So where oh where did Judge Rutherford come up with JW theology?

by Terry 27 Replies latest jw friends

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Interestingly according to Russell influenced the Sacred Name movement which "... arose in the early 20th century out of the Church of God (Seventh Day) movement." I had thought that maybe Rutherford got the idea of stressing the name Jehovah from them, but it now looks like they got the idea of stressing some form of the name Yahweh/YHWH as a result of Rutherford stressing the name Jehovah. The article says the following. "The Sacred Name Movement (SNM) refers to the movement within Adventism which, prompted by Joseph Franklin Rutherford, were concerned with the Hebrew name of God, a concern that led the Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society to the adoption of the name Jehovah's Witnesses.[1]"

  • Phizzy

    Thanks for this Info. Terry, I rarely interest myself much these days in J.W history stuff, I thought I knew it all !

    But you have drawn attention to where Rutherford may have stolen his ideas from. Russell was an unreformed Plagiarizer, with few truly unique ideas of his own, it seems Rutherford learned the technique from his predecessor !

    If only there was proof positive of direct plagiarising, it would blow out of the water the concept that the Holy Spirit whispered stuff in their ears at ANY time !

  • Terry

    If you count up all the writing done in the first 100 years of this religion, then pause and consider
    how WRONG it all was (by current standards), it's FLABBERGASTING HOW MANY PEOPLE WASTED
    THEIR TIME thinking it was "Truth".
    Sure - they counted their hours - but their hours didn't count.

    They, in effect, are like crooks passing counterfeit money. It looks real but there is nothing to back it up.
    Chasing their - (not tail) but TALE around in circles and coughing up changes right and left but
    thinking of it as PROGRESS is flat-out stupid.

  • dropoffyourkeylee

    The referenced Wikipedia article from a previous post in this thread, the referenced Wikipedia article at:

    contains quite a number of highly debatable and unverified statements.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Hi dropoffyourkeylee. I do think that the article at makes some very questionable statements. For example, the quote of "The Sacred Name Movement (SNM) ... prompted by Joseph Franklin Rutherford, were concerned with the Hebrew name of God, a concern that led the Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society to the adoption of the name Jehovah's Witnesses, seems very problematic to me. Rutherford in regards to the name of the biblical God of the Hebrew Scriptures did not emphasize the name YHWH (Yahweh) in its Hebrew form, nor in the form which scholars say is most likely the most accurate form for the English language, namely Yahweh. Instead Rutherford emphasized the common English rendering of it (as used in the KJV and ASV Bibles) of "Jehovah". Furthermore, the main reason why the WT chose the name "Jehovah's witnesses" (later "Jehovah's Witnesses) was because Rutherford (and maybe the WT organization) wanted a Bible based name that would stop people from calling the religion by various other names, such as International Bible Students (which was simply the name of one the WT's corporations), Russellites, Millennial Dawners, etc. The latter names were demeaning. The name Bible Students was too general, at least for Rutherford since he wanted to distinguish his version of the religion from the other Bible Students groups (the ones which did not accept Rutherford's changes to the teachings of Russell).

    I think Rutherford emphasized the name Jehovah, in order to aid his argument against the Trinity doctrine. It made it easier for him to present Jehovah and Jesus as two separate beings, whereas emphasizing the title of "Lord" would blur that distinction and make it harder to refute the Trinity doctrine. I notice that Rutherford's doctrinal book called The Harp of God: Proof Conclusive that Millions now Living will never Die, from the year 1921 (just a few years after Russell died), uses the name "Jehovah" extensively. It thus seems to me that the WT's strong emphasis on the name "Jehovah" began under Rutherford, by the year 1921 (and possibly by a bit earlier). The name "Jehovah" was also used in Russell's books but I am not aware of any of his books using the name anywhere near as extensively as Rutherford's book from 1921 uses the name.

  • Reasonfirst

    Interesting topic!

    Particularly,Terry's discussion of the likely influence of J.W.Sykes on the development of Rutherford's theology.

    During my years of confinement in the JW's "dark" tower, I never thought of J.F.Rutherford* as an intellectual giant, who had spiritual insights into the mind of an invisible god. I saw him as a 'political organiser,' who could manipulate the existing group and transform into how he saw its fuure (whatever he thought that was). Organisers like Rutherford (and the later Knorr) need someone else to do the intellectual leg-work, and Rutherford found him in the person of F.W.Franz, who had began working at Bethel in 1920 and was promoted by Rutherford (in 1926) be one of the editorial staff engaging in bible research and to be Rutherford's ghost writer for the Watchtower society's publications.

    I'm not going to do it (I'm not aware of any in-depth studies on Franz, and I've other interests), but a close study of the intellectual (religious) influences on Franz would be interesting. Reputedly he had his own locked library in Brooklyn, where he kept books that we ordinary door-to-door book salesmen were told, DO NOT READ.

  • ThomasMore

    Terry, thanks for that excellent ensemble of facts!! Well researched and very much appreciated!!!

  • ThomasMore

    Reasonfirst, Fred Franz did have his own collection that remained in his locked office for years after his death until it was catalogued and boxed away. His vision had failed many years before his death so he had ceased to read them and there is no record of others reading them for him. However, his thinking was clearly influenced by non-JW literature, but never shared with the R&F or with the Writing Dept officially. To get his viewpoints, you would have had to follow him to the sauna he frequeted weekly along with other young Bethelites who viewed him as the oracle of WTC, Socrates.

  • Terry

    Two points I'd like to raise.

    1. J.F. Rutherford was an attorney who put himself through law school with a strenuous will toward an ambition to get off the family farm and make something of himself. The only way his Papa would let him do that was if Joe paid for a farmhand replacement, and this he did. He sold encyclopedias door to door - as did I when I was a teenager. You have to develop a thick skin, smooth persuasive eloquence as well as a love of reading.
    Rutherford was befriended by a boozy Judge who let Joe sub for him now and then. Until then, Joe had become proficient as a court stenographer. Joe's rapid skill at shorthand (if you aren't my age, 76, you won't even know what shorthand is :)

    The choice of Jehovah's WITNESS as a NAME is a legal choice. Sort tastes of "law".
    The strongest testimony as far as a jury is concerned, is testimony by an eyewitness. Secondarily, his Circuit and District judiciary experience is also reflected in the words "Circuit and District" assembly language.

    J.F. Rutherford's alliance with Fred Franz was like Lennon and McCartney writing songs together.
    Franz was NOT a Rhodes scholar but one of his teachers wanted him to "try out" for candidacy.
    Franz was a NERD and obsessive/compulsive. He was like an ox mentally; you set him to a task and he ground away at it and produced plenty of wheat and chaff for you.
    In other words, Rutherford wrote the Theology outline and Franz created the foundation scriptures and zig-zag "reasoning" to achieve the appearance of solid and sound theology.

    2. Every single step taken by Russell and Rutherford demonstrates UNORIGiNALITY of invention, while at the same time demonstrating a GENIUS for self-promotion and -if not plagiarism of others' ideas and crackpot notions - then the cleverness to promote wacky wonky crackpot schemes as beautiful hidden secrets of God himself.
    Russell wasted a (today's equivalent) seven million dollars personal fortune publishing silly crap dressed up like encyclopedic Bible Truth and revealed wisdom. Rutherford drove the WTS to the edge of bankruptcy, even selling off assets while the Board of Directors and himself languished in Federal prison. Lucky bastard that he was, when released from prison on a Writ of Error, he (my opinion) saw it as direct release at the hand of Jehovah, causing him to double down fearlessly (bulletproofed) attacking like a paranoid, his ENEMIES who were everywhere.

    post script

    I asked an A.I. Search Engine to tell me about Fred Franz of the Watchtower Society.
    Here is the result:

    Frederick Franz was never a Rhodes scholar. Jehovah's Witnesses often say that he was because of his impressive knowledge in biblical and historical topics. Despite not having a degree from any institution of learning, Franz was competent at a scholar's level due to his attendance at night school, autodidactic ability, and his position in the Watchtower governing body. However, it is arguable that his intellect was mitigated by predictions such as 1925 and 1975 for "the end of six thousand years of human existence"

    Asked about Rutherford, A.I. gave me this:

    Joseph Franklin Rutherford had a very low level of competency as a judge or attorney. Despite his lack of legal expertise, he was able to manipulate the legal system to gain control of the Watchtower Society and was eventually convicted of treason. His personal character was marred by alcoholism, and his interpretation of the scriptures led to the death of many of his followers in concentration camps.

  • dropoffyourkeylee

    All good comments.

    Concerning the choice of the name Jehovah's witness, I was a bit surprised when reading the Studies in the Scriptures during my wakeup period when I saw the name there - probably the first place in WT literature which specifically used the term. I don't have any copies of the Studies anymore to check, but it was in the third of the series I think. In that volume it said that the Great Pyramid was Jehovah's witness.

Share this