Disfellowshipping-when did it start?

by target 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • blondie

    Here are some comments from Volume 6 of Studies in the Scriptures, "The New Creation."

    THE NEW CREATION (by Charles Taze Russell) Volume 6 (1904)


    Page 297

    "Warn Them That Are Unruly"

    "We exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men." `1 Thess. 5:14,15`

    Page 300

    It would be a great mistake, however, to suppose that the Apostle, in using this general language to the Church, meant that every individual of the Church was to do such admonishing. To admonish wisely, helpfully, is a very delicate matter indeed, and remarkably few have a talent for it. The election of elders on the part of congregations is understood to signify the election of those of the number possessed of the largest measure of spiritual development, combined with natural qualifications to constitute them the representatives of the congregation, not only in respect to the leading of meetings, etc., but also in respect to keeping order in the meetings and admonishing unruly ones wisely, kindly, firmly. That this is the Apostle's thought is clearly shown in the two preceding verses, in which he says:

    "We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their works' sake. And be at peace amongst yourselves." `1 Thess. 5:12,13`

    Indeed, as we have already seen, the Lord's people are not to judge one another personally; and only the congregation as a whole may exclude one of the number from the fellowship and privileges of the meeting. And this, we have seen, can come only after the various steps of a more private kind have been taken--after

    Page 301

    all efforts to bring about reform have proved unavailing, and the interests of the Church in general are seriously threatened by the wrong course of the offender. But in the text before us the Apostle exhorts that the congregation shall "know"--that is, recognize, look to--those whom they have chosen as their representatives, and expect them to keep guard over the interests of the Church, and to do the admonishing of the unruly, up to the point where matters would be serious enough to bring them before the Church as a court.

    Public Rebukes Rare

    This admonishing, under some circumstances, might need to be done publicly before the congregation as the Apostle suggests to Timothy: "Them that sin [publicly] rebuke before all, that others also may fear." (`1 Tim. 5:20`) Such a public rebuke necessarily implies a public sin of a grievous nature. For any comparatively slight deviation from rules of order the elders, under the law of love, and the Golden Rule, should surely "consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works," and so considering they would know that a word in private would probably be much more helpful to the individual than a public rebuke, which might cut or wound or injure a sensitive nature where such wounding was entirely unnecessary, and where love would have prompted a different course. But even though an Elder should rebuke a grievous sin publicly, it should be done, nevertheless, lovingly, and with a desire that the reproved one might be corrected and helped back, and not with a desire to make him odious and to cast him forth. Nor, indeed, does it come within the Elder's province to rebuke any to the extent of debarring them from the privileges of the congregation. Rebuke to this extent, as we have just seen, can proceed only from the Church as a whole, and that after a full hearing of the case, in which the accused one has full opportunity for either defending himself or amending his ways and being forgiven. The Church, the Ecclesia, the consecrated of the Lord, are, as a whole, his

    Page 302

    representatives, and the Elder is merely the Church's representative --the Church's best conception of the Lord's choice. The Church, therefore, and not the elders, constitute the court of last resort in all such matters; hence, an elder's course is always subject to review or correction by the Church, according to the united judgment of the Lord's will.

    While considering this phase of the subject, we might pause a moment to inquire the extent to which the Church, directly or indirectly, or through its elders, is to exercise this duty of admonishing the disorderly, and of eventually excluding them from the assembly. It is not within the power of the Church to exclude permanently. The brother who, having offended either a brother member or the whole Church body, returns again and says, "I repent of my wrong course, and promise my best endeavors to do right in the future," or the equivalent of this, is to be forgiven-- fully, freely--as heartily as we hope the Lord will forgive the trespasses of all. No one but the Lord has the power or authority to cut off any individual everlastingly--the power to sever a branch from the Vine. We are informed that there is a sin unto death, for which it is useless to pray (`1 John 5:16`); and we are to expect that such a wilful sin as would thus bring the penalty of the Second Death would be so open, so flagrant, as to be readily discerned by those who are in fellowship with the Lord. We are not to judge of any by what is in their hearts, for we cannot read their hearts; but if they commit wilful sin unto death it will surely become manifest outwardly--by their lips, if they are doctrinal transgressions, denying the precious blood of atonement; or by their immoralities, if they have turned to walk after the flesh, "like the sow that is washed, to her wallowing in the mire."

    Page 303

    "If any man obey not our word by this epistle [if he be disorderly, unwilling to submit himself to sound reasoning and loving, generous rules of order] note that man, and have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed; yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (`2 Thess. 3:14,15`) Such a case as this would imply some open, public opposition on the part of the brother to the rules of order laid down by the Apostle, as the Lord's mouthpiece; and such a public opposition to right principles should be rebuked by the congregation, should they decide that the brother is so out of order that he needs admonishing; and if he does not consent to the form of sound words, sent us by our Lord through the Apostle, he should be considered as so out of accord as to make it no longer proper that he should have the fellowship of the brethren until he would consent to these reasonable requirements.[ He should not be passed by on the street unnoticed by the brethren, but be treated courteously. The exclusion should be merely from the privileges of the assembly and from any special brotherly associations, etc., peculiar to the faithful. This is implied also in our Lord's words, "Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Our Lord did not mean that we should do injury to a heathen man or a publican, nor treat either in any manner unkindly; but merely that we should not fellowship such as brethren, nor seek their confidences, nor as New Creatures give them ours. The household of faith is to be cemented and bound together with mutual love and sympathy, and expressions of these in various ways. It is from the lack of these privileges and blessings that the excluded brother is caused to suffer, until he feels that he must reform his ways and return to the family gathering.

  • Jankyn

    Hi, Essie!

    Yeah, it's really me...We moved to CA (new job for my sweetie) and it took me awhile to find this board...but I'm back.


  • RR

    Blondie, this is od course the scriptural view of dfing someone. However, associating with the Bible Students, I can assure you that I have never sen anyone disfellowshipped for doctrinal differences. I do know of a congregation that ousted a member simply because he was unruly and disrupting the meetings insisting he have his way.

    "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."

  • Mulan

    My cousin, Sharon, was df'd for doctrinal differences. Nothing else. She would never have done anything against God or the Bible. She had the strongest conscience of anyone I know, except maybe my youngest son. But, she did disagree with many of their doctrines, and they came after her for it.

    Marilyn (a.k.a. Mulan)

  • blondie

    RR, just commenting on the information. I know that things were different back then. But a form a DF'ing was at least outlined in the publications. I don't know what was practiced in theory. The only JWs I have ever interviewed only go back to the 1920's which was after Rutherford took over. Russell seems to have been a much more gentle personality, less confrontational than Rutherford.

    Is there a fairly accurate history of the Bible Students before 1916 or 1918? Online or in print?

  • ozziepost

    Yoyo old mate,

    I must agree with our learned scribe Eman when he said: "You are almost as predictable as a JW."

    When you say "During the 1st Century, A.D. The apostle Paul, by divine inspiration, wrote about it." it seems you are viewing through eyes that have been "conditioned" by the WTS.

    Please take the time to really think about this and consider:

    Paul did not mention a judicial committee. Nor did he mention organisational procedures for a judicial committee. Nor anywhere did he or any other Bible writer speak about restrictions to be imposed by a judicial committee. Nor did he anywhere write about restrictions on a person being re-instated. "Look into it." as you so aptly put it.

    You'll find that rather than the WTS being Bible-based in its operations it resembles a large corporation and in a spiritual sense it follows in the footsteps of the Pharisees.

    "It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

  • thinker

    The first DF I have found was listed in the zion's WT July 1887.

    "Discipline includes not only the dealing with offenders, but it includes the entire process of education by instruction, exercise, correction and punishment; and in cases where these methods fail and meet with defiant opposition from those who still claim to be members of the church, and associate themselves with it, it includes the cutting off of such members from the church."

    "While it is the duty of the stronger members of the body of Christ to protect the weaker, in every way possible against these baneful influences, it is their duty to bind the offenders and cast them out--in other words, to disfellowship them --to show up their true standing, and thus bind them hand and foot by putting others on their guard, thus restraining their influence upon the church."

    It's signed "Mrs. C.T.R."

    No names are mentioned, but the timing indicates that Russell split with Nelson H. Barbour at this time in WT history over religious differences.

    In 1952, DF was also instituted for other sins.

    old WT's can be found at:


  • RR


    Is there a fairly accurate history of the Bible Students before 1916 or 1918? Online or in print?

    There have been plenty of unpublished manuscripts circulation. The last full length biograpy of Russell was in 1925. There was a committee formed about five years ago to work on a history of the Bible Students, all the rsearch has been done and the writing stage has begun, however, things happen and it's been delayed.

    "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."

Share this