Here is the letter containing the questions for which McRoberts wanted answers. --VM44
from: Steve McRoberts
to: Teaching Committee at Bethel headquarters, 124 Columbia Hts, Brooklyn, NY
I must first of all apologize for the length of this letter, I feel, however, that the complexities of the subject herein presented necessitates this length.
The purpose of my writing is to hopefully accomplish some good. It was stated at the breakfast table one morning that this committee desired to hear such observations from the brothers as; 'We are not benefiting too much from the Monday night Watchtower study.' Acting under this premise, I wish to here set forth my observations regarding the society in the manner of constructive criticism. In doing this my sole purpose is to be helpful, I am not here attempting to tear down the society; I would say nothing at all if I though it would not be in some way beneficial.
I have felt a definite lack of love in the various congregations I have attended. There is some love there, but it is insufficient. The love there should be such that outsiders will (without being told) recognize it as Christ-like love, and hence will recognize us as true disciples. My own experience with Bible studies I have brought to meetings, is that they fail to see this love, and so go to another church where love is more important than knowledge. But I do not speak from just my own experience. It appears that I speak for a growing number who feel something is wrong in the congregations--in the society, and who feel more upbuilt by staying home than by attending the meetings.
Now my suggestion (leading towards a rectification of this situation) is that the relationship and teachings of the society towards the members of the congregations is what is largely responsible far this situation. I now wish to elaborate on this suggestion. Please bear with me.
The closer we come to exercising the Christ-like qualities that the Bible teaches us, the more we will have the identifying mark of love. The question presents itself, then: 'Is there something in the society's relationship to the members of the congregation which hinders some quality that a Christian should exercise?' I believe that there is, I believe that quality is found in these words of C.T. Russell:
"The liberty or privilege of choosing, exercising our wills, is one of the grandest blessings accorded to humanity, and it is an important element in man's likeness to his creator ... the human will ... includes, especially, decision in respect to the higher moralities, taking hold of questions of justice and love which affect and influence all of life's affairs." (1)
Especially in matters of faith we individually must choose to believe each point. Only in this way are we exercising our likeness to our Creator. If we believe a point of doctrine merely because someone else tells us it is right, and they have been right before, we are not; fully using our Christian qualities, and therefore all out Christian qualities suffer, including love. Now this is exactly where the society can hinder one. In the days of Russell the society really lived out in practice his words quoted above. Notice, please, how the food was served to the household of faith:
"Let each fellow servant and each member of the household of faith use his consecrated judgement in accepting or rejecting this exposition, or any other exposition we nay ever offer, according to his ability or inability to recognize in it the voice of out great shepherd." (2)
This attitude was also manifest in Russell's encouraging the re-reading several times of any tract before distributing it. And in his saying that no one should ever distribute something that he wasn't convinced of. Russell, therefore, was not dogmatic, and for this reason his interpretations were more readily accepted in a spirit of love, for that is the spirit in which he sent them out. He did not think it proper for someone to term himself a "prophet" whom all must listen to or perish:
"No system of theology should be presented, or accepted, which overlooks or omits the most prominent features of Scripture teaching. We trust, however, that a wide distinction will be recognized between the earnest, sober, and reverent study of prophecy and other Scriptures, in the light of accomplished historic facts, to obtain conclusions which sanctified common sense can approve, and a too common practice of general speculation, which, when applied to Divine prophecy, is too apt to give loose rein to wild theory and vague fancy, Those who fall into this dangerous habit generally develop into prophets (?) instead or prophetic students." (3)
Such an attitude (a 'soft sell' of the truth) worked very very well. No one felt 'penned up' or as if they were being made merchandise out of. (4) God was held up as the one to join one's self to, not men:
"Must I not join some organization on earth, assent to some creed, and have my name written on earth? No, Gal. 5:1; 'Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.'"(5)
"The test of membership in this New Creation will not be membership in any earthly organization." (6)
"You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men." (I Cor, 7:23)
When Russell died in 1916 the truth did not stop advancing. But very pertinent to our discussion are these words of Rutherford in 1923:
"[Eph. 4:14 is quoted from the Diaglott on "systematic deception"] Some with too much confidence in their own ability seek exhilaration out of taking a chance rather than abide in the truth as it has been Scripturally explained by God's instruments. And now with the death of [Russell] the tendency of some self-reliant ones is to fly off at a tangent and abandon the general outline of the Divine Plan of the Ages. These, harping on Pr. 4:18 get into a frame of mind where they think they are the individual channels for the advancing light. They advance into a supposed light which contradicts revealed proven truth ... To claim, then, that brother Russell misdrew God's plan is to argue in effect that the vision did lie, that it did tarry, and that brother Russell got ahead of the light instead of following its gradual revealment. Do, then, those who thus argue imagine that the vision tarried for them as the specially chosen ones of the Lord? Such an attitude spells a high degree of pride and egotism, in all the above instances can be noted 1, A growing disregard or neglect of what [Russell] wrote, 2, A denial or reversal of formerly held truths is naturally suggested to those having a morbid desire for novelty. Instead of dispelling the doubt by a reexamination of brother Russell's writings, an endeavor is made to prove the new views and ideas to be Scripturally correct. 3, Strong inclination to believe the error is created by the seeming truthfulness of the new views. This is due to the outward appearance of the channel of the new ideas ... Shall we accept the teachings of these latter day teachers as being gifts of the Lord Jesus to the church? How could we? ... The society's policy is not to reverse the work begun by its founder, nor to toss the Lord's people about by pretending to explode the truth as brought forth before 1916. Its true course is to follow the same path of the just which its organizer walked." (7)
We know, of course, that this "systematic deception" describes Rutherford's work perfectly. He soon was dogmatic. He fell into the habit of becoming a "prophet" whom everyone must listen to. And most sadly of all, he soon had an earthly organization which everyone must join to be saved. This organization, of course, abandoned the general outline of the Divine plan of the ages in favor of the seeming truthfulness of the respected "channel's" (Rutherford's) new views. This led to a consequent loss of Christian-quality to all members. In support of the above I quote:
"Such persons should remember that the Watchtower sets out the words of God's prophet." (8)
"Many may find fault with the society, its officers and organization, but in their hearts generally it is the Lord that they are rejecting." (4)
(Here rejecting the Lord is paralleled with finding fault with an earthly organization!)
"Jehovah had a prophet to warn them. This prophet was not one man but was a body of men and women ... known as the International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian Witnesses." (10)
"It is solely in brotherly association with the New World Society that we can possibly survive when this old world passes away." (11)
The majority of Bible students accepted these views. This is evident from some letters printed in the Watchtower shortly after the book "Light" was released. Several expressed the thought that no man could have written the book, it was divine, sublime, "a gift from God to the Church" (in spite of it being a reversal of what Russell wrote and an explosion of the truth as held before 1916). One enjoyed the book because; "It makes hilarious the certainty of the dissolution of the old hag." One even commented that Rutherford would be immortal until his work was completed! One said he was overjoyed to learn that "the sect of the Nicolaitans" were "bossy elders", for he had hated these for so long, and now he was glad to hear that Jehovah hated them too.
Rutherford's new "light" in this book on the verse "left the love you had at first" (Rev. 2:4), was not the "love of God" as Russell taught, but was love for the organization! (12) Now if the light was really getting brighter through Rutherford, why does the society today teach that love of God is meant in this verse, as Russell taught, and not as love for the organization, as Rutherford taught? Is it not true in this instance that the light on that Scripture was on in Russell's day and went off in Rutherford's, and now it is back on again? It is true in this and many other instances. The reason for it? Rutherford's motive (which is so clearly seen) was not love, but hate; hate for "bossy elders" and those leaving his organization. He wanted to make a clear distinction between those who would unquestioningly follow him, and those who instead reexamined and proved Russell to be correct. And what did this do to his followers? It gave them an excuse for hate: love suffered.
For these, and additional reasons, I feel it is a detriment to the love among the brothers, and to their love for the world, to hold to the principle Rutherford introduced, namely, that we should accept unquestioningly whatever the society says, and that if we don't, and separate from it for that reason, we will be destroyed. This is nothing else than a principle borrowed from the Roman Catholic Hierarchy! Therefore, I feel that the following quotation, which is a reiteration of this very principle, is a hurtful and unscriptural one:
"Now some may ask, should we accept from the Lord and true the food provided through the faithful and discreet slave, or should we withhold acceptance until we have proved it for ourselves? If we have gained our present understanding of the Bible from the faithful and discreet slave ... then we should have some confidence in the slave's provisions ... Do we suddenly become smarter than our former provider and forsake the guidance of the organization that mothered us? "Forsake not the law of your mother," (Pr. 6:20-23) ... Are we to be doubtful about each new provision? [no] ... after receiving these food supplies we prove them to ourselves in a spirit of meekness and trustfulness and not combativeness," (13)
If we really examine what the society has taught since Russell's death we are left with no confidence in its provisions. To say this is not to claim superior intelligence, or a rejection of our mother, it is merely to face the facts honestly. The society has proven itself unworthy of the type of trust it mentions. We don't have to be combative to say this, we merely have to be honest and reasonable. The Bible encourages us not to believe everything the society says, but to examine what it says to determine whether it is true or not:
"Beloved ones do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, for many false prophets have gone forth into the world," (1 John 4:1)
"Carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11)
It is therefore the Christian's responsibility not to follow advice which would have him blindly follow whatever the society says. In practice this advice results in a mental attitude like the credulity of the average Catholic. It does not put one sufficiently on guard against false light which admittedly flows through this "channel" at least sometimes. It works against the principle of "Make sure of all things" (1 Th. 5:17). Those following the advice to 'follow unquestioningly' have been subjected to the channel's deceptions (such as 1925) and therefore the advice is dangerous to spiritual safety.
The Bible nowhere teaches me that I must trust my faith to an earthly organization which has so often been wrong and shown an unloving spirit. As soon as an organization tells me that only by joining it will God save me, it is at that time that I feel most inclined to leave that organization for having so degraded the God of no partiality. Now if this advice to 'follow unquestioningly' causes such a natural reaction in a person (i.e. leads him away in disgust of such an organization), it cannot be true.
It was just this type of thinking and reasoning that Russell came out against. All the churches were claiming that the only way to be saved was to join their church and follow their teachings. Russell realized that such could not be the way of a loving and just God. He taught that no earthly organization whatsoever had any say at all in anyone's salvation. He taught that right now it is only the anointed "little flock" destined for heavenly life that are being tried for life. All others: the 'world', would have their trial for life in the millennium. This is because right now they are blinded by the god of this system, and Jehovah in all justice cannot judge a man for not seeing something when that man is blind. Therefore he must bring that man into the new system, the millennium, wherein Satan (the one who blinds then) will be restrained.
"At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped", (Isa. 35:5)
Then they will know and see things in their true light. They will come to perfection then, and as perfect men, with full awareness of the truth and ability to do right as well as wrong, then, and only then will they be given a fully fair trial for life. (Jer. 31:34, Acts 17:31) Russell had a totally logical presentation of this view which harmonized all the Scriptures together to magnify Jehovah's great love in all this. But Russell was misrepresented by Rutherford as the latter worked his "systematic deception" away from the Divine plan of the ages right back to the doctrine of the churches: "join my organization or perish". This was done gradually it seems. Point by point Rutherford replaced the teaching of the Divine plan (systematically) until nothing was left of it.
He started out with "tentative justification", something Russell taught as being applied to the unconsecrated. To start the ball rolling (away from the Divine plan) he stated:
"Pastor Russell at first thought there was a tentative justification; but after studying into the matter more closely changed his mind," (14)
This appears to be an out and out Lie. Russell had never changed his mind about tentative justification. Shortly before his death (a matter of weeks) he wrote:
"We describe the person who has taken this course as being tentatively justified," (15)
A question appears on this at an even latter date in the book "What Pastor Russell Said":
"Comparing articles on justification in Vol. 6, Tabernacle Shadows, and Sept. 15, 1916 Tower: Do these harmonize? Has brother Russell changed his views on justification? Answer: Brother Russell has not: changed his views on justification," (16)
In order to help this lie be believed, Rutherford had to resort to some cover up work. Anyone can go to the Bethel library and look in the reprint volume under date of Sept. 15, 1916 for the above quote, Yet look in the index of the last reprint volume (the same) under "Justification, tentative" the latest date given there is 1913, Why? Because Rutherford wants us to believe that Russell changed his mind on this point, and can proceed from there to pull the entire Divine plan away from us. But if his new views were built on a foundation that had to resort to misrepresentation, are his new views worthy of our trust?
In 1921 Rutherford wrote "The Harp of God" which gradually, together with his later books, replaced the masterly 6 volumes of Russell which defended the Divine plan. One merely has to read the first volume and then the "Harp" to see the society going into darkness rather than light in this amateurish book. For instance; page 16 tells us that Isa. 60:8 foretold airships and wireless telegraphy! Page 90 tells us that Mary bore Jesus "without pain and without suffering"! As Russell had warned, Rutherford had gone into the practice of general speculation, wild theory, and vague fancy.
But Rutherford went much further: he ignored another warning from Russell:
"We cannot help it that many of our dear friends continue to tell what the Watchtower believes and to misrepresent its teachings. Our kindest thought is that they must not be giving much heed to its teachings. Otherwise they would know from its columns that we are not looking forward to 1925, nor to any other date." (17)
Rutherford should have paid more heed. He fell into the 1925 snare, and many left the organization after 1925 because he did not keep his pet theories to himself but announced them as dogma:
"We may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets or old ... 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old and the beginning of the reconstruction..." (18)
"We have no doubt whatever in regard to the chronology relating to the dates of 1874, 1914, 1918, and 1925." (19)
Do you see what was accomplished by stating this wild speculation as dogma? Many left the society, believing that Jehovah would not let "his prophet" prophesy falsehoods. Can we honestly blame them? Those who stayed suffered ridicule, not for Christianity, but for what is opposed to Christianity, namely, error. Those who stayed viewed those who left as being of the second death class, evil slave class, and this bred more hate. These bad results would not have occurred if Rutherford had stated his 1925 ideas as an interesting possibility. But due to his dogmatically stating it, and due to his "channel doctrine" it had these bad effects.
Brothers, let's learn from these mistakes. It disturbs me greatly (as it would anyone who knew the facts) that instead of offering some apology for teaching error as truth, the society has passed the buck of responsibility to its "meek and trusting" followers. I refer to the following statements:
"The end of 1925 is about here. Some had expected to see the work of the church in the flesh completed this year. Probably this expectation has been induced somewhat by the desire to end earth's journey of toil and to sit at ease in glory. If so, then is there not a measure of selfishness in such a desire and expectation?" (20)
"1925 was a sad year for many brothers, some of them were stumbled; their hopes were dashed. They had hoped to see some of the ancient worthies resurrected. Instead of its being a 'probability' they read into it that it was a 'certainty'." (21)
Who were included in the "some" who expected these things in 1925? The main one that comes to my mind is J.F. Rutherford. He is the one who told everyone else that they could "confidently expect" these things. The way brothers read 1925 into a certainty was by reading it in the Watchtower in black and white as written by Rutherford. But when these things weren't fulfilled what did he do? He charged those believing the doctrine he taught them with being selfish, instead of apologizing to them for teaching falsehoods dogmatically. What kind of a prophet refuses to admit his mistakes? What kind of prophet, instead, accuses God's people of selfishness?
"Jehovah, the God of the true prophets, will put all false prophets to shame either by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self-assuming prophets or by having his own prophecies fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets." (22)
"True, there have been those in times past who predicted an end to the world, even announcing a specific date ... the end did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying ... missing from such people were God's truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them." (23)
"When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it, You must not get frightened at him," (De. 18:20-22; Jer. 29:8-9)
Speaking in all honesty, do not all the words above fittingly apply to Rutherford? My purpose is not to downgrade him, but rather to illustrate by past example the kind of activity the society should avoid. And that hurtful activity is sticking to Rutherford's wild doctrines (including especially the "channel" doctrine) as opposed to Russell's sound reasonings.
As time went on Rutherford replaced more light with darkness. As Christian character is linked with knowledge of the truth (Heb. 5:l3,14), so both of these suffered together. Under Russell's correct interpretations of Jehovah's great love and justice towards his creatures, characters were built up to Christ-like qualities. But Rutherford's 'get in line or perish' doctrine was not one from the God of love, and hence, the characters of his followers suffered. In 1926 he came out with an article which set character building in opposition to service (24). Soon the term "character building" was held in the same disesteem as "evil slave". The Bible, in contrast with such a view, admonishes us to build our characters (please see 2 Peter 1:5-10). This new view of Rutherford's was extremely detrimental to all. From then on, as never before, knowledge was put way ahead in importance of love. Ascribing to the society's interpretations and selling its literature was paralleled with salvation, instead of following the Scripture:
"If I am acquainted with all the sacred secrets and all knowledge, ... and if I give all my belongings to feed others [even with spiritual food], and if I hand over my body that I may boast [by saying "I am a pioneer"], but do not have love, I am not profited at all." (1 Cor. 13:2)
But instead of becoming more knowledgeable, the neglect of developing Christ-like qualities resulted in more darkness. For if we don't develop the fruitages of the spirit, the spirit is not going to guide us to advancing light; we will be left to our own human imaginings. By comparing Russell and Rutherford, this is clearly what happened. And so, Rutherford was soon teaching that the image of Daniel chapter 2 was not a succession of world powers, as Russell taught, but was instead Satan's organization; the head of gold being Satan, and the other parts being the governmental, religious, and commercial systems. (25) I am glad to see that the light is back on again regarding this Scripture. I wish the society would return to much more of the light Russell had, but which Rutherford turned off because of not being led by the spirit.
Rutherford's not being led by the spirit caused him to do worldly things under the pretext of religion. This is the very thing he often condemned the clergy for doing--hiding under religion as a cover. Yet he himself built a mansion in San Diego where he lived for many years while the rest of the Bethel family scraped along in small rooms which they had to share. The purpose of the mansion was supposedly for the resurrected ancient worthies. It was thought that these ones would be either resurrected on the acres of the mansion, or would be directed there by Jehovah to set up their headquarters. (26) But in actual fact Rutherford was the one who lived there, and sometime after his death it was sold. This proves that:
"The purpose of constructing a house in San Diego" was expressly "for Brother Rutherford's use." (27)
Was Rutherford therefore hypocritical in this matter? It would appear so. The question then comes to mind, 'Can we trust such a man's interpretations which differ so radically from what his honest predecessor taught?' We must admit that it raises some doubt, especially when both Russell and an earlier Rutherford warned us against such an occurrence, I: wish now to present an easily seen fallacy of Rutherford's:
The one who wrote, "There can be no more question about 1925 than there was about 1914" (28), in spite of Russell's stating the reverse (17), also changed the understanding of the prophetic times of Daniel and Revelation.
Daniel 12:7 mentions a period of 3 1/2 times. Rutherford applied this to October 1, 1914 till April 1, 1918. This latter date was supposed to fulfill "the last scattering of the holy people". But in actual fact, 37 days later the 8 members of the society were arrested.
Another objection to his view is clearly seen: from Oct 1, 1914 till April 1, 1918 there are 1,278 days, whereas the prophecy speaks of 3 1/2 times which equal only 1,260 days, so Rutherford's days were too long.
So his interpretation could not be right because:
1). The events do not fit the prophetic conditions.
2). The time period is off by 18 days.
Daniel 12:11 mentions a time period of 1,290 days, He applied these to Jan. 1919 till Sept, 1922; a period at least 1,309 days long. He could not have been right, for the Bible says 1,290, whereas he says 1,309. Could there be a clearer contradiction of Scripture?
Daniel 12:12 speaks of 1,335 days. He applies this to a period beginning the same time as the above one ended (I figured Sept 1 above in order to grant him all leniency, but he seems to favor the 5th through the 13th during the convention) till mid-May 1926 (he seems to prefer the 25th, but to give all leniency, I'll figure from the 15th). This time period is 1,356 days long, not 1,335. I cannot believe that God would be 3 weeks late in fulfilling his prophecies. He declares; "It will not be late" (Hab. 2:3). Yet, through his interpretation, Rutherford tells us it was late.
Daniel 8:14 speaks of a tine period 2,300 days long. He applies this to May 25, 1926 to Oct. 15, 1932. At this latter date the sanctuary was supposedly brought into its right condition by action taken against "elective elders" (a term which came to rank along with "evil slave" and "character builders"). But it wasn't, because latter there were additional modifications of the elder system. The time period here is off by 35 days too many.
Rev. 11:3 speaks of 2 witnesses prophesying in sackcloth for forty-two months. This of course is the same as 3 ½ times, or 1,260 days. He applied this to Nov, 7, 1914 till May 7, 1918, a period of 1,277 days.
Rev. 12:6 is the one period of time which he has a corresponding amount of time for. It is a period of 1,260 days which he applies to March 27, 1919 till. Sept. 8, 1922, which is a period of 1,260 days. On the former date he was released from prison, on the latter began one of the numerous "drives" to sell his books.
It has always been very hard for me to accept such dates. I don't know how he came up with them. Nor can I say that the society's new interpretations of these are much more satisfactory. For instance, today we are taught that the 1,260 days of Rev. 12:6 are 1,270 days from April 13/14, 1919 till Oct 4/5, 1922. (29) This is worse than Rutherford's! The society has improved slightly on the others, now we are told that:
The 42 months of Rev. 11:3 are 1,269 days long (Oct, 4/5, 1914 till March 26/27, 1918) this is 8 days closer than Rutherford was, but it is still 9 too many, and Jehovah is more accurate than that. (30)
The 2,300 days of Dan. 8:14 are 2,321 days long (from June 1 or 15, 1938 till Oct. 8 or 22, 1944) this is 2 weeks closer than Rutherford was, but it is still 3 weeks off. Jehovah is not that sloppy of a timekeeper, therefore I cannot believe these dates were fulfillment of His prophecy. (31)
The 1,335 days of Dan, 12:12 are 1,353 days long (from the first half of Sept. 1922 till May 25,1926) this is 3 days closer than Rutherford, but it is still 18 days too many. (32)
The other times of Daniel seem to be ambiguous from the 1970 Watchtower pages 686-689. It seems to confound the 1,260 and the 1,290 days. The article is very confusing. I think perhaps its purpose was to show that these time periods are very vague and approximate.
Brothers, there is a solution to this confusion. There is an accurate interpretation of these times which fits world history (not just a convention in Ohio, but world shaking events) and the time periods perfectly. The society taught this interpretation for over 50 years till Rutherford changed it for his own. Russell's interpretation took "a day for a year". Was that proper? According to what the society wrote as recently as 1963 it was proper:
"But in a symbolic or prophetic year, the number of days is fixed at the unchanging number of 360, and each day thereof stands for a whole year, "A day for a year, a day for a year."-Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6...Accordingly, a symbolic or prophetic "time" would Scripturally equal 360 years…three and a half "times" amounted to 1,260 symbolic days, that is to say, 1,260 gears." (33)
In agreement with that, Russell taught that the 3 ½ times of Dan. ran from 539 CE when all was subjected to papal authority, till 1799 when the office of the pope was publicly humiliated before the world by Napoleon.
The 1,290 "days" were 30 years longer than the 1,260, and so ended 30 years latter, namely, in 1829 when ‘the ones having insight began to understand the prophecy of Daniel' (such as W. Miller who started the Second Adventists in this year with this same understanding of the 3 ½ times.)
The 1,335 "days" extended to 1874 when Bible students understood the presence of the Lord to have begun for the purpose of a forty year "harvest" (paralleling the Jew's harvest of forty years from its beginning till the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE) which would run till 1914, the end of the Gentile times.
The 1,260 days of Rev. 11:3 and 12:6,14 both ran from 539 CE till 1799 (the same period as the 3 ½ times of Daniel). During this time God's two witnesses; the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures were prophesying in sackcloth; the Latin tongue, and kept from the people.
Russell can defend these prophecies much better than I can, and I encourage you to read his Studies in the Scriptures, because he had a much better "system of theology" that the society presents today. The society has, in recent years, rejected some of Rutherford’s "light" and gone back to Russell's teachings on some matters. I think this to be an excellent trend, and the society should continue and greatly expand this method. Because, in the main, the society has a "system of theology" which overlooks the most prominent features of Scripture teachings, namely, love and justice. I make this statement because the society teaches that; only Jehovah's Witnesses will survive into the millennium. (11). Whereas the Scriptures teach that God's love has provided the gift of a ransom for all. What does this mean? It does not mean that everyone will live forever, or that nothing is required on our part to live forever. It does mean that everyone is ransomed from Adamic condemnation:
"For just as in Adam all are dying so also in the Christ all will be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22)
I have always used the expression "just as" in John 17:21 to mean "in exactly the same way", being consistent I use the same phrase "just as" in the above verse to mean "in exactly the same way". How do we all die in Adam? Is it our choice to do so? No, we are born into Adamic death, it is a result of what the "first Adam" did before we were born.
The results of what –the "second Adam" did apply to us in exactly the same way; it relieves us of the death we had from that "first Adam". What we do has no effect in the matter, everyone is now ransomed from Adamic death, we only await Jehovah's due time to apply this to us practically, in the millennium.
Everyone, therefore, must make it into the millennium to have the results of the ransom applied to them fully. There they will not die for Adam's sin (and their consequent imperfection, i.e. sin) but for their own:
'"As I am alive,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'it will no more continue to be yours to express this proverbial saying in Israel [namely, "Fathers are the ones that eat the unripe grapes, but it is the teeth of the sons that get set on edge"], Look! All the souls, to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son--to me they belong. The soul that is sinning--it itself will die…and you people will certainly say: 'Why is it that the son does not have to bear anything because of the error of the father?' The soul that is sinning--it itself will die, A son himself will bear nothing for the error of the father…upon his own self the very righteousness of the righteous one will come to be, and upon his own self the very wickedness of a wicked one will come to be.'" (Ez. 1832,4,19,20)
This will be the state of affairs in the millennium. It is not of course the state of affairs now. Now we die because of father Adam's eating "the unripe grape", Over 99% of earth's sin is due to their "teeth being set on edge": their inherited imperfection from Adam. The remaining sin is unforgivable sin, because only sin inherited from Adam has been atoned for. The society therefore holds that everyone who is not a witness will commit the unforgivable sin; the sin against the spirit, before they are destroyed everlastingly at Armageddon, and that this, in fact, is the reason why they will all be destroyed. But is this reasonable? We generally hold that those who are not Witnesses who die now, before Armageddon, will be resurrected into the new order, but if they should live up till the great tribulation they will be destroyed forever with no hope of resurrection. If this is true, then the greatest kindness we could show all those who aren't witnesses is to kill them all before Armageddon so they'll be resurrected! Something is obviously wrong with this reasoning. There are many right hearted people in Christendom who are so deceived and so sure that their church is right, that they will never come out of Babylon the great in this system. As mentioned before, this is due to Satan's blinding their eyes. Will Jehovah destroy them for this, or will he bring them into the new system and there open their eyes? I answer that even my imperfect love for my fellow man is such that I would not have a blind man destroyed forever for not seeing something.
It is true that the majority of people (perhaps all) are in Babylon the great (i.e. false religion), and Babylon is going to be destroyed. But this does not mean that these people are going to be destroyed. Babylon the great is a system, an institution: the world empire of false religion. That is what Babylon is. It is not people. This is manifest by Rev. 18:4 contrasting Babylon with people:
"And he cried with a loud voice, saying: "She has fallen! Babylon the great has fallen…get out of her my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues."
Babylon the great is therefore not people because no one has ever been inside people so that the angel saying, "get out of her" meant "get out of people." It was not people that fell down when Babylon had fallen; it was respect for that institution that fell. Those who remain in that institution will suffer "part" of its plagues. Babylon (false beliefs) will be totally destroyed, but the Scriptures do not say that those who held those beliefs would share that same fate. No, they will receive "part" by bearing much reproach and ridicule from the world in general for having relied on those institutions. It will create some hardships on them when they realize that they put all their belief in something false. They will feel like what Paul expressed: "If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied," (I Cor. 15:19)
I think perhaps the New World Translation has covered up the doctrine of a ransom for all. I refer to such Scriptures as Rom, 5:18:
"So then, as through one trespass the result to men of all sorts was condemnation, likewise also through one act of justification the result to men of all sorts is a declaring of them righteous for life."
Now my question is this: where did those words "of all sorts" come from? I know where the word "all" came from,; it is in the Greek text. But what about the words "of sorts"? It is very important to know their source, because they obviously change the whole meaning of the verse. Without those words "of sorts" we have the doctrine of a ransom for all. But with them, we have an entirely different statement. The words are not to be found in the Greek, therefore they don't belong there, and therefore the verse should read:
"It follows then, that as the issue of one misdeed was condemnation for all men, so the issue of one just act is acquittal and life for all men." (New English Bible)
Christ's death does more than atone for just the sins of Jehovah's Witnesses. It frees all men from sins they've committed due to Adam:
"Jesus Christ is himself the remedy for the defilement of our sins, not our sins only but the sins of all the world." (1 JN 2:2)
"Christ Jesus who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all. Christ Jesus…sacrificed himself to win freedom for all mankind, so providing, at the fitting time, proof of the Divine purpose." (1 Tim, 2:5,6 NW, NEB)
Yes, the Divine purpose, or "plan" (see Eph. 7:11 Diaglott) of the ages is to bless all on earth by means of Christ Jesus (Gen. 22:18). It therefore bothers me, brothers, when I an told that all Christians will rejoice at the mass destruction of all who did not respond to us or our message. I would not rejoice at such an event. I love them all and would hate to see them destroyed just for not joining our organization. It disturbs me so much that it has completely hindered my growth in love and Christ-like character. It disturbs me so much that I cannot go out in service knowing that this is part of our message. I think this is what is the matter in the congregations; I am not unique in my feelings. Now if a doctrine about God's purposes causes such a reaction-—namely a suffering of love in the congregations--what can we conclude about such a doctrine? The truth moves one to love. The truth presents God as all just and all love, and this moves His worshipers to become like him. But a God who is presented as destroying all but his worshipers in this system, causes those imitating this concept of God to become hardened. I have felt both sides of this. When I believed that everyone who wasn't a Witness was going to be destroyed, I came to loath worldly people and privately ridicule all who weren't in the organization (like-most witnesses do). But when I realized I was no better than them, and in fact, the majority were better than me, then I began thinking soberly. I became so unhappy at this thought of them being destroyed that I came to desire death; I just didn't want to live anymore if that was the situation.
But on the other side of the issue now, I feel love. Even riding the subway and seeing people of all sorts who are in the world, I sometimes just sit there and glow within myself to know that Jehovah loves them all and understands, and will soon give them the answer to all their problems in the millennium. I already feel that superlative quality of love. Yes, Love brothers, LOVE! It's wrapped up in and inseparable from the "ransom for ALL"! Now I see why I always found myself turning to Russell's writings to learn about love. The society today could teach me all about the Greek words for "love", but it took someone who had the "ransom for all" type of love in his heart to teach me the real lesson of love. This lesson: "love is greater than knowledge," is one all in the organization need to learn in order for many to see us as Christ's disciples. We need to learn this, not in theory, not in definitions of words, but in principle and practice. We need to see the society offer apologies for wrong teachings of the past and misrepresentations of others. We need to see more especially the re-adoption of the ransom for all.
Now some may object that Rev. 7:9-14 proves that only worshipers of Jehovah will survive the tribulation. But it doesn't actually say that, nor does the society actually interpret it in that way. The society has taught, to my mind, that there will be survivors of the tribulation who will be destroyed latter in Armageddon, So even looking at it in that way shows that the great crowd will not be the only ones who will survive the tribulation. Looking closer we find that not only doesn't it say that they will be the only survivors, it also doesn't say when it is that they acknowledge Jehovah and Jesus as their saviors. Logically, though, this would be after the tribulation, and even after Armageddon. At that time all the world will know that it was Jehovah who brought on Armageddon, and so they will all be able to ascribe salvation to him and his son at this time. I tend to favor Russell's interpretation of the great crowd as being survivors who will serve God day and night in heaven. The verses here don't really say one way or the other. I do feel, however, that the Bible seems to indicate a secondary spiritual class in Psalm 45:14,15 entering into the palace of the king (heaven) along with the Lamb’s wife or bride. Also, it is indicated to my mind in 2 Tim. 2:20-22 as the wood and earthenware vessels; and as the one's having their works burned up, but being saved in I Cor. 3:10-15. I think they are the ones invited to the Lamb's marriage in Rev, 19:9. And I think that the "great crowd in heaven" mentioned in Rev. 19:1 is perhaps a case of the Bible interpreting itself. I also think that since the great crowd are pictured as serving in the temple, they were pre-figured by the Levites who served in that temple which represented heaven (Heb. 9:23,24) and who had no inheritance in the land (Joshua 14:4; 18:7).
In either case, I can see that both sides of the issue have certain advantages. Therefore I would never be dogmatic and say that anyone who didn't see it my way would be destroyed by Jehovah as an "evil slave". I refuse to call those who left the society by that name because:
- It would seem as if I, instead of Jehovah, were judging them.
- The spirit which accompanies such a remark is usually un-Christian and against the principle of "love and pray for your enemy".
- They generally hold to the "ransom for all" which the society rejected for its "channel doctrine".
- The society has misrepresented them. On this last point allow me to elaborate slightly:
The society presents the story that P.S.L. Johnson came to the ridiculous conclusion that the mantle of Pastor Russell fell upon him just as Elijah's cloak (official garment) fell upon Elisha 2 Kings 2:11-14. (34)
There appears to be no truth to this statement. I have at hand a book called "Elijah and Elisha" dated 1938 but probably written earlier, by P.S.L. Johnson. He gives a complex and interesting antitype of Elijah which starts in 539 CE. He states:
"All of us accept the Scriptural thought expounded by [Russell] in re the typical character of Elijah to the effect that he types the Christ class…we will present a number of reasons against the thought that antitypical Elijah first put in his appearance in 1874…Spirit-begotten ones who allowed these or other conditions to demonstrate them to lack zeal…demonstrated that they were not of Elijah built of Elisha…the Elisha class represents the majority, and the Elijah the minority, of the truth people." (35)
Further, P.S.L. Johnson wrote: "We and the movement with which we are connected never have opposed the Societyites' real mission--its privilege to reprove the world for sin…the kingdom testimony. We believe they got this as their special service in 1917 at the time the mantle went over from antitypical Elijah to antitypical Elisha. In so far as they do this work we pray for them in that work. We have never before the public criticized the many false teachings with which J.F.R. has more or less vitiated that work, our purpose for such a course being our desire not in the least to injure with the public the influence of the Society friends in their ministry to the public." (36)
In 1918 a letter was printed in the Watchtower which proves that from that time Johnson taught that the society, not he himself, was Elisha. (37)
In addition to that I have a letter here from R. Jolly, the successor of Johnson as president of Layman's Home Missionary Movement, he says:
"We do not believe that Bro. Paul S.L. Johnson was prefigured by Elisha, and neither Bro. Johnson nor we have ever taught this. (38)
What is this but out and out misrepresentation by the society? It certainly doesn't accord well with the Bible's admonition not to bear false testimony against any man. This is just another sad result of putting knowledge ahead of love, observing the intricacies of the law, but disregarding the weightier matters, of straining the gnat but swallowing the camel.
Brothers, I trust you will do something to rectify these matters. I hope you will use these criticisms constructively so that those in the congregations can experience real love and joy through a better relationship with the organization (a free relationship, not a slave relationship), and by being taught about the marvelous ransom for all.
(1) Pastor Russell's Sermons p. 755
(2) WT 1896 p. 47
(3) Divine Plan of the Ages p. 13
(4) WT Reprints pp. 2673, 2845, 458
(5) WT Reprints p. 295
(6) The New Creation p. 78
(7) WT 1923 pp. 259-263
(8) WT 1936 p. 182 par. 18
(9) WT 1935 p. 95
(10) WT 1972 p. 197
(11) New Heavens and a New Earth p. 363
(12) WT 1931 pp. 47, 63, 111, 190, 191; Light p. 19
(13) WT 1952 p. 80
(14) The New Era Enterprise March 23, 1920
(15) WT 1916 p.281
(16) What Pastor Russell Said p. 418, see also 412
(17) WT reprints p. 5858
(18) Millions Now Living May Never Die pp. 89, 90, 97
(19) WT 1922 p. 147; see also GA 1921 pp. 367, 381
(20) WT 1925 p. 259
(21) 1975 Yearbook p. 146
(22) Paradise Restored to Mankind--by Theocracy! P. 353-354
(23) Awake! Oct. 8, 1968 p. 23
(24) WT 1926 pp. 131-136
(25) WT 1930 pp. 227-233, 243-248
(26) Salvation p. 311; The New World p. 104; GA 1930 pp. 405-407
(27) 1975 Yearbook p. 194
(28) WT 1922 p. 150
(29) Then is Finished the Mystery of God p. 316; Paradise restored to mankind by Theocracy! p. 379
(30) Then is Finished The Mystery of God p. 332
(31) 1975 Yearbook p. 247; WT 1971 p. 711-738
(32) Your Will be Done on Earth p. 371
(33) Babylon the Great Has Fallen--God's Kingdom Rules! p. 179
(34) 1975 Yearbook p. 89
(35) ibid 7, 45, 75, 79
(36) Merariism p.509
(37) WT 1918 p. 30
(38) Private letter from Raymond Jolly dated Dec. 8, 1976