How did Rutherford do it?

by NanaR 21 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • RR

    It's quite simple really. During Russell's leadership, there was emphasis on Jesus, and character development. Transforming oneself into the likeness of Christ, That was of the utmost importance in the early years.

    That is why in the early Watch Towers prior to 1916, you will see many articles on Jesus and overcoming. While Russell taught two salvations, one heavenly and the other earthly. He taught and believed that the Lord is calling and inviting ONLY those individuals who are willing to sacrifice all and follow Jesus with the reward of being co-heirs with Him in heaven.

    There was no stressing to live on earth, the "One Call" was heaven, when the Church was complete, then the mediatorial reign would begin and the rest of humanity would live forever on earth.

    Which is why the Society in Russell's day was very small, they weren't interested in numbers, only in finding those who are receptive to the message.

    When Rutherford took over, he downplayed Jesus, he stated that character devlopement studies were of the devil and that the most important thing was witnessing.

    Of course by then, the majority of Bible Students who were faithful to Russell defected and abandoned the Society to continue the work that Russell started.

    Rutherford replaced Russell's writings with his own, and then replaced his own writings with more of his own writings, He wrote at least three books a year, dozens of booklets a year, and authored ALL Watchtowers articles, along with specialty papers and tracts. This kept those Bible Students who stayed busy, studying his writings and going door to door. The studies were no longer roundtable discussions like they were in Russell's era.

    Thus as time went by, more Bible Students left, leaving pretty much those who came either a few years before Russell's death or mostly those who came after his death.

    In the end, the Judge kept everyone so busy knocking on doors and studying his writings, that Jesus and character development was lost sight of, since Rutherford's message was a message of damnation, join us now or perish, armageddon is coming, babylon has fallen and will be destroyed, millions now living will never die, etc.

    Those who stayed, lost sight of Jesus and his message, they were "ever learning and never coming to an accurate knowledge of the truth." The judge had distance them from their one goal, of being like Jesus, how can you be like Jesus, if you don't even know him??? Bookstudies replaced Bible Studies.

    Many were feeling unworthy of heaven, the Judge turned their "New Creatures" into "salesmen."

    In the early 1920s, the Judge was already toying with the idea of an earthly class, he had various names for them, jonadabs, other sheep, etc. Because of his witness endeavors, the Society has grown to more than 144,000, he had to think of something. So he turned the Great Crowd from a heavenly class as taught by Russell, into an earthly class in 1935, and the masses were relieved. Why? Because as I said, the Judge stripped them of their Christianity, they weren't spiritual.


  • NanaR

    "The first sister who had stood up claiming to be of the anointed said, "Why didn't you stand up with the Great Multitude group?" The second sister replied: "I don't know which group I am." The first sister told her: "If you don't know if you're of the anointed, then you're part of the Great Multitude." So, the second sister stopped partaking at the Memorial"

    This explanation sounds vaguely familiar -- perhaps this was what happened with my grandmother.

    All I know is -- if my grandmother wasn't "worthy" to go to heaven, then nobody is....

    I keep trying to figure out how I, as a reasonably intelligent person, could have swallowed all the conflicting doctrines and timetables and general rubbish virtually whole and without question for so long. It boggles the mind to even think about.

    Thanks cabasilis, NanaR

  • NanaR

    "What would your family and friends think if you started going around saying "I am of the heavenly class?""

    LOL Anitar, they would say I'm an apostate...

    Might be the first thing they would be right about *hah*


  • NanaR
    The "Paradise Earth" hope may have seemed more attainable than "Heaven"

    Very true, Rockhound.


  • NanaR


    Thank you for your very comprehensive answer. The two heavenly classes are even harder for me to understand than the current thinking. Probably that was so for many believers at that time as well.

    the "Jonadab" teaching introduced in 1931 prevented many new members from joining the ranks of the secondary spiritual class, which is where neophytes would have gone previously.

    I don't believe my grandmother would have been a "new member", as I am pretty sure she was baptized before 1918 (she was born in the 1890s, not sure which year, and her father and grandfather were both Bible Students when she was born).

    I need to research the old books more thoroughly. I have been downloading copies lately.

    Thank you so much,


  • NanaR


    Thank you for the quotes. I really don't know whether my grandmother considered herself of the "elect", I do know that she told me that she partook of the emblems at the Memorial for a while before deciding that she actually had an earthly calling.

    So if anybody was taking the emblems on trust but felt a little 'unworthy' or that they were not quite doing their best, they would automatically default to the new all-in-one earth-bound Jonadab/Great Company class and stop partaking.

    By 1935, she had 8 children and was raising them all by herself in rural Arkansas. My grandfather had left to find work and no one heard from him for years (she later took him back and had 2 more children). I don't imagine that she had a lot of time for meetings and preaching. Perhaps that is why she felt "unworthy".

    BTW, my grandfather purportedly had a whole other family while he was "gone". My mother's only brother never became a
    Witness; he pursued a career in the Air Force. While stationed in Virginia, he found his father's name in the phone book and went to the house. Grandpa was living with a redheaded lady and small children. My uncle never spoke to his father again.

    Also, in later years, my grandfather was accused of molesting several of his granddaughters (not including me), but no action was ever taken. My aunt told me about my grandfather's propensities when she saw him sitting way too close to me at a circuit assembly. So I certainly have no problem believing the JW congregations have hidden child molestors.

    He was a JW in good standing when he died. Apparently, his Depression-day exploits predated disfellowshiping. But as far as I know, he NEVER admitted living with the woman in Virginia or molesting his granddaughters.

    Back to my original thought, I just get so angry when I think of how my entire family's history has been manipulated by some old men claiming to represent God.

    Thank you very much for your reply.


  • Justin

    In Crisis of Conscience (First Edition, pages 238-39), Ray Franz relates the experience of Ed Dunlap, who stopped partaking when the Judge made the announcement in 1935 because he had felt that he was a member of the "great multitude" as a secondary heavenly class. Then, when the announcement was made, and the "great multitude" was understood to be earthly, he gave up his heavenly hope. So it may be that others (prior to 1935), after introspection and feeling that they were not making enough progress to be of the "little flock," but still entertaining a heavenly hope, ended up in the great multitude once it had become an earthly class.

    Some may also have really desired to live on the earth, but decided to run for the only prize held out to them prior to 1935.

  • Leolaia

    Rutherford also did everything he could to make "Paradise Earth" a tempting surrogate for eternal communion with Christ. In the controversial "Fill the Earth" articles from 1938, he claimed that if Armageddon is going to be like Noah's Flood, then the "great multitude" would have to repopulate the earth just as Noah's family did. And so there was going to be lots of sex and sex and wonderful food and all these other pleasureable delights that the "great multitude" would get to experience. Also, by making the "great multitude" an earthly class, there would no longer be any room for Russell's teaching that the "great multitude" would sanctify themselves through proving their faith through death in the great tribulation. Instead of interpreting the phrase "coming out of the great tribulation" in Revelation 7 as implying martyrdom (which is closer to the sense of the phrase in the text itself), Rutherford began to interpret the phrase as implying that this is a group of "survivors"...and thus would not have to necessarily fear dying in the tribulation. In fact, the belief that the Jonadabs (as opposed to those spiritually begotten) would be protected from harm had some tragic results; in one case, a group of JWs refused to stop their meeting during an Allied bombing raid and felt that they would be protected from the bomb. The other brothers were shocked to see that, in fact, they were killed in the raid. Others thought that God would stop bullets on their behalf. With the many mob attacks, Nazi persecution, world war, and government interference, the JWs of the late '30s and early '40s believed that the great tribulation was then underway.

  • Leolaia

    Here's an interesting comment from Konrad Franke:

    "At first one thought, that persecution of such kind that will end in death, especially will be for the remnant class. Indeed, in the first years of persecution about 80% were partakers of the emblems -- as far as there was the opportunity for that. But then the Watchtower "His Name" was published [i.e. in March 1934], and brothers from Czechoslovakia and Holland, who were imprisoned later, told us about this article. So there was a change in the number of persons, who took the emblems, then just about 20%" (letter dated 27 August 1963).

    What did that article say? Here is a choice excerpt:

    "The “great multitude” will not survive Armageddon, because they are not of the “church of the firstborn” and are not shown in this type or picture. The Scriptures show that God’s promise is to preserve a remnant, and not a vast multitude. (Joel 2: 32; Isa. 10: 21-23) The “great multitude” are ‘appointed to die’. The Scriptures also show that the Jonadab class will survive Armageddon" (15 March 1934 Watchtower, p. 92).

    So before phasing out the heavenly "great multitude" class, Rutherford claimed that those who belong to that class are "appointed to die". No wonder people stopped taking the emblems and adopted an earthly hope as a Jonadab. Then a year later, after a Memorial had passed, Rutherford switched tables and claimed that the secondary spiritual class "appointed to die" does not exist....the Jonadabs are the "great multitude". And thus in a reversal, Rutherford wrote that "the great multitude will also survive Armageddon, because God’s promise to those who seek meekness and righteousness is that they may be hid in that time" (15 August 1935 Watchtower, p. 247).

  • jwfacts

    Humility may have a part to play. The heavenly class are the ruling kings and priests. Many of those that thought they were originally going to heaven, such as your grandmother may not have felt worthy to be a king.

    When I was in Bethel I used to sit next to a very old meek sister that had stopped taking the emblems after the new teaching, but her husband continued taking them (which must have had an unusual affect on their relationship). She claimed that she had never really felt worthy of going to heaven, so knew she was of the earthly class when the teaching changed.

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