved God very much. He had an interest in
understanding bible truth. There is no doubt at all with that. But there was more to the man than you may think.
For instance, brother Russell was found guilty of selling phony “Miracle Wheat” through his publication Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald’s of Christ’s Presence. Russell claimed that this “Miracle Wheat” was superior to regular wheat, and would grow five times as fast as any other brand. After the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran a cartoon ridiculing Russell and his “Miracle Wheat,” Russell sued the newspaper. When the “Miracle Wheat” was investigated by government agencies, it was found to be slightly inferior to standard wheat. Needless to say, the Eagle won the suit.
(p. 14, Nov. 1, 1916, Brooklyn Daily Eagle)
Second, brother Russell was caught perjuring. In June of 1912, Rev. J.J. Ross of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, published a denunciatory pamphlet about Russell entitled, Some Facts About the Self-styled “pastor” Charles T. Russell. Russell in turn sued Ross for libel. During the trial which took place the following year, Ross’s defense attorney asked Russell if he knew the Greek alphabet. Russell’s reply was “Oh, yes.” When further asked to identify the Greek letters at the top of a page of the Greek Testament handed him, he was unable to do so, finally admitting that he knew nothing of the Greek alphabet. Furthermore, Russell had previously claimed to have been ordained by a recognized religious body. The defense also pressed him on this issue, finally asking point blank: “Now, you never were ordained by a bishop, clergyman, presbytery, council, or any body of men living?” Russell’s answer, after a long pause was, “I never was.” In this trial, therefore, Russell’s deliberate perjury was established beyond a reasonable doubt. (For the entire story of this trial, which includes other examples of Russell’s lying under oath, the reader is referred to p. 18-22 of Martin and Klann, Jehovah of the Watchtower, rev. ed., Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1959)
There are a number of other disquieting facts about brother Russell. But the object here is not to impugn his motives, or speak in a manner
that would be slanderous in its nature. But to highlight a few points that help us to determine the eligibility of someone claiming appointment.
Are we to believe that this was the man Christ Jesus appointed to spearhead an organization to represent him on earth?
Though these are not exactly exemplary-ridden facts, it is worth noting that brother Russell worked hard to understand the bible more clearly.
But it did not come without a fair amount of false understandings of the bible, including false predictions. For instance, in the "Studies
In The Scriptures" Vol. 4 p. 621 Russell stated: "Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874, A.D."
In 1899, in the 1908 edition The Time Is at Hand, stated: . ."the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty (Rev 16:14), which will end in A.D.
1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced."
There are far too many false predictions to list here. Even with a sincere heart, there is no escaping the fact that Deut 18:22 makes clear
about prophets that predict with error. Did he claim to be a prophet? Not in any literature I found. However, may one be
considered such if predictions of a scriptural nature are made that would supposedly influence people the world over? The answer is a
When one reads of J.F. Rutherford, they get a reminiscent-like feeling they have "heard that before." Part of the organizational error has been
in committing itself to many false dates, false parallel's, false types-antitypes, and so on. J.F. Rutherford was no exception to the
rule. A rule that was unfortunately set in its established order by his predecessor, Russell. Brother Rutherford had many obscure idea's
that led his tenure in the organization. For example, based on the account in Isaiah 32:1, Rutherford decided to build a mansion to prepare
for the resurrection of the "ancient men of old," who would rule as princes. The mansion was built in San Diego and given the name
"Beth Sarim," or "House of the Princes." This no doubt was just one of many embarrassments for the organization as it attempted to move
forward from an already exhaustive stretch of repairing the error's set on by brother Russell. But there would be much damage
control needed when it came to brother Rutherford's predictions, and behavior.
Some of the odd things one may find
when researching is to discover that brother Rutherford was never seen in the ministry, which was odd considering the
emphasis we know he placed on it. "Advertise, advertise, advertise" may be found in the "Kingdom Proclaimers" book. But you
will not read in it that he did not go in the ministry. He felt it was not his responsibility since his place was at
the headquarters. Another unusual fact is that brother Rutherford wrote, "live in poverty for the Lord." It was his
proclamation to the brethren to preach the good news, and to live in poverty for the Lord. It is a heartwarming expression if
not for the fact that he was being chauffeured in two different brand new sixteen-cylinder Cadillacs at the time
he coined this particular phrase.
After completing my research, it was very clear to me that Rutherford very much loved God, despite these. There is no doubt in my mind when
it comes to that! But therein lies a real paradigm. How is that? There have been many people who have served in a religious capacity, with
ecclesiastical authority in their congregation who also loved God very much! There can be no debating that. In fact, there are still today!
But the difference is that the organization, from early on, viewed itself and its leadership as coming straight from our Father, Jehovah.
C.T. Russell thought he was the "faithful slave," of Matthew chapter 24. Notice the statement in the Watchtower: "Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell's writings believe that he filled the office of "that faithful and wise servant," and that his great work was giving to the Household of Faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation," (Watchtower, Dec. 1, 1919, p. 357). Brother Rutherford also claimed that Russell was that slave... an idea that has long been debunked by the current
Governing Body. Interesting to note is that the current GB believes that they are the "faithful slave." Interesting how the entire thought
process of this concept continues to evolve and get redefined over the decades.
Other quotes from Rutherford: "The year 1925 is here. With great expectations Christians have looked forward to this year. Many
have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year." (Watchtower Jan 1, 1925 p.3)
Rutherford went on to say that it may not come in 1925. But the seed was planted in the minds of the probability.
A broad spectrum of false parallel's in the book "The Finished Mystery," was authorized for publishing by brother Rutherford. Rutherford
(unbeknown to most in the organization) began the era of leading by a fair measure of control. It was this control that he acquired
in a manner that many would consider "Machiavellian." This type of domineering control traded hands through the years
that led to a group of men becoming part of the Governing Body in 1955. It was some years later when this body decided to encompass
their method of control using a very systematic "Body of Law." It was in 1976 when this body of law was printed in the book, "Aid To
Answering Branch Office Correspondence." To this day, the vast number of witnesses, including elder's, are unaware of its existence. It is widely
believed by the adherents that they are not under law, (referencing the "Mosaic" law). But it remains fact that the book contained a
chapter entitled, "Body of Laws," containing a broad spectrum of law that covers almost every aspect of a person's personal life
from A-Z. Such an irony that millions serving as Jehovah's Witnesses to this day have committed to a massive body of law upon
their baptism, a law which bounds them to the organization in lieu of punitive (judicial) action if any one of the hundreds of written
laws are trespassed. The irony is contained in the belief that JW adherents believe they are free from law. UPDATE: In July of
2016, this body of law was released by an "unknown" of the bethel family by pdf. The 2009 revision of the body of law
was now entitled, "Correspondence Guidelines." It may be the most highly secretive book in the organization next to the "Shepherd
The Flock of God," book given to elders.
In addition to the above mentioned claims, the process that took place during the early years of Rutherford's tenure was a true monstrosity
for the world to observe, and certainly served as fodder for the media. In those days, the organization was a publicly traded company. The
shareholders, as is the case today with secular companies, voted on the rights of voice when appointing the leaders of the organization. The battles that
encircled the organization at that time in court and in the news articles did anything but give glory to our Father. There was much debate
and bickering about who would lead the organization after Russell's death. Here is a brief synopsis of the dispute (Source: Wikipedia, "Faith on
the March," by A.H. Macmillan).
On January 6, 1917, Rutherford, aged 47, was elected president of the Watch Tower Society, unopposed, at the Pittsburgh convention. 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.
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, claiming Rutherford had become autocratic. In June, Hirsch attempted to rescind the new by-laws and reclaim the board's authority from the president. Rutherford later claimed he had by then detected a conspiracy among the directors to seize control of the society. In July, Rutherford gained a legal opinion from a Philadelphia corporation lawyer that none of his opposers were legally directors of the society. The Watch Tower Society's official 1959 account of its history claimed the legal advice given to the ousted directors confirmed that given to Rutherford; however, the pamphlets produced by the expelled board members at the time indicated that their legal advice, acquired from several attorneys, disagreed with Rutherford's. On July 12, Rutherford filled what he claimed were four vacancies on the board, appointing Macmillan and Pennsylvania Bible Students W. E. Spill, J. A. Bohnet and George H. Fisher as directors. Between August and November the society and the four ousted directors published a series of pamphlets, with each side accusing the other of ambitious and reckless behavior. 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. The former directors left the Brooklyn headquarters on August 8. On January 5, 1918, shareholders returned Rutherford to office.
The controversy fractured the Bible Student movement and some congregations split into opposing groups loyal either to Rutherford or those he had expelled. By mid-1919 about one in seven Bible Students had chosen to leave rather than accept Rutherford's leadership, and over the following decade they helped form or joined other groups including the Stand Fast Movement, the Layman's Home Missionary Movement, the Dawn Bible Students Association, the Pastoral Bible Institute, the Elijah Voice Movement, the Concordant Publishing Concern, and the Eagle Society.
During these years, there were a number of congregations dedicated to Christ Jesus who were actively attending worship, singing hymns, and
bounding together more and more in love. No church, or congregation be it at that time or any other time, could lay claim to being
perfect. Yet they came together in a spirit of unity. Were there false doctrine's encompassing their belief's? Yes, of course. Most
believed in the trinity at that time. Or hell. False doctrine's that originate with Satan. He is the true apostate. While there were a number
of false doctrine's permeating Christendom at that time, the organization was perpetrating a vast array of false date, parallel's, etc. Can
one legitimately and biblically claim more "perfect" than the other? Is not false doctrine, false doctrine in any form?
Once again... Are we to believe that this man (as well as Russell and the rest of the echelon of power), was selected to represent Christ
Jesus interests on the earth? The question is rhetorical and requires no answer.
A "People For His Name?"
Whatever the case, I believe the two men mentioned above loved God, their fellow man, and the deep things of God. But because we hold
them in such high esteem, as the founders of the organization and the one's who originally spearheaded the work, how is it we can dismiss
those of other faiths who truly and equally loved our Lord, Jesus? The fact is, we are admonished to "seek the Lord," (Isaiah 55:6). The
early leaders of the organization clearly had good intent. But how is it we can believe we should credit them with more
than those who also were sincere hearted, belonging to other Christian faith's around the world?
The fact is: There are wheat among the weeds
in almost all Christian faiths earth wide. The organization's unbelievable record of fallacy and presumptuousness is
nothing more than a legacy of embarrassing untruths. Don't think it is easy for me
to admit this. As mentioned in the Preface, I have a deep love for these men. But there is the other, scriptural side of
me that (like many others, and perhaps you) feel deceived. But I accept blame for not researching as I should have. I am
still thankful that our Father has found it his will that we learn these things. It is my desire to put aside the deep
emotions I feel over being misled... but pray regularly for the mercy be upon these men. It helps me.
May our Master Jesus continue to plead the cause of each one of us, including the men who continue to insist that it is only through
this organization that people may gain salvation by our Lord and Savior, Jesus. What an anathema to the Christian way, to
make such claim! Let us each turn to the healthful teachings of God's inspired word. And like the Beroeans, let us never stop "testing."