Shunning advocated and taught in 1893 Watchtower. Disfellowship and shun apostates.

by Aussie Oz 10 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Aussie Oz
    Aussie Oz

    I am actually a bit shocked! I mean, i understood that up to 1953 the watchtower was against disfellowshipping and shunning, castigating the Catholic Church for the practice in the 1947 Awake! This really says different. No mixed message here as Russell proclaims the righteousness and neccessity of shunning. He is not talking about those who fall in sins of the flesh, but those who no longer believe the things that he proclaims.

    Does anyone else find this to be new to them?

    It kind of makes the 1947 stance the first hypocritical comment on the practice rather than the 1953 one.

    Watchtower 1893 page 1588

    Article titled ''Unequally yoked''

    The first word-“Wherefore”-calls up the forceful argument preceding, i. e., in view of the fact that it is impossible to serve two masters or to have the spirit of Christ, and still have fellowship with the opponents of Christ; in view of the fact that we must either be true and loyal to him, or else be none of his-“Wherefore, come out from among them [from among the enemies of Christ, whether the avowed or the deceitfully cloaked, who, although professing to be light-bringers and truth-seekers, ‘love darkness better than light. because their hearts are not right; whose conduct shows that they do not love the Lord and the truth, and who only seek to entice the faithful away from the narrow path which God has marked out] ; and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean.”

    To be separate does not mean to be friends and companions, or to be in fellowship on any grounds. It means that we are to make a clean-cut division between ourselves and all the unclean, the impure in heart. as manifested by their disloyalty to the truth, and thereby to God, its great Author: and that this separation is to be so marked that the disfellowshipped one will be sure to know it. and that none can mistake our obedience and loyalty to the lord and his truth. There is to be no trifling or half-way obedience in-this matter: for we are not only to be separate in spirit from the enemies of the Lord, but we are not to touch the unclean. As the Apostle elsewhere says we are to “avoid them”-to have no part or lot with them.

    It is only on these conditions that we have the Lord’s promise-“And i will receive you. and will be a Father unto you; and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” We are thus brought face to face with the alternative of making a definite choice between the Lord and his truth on the one hand, and the enemies of the Lord. whether open or covert, on the other. The command is. “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” There is no neutral ground ; and no half-way compliance can realize the blessed promise- “And I will receive you,” etc.

    It is the spirit of the world. and not the spirit of Christ, which considers such a separation from the ungodly and the apostate a hard service. The loyal heart cannot admit to its communion and fellowship those who have not the same loyal disposition. What would be the natural conclusion of a husband, if he saw his wife. who professed loyalty and devotion to him, making a special friend or companion of his enemy. either secret or open? or of the wife whose husband found pleasure in fellowship and communion with one who is an enemy to her. or who in any way treats her with discourtesy or disrespect ? And should we “not be equally loyal to our heavenly Bridegroom and our heavenly Father? and equally sensitive and quick to discern the opposing spirit which seeks to undermine and destroy the faith and loyal& of God’s elect? Would not true loyalty and devotion count the injury or the blessing done to a friend as done unto us? So the “Lord views the matter when he says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25~401 And so the Psalmist teaches, saying, “Do not I hate them, 0 Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them as mine enemies.”

    Further in the article it is talking about how the world of compromises cannot stand to 'shun' , in contrast : (italics mine in context)


    “Shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”

    So, says the ungodly policy of this evil day of compromises and of disloyalty to “the faith once delivered to the saints.” we cannot walk by this strict rule: we dare not recognize and admit the real character of a wolf in the sheepfold. if the wolf be attired in sheep’s clothing; we must accept his professions, notwithstanding his words and his actions to the contrary. We cannot believe that of our own selves - right in the midst of the company of the consecrated -any will arise to “pervert the truth” and to “draw disciples after them ;” and we dare not “mark” any as such, and “avoid them,” or “shun their profane and vain babblings,” as the Apostle suggests, for it would be uncharitable, unloving.

    Of late we hear a great deal in favor of a broad-minded charity which gives loose rein to the enemies of the doctrines of Christ-a charity which can affiliate with every form of belief or unbelief; that makes no claims of superiority for one religion over another, be it heathen or Christian or anti- Christian

  • pirata

    Wow. Great Find. I had always assumed that the shunning stance was a product of the Rutherford/Knorr era. I didn't realize it started so early on. It is ironic that Russell got his start by rejecting the established "truths" of the churches, privately studying the scriptures in small groups, shared the 'truths' he discovered, and then encouraged shunning of those who do not accept his established truths.

  • JWoods

    The witnesses did not think this shunning up on their own - remember the novel "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne? That was set in early colonial times long before the witnesses ever existed.

  • wannabefree

    I may be wrong, but I believe Russell didn't think a person had to be a follower of his teachings to be a Christian (at least at the time of writing that article). Taking that into consideration, his advocating shunning I believe would be very different than the Watchtower way. I think denying the teaching of Christ would not have meant the same thing to him as someone not accepting his understanding.

  • Ultimate Reality
    Ultimate Reality


    You are correct. 'True Christians', in Russell's view, existed in all churches. Heart unity and faith in Jesus, not the belief in a certain creed (WT or other), made a person a Christian. Disagreement with the WT in his day did not make one an apostate. We do see, however, how his original teachings were morphed into what they are today. Unity of heart and faith in Jesus were replaced by unity of belief (in the WT) and unity of faith (in the WT).

  • pirata

    To whom, then, did Russell refer to in this article as "apostate"?

  • carla

    Jan 8, 1947 wt says df-ing is pagan. I would find the article but short on time. I believe it is titled 'Are you also excommunicated?'

    so is this yet another flip flop? how often have they flip flopped on that?

  • Ultimate Reality
    Ultimate Reality

    The opening and final paragraphs of the above referenced article (which do not appear above) define such ones as those that have known the truth and been blessed by the truth but have turned away from it -- like the dog returning to its vomit. In this context 'the truth' is not the organization as is now taught -- but Biblical truth, and about the ransom in particular.

    The language is very similar to what is used by the Society today. But today the language is all loaded. Russell was referring to Scriptural Apostasy rather than any sort of Organizational Apostasy.

  • pirata

    Thanks Ultimate Reality for the clafification. I'll take a look at the article in entirety.

  • Aussie Oz
    Aussie Oz

    Thanks for the comments

    yes i agree he is likely talking about scriptural apostasy over organizational apostacy. However, it was not to many years before organizational policy became 'scriptural' either. He certainly did set the stage for Rutherford and Knorr to build on the practice, even if unwittingly.

    Remember too that Russell was talking about scriptural matters TAUGHT AS TRUTH BY HIM not just abandoning the bible etc. Here he is demonstrating the same attitude that created the full blown policy of today... WE ARE RIGHT YOU ARE APOSTATE.

    Remember too, that he broke away from Barbour over HIS OWN INTERPRETATION of the Ransom, and 'disfellowshipped' the Day Star magazine over the very same thing around 1884 i think (have to go back to be sure). His attitude was that if you did not see it his way, then you HAVE rejected the scriptures because his veiw on the ransom was pivitol.

    As i trawled through those early WTs i did not expect to find this stand, rather thought i would find the opposite...

    @CARLA... its the 1947 Awake! (i also thought it was a WT too)


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