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The Four Presidents of the Watch Tower Society
[The following are the first four pages of introduction to the above-named book]
THE CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS BOOK AND ITS PRODUCTION
The editor (Edmond C. Gruss) was raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses for ten years, from age seven to seventeen. In 1950 he left the movement through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ-accepting him as his all-sufficient Savior. After graduating from college, and completing further studies, he spent 36 years teaching at a Christian college, most of these as the chairman of the history department. He has also written five books and several articles on the Jehovah's Witnesses, and a number of other books and articles on the cults and the occult.
The editor was contacted by the anonymous author who for health reasons was unable to finish the study. He was told that he was at liberty to edit, rearrange and add to the manuscript as he saw fit. As a result, revisions were made, and much new material and extensive documentation were added.
The anonymous writer, identified as author, was a third-generation Jehovah's Witness and a member for forty years. He served in the administrative offices at world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York and was personally acquainted with N.H. Knorr, F.W. Franz, Milton Henschel, Hayden Covington, A.H. Macmillan and many members of the Governing Body and other old-time officials of the Society. On his leaving Bethel headquarters some years ago, he was offered a position as district overseer. Disillusioned by what he had learned of the history of the Watch Tower Society, and what he had seen at headquarters, he declined the appointment.
This book contains statements and observations by three confidential "Informants." Informant #1 was associated with the Watch Tower Society for fifty years, part of this time at the Brooklyn world headquarters. Informant #2 was in the organization for forty years, and Informant #3 remained for thirty years. Their statements have been edited, and with their permission rewritten for clarity and subject continuity.
As already stated, the author and three anonymous Informants quoted in this book were long-time former members of the Watch Tower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses). None of them were disfellowshipped. To give their names could invite a malice unheard of in the Christian community upon these men, their families, their friends and relatives.
The fact that such a reaction could occur should give cause for concern and thought to any rational member. Why? Why should friends of twenty, thirty, or forty years and longer, be treated as the worst of enemies?
The Watch Tower Society does not usually permit anyone to leave in peace. The standard reaction is, leave the organization and they will hate you, and direct the membership to do the same. Among the author's friends were many former members who could confirm this because they observed it, or it happened to them. One might ask, "How can the Society do this and still communicate to its membership that it is a Christian organization?" The answer: rationality, perception and independent thought are seldom found within the ranks of the Watch Tower membership. Fear prevents members from freely exercising their God-given faculties and they soon develop a prepared and programmed attitude of subservience, where the only thinking permitted is that already done for them by the Brooklyn leadership.
A separate book could be written about the unkind and even cruel treatment experienced by good-hearted members, often the best of persons, who left of their own volition, and the burning hatred expressed against them (some examples are presented in this book). The vilification directed at them is fueled by Watch Tower leadership, circuit and district overseers, and by the men appointed as elders in the local congregation. The membership has nothing to say in the matter. They will obey or suffer the consequences.
Thus it is not difficult to find friends of many years not permitted to talk to each other, and husbands and wives unable to discuss their spiritual welfare (or that of their children), or to experience the joy of discussing Scripture or praying together. Young people, friends for life, must be shunned, and grandparents must be deprived of all association with their children or grandchildren.
Such is the methodology of the Watch Tower Society, whose members serve in fear of saying or doing anything without first thinking, "Will the leadership approve?"
In order to deprive the Watch Tower leadership of their passion for character assassination and the ruining of lives, the three Informants and author chose to remain anonymous.
It is not the intent of this brief treatment on the profiles of the four presidents of the Watch Tower Society to present a comprehensive view of their considerable accomplishments in the building of an organization and in the publishing and distribution of literature. Instead, the focus, especially in the first three chapters, is on their character, personalities, and claims. Were they men of integrity and candor? What kind of an organization did they create?
Because these four men created, developed, and drafted essentially all Scriptural doctrine and requirements for the Watch Tower movement, l it is imperative to ask several probing questions: (1) Did their personal lives demonstrate a humble Christian spirit as reflected by the teachings of Jesus? (2) Was their motivation a Christian one? (3) Was the love of God, of his Son, and of the membership reflected in the decisions these men made in administering the affairs of the Watch Tower Society, and the formation of doctrine? (4) Was the way these men viewed themselves and the organization they headed compatible with the Bible and Biblical principles? (5) Was the "good news" (Gospel) propagated during their administrations the same as that proclaimed by the New Testament Church?
All men are imperfect, subject to error, miscalculation and sin. But when certain individuals claim a special privileged relationship with God, representing him to the extent of being his "mouthpiece," and as directing "the one approved channel representing God's kingdom on earth," their lives must be examined far more closely, to determine whether their personal lives merit the elevated claims.
Chapter 4 documents that the Watch Tower Society became a "personality cult" under Charles T. Russell. With Rutherford's leadership the emphasis on the individual was replaced by a focus on Joseph F. Rutherford's authoritarian "theocratic" organization-over which he reigned supreme. This organizational focus was passed on to presidents Nathan H. Knorr and Frederick W. Franz, where it was further enhanced. And as ex-Governing Body member Raymond Franz so accurately states, there was "wholesale transferal of scriptural statements made about God and Christ to the `visible organization'-the "diversion of faith to a human system"-which if true, requires its identification as a "modern version of idolatry," a cult, or a pseudo-Christian religion.
Chapter 5 reviews some of the restrictions, rules, and edicts imposed by the organization on its subservient membership. Some of these requirements are minor, but others are of major significance, relating to one's physical or even eternal life. Are these rules, restrictions or edicts always Biblically based, or do they often reflect decisions by Society leadership based on policy or on expediency? Do some Governing Body decisions clearly reflect a double standard?
Chapter 6 investigates whether the attitudes and actions of past Watch Tower leadership have been characterized by the two commandments articulated in Scripture: love for God and love for neighbor. What has been the Society's attitude toward "enemies" (in some cases those who were wrongly disfellowshipped)? What was Rutherford's primary focus Biblically and what motivated many of his actions?
Chapter 7 looks behind the "New World Society" facade and presents some examples of what is not reported to the membership. What happened to specific people (some after long, sacrificial and distinguished service in the Watch Tower Society), and to many others who are "silent lambs" or who remain nameless?
Chapter 8 examines the crucial claim of the Watch Tower Society leadership that it functions as God's sole channel on the basis of its selection by Jesus Christ in 1919. What did Jesus find as he viewed this group? Was it dispensing the proper food at the proper time (stated as the requirement for such selection)? What must be concluded?
Chapter 9 asks the question concerning the four Watch Tower Society presidents: who were these men? What techniques are used by authoritarian leaders and groups to influence, manipulate and control followers, and were (and are) these same techniques used by Watch Tower Society presidents and other leaders? How does this compare with true Christianity? The chapter ends with some concluding questions.
Appendix A provides a brief review of some of the many erroneous statements and false prophecies published in Watch Tower Society publications since its inception.
Appendix B reviews eighteen doctrines listed in Chapter 8 that were taught as true in 1919 and that were rejected as false in later publications.
Appendix C documents and presents a summary of the Mystery doctrine instituted by Charles Russell and still believed and taught in some particulars.
Appendix D reproduces Olin Moyle's letter of resignation as Watch Tower Society attorney and a subsequent letter to Judge Rutherford. These letters provide insights into Rutherford's character and the organization he headed. One additional letter addresses Moyle's local Milwaukee congregation as he presents his side of the story.
Appendix E explains the meaning of the term "brainlock" coined by the author and the Informants to identify what they observed as Jehovah's Witnesses and after leaving the organization. This appendix examines the characteristics of this mental state that makes it difficult for Jehovah's Witnesses to leave the movement. Suggestions are given to help the brainlocked individual to freedom.
The Selected Bibliography presents a number of helpful works for further study reflecting a broad spectrum of available publications. The Sources of Information are organizations that specialize in research, publishing and distributing material on the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses).