Thursday, July 3, 2008

Watchtower History Lesson

Let's pause a moment and consider the actual history of the Watchtower Society.
Until his death, Pastor C.T.Russell was the driving force behind the publication of the Watchtower. Russell controlled it and made provisions in his will for what would happen to the Watchtower in the event of his death. Russell's writings, theology, teachings, predictions and intentions were attractive to those who joined his Bible Students movement.
Fred Franz signed on as a baptised adherent of Russellism in 1913 because he was strongly attracted and persuaded by Russell's message.
Franz knew Russell for three years until the Pastor's death in 1916.
Franz was ambitious to become a Presbyterian minister. Russell had been reared in a Scottish Presbyterian household. Both Franz and Russell were attracted to logical arguments which deconstructed scripture into current event urgency for the impending fulfillment of prophetic apocalyptic ends.
Pyramidology, Dispensational charts and Gentile Times explanations appealed to both men in a strong and lasting way. There was a naive superstitious gullibility in their psychology. Russell laid out every piece of the jigsaw puzzle in his Studies in the Scriptures and planned to open up Revelation in the final volume. Fred Franz had studied New Testament Greek in college--but--due to Russell's prophetic predictions about the urgency of 1914--Franz dropped out of college and became a Full Time Pioneer.
This is noteworthy for two reasons.
Franz had been nominated as an outstanding student for a Rhodes Scholarship. Had Franz remained in college, this prestigious scholarship might well have been awarded to him. Yet, ambitious as he was, Franz's True Believer psychology drove him to warn as many people as he could in the colporteur (Pioneer) work that Armageddon was about to occur. (According to Russell's theology.)
Further, the uncanny excitement of being on the cusp of such a revelatory work while assisting the Faithful, Discreet Slave himself must have appealed mightily!
When Pastor Russell suddenly died on a train in Pampas, Texas before the final book was finished (Finished Mystery), it was 2 years past the designated date for Armageddon! 1914 came and went. Now it was 1916. Had Russell made some marginal error? Was there some missing element overlooked? Would the work continue?
Judge Rutherford stepped in and completely violated Pastor Russell's last Will and Testament. Russell expressly mandated that NO FURTHER WRITINGS were to issue from the point of his death under the ageis of the Watchtower. Russell listed who the men would be to succeed him in adminstering his writings and designated their office and duties. Rutherford pulled the rug out from under these men and set himself as the controlling agent.
Within the next 10 years, 78% of the Bible Students would leave never to return or to become (eventually) Rutherford's newly coined Jehovah's Witnesses. The thrust of the new message was mean-spirited, contrarian and insubordinate. It was provocative and brought down considerable backlash on the rank and file from imprisonments to deaths by medical refusal. Franz watch this unfold with approval and keen interest.

2 comments:

grissom6471 said...

Does the history of the Watchtower matter?

We are Jehovah's Witnesses as we follow the Bible.

Warren Lawless said...

That really is a nonsensical question. Of couse our history matters. Ancient Israel kept a very detail account of their history. Where one comes from and their history is important because it actually details their future.