Sunday, December 4, 2016

Bible Students Did Not Become Jehovah's Witnesses

The story as it is often stated is that the Bible Students became Jehovah's Witnesses. And yet, Bible Students will say this is not true, because the majority of the Bible Students did not accept Rutherford's new organization. We have been asked for the evidence that the majority of the Bible Students rejected Rutherford's new organization.
This can be seen by the JWs' own publication entitled "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose." In the latter part of the 1920s, Rutherford stopped printing the reports of how many had attended the memorial service because the figures had suddenly dropped extremely. From 1925 to 1928, there were no reports presented. It was in 1925 that Rutherford began his crackdown on the Bible Students by demonstrating the alleged theocratic authority he had claimed for himself. The rule was, in effect, either you accepted his new gospel, his new teachings, and his new organization and the "theocratic" authority he claimed for himself, or you did not, and if you did not then you must be disfellowshiped. His represetatives began literally going to congregations and determining who and who did not accept Rutherford's claimed "theocratic" authority, and his new dogma. Tens of thousands either willfully withdrew any support from such an authoritarian arrangement, or else they were disfellowshiped by Rutherford's representatives.
The annual memorial participants worldwide that had been reported to the Watch Tower Society in 1925 is given as 90,434; however, the number given as reported for memorial "attendance" for 1928 is 17,380. That is a decrease of over 70,000 from 1925 to 1928. Thus, these figures show that by 1928, the greater majority of the Bible Students movement had rejected Rutherford's new organization and his new doctrine. These numbers are shown in the book, "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose" (Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1959, pages 110, 312–313). Thus, the great increases that came after 1928 were not because the greater number of Bible Students supported Rutherford (as I have seen some JWs claim), but because many new converts from outside the Bible Students movement were accepting Rutherford's message. All those "old-time" Bible Students who did not accept Rutherford's new doctrine were, especially between the years 1925 to 1928, anathematized and generally treated with animosity and indignation. These Bible Students who refused to accept Rutherford's new organization and his new gospel were called by Rutherford "the evil servant" (or, "the wicked and sluggish slave").
Nevertheless, from the standpoint of most Bible Students, Rutherford was using the legal instrument, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, as a means to draw disciples after himself, and was seeking to bring all the congregations into subjection to himself; what was really happening is that Rutherford rejected the main teachings of the Bible Students, rejected the idea of independent congregations, and instituted a new organization with a new gospel, demanding that all accept his new arrangements and his new teachings.
In effect, those of the Bible Students who followed Rutherford left the general Bible Students movement and joined Rutherford in his new organization and his new gospel. There has never been a great number who have appreciated truth. Once the truth was denied by Rutherford and a new gospel was put into effect, such a gospel would be more acceptable in appeal to those whose minds were carnal.
That the Bible Students were actually rejecting Rutherford's new organization can be seen from the words of Morton Edgar, who had been a prominent author amongst the Bible Students while Russell was alive.
The word “organisation” does not occur in the Bible, and its use is apt to mislead. The Scriptural word is “kingdom”; and our Lord distinctly said that “the kingdom of God cometh not with observation”—with outward show—Luke 17:20. Therefore there is no “visible organisation of God on earth,” as is claimed by some to their undoing.
How often Brother Russell warned us against this very thing, and how foolish we shall be if we do not heed his warning. We shall indeed be foolish if we claim that “only through our system or organisation will the heavenly Father accept praise and service”; for this would make it appear necessary for every spirit-begotten child of God to “bow the knee” to the few who have constituted themselves heads of the organisation. The apostle shows that it is only the carnal, fleshly mind that is deceived by such unscriptural claims—1 Cor. 3:1-6, 18-23....
I for one entirely repudiate this talk of “God’s visible organization on earth” during this Gospel Age. It is dangerous talk, and gives rise to all kinds of persecutions and ungodly claims, as anyone who has consecrated reasoning powers can see.... If there was one thing that our dear Brother Russell warned us against, more strongly than any other, it was this very thing. Brother Russell never made any such claim for the “Society” when he was here in the flesh and amongst us, for he knew better. But Judge Rutherford, apparently, does not know enough to keep himself clear of it. In the very first chapter of the first volume of “Studies,” Brother Russell speaks of this “false idea that the nominal church, in its present condition, is the sole agency” for the recovery of the world from sin. -- Published in "Gleanings From Glasgow".
From the above, one should be able to realize that Morton Edgar had not been associated with such an organization, and that he repudiated the organization that Rutherford had created. The same is true for the Bible Students in general.

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