DID YOU KNOW?
The policy set by Pastor Russell concerning disfellowship procedure wasn't changed until 1944?
What was disfellowship policy?
Russell had recommended in a 1904 publication that each separate congregation (remember there was no ORGANIZATION back then!) form a committee to investigate a congregant's serious errors or sins and then have the ENTIRE congregation VOTE whether "to withdraw from them its fellowship."
The Watchtower, May 15, 1944 removed the power of VOTE from every member separately and placed it in the hands of a special "judicial" committee with secret proceedings.
The New Creation, Watch Tower, 1904, pages 289-290, "The administration of discipline is not the function of the elders only,
but of the entire [congregation]
. ... Thus it is evident that the Elders were in no sense to be judges of the members—hearing and judgment were left to the [congregation]."
Judge Rutherford, as abrasive a man as he was, maintained the right of ALL members to dare criticize and expose errors of their religion without being punished or disfellowshipped!
Watchtower 1930 Oct 1 p.301
“Satan’s organization sails under the high-sounding name of “Christendom”. It boasts of a membership of over 500,000,000 persons. Its members are in
bondage to creeds, customs, rites and ceremonies; they dare not disown these or criticize or expose them. To do so would bring down on their heads
taunts, reproaches, disfellowship and persecution. Many thousands of the Lords people are held in these denominations as prisoners, afraid to express their
disapproval of the creeds, methods and customs of the organization. "
1944: Responsibility take from congregation members to judicial committees filling the roles of judge, jury and prosecutor.
Watchtower 1944 May 15 p.151
As late as 1947 the Watchtower through the Awake! magazine asserted that excommunication was unscriptural and a pagan practice!
Within the next two years (1952-1954) dramatic changes in teaching overtook the Jehovah's Witness organization and shook it up!
Nathan Knorr and Fred Franz needed a pretext for undermining Jesus' clear teaching about the democratic treatment of a member caught in sin.
First, they weakened the text as a Prooftext for any critics: Watchtower 1952 Mar 1 p.147
“There is one more scripture quite pertinent here, at Matthew 18:15-17. … This scripture here has nothing to do with disfellowshiping on a congregational basis. When it says go to the congregation, it means go to the elders or the mature ones in the congregation and discuss your own private difficulties. This scripture has to do with merely a personal disfellowshiping.”
No argument for this was presented. It was direct fiat!
Matthew 18:17: If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the congregation; and if he refuses to listen even to the congregation, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector.
The New Disfellowship policy was given real fangs and claws!
Watchtower 1952 Mar 1 pp.131,134
"We might wonder, then, since this congregation which God is developing or bringing into existence is based on love, why anyone should ever want to talk about disfellowshipping or putting people out of this congregation. There certainly must be some reason. Well, the reason for disfellowshipping is that some persons get into this congregation of God that do not love Christ. Those who are acquainted with the situation in the congregation should never say Hello or Goodbye to him. He is not welcome in our midst, we avoid him. Such an individual has no place in the clean organization or congregation of God. He should go back to the wicked group that he once came from and die with that wicked group with Satans organization. "
Did you carefully read (in bold black letters) the reason given? Keep that uppermost in your mind when you look at what happened next!
Next, in 1954, they declared that Jesus would no longer be considered a person to be worshipped by Christians!
The New World Translation translating proskyne′o as "do obeisance to" rather than "worship" became the source of their demotion.
1904-1944 Each Christian congregation handled problems democratically by vote.
1944-1952 Committees of elders (overseers) formed as a judicial instrument in private to deal with problems of sin.
1952-1955 For the first time, actual excommunication (disfellowship) was to be practiced as a definite procedure.
1955: For the first time, simple association with a DF'd person was to be viewed as WITCHCRAFT!
Watchtower 1955 October 1 p.607
"If a publisher refuses to do this and ignores the prohibition on associating with the disfellowshipped one, that publisher is rebelling against the congregation of Jehovah, and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim."
1961: Acceptance of blood transfusion deemed a disfellowshipping offence. Watchtower, January 15, 1961, page 63
1967: Organ transplants are to be viewed as cannibalism!
1973: Tobacco use is banned as a disfellowshipping offense.
1974-1981 A sudden relaxing of the rules is adopted toward mitigation if possible before disfellowship is carried out.
1981: "Disfellowshiping — How to View It", The Watchtower, September 15, 1981, page 23,
"One who has been a true Christian might renounce the way of the truth, stating that he no longer considers himself to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or wants to be known as one. When this rare event occurs, the person is renouncing his standing as a Christian, deliberately disassociating himself from the congregation ... Persons who make themselves 'not of our sort' by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshiped for wrongdoing."
1982: Anyone who has written a letter of resignation should be shunned as if he had been 'disfellowshipped', or expelled!
John Dart, "Defectors Feel Witnsses' Wrath", Los Angeles Times, January 30, 1982, Part II, page 4,
"The Sept. 15 Watchtower magazine told members that anyone who has written a letter of resignation should be shunned as if he had been 'disfellowshipped', or expelled ... 'This is a hardening, a tightening, of our policy,' confirmed William Van De Wall, a headquarters spokesman for the Watchtower Society. Denying any great membership losses, Van De Wall said the new directive was to counteract 'disgruntled' ex-members."
Note: 1983 Crisis of Conscience by Ray Franz was published!