Some years ago, I posted snippets of this letter, here is the entire letter.
This was first published in "The Berean Forum", a paper published by The Berean Bible Student Association in October 1930. The letter was written by Br. Morton Edgar two year prior, October 28, 1928.
Many thanks for sending the reproductions of the letters to and from your class and the Watch Tower B. & T. Society. It will be interesting to know what the Society will do now, although I suppose you will not expect them to do anything. The time is not yet come; for the wrong-doing and wrong-doers must fully reveal themselves,that the justice of the Lord's punishments may be manifest. This is the Scriptural teaching: "It must needs be that the offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh." These were the words of Jesus our Lord (Matt. 18:7); and the Apostle Paul gives us another warning when he says: "For there must be also heresies (sects) among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you" (1 Cor. 11:19). Thus both the wrong-doers and the approved ones revealed through the offences and heresies which, according to our Lord and His inspired Apostle, must come. The Approved ones will be made manifest amongst us by the loving spirit they show, and their obedience to the Master's command: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them which persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven." (Matt. 5:44-45).
These, and many other texts of the same purpose, always come prominently before us in situations such as you and your class are now placed in; and they help us to endure these "fiery trials" and strengthen our faith in Him who is too wise to err. We always feel drawn closer to the Lord when such trials come upon us, and this is what the Lord intends. We would help our enemies, or those who act as if they were enemies, if we could, for it is our earnest desire to bless, and not to curse. The Lord knows our hearts, and we shall leave it to Him to do what seems best.
While it is true that we are admonished to "resist not evil," but to turn the other cheek when we are smitten (matt. 5:39), this cannot mean that we are to weakly give in when anyone tries to overwhelm us, or to beguile us out of the reward of our hard-earned faith. (See Heb. 10:32-37.) Then we are admonished to show fight, as good soldiers, contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. There are too many Scriptures along this line for us [to] ignore them, and they will all come to your mind readily. (Gal. 5:1; 2Tim. 3:12-15; 4:2-5).
In view of these and many other Scriptures we cannot permit anyone, no matter how highly exalted he may be in his own eyes, or in the eyes of others, to dictate to us what we shall or shall not believe. We were called to our joint-heirship with Jesus Christ individually, and we are therefore individually responsible to Him who called us to this heavenly inheritance. The "Society" is not able to "call" anyone to the heavenly calling; it cannot beget anyone to the spirit nature. The Father alone can do that. We are therefore the children of the Heavenly Father, and not the "children" of the "Society" or of any visible earthly organization. Our Father which is in heaven is not an "organization." And we are answerable to Him alone.
Jesus said: "The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came from God" (John 16:27). And Jesus also said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you" (John 16:23). As the Father himself loves us, and as He will give us whatsoever we ask of Him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, why does a "Society" seek to intrude itself into this intimate relationship, spoken of by our Lord? It is presumption.
In this connection I note the point raised in your class's reply-letter to the Society, page three, second paragraph. The comment under 23rd May 1928 (and also 1927), draws a parallel between: (1) the three times that the tribes of Israel were commmanded under the law to go up to Jerusalem each year, to appear before the Lord, and (2) the praise and service that we offer to God during this Gospel Age. I gather that you consider this attempt to make a parallel between Israel worshipping in Jerusalem, and the Lord's spirit-begotten children worshipping their Father in the "Society," as quite unscriptural. I agree that this comment in the "Year-Book" is misleading. Our Lord's reply to the woman of Samaria proves conclusively that there is now no "visible" place where His followers can render acceptable service and worship (See John 4:10-24). The woman said: "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain (Gerizim); and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." And Jesus ansered: "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father...the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . ." But Judge Rutherford (for he is the president of the "Society" and hence responsible for anything that comes from the "Society") would have us amend this reply of our Lord. He would have it read: Neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem, but "now he (God) has made his visible organization on earth the place where he accepts the praise and service of his people." We believe that our Lord gave the correct answer; and there is no such thing as a "visible organization on earth" in connection whth the "Father of spirits," and His spirit-begotten children who worship Him in spirit.
I for one entirely repudiate this talk of "God's visible organization on earth" during this Gospel Age. It is dangerous talk, and gives rise to all kinds of persecutions and ungodly claims, as anyone who has consecrated reasoning powers can see. We have the whole history of that great "whore," the Apostate Church during the Gospel Age, to warn us against making any such claim as being God's visible organization on earth. If Judge Rutherford is not able to read the lesson, then he has become blind. If there was one thing that our dear Brother Russell warned us against, more strongly than any other, it was this very thing. Brother Russell never made any such claim for the "Society" when he was here in the flesh and amongst us, for he knew better. But Judge Rutherford, apparently, does not know enough to keep himself clear of it. In the very first chapter of the first volume of "Studies," Brother Russell speaks of this "false idea that the nominal church, in its present condition, is the sole agency" for the recovery of the world from sin (See page 14. First par.).
You can locate anything that is visible, especially anything that is visible on earth. But our Lord said that "The Kingdom of God cometh not with outward show: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, Lo there! for, behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you." (Diaglott, Luke 17:20, 21). It is an invisible kingdom, and not a visible one. It will be right in the midst of the people, but none will be able to locate it and say: Lo, here it is! right here in the Watch Tower, Bible and Tract Society, which is God's visible organization on earth! Judge Rutherford's talk about the "Society" being God's visible organization on earth is totally unscriptural, and this kind of talk deceives none of the Lord's little ones, the little flock to whom it is their Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32). The word "Organization" is not Scriptural.
I am not surprised at the attempts that were made to get Brother --- to resign from eldership, for this seems to be the practice when anyone disagrees with Judge Rutherford's teachings, or practices. The London Tabernacle class lost one of their most useful elders recently in this way. This elder had communicated with Judge Rutherford personally on some matter, and judge Rutherford had told him by letter to resign (This brother told me that the letter he received from Judge Rutherford was so terrible, that he did not feel inclined to show it to others. He did, however, read it out to the class).
The brother properly refused to resign, reminding Judge Rutherford that he was elected by the class, and not by him, and that he was answerable to the class only. This did not satisfy Judge Rutherford, and when he came over from America (about a year ago now) he set about getting this brother removed from eldership. At the recommendation, and with the agreement, of Brother Hemery, this brother had read out all his correspondence with Judge Rutherford, including the last "terrible" letter; and the brethren of the class were not only astonished and grieved, but had re-elected him to eldership and to his place in the executive committee by the greatest number of votes of any.
Therefore, Judge Rutherford on reaching London set about to have this brother removed. He first got Brother Hemery to agree to apologize to the class for having permitted the brother to read out the correspondence. (It appears that, had Brother Hemery taken a stand and refused to obey Judge Rutherford, he would not have continued in the London Bethel much longer. But he agreed to abandon the elder, whom he had always befriended, to his fate, and apologized; and Judge Rutherford clapped him on the back and called him a "manly little brother!").
Then, evidently and manifestly by prearrangement, one brother got up and proposed that the elder be put out of his eldership, and immediately another seconded the motion, and other spoke in favor of the motion. Then on a show of hands the motion was carried through quickly, a hymn of glory to God was sung, and the meeting ended. "Judge Rutherford," said the poor stricken brother, "Will you, as a judge, not permit me, a brother in the Lord, as much liberty to 'state my case' as you would grant to a prisoner at the bar?" "No! You sit down!" And so the brother never got a chance to explain to the class who voted him out at the representations of Judge Rutherford.
After Judge Rutherford had descended from the pulpit (they have a pulpit in the London Tabernacle), and was passing out into the street, a sister, who had been a regular attender of the class for many years, went up to him and said she would like to ask some questions. When this was granted, she asked him: "Some of the things you said about this brother, I know are not correct. Who told you about them?" He replied. "Some of the brethren who were present at the meetings where this matter was discussed wrote to me about it, and that is why I know." "But, brother, I also was at these meetings, and took notes, and I know that some of the things you charge against this brother are not true." "You're a liar!" And the "friend of the people" passed on in his way out. He had accomplished his purpose of drumming the brother out of his eldership, and that was all he cared for. And our Lord said: "The merciful shall obtain mercy" (Matt. 5:7). James said: "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy" (Jas. 2:13).
At the Albert Hall meeting in May, 1926, Judge Rutherford shocked the public, no less than the brethren, by roaring out from the platform: "Shut up!" - A little woman in the audience had raised her voice in protest at something he had said, and this is how judge Rutherford answered her. He then roared out still louder, if anything: "Put that woman out!" and as she was being conducted out of the hall he continued: "It cost you nothing to come in, and it will cost you nothing to go out!" He also made a number of derogatory remarks about women in general. To us the whole outburst from the platform seemed so needless and overbearing; and we could not help contrasting the scene with the gentle, patient way with which Brother Russell dealt with his numerous interrupters.
Whether it was owing to this incident, or because Judge Rutherford took the opportunity to run down Great Britain while in this great hall, or, possibly, because of both these things, he was at all events refused the use of this hall next time he came over (Albert Hall is the largest in London, and is the representative hall of the nation, being used for all the most important meetings. Brother Russell had the use of it a number of times.).
I am especially impressed with the grounds on which the "Society" think proper to cut off your class, namely, that you are "not in harmony with the teachings of the Society and its present work." If we regarded the "Society" as being merely a printing-firm, and its "Regional Service Directors" as simply road-agents or salemen, we could see well enough that to be cut off from it means nothing. But when we consider the astounding claims that this "Society" makes for itself, I can quite see the importance that your class attaches to the "excommunicating" letter.
For there is no doubt whatever that the "Society" claims for itself much power over the spirit=begotten children of God. The comment that you quote from the 1928 "Year Book," under the heading of 23rd May, undoubtedly implies that, apart from the "Society" there can be no acceptable worship or service to our heavenly Father. The comment says: "As surely as God made Jerusalem the place or center of worship, just so surely now he has made his visible organization on earth the place where he accepts the praise and service of his people. His anointed (spirit-begotten) ones associate themselves together in what we call the Society, to do the work of Jehovah as he has commanded. ..."
If this is literally true, then our heavenly Father will not accept our worship and service unless we will agree that the "Society" is the sole channel of approach to Him. The "commands of our heavenly Father can come to His children only through the "Society," God's "visible organization on earth." In other words, none of the Lord's children could hope to gain salvation except through the "Society." Indeed, God could not "beget" His children except through the "Society." And we are not answerable to our heavenly Father for He will not recognize us except through the "Society." We, the spirit-begotten children of God, are answerable to the "Society," and to it alone; and the "Society" assumes to itself the power to bless or curse us as it sees good-to commend us if we are in "harmony with its teachings," no matter how nonsensical these "teachings" may sometimes be (and often are!) -or to "excommunicate" us if it deems us "not in harmony with the teachings."
Now, this is a very grave assumption of power for any "visible organization on earth" to make. And you are perfectly correct to demand from this "Society" a clear, Scriptural basis for its claim.
But it cannot be done, for there is no more Scriptural sanction for this claim of the "Society" as stated in the 23rd May comment of the 1928 "Year Book," than there is for the preposterous claim that was made by that most arrogant of all the long line of Popes of Rome, Boniface VIII, whose famous (or infamous) bull called "Unam Sanctum" reads: "We declare, determine, and decree, that it is absolutely necessagry to salvation, that every human being should be subject to the Roman pontiff."
But the Lord's people at that time took the liberty to disagree; for they well knew, on the authority of the Word of God, that it was not at all necessary for salvation to be subject to the Roman pontiff. So we at this time also exercise our liberty to disagree that we must be subject to the "Society" before we can render acceptable worship and service to our heavenly Father.
Just as the Roman pontiffs are well aware that such "decrees" will not stand any sort of Scriptural test, and therefore always make it appear to be a presumptuous, if not even a sinful, thing for anyone to search into the Bible to see if these decrees are supported by the Lord's Word, so we find the same thing exactly at this time. The "Society" (which we cannot under the known circumstances think of as being other than Judge Rutherford himself) undoubtedly discountenances any study of this nature. We are told, authoritatively, not to question anything that appears in the "Watch Tower," or anything that appears in Judge Rutherford's now quite numerous books. No matter how unscriptural some statements in these publications are, no matter how unreasonable, no matter how contrary to the whole spirit of the truth which we have already learnt, we must accept them with blind obedience. And in order to make it as difficult as possible for the Lord's people to study these things in the light of the Holy Word, the decree went forth from the "Society" some time ago that all study-meetings on Sunday mornings (the most convenient time for almost all of the Lord's people to meet) must cease, and book-selling be taken up instead. We are also told, frequently, that the time for study is past, and it is no longer necessary for the children of God to "search the Scriptures," in which, our Lord Jesus Christ said, we "think we have eternal life" (John 5:39). Like the Roman Catholic church, the "Society" is now afraid of those who are real "Bible Students."
That is why the "dragon" is spoken of as continuing to persecute the "woman" and the "remnant of her seed" right up to the bitter end (see Rev. 12:17). He is wroth with the woman, and goes forth to make war with the remnant of her seed, because they insist upon keeping the "commandments of God," and insist upon retaining the "testimony of Jesus Christ." I used to wonder how this Scripture could be fulfilled, but now I see that its fulfillment has already begun. We can gladly say to our heavenly Father, in the words of the Psalmist: "Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts" (Psa. 119:98-100). Let us be amongst those who are persecuted, and not amongst the others. For he that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution -and the Scriptures cannot be broken.
With love, in His name,
October 11, 1928