Chapter 11: God's Organization
Arthur wasn't there. All that greeted Ted in the room was the blissfully oblivious Mr. Jandle. Ted had never seen Arthur out of bed before, and he was worried. The worst possibility entered his head: Brother Olson had died and left him to sort out all these difficulties for himself.
Such thoughts being too discouraging to bear immediately, he went to the nurses' station and asked, "What happened to Brother Olson?"
Receiving an odd look from the nurse on duty, he realized his mistake and corrected, "Where's Mister Olson?"
"Let me see," she responded, glancing over a clipboard, "yes, here he is: he's down in room 203 having his dialysis. You can visit him there if you like."
"Maybe I should wait?" He had a squeamish stomach when it came to hospital procedures. He'd be most uncomfortable to watch Arthur undergoing treatment.
"It's not bad," the nurse assured him, divining his thoughts from her long experience, "he's just hooked up to a machine that cleans his blood -- strictly routine for him three times a week. Go on down, he'll be glad of the company."
Encouraged by her manner and smile, Ted took the elevator down to the second floor and found room 203.
"Well, hello brother!" called Arthur. He was hooked up to the softly humming machine by means of small plastic tubes connected to the veins in his left wrist. The tubes were filled with his dark-red blood. Lying flat on his back, he looked wearily up at Ted. "This takes a lot out of me -- no pun intended. I'm glad you're here, but don't expect me to be my usual brilliant self with part of my blood in that machine there."
"Are you all right?" Ted asked.
"Sure, don't be concerned. They've been giving me this treatment for years now. They claim I'd be dead long before this if it weren't for this dialysis machine. It takes over the job my kidneys no longer perform very well: cleaning out the blood. The elders made a big fuss about it at first, seeing as how it has to do with blood. But once they were assured that it's my own same blood (minus impurities) that's going out and coming back in, they were satisfied."
"Yes, I suppose there's nothing wrong with that," Ted agreed.
"But tell me, brother, what is troubling you?"
There was no hiding from this ancient sage one's feelings, Ted thought to himself, and confessed, "Well, Brother Olson, there's a lot of things, and I really don't know where to begin."
"Feel free to ramble, then, and we'll sort it out afterwards, but just get it off your --"
At that moment a very loud buzzing emitted from the dialysis machine, and what looked like some sort of pump-wheel that had been slowly turning inside it continually, suddenly stopped. In a flash two nurses and an intern were surrounding it, fiddling with different controls as Ted stood back in horror at the scene. He was even more frightened when he managed to tear his eyes away from the source of all this confusion to Arthur. His eyes were shut and he looked dead! One of the nurses left to call a technician.
When the technician arrived several minutes later, he got the machine running again in three minutes. The way he said, "There, it should be all right now," combined with the way in which everyone was ignoring Arthur, indicated to Ted that he hadn't died after all. He hadn't wanted to look stupid or disturb them by asking, and so, after they all left, he sat back down apprehensively and waited to see if Arthur would move. "Dear Jehovah, don't let him be dead," he prayed silently.
"Now, where were we?" Arthur asked as he opened his eyes.
"Are you all right?" Ted asked again. "Maybe I should come back another time?"
"Nonsense. Now tell me what's bothering you."
"I don't know exactly what it is;" Ted began, "it's everything, it seems. It started out when I was baptized. The elders made me promise not to tell you about it or they wouldn't bring me along to your talks with them."
"The would-be elders, you mean," Arthur corrected.
"Yes, anyway, now that your meetings with them are done, I guess I can tell you. I feel I was born-again at baptism so I'm one of the anointed 144,000! What do you think of that?" Ted asked nervously.
"It sounds fine to me," Arthur smiled, "If you were, you were, and you know it. Don't let them come between you and God."
"Then you mean I could've been born-again? But haven't all the 144,000 been called already, and now just the great crowd of other sheep are being called?"
"So they say. But who's to say they're right? Don't you trust your own experience over an organization's beliefs which change all the time?"
"You mean you really think I should? I remember that's the same thing you said to Bob and Richard: that they trusted the Society over their own experience and even let it dictate interpretations over their own experiences as far as belonging to the great crowd or the anointed. But if you meant that, how much more did you mean in all those hours of debate? That's another thing that puzzles me, because you said a lot of things that sounded right, but they were against the Truth. So how much of what you said do you believe?"
"That doesn't matter," Arthur replied. "It's up to you to decide from what I said and what they said which you'll believe."
"It used to be easy to choose," Ted lamented, "I just believed everything in the Watchtower publications. But a lot of what you said sounds truer and better. Like the idea of everyone making it into the Millennium and being tried for life there. That makes a lot more sense than what the Society teaches now about everyone being destroyed. But is the Society wrong then?"
"I believe so," Arthur admitted, "but what you believe is for you to decide. Don't let me or the Society dictate your beliefs to you."
"But this is incredible!" Ted cried. "You're one of the remnant and you don't go along with a basic Society doctrine! How can you align yourself with them if you disagree so fundamentally with them? It's all so confusing to me. Nothing is clear-cut anymore."
"Nothing is clear-cut in real life, Ted." Arthur explained. "The Society tries to divide the world into black and white: in the organization and out of it; life and death; true and false; good and evil; sheep and goats. But that's their own make-believe world that has no correspondence with the real one.
"As for aligning myself with the Society," Arthur continued, "I don't think of it that way; rather, I have allowed the Society to join me insofar as they can be helpful to me in preaching and being in association with other Christians. But I don't consider it true for one moment that being inside the Society’s 'ark' means life, and being outside of it means death. That's total nonsense."
"Do you know Phyllis Dorsey -- I mean Phyllis Barton?" Ted asked.
"Yes, I know her."
"She was just disfellowshipped today, and I got publicly reproved. So does that mean anything or not? Because up till now I've thought of anyone being out of the Truth as being out of hope for salvation until they get reinstated."
"It's as serious a matter as you make of it." Arthur said. "The elders make mistakes. And just because she's out of good graces with the elders at the moment doesn't mean she's 'out of the Truth'; she still believes in what she thinks to be the Truth; everyone does."
"But she thinks women's liberation is the Truth."
"And so it is," Arthur replied, to Ted’s surprise. "And she's living up to what she now conceives to be the Truth, just as she's always done. I think that's commendable."
"Then I shouldn't worry about being publicly reproved at all then?"
"That depends on the reason for it."
Ted hung his head in shame, "Self-abuse and sitting next to Cyn at the hall and studying with her alone."
Arthur thought for a moment before responding. He wanted to ascertain just how serious Ted himself thought these matters to be.
"Well, I guess that makes you about the worst sinner that's ever lived!" he smiled, and kindled a like gesture in Ted.
"Have you tried to break the masturbation habit?"
"I've tried without any luck – " Ted admitted, and then corrected himself: "or, I should say 'success.'"
"Yes," Arthur said, "by all means let's worry about saying such words as ‘luck’, and ‘strain the gnat as we swallow the camel’!
"I’ll tell you a little secret: there are two ways to stop masturbation outside of death or coma: the first is castration, and I don't recommend that; the second is marriage, and I'm sure the elders you've talked with have recommended this step already. Why don't you marry Cynthia?"
"We had a fight recently, and I don't know if she'll see me again."
"Well, there's plenty of fish in the ocean, they always say."
"But you were never married, how did you do it?"
"I didn’t. Just how do you imagine I got through all my early years, a man like any other, without touching a woman? You see, that was before the Society decided to begin laying down laws where there were none in the Bible. Masturbation was never discussed, and everyone tolerated it as a necessary evil: the only relief available to a young brother who had foregone marriage in order to serve the Lord. But now, of course, it's a horrendous sin against Jehovah because the Society says it is. And we know they are always right, do we not? Now, is there anything else bothering you?"
"Well, yes. Everything you just said bothers me. If you can deal so loosely with the Society's doctrines, how can you say they have the Truth, and that we are in the right religion?"
"Is that all that's bothering you?"
"No. It also bothers me that the brothers and sisters beat their children mercilessly. Richard scares me the way he mistreats his kids, and he's being made an elder. Is it right to force them into the Truth? Because that's exactly what he's doing, forcing them to conform to Society ways, stifling their own creativeness by filling them up with Watchtowers, beating them over the head with them."
"Well, you have to discipline your children," Arthur reminded him, "there's no getting around that. The Bible quite clearly teaches us to beat our children and bring them up in the way of Jehovah. I think you mistake zeal for mercilessness. I know his oldest daughter ran away that time, and that indicates one of two things: either he didn't discipline her enough, or he over-disciplined her to an unbelievable extent. But since this latter option is unlikely, I believe the former. These children will all thank their parents for caring so much when they grow into young ladies and gentlemen.
"But as for the organization, and being in the right religion, well, I have a lot I could say about that."
"Please do, as this is bothering me more than anything else. Is this really God's organization?" Ted asked.
"That's a decision you'll ultimately make for yourself. But I can tell you all you need to know in order to form an enlightened opinion. First of all, tell me your opinion. What exactly do you make this group out to be?"
"It isn't what it says it is, that's for sure." Ted declared. "But what's worse, it isn't even what it thinks it is. But it is something, and that something is of value and sets it apart, if not above, the rest. I can't define precisely why, but I feel that I've made the right choice in it."
"But now I'll critique it for you." Arthur offered. "There's a lot that has been said unjustly about the organization and its past, but I’ll stick to the facts while presenting the most damaging cases I can remember. Then, if you’ll compare that with all the glowing reports of self back-patting the Society has engaged in, you should get a more balanced view.
"First of all, we'll define our terms as good philosophers always should at the outset. We are trying to determine the validity of such claims on the part of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society that it is directed by a governing body consisting of members of the remnant of the 144,000 which make up the 'faithful and discreet slave' class mentioned in Matthew 24:45; and that it alone has the 'Truth' so that those who are in the organization are 'in the Truth'; and that they are acting as 'God's prophet.'
"So what do we mean by 'faithful and discreet'? The dictionary defines faithful as:
"'full of faith steadfast in action or allegiance: LOYAL: firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty: CONSCIENTIOUS: given with strong assurance: BINDING: true to the facts.'
"As for discreet, we read:
"'having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech.'
"So, if ever we discover the Watchtower to be guilty of broken promises, opposed to the facts, or making bad judgments, it would prove them to be other than the faithful and discreet slave class, you see?"
"And as for the Truth, we’ll use the Society's own definition as found on page 22 of their book Things in Which it is Impossible for God to Lie:
"'Truth does not contradict itself or deny the facts. It does not go contrary to reality, nor is it one thing to one person and another thing, even a contradictory thing, to another person. The one truth applies to all persons, whether they recognize it or not. It does not change because of location or time. The truth is provable by actual fact. The truth endures, persists, because it is genuine, actually existing, in harmony with reality. All this we have to recognize about religion also.'
"It's ironic that such a definition of Truth comes from the people at the Watchtower, for no one else has quite contradicted reality and changed their 'Truth' with time as much as they. It's interesting to note that they do not say their early views were falsehood, but that they were 'truths for their time,' thus straying 180 degrees from their own given definition of what constitutes Truth!
"They tell us that Russell had 'the Truth for his time', but since then 'the light has gotten brighter'. When we ask why no one had discovered these 'truths' but Russell, who was ignorant of the Bible languages and just about everything else necessary to qualify a theologian, we're told that the apostles, too, were 'unlettered and ordinary'. We grant them that, but insist that there were an awful lot of unlettered and ordinary people around before Russell, so why did the Truth have to wait for him? And we are answered that it was not to be revealed until the time of the end, as is stated in Daniel. Well, that's fine, we reply, for even Russell himself agreed with that answer. The only thing is that he began the Watchtower in 1879 -- thirty-five years before the 'time of the end' began according to the 'new truth' on the matter!
Russell had the 'time of the end' beginning in 1799, and Christ's 'invisible presence' in 1874. So this put him well within the time indicated to begin understanding the Truth, with an extra lift from the newly installed Jesus. But we run into this contradiction: if Russell had the Truth, his interpretation of the 'time of the end' beginning in 1799 would've had to have been correct, otherwise he couldn't have understood the Truth yet if it wasn't to be revealed until 1914. But if it didn't begin in 1914, then the Society doesn't have the Truth today. This is just an elaborate way of saying that if what Russell said was different from what the Society says today, one of them must be wrong, and what is wrong is not the Truth. So if the Society says that Russell 'had the truth for his time', they are in effect saying that they do not have the Truth today. If they tell us that Truth changes with time, we'll have to assume that their own definition of Truth, which 'does not change because of location or time,' must also change with time."
Ted, awed at the way Arthur could point out any hidden contradiction and sort it all out into an either/or proposition, almost sighed with relief; the Society didn't have the Truth after all. He was free! "So the Society doesn't have the Truth, then," he said, half-questioningly.
"Have you decided that already?" Arthur exclaimed, "After having examined only one thing briefly on the matter? How shallow is your faith? Where is your loyalty?"
Ted was surprised by the question and angered as he remembered that one never knew how much of what Arthur said he actually believed.
"Don't look so hurt," Arthur said, "I thought you'd answer me that your loyalty is to the Truth, rather than to any organization. You only joined this organization because it claims to have the Truth, didn't you? So if you find that they no longer have it, you're still loyal to the only thing they asked you to be loyal to: the Truth.
"But this first thought isn't really an insurmountable obstacle," Arthur observed, "A Witnesses would just reply that Russell had a close approximation of the Truth, although he can't say for sure where he got it since the time for revealing these things hadn't come yet. Then he'll forget he said this, and the next time he hears about 'the Truth for its time' he'll agree wholeheartedly.
"But we can't allow such slipshod reasoning. We want to know where Russell got his ideas, and since it couldn't have been from heaven, according to the Society's current understanding, it must've been from men. And so it was; Russell himself admitted that the Adventists resurrected his faith in the Bible. Before they did, he had been something of a hell-fire 'screecher' (as he later called others of the same occupation) even going so far as to write warnings of its terrible flames on walls in the hopes of converting passers-by through sheer fright.
But the idea of hell eventually struck him as inconsistent with a God of love, and he accordingly lost all faith in the Bible, till one night he happened upon an Adventist meeting. He sat through it listening to them explain their own interpretation of how hell was not a place of torment at all, but the grave. As this had been his main preoccupation before, and as it had been the stumbling block away from faith in the Bible, he now reaccepted it. He began preaching his 'brand new, never before preached' ideas on how hell was not a place of torment, but the grave.
"It becomes increasingly clear as to where he got his ideas when he also admits that the Adventists looked forward to the years 1873 or 1874 as the return of Christ and the burning of the earth. This was the date he hinged all his other dates, including 1914, upon. An Adventist named N. H. Barbour convinced Russell that Christ would return invisibly at that time, and the 'burning of the world' would be symbolic. He did this by means of Christadelphian ideas as contained in one of their member's books, The Emphatic Diaglott, by Benjamin Wilson. This indicated that Christ was not coming, but was 'present'. They concluded that he was 'present' since 1874 and would continue in this state for a forty-year 'harvest period' until 1914. Then they of the little flock would be whisked away to heaven, and the multitudes of other people would live forever on earth.
"We read something of interest on this in one of the many 'history' books the Society has put out in significantly altered versions over the years. On page 19 of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, it says:
"'That same year 1877, together with Barbour, Russell produced a book called Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption. Nothing like it had ever been published before. It combined for the first time prophecies with the work of restitution.'
"But, truth to tell, R. C. Shimeall had published, just a year before, a book entitled The Second Coming of Christ, which gave the same interpretation of Daniel chapter four as being the times of the gentiles and lasting 2,520 years (pages 170, 171). And way back in 1851, E. B. Elliott had given the same interpretation in his book.
"So, in what was Russell original? Was he original in rejecting the Trinity? No, the Christadelphians and Unitarians were way ahead of him there. Was he original in rejecting the immortality of the soul? No, the Adventists and Christadelphians had rejected that long before. In short, he was original in nothing, and his ideas, as they appeared in his writings and lectures, were not guided by the holy spirit, but were merely the results of combining the most popular aspects of the 'heresies' of his day. Since such guidance really wasn't available until 1914, according to what we say today, then he must have had to rely on himself in order to choose what was good out of each of these religions. Was he qualified to do this? Just what sort of man was he?
"According to Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, page 62, J. F. Rutherford said of him in eulogy:
"'With a strong physique, a fertile brain, and a brave heart, wholly devoted to the Lord, he consecrated all of his power to teach man the great message of Messiah's kingdom and the blessing which it will bring to the world.'
"That makes him sound like some sort of Herculean messiah.
"But notice what Rutherford allowed to be written of him less than a year later in The Finished Mystery, page 57:
"'When he was in his 20's, he was refused the lease of a property because the owner thought he would surely die before the lease expired. For fifty years he suffered constantly with sick headaches, due to a fall he had in his youth, and for twenty-five years had such distressing hemorrhoids that it was impossible for him to rest in the easiest chair.'"
"Wow!" Ted commented, "You make him sound crazy! Migraines are almost always psychosomatic. And then that part about him writing about hell on the walls!"
"But that's your own opinion formed after hearing just exactly what the Watchtower has printed about him." Arthur said. "I'm not making him 'sound' like anything, I’m just relating facts most people are unaware of. But I cautiously suggest some similar interpretations. Psychologists tell us that those who feel the need to preach the most about a certain topic are the ones who need the most convincing themselves. They try to achieve this by getting as many people as possible to agree with them. Once they do, they can say to themselves, it must be true, I explained it to them and they believed me. You see how this would apply to a man who dreaded hell-fire to such an extent that it drove him to irrational actions -- attempting to warn or save everyone so that he, too, might be saved -- and then taking up the idea instead of no hell-fire at all, and preaching this with even more fervent zeal.
"Such a man as I've described, being in physical misery and possible psychological quandary, certainly deserves our sympathy. But does he deserve our implicit trust for all his interpretations? Let's look at a few of those interpretations. Many of them show him have been overly credulous. He believed and espoused phrenology, for one."
"What's that?' Ted asked.
"It's the belief that the shape and size of the head has a direct relationship with mental faculties and character. Started by Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828), it was always known by scientists to be a fraud. But it was all the rage in Russell's time, and he swallowed it whole, having his own head read many times with the results published later by the Watchtower. He also made reference to it in The New Creation, pages 325-327.
"In another book of the Studies in the Scriptures series, he espoused the cause of pyramidology (Thy Kingdom Come, pages 313-376).
As to their history, he taught that the great pyramid was built by none other than Melchizedek, whom he claimed was one of the Hyksos kings (Hyksos meaning, according to Russell, 'shepherd' or 'peaceful' kings). The Hyksos were supposed to have entered Egypt peacefully, and built the pyramid according to God's exact specifications (so as to measure out in 'pyramid inches' the total number of years between major events in Russell's chronology of the end of the gentile times, etc.). That accomplished, Russell claimed, the Hykos kings left Egypt just as peacefully as they had come.
"The problems with his interpretations of history and fact are manifold. In the first place, on page 321 of this book, he agrees with Professor Smyth's date for the building of the pyramid as 2170 BCE. Now, the encyclopedia tells us that the Hyksos kings didn't enter Egypt till around 1720 BCE, 450 years after the pyramids were built. They didn't enter or exit peacefully, and the meaning of their name is not 'shepherd kings,' but 'foreign kings.' We are also told that they left no remarkable buildings.
"But the most detrimental facts of all are the actual measurements of the pyramid passages themselves. At first, Russell wrote in an article in the Watchtower in a common-sense fashion saying that the measurements and corresponding years had been given in his book, and that it was 'impossible to see how any longer measure for the passage could be given'. But then he came out with a new edition of the book in 1907 containing longer measurements for the passages, changing 'the beginning of the time of trouble' from 1874 to 1915, and so on. At the same time, the Watchtower officially endorsed and sold two books on the pyramid written by the Edgar brothers. (They were Watchtower readers who had gone to Egypt to make their own measurements). Their figures were shorter still, and would've resulted in setting the date of the 'time of trouble' back from 1915 to 1846. But no one seemed to bother figuring this out. They just assumed all the figures agreed, and half the time they weren't sure just what they believed the correct date to be.
"It was left to the straight-thinking Rutherford to clear the matter up. Writing in the December 1, 1928 Watchtower, he declared that the pyramid was not built under God's orders at all; it was built under Satan's! Further, he told the faithful that this 'altar in Egypt' they had mistaken for 'the Bible in stone' had actually been a tool of Satan's to mislead the faithful!
"Now how does all this stand up to our definition of Truth as not contradicting itself or denying the facts?" Arthur asked. "How does it stand up to the test of faithfulness when that has been defined as 'true to the facts'? Or how does it accord with the advertisement in the back of the 1953 edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures which proudly told of:
"'The Watchtower An Outstanding Bible Aid… The Watchtower fulfills [the need for a dependable Bible aid]. Since 1879 it has been published regularly for the benefit of sincere students of the Bible. Over that time it has proven itself dependable.'
"But how can we let this get by? How could the Watchtower have been ‘dependable’ since 1879 when it had been extolling a tool of Satan as ‘the Bible in stone’ until 1928?
"But, lest I stray from my subject and maunder on and on, let me say that I am trying to establish the credulity of Russell, and that in addition to believing in phrenology and pyramidology, he was also ready prey to panaceas. Watchtower readers were invited to mail in for a free 'cancer cure,' for instance. (They'd charge 25 cents for it today, no doubt.) In the field of agriculture, in addition to the infamous 'miracle wheat', his readers were invited to buy 'millennial beans', 'wonderful cotton', and so on.
"Now, if Russell was such an easy prey for every novel idea that came along, doesn't it point out what happened when novel religious ideas met up with him? And if he was so patently wrong in the field of history, science, and medicine, was he suddenly right in the field of religion?
"If we ask whether this man regarded his position, his writings, and his followers in a proper and sane light, the affirmative comes only in relation to the latter. As to his own position, contrary to what the Society says today about it, he felt himself the faithful and discreet slave, or as they called it back then, 'that faithful and wise servant whom the Lord appointed over the household of faith.' The Finished Mystery tells us of Russell:
"'He has privately admitted his belief that he was chosen for his great work from before his birth.'
"He also believed himself to be the man dressed in linen with the writer's inkhorn described in Ezekiel chapter nine. One of my favorite anecdotes relates to this. It's from pages 417 and 418 of the same book:
"'The Writer's inkhorn symbolizes that the seventh man's function was to write. God identified him thus: When the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, an open Bible was to be painted on one of the large front windows of the office. A sign painter, not in the Truth, painted the open Bible, and without instruction from anyone, of his own volition, he painted the Bible as open to Ezekiel, chapter 9. The man in linen was the Laodicean servant, the Lord's faithful and wise steward, Pastor Russell. When Pastor Russell saw this, he turned pale. Ezekiel seeing the man in linen, types Pastor Russell thereafter seeing himself to be the anti-type of that man.'
"It's a good thing he didn't happen to paint Revelation 17! But even then Russell would've probably seen an anti-type of himself in the angel relating the vision, rather than the harlot or wild beast. But 'seeing yourself' in innocent signs is a thing we today call paranoia (in which everything has some reference to the insane person, usually bad, but sometimes of a good, even an omnipotent nature)."
"But did Russell himself believe all this?" Ted asked. "I've heard that it was just everyone else in the Society, and that he himself didn't believe he was the faithful and discreet slave. And then after his death the Society said he was, but later Rutherford changed his mind so that now we say he wasn't, but that the remnant are the faithful and discreet slave."
"But he did believe it." Arthur insisted. "Where else do you think people got the idea? It isn't something you'd naturally come up with by yourself one day and say, 'Hey, I think a certain man named Pastor Russell is the faithful and wise servant as well as the man in linen of Ezekiel's vision.' It's just not something that would pop into your head, much less into all the readers of the Watchtower's heads in unison, unless the Watchtower itself (which was written by Russell) suggested it.
"At his hour of death, Russell had Menta Sturgeon, who was a brother traveling with him on his lecture tour by train, wrap him up in a sort of 'Roman toga' with the linen bed sheet. What reason did he have for this strange symbolism? The Watchtower (always dependable, you'll recall) said afterwards that it was his humble way of showing the 'household of faith' that he had been the man dressed in linen of Ezekiel chapter nine.
"The 1975 Yearbook, in its odd way of selective reporting, leaves the entire incident out. So Russell's symbolic act, seemingly so important at the time, has been lost to his modern-day followers (who even refuse to be called his followers or to read anything he wrote).
"But the 1975 Yearbook goes much further than selective reporting; it commits an outright lie on page 88. There the Yearbook supposedly quotes something (it doesn't bother to mention where this all-important 'quote' comes from) that Russell supposedly wrote in 1881 as to the 'faithful and wise servant' being 'a class' rather than an individual. And they leave the reader with the impression that this was the official view:
"'So it was understood that the "servant" God used to dispense spiritual food was a class. With the passing of time, however, the idea adopted by many was that C. T. Russell himself was the "faithful and wise servant."'
"But Russell himself believed this, and the Society officially declared it again and again. Look at The Finished Mystery again:
"'Pastor Russell being the messenger of the Laodicean Church, and occupying the position of the Lord's special servant to give the Household of Faith meat in due season… the earthly creature made prominent above all others is the messenger of the Laodicean Church -- "that wise and faithful servant" of the Lord -- CHARLES TAZE RUSSELL… Pastor Russell, as a member of the great High Priest and as Christ's representative in the world, the sole steward of the "meat in due season"' (pages 4, 5, 483)
"And that Russell himself believed the servant to be one individual, at least from 1897 on, is shown in this quote from The Day of Vengeance, page 613:
"'Our Lord… will make choice of one channel for dispensing the meat in due season, though other channels or "fellow servants" will be used in bringing the food to the "household". But the servant is merely a steward, and liable to be removed at any moment, should he fail to fully acknowledge… the Master. Faithfulness on the part of said steward… will be rewarded by his continuance as steward… But if unfaithful he will be deposed entirely and put into outer darkness, while presumably another would take his place, subject to the same conditions… We may be sure that whoever the Lord may use, as a truth-distributing agent, will be very humble and unassuming, as well as very zealous for the Master's glory; so that he would not think of claiming authorship or ownership of the truth, but would merely dispense it zealously, as his Master's gift, to his Master's 'servants" and "household."'
"Although we set out to prove that Russell had rather an overestimated view of his position and writings (and we certainly have accomplished the former thus far), we've stumbled onto something even more condemning of the Society: they've lied about it! They've lied about their very own history and founder. Is this the act of a faithful and discreet slave dispensing truth?"
"No, it's not," Ted answered, "and it's starting to bother me very much. If this isn't the Truth, why have you wasted your long life in it?"
"Now don't jump the gun on me, Ted," Arthur smiled, "the question was meant to be rhetorical. The time for conclusions hasn't drawn near yet. Don't you recall my method of loading you down with all the adverse evidence, facts, and opinions I'm capable of, and then allowing you, spurred on by these doubts, to find your own answers?"
"But how can I find answers to these things that you're telling me? I can't go back in time 50 or more years and see for myself what really happened. And if all these quotes you give are in print on your bookshelf, as I know they are, what's left but to conclude that it's not the Truth?"
"There are more things to consider here than just whether or not it's intellectually true or false --"
"But it's beginning to all add up," Ted responded in anguish that resulted from a need to know one way or the other.
"Please don't quote me on this, Ted, but you have to learn that life is not a mathematics problem. Stop trying to make everything 'add up'!"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that not everything belongs to the realm of analysis. When you're happy, you don't sit down and try to figure out why or whether all the conditions in your immediate environment 'add up' to justify your happiness, you just enjoy it. And that's the biggest hint I can give you to the solving of your dilemma.
"So, to continue with what may, indeed, be analyzed: did Russell view his own writings in the proper light? We can find the answer quickly from one quote of his in the September 15, 1910 Watchtower page 298:
"'If the six volumes of Scripture Studies are practically the Bible, topically arranged with Bible proof texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes "The Bible in an Arranged Form". That is to say, they are not mere comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself. Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies aside, even after he had used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years -- if he lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references and had not read a page of the Bible as such, he would be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.'
"Despite his claims, it is manifest that his 'Scripture Studies' were not the Bible in an arranged form since the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society dispensed with them entirely about a dozen years after his death. When we consider the high value he placed on the real Bible, it becomes evident that he held his own writings in an abnormally high regard. The fact of its abnormality becomes even clearer when we realize how it contradicts other claims he made for them. Although the claim was made that his volumes were the 'key to the Scriptures’, which 'opened up their meaning', it's seen from this quote that they were actually a 'truth' unto themselves, entirely independent of the Bible. What sense does it make to tell someone that a certain set of books will help them understand the Bible, and then tell them that they must continually read these books in order to understand the Bible and that, should they read the Bible after reading these books, the Bible will no longer be understandable? The only conclusion a reasonable person would arrive at is that the volumes were not an accurate representation of what was in the Bible.
"So much for what we can learn about the man from his writings. Now let's examine a few of his actions. Like the Witnesses of today, he had a persecution complex which magnified all criticism, whether justified or not, into a virulent outrage against the Truth and his person. So he sued for libel when such things came to his attention.
"Reverend J. J. Ross, a Canadian, published a pamphlet entitled, Some Facts About the Self-Styled "Pastor" Charles T. Russell in 1912, and was the focus of one of these libel suits of Russell’s. The pamphlet itself was miniscule, being just six pages, most of which was devoted to quoting the newspaper, The Brooklyn Eagle, which had done some exposé articles on Russell. So Ross could not be held responsible for merely repeating what The Brooklyn Eagle had already published. The rest of it was undeniably true in that it accused Russell of being without knowledge of Biblical languages or having been made a 'Pastor' by any recognized authority. When Russell issued a charge of criminal libel against its author, he was saying in effect that the pamphlet contained lies. He was unable to prove this before a jury, convened on March 17, 1913 at the High Court of Ontario, and lost the case.
"Let's look at two incidents taken from the court record:
"'Do you know the Greek?' asked the attorney.
"'Oh, yes,' was Russell's reply.
"Here he was handed a copy of the New Testament by Westcott & Hort, and asked to read the letters of the alphabet as they appear on page 447. He did not know the alphabet.
"'Now,' asked Mr. Staunton, 'are you familiar with the Greek language?'
"'No,' said Mr. Russell.
"After the trial," Arthur continued, "Ross wrote a sequel to his first pamphlet, detailing the incidents of the trial. I can stil remember this quote from that pamphlet:
"'In the leaflet, Mr. Russell is charged with being connected with "lead, asphalt, and turpentine companies". Under his direct-examination by his attorneys, he was asked, "Now if these charges did appear in The Brooklyn Eagle, are any of them true?"
"’They are not true,’ was his most emphatic answer.
"’Not true. But when he was forced into the witness box by the defense and learned that we had the facts about these companies on hand, and the charters of them in our possession, he made a clean breast of the whole thing. He confessed being a stockholder in the Pittsburgh Asphaltum Co., which afterwards became the California Asphaltum Co.; the organizer of the Selica Brick Co., which he "entirely" managed from the Bible House on Arch Street, Pittsburgh; the Brazilian Turpentine Co., in which he had a controlling interest; a cemetery company, located in Pittsburgh, and the United States Coke and Coal Co., with capital stock of $100,000. It should have been most humiliating to swear to one thing and then, again under oath to be compelled to confess to the very opposite. What do you call this? Is it strange that the jury brought down the verdict "No Bill"?'
"While I'm at it, I'll quote one more extract from Ross' booklet as to Russell's business dealings:
"'But there is another Russellite Company I wish to speak about. This is left to last, because it has a vital connection with the Watchtower Bible and Tract concern. I mean the United States Investment Co. The crafty "Pastor" has never been willing to admit that there is, and has been, this secret Russellite incorporated body. He denied that the U.S. Investment Co. was a Russellite Co., that he was the President or manager of it, that he was stockholder in it, or that he had any interest in it whatever. He also claims that this U.S. Investment Co. had long ago become defunct. In the People's Pulpit, a Russellite paper, Vol. 3, No. 13, in the second column, near the top of page two, you will find the "Pastor" explaining to his readers about this company. He says, "I have not one dollar invested in it; nor have I been even nominally connected with it." I cannot understand how a man who is normal intellectually and morally can make such denials. His own Secretary and Treasurer, testifying for the defense in the Eagle case, swore that there was that Company, that it was in the present doing business, and that it was a holding company for the Bible and Tract Society. That the reader might see how Russell told the exact truth and nothing but the truth about himself and this Company, I will give him an extract from the Company's charter. From the records in Pittsburgh we learn that this Company was incorporated June 24, 1896:
"'Article 1. Names of Subscribers: John A. Bohnet, Ernest C. Henninges, Chas. T. Russell.
"'Amount Subscribed by Each: Bohnet $5.00; Henninges $5.00; Russell $990.00.
"'Article 3. For purpose of buying and selling real estate, patent rights, stocks, bonds, and other securites, merchandise, building homes, etc.
"'Article 4. Name of Association is U.S. Investment Co., Ltd.
"'Article 6. Officers--… C. T. Russell, Manager.'
"'The claim is now made,' Ross goes on to say, 'that this U.S.I. Co., Ltd. has no property, and had been out of business for "many years". The records in Pittsburgh show transfers of property to this self same society as late as 1911 and November 1912. You can see that the U.S.I. Co., Ltd. is in existence, is doing business, and is just another name for Russell. It is purely a holding company for the Bible and Tract Society, and it holds all it can get its hands on. We found that the U.S.I. Co., which is Russell, holds or did hold 28 houses and lots in Binghamton, New York; several lots in Tacoma, Washington; a farm near Rochester, New York; a house and lot in Buffalo, New York; a farm in Oklahoma; 100 lots in Texas; a house and lot near Pittsburgh; and 5,500 acres of land in Kentucky. This is only a small fraction of what the company holds… As it appears to me, this is the way it works. The International Bible Students all over the world, and others who are foolish enough to do so, send their money into the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which is Russell. A part of that money is used to pay the expense of circulating Russell's literature, paying his advance agents and "pilgrims", which always means chiefly the glorifying of Russell.' (Ross notes elsewhere that in the January 1 Watchtower, Russell speaks of himself 174 times, 'and of our Lord and Master but 7 times') 'and the rest goes through to the U.S.I. Co., Ltd., which is also Russell, and is invested in lands, lots, timber limits, houses, etc., etc. You can see it is all Russell. It is claimed that he is many times a millionaire.'
"All right, we've spoken enough about Russell now. Perhaps we should turn our attention for his 'faithfulness' and 'discreetness' to the 'truth' of his teachings. Recalling that the Truth does not change with time or contradict itself, let's examine his all-important view on the ransom. Beside the doctrines on God and man, the only other thing a modern-day Witness might acknowledge that Russell was right about was the ransom-sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But, in fact, views about this have undergone change too. Russell himself had three different views over a period of time which contradicted each other:
"The First View was that 'The whole world was bought with ... the precious blood of Christ.' (At-One-Ment Between God and Man, page 135) and 'The ransom price has been paid for our race.' (Watchtower, 1900, page 183).
"The Second View was that 'By the grace of God our Lord paid the price and bought us for whom he appeared. He did not buy the world, but the church.' (Watchtower, 1909, page 379).
"The Third View was in response to the questions: 'Was the ransom price paid when Jesus ascended into heaven?' Answer: 'No!' 'Has the ransom price been paid yet?' Answer: 'No!' (Watchtower 1916, p. 108).
"All three views cannot be the Truth. If Jesus bought the whole world in accord with the first view, it cannot be true that he did not buy the whole world, according to the second view, or that he bought none at all, according to the third view!
"Our definition of 'faithful' was 'loyal, firm in adherence to promises or duty: conscientious.' Was Russell any of these things? If he no longer believed the first view, why didn't he take it out of his Studies in the Scriptures? Why did that teaching remain in those volumes through all subsequent printings well into the late 1920's? Why did he sell and circulate for many years hundreds of thousands of books that he believed contained something false? It seems he was feeding his 'household' poisoned meat!
"But looking further at the intricacies of his ransom doctrines, I wonder if he knew himself just what he meant, or that he was continually changing interpretations on every conceivable idea. Take a look at this change within a few months:
"'The sin-offering -- the offering which Christ made to Divine Justice in offset to man's sin -- was the ransom. (Watchtower 1909, page 87).
"'We are to remember that the ransom sacrifice was not the sin-offering.' (Watchtower, 1909, page 201).
How could readers 'remember' any such thing when the last given 'truth' on the subject said the exact opposite? All they could 'remember' was that the Watchtower said it was one and the same. But a few months later a new development occurred in relation to the ransom-sacrifice, having to do with a 'type' of it in the sacrificed bull on the Day of Atonement:
"'He (Jesus) had in his possession the merit of his own sacrifice, the ransom price, and there and then he offered it on our behalf. This is shown in the type by the High Priest taking into the Most Holy the blood of the bullock which represented his human sacrifice -- the ransom-price which he possessed.' (Watchtower, l909, page 308).
"'On the Day of Atonement no type of the ransom is given us… a bullock would not be found to represent the ransom price.' (What Pastor Russell Said, pages 561, 562).
"Do you see what great sense this makes?" Arthur asked sarcastically, "Do you see how Russell ‘opened up the meaning of the Scriptures like no man ever before’? We are told that the sin-offering bullock was the ransom' and that the ransom was not the sin-offering; that the ransom price was/was not paid; that it was paid for the whole world; that it was paid only for the ones to 'whom he appeared'; that no one has been 'bought' at all since the ransom had not been paid yet; that Jesus' paying the ransom as soon as he ascended to heaven is represented in the sacrificed bullock; and that the sacrificed bullock does not represent the ransom price.
"Since every statement nullifies every other, the only thing that's clear is that Russell used an incredible amount of words to say nothing at all.
"He failed to pass our test of being the faithful and discreet person he thought himself. Instead of dispensing spiritual food to the believers, he let them starve on empty words that never added up to anything.
"But all in all, Russell was much better than his successors. Joseph Franklin Rutherford, the next president of the Society, usurping that position from the board of directors Russell had meant to replace him, made Russell appear a humble saint in comparison.
"Rutherford threw out the best things that made up the Bible Student's beliefs, and magnified all the worst traits. If Russell had thought a little too much of himself and of his critics, Rutherford was a dangerously paranoid egomaniac!
"Let us first point out the best thing Russell had going for him: his attitude of tolerance and his valuation of love. He insisted, for instance, that anyone who undertook to distribute a tract of his should read it several times over and make sure that they agreed with it. He was in no sense dogmatic or 'organization minded'. He wrote in one of the first Watchtowers:
"'Must I not join some organization on earth, assent to some creed, and have my name written on earth? No. Galatians 5:1: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage."' (Watchtower Reprints, page 295).
"Again, he wrote:
"'The test of membership in the New Creation will not be membership in any earthly organization.' (The New Creation page 78).
"In view of these statements, how do you think he'd react to such statements that find their way over and over again into the Watchtower publications of today, as:
"'It is solely in brotherly association with the New World Society that we can possibly survive when this old world passes away.' (New Heavens and a New Earth, page 363)
"Think about this before you answer me now, Ted, because this is important. Do you think it's better to say: 'We need to belong to 'God's organization' here on earth by being baptized as a Jehovah's Witness in order to 'survive' Armageddon; or do you think it's more reasonable to say: 'Love is the only standard by which we shall ultimately be measured.' (Pastor Russell's Sermons, page 283)?"
"You mean just love?" Ted asked in astonishment. "You'd at least have to be in the Truth, wouldn't you? And be obeying God's laws?"
"No, he said and meant 'just love,' for he appreciated its value:
"'Love is the principal thing, then; for whatever knowledge we might gain, whatever talents we might possess, whatever faith, whatever hope, none of these could bring us to the Kingdom. They can all merely assist us in developing this love-character which is the Kingdom test -- the fulfilling of the Law.' (ibid, 280).
"I guess Russell's view appeals to me more," Ted replied.
"As well it should," Arthur agreed. "But Rutherford came along and called the brothers striving to cultivate such a loving personality, 'character-builders', which, oddly enough, was a bad word to him. He thought such people were trying to 'save themselves' on their own merit rather than recognizing how utterly sinful and worthless they were. They now had to cease concentrating on improving themselves and doing acts of kindness as Russell had recommended, and had to concentrate instead on the new dogmas and organizational rules of Rutherford's New Society.
"All of a sudden what had been the very best in Russell's teachings was anathema to the Watchtower as Rutherford wielded his ill-gotten power. Right away a seventh volume of the Studies in the Scriptures series was published under a secret order by Rutherford. The board of directors knew nothing about it. The book was handed to them complete, and they were supposed to be thankful for it.
"The story is now given to us modern-day Witnesses that those on the board of directors were very evil people who sought to worship the dead bones of Russell in refusing to allow the 'Truth' to go 'forward'. But no one had appointed Rutherford as an author, much less a subcontracting author who dredged up 'new truths' all on his own and tried to force them upon others by means of a 592 page book. The story is also given that they had no reason to complain because the book was largely made up of quotes from Russell's writings. That it was so constituted is true, that this gave them no cause to complain is manifestly false. From what little you've heard from me about Russell and his teachings on the value of love and the ransom for all to make it into the Millennium and there be judged, tell me whether or not these brothers, who had spent many years believing in Russell's truth, had cause to reject this book, based on this one quote alone:
"'Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of "Christianity."' (The Finished Mystery, page 485)."
"That's totally against everything I've learned about Russell's view." Ted replied. "The church members weren't going to be destroyed; they were supposed to make it into the Millennium and live forever if they proved worthy. It's no wonder they rejected it. I guess I would've too. But didn't the book give his reason for changing this important view so radically?"
"That's just it, it didn't even acknowledge that this was a change in viewpoint! It's as if this is what Rutherford thought Russell had been teaching all along, rather than the exact opposite! And thereafter, for every arbitrary change in doctrine the 'judge' made, either no admission was made that this contradicted long held views without giving reasons for the change, or the old view was simply brushed aside with a casual remark like 'some used to believe differently, but the light is brighter now, so let's not succumb to creature worship, but move ahead.' And, in every case, the reasons for the old views were sounder."
"So why didn't everyone stick to the old views? They weren't all crazy, were they?" Ted asked.
"No, and many of them did leave, as I did myself, as did Paul Johnson, and other members of the board of directors, and thousands of others outside of Bethel. But the rest stayed because they now felt like part of a group, and they had no place else to go. Others were just plain scared by Rutherford's threats. He now had an organization that everyone must join in order to make it into the Kingdom. To stop believing what the Watchtower said was to risk eternal death. So no one now read each article and tract over and over, examining whether it was sensible or not. They just jumped on the bandwagon and joined in the 'drives' to sell Rutherford's books, being sure to count every sale and add up every hour and report it, not bothering to think that this was much closer to 'buying salvation on their own merit' than 'character-building' ever was.
"Unwittingly, Rutherford described his own actions when warning about an imaginary enemy of the Truth in an article on 'systematic deception':
"'Some with too much confidence in their own ability seek exhilaration out of taking a chance rather than abide in the Truth as it has been Scripturally explained by God's instruments… And now with the death of that faithful and wise servant, the tendency of some self-reliant ones is to fly off at a tangent and abandon the general outline of the Divine Plan of the Ages. These, harping on Proverbs 4:18, get into a frame of mind where they think they are the individual channels for the advancing light. They advance into a supposed light which contradicts revealed proven Truth… to claim, then, that Brother Russell misdrew God's plan is to argue in effect that the vision did lie, that it did tarry, and that Brother Russell got ahead of the light instead of following its gradual revealment. Do, then, those who thus argue imagine that the vision tarried for them as the specially chosen ones of the Lord? Such an attitude spells a high degree of pride and egotism. In all the above instances can be noted 1) a growing disregard or neglect of what that servant wrote. 2) A denial or reversal of formerly held truths is naturally suggested to those having a morbid desire for novelty. Instead of dispelling the doubt by a reexamination of Brother Russell's writings, an endeavor is made to prove the new views and ideas to be Scripturally correct. 3) Strong inclination to believe the error is created by the seeming truthfulness of the new views. This is due to the outward appearance of the channel of the new ideas… Shall we accept the teachings of these latter day teachers as being gifts of the Lord Jesus to the church? How could we?… The Society's policy is not to reverse the work begun by its founder, nor to toss the Lord's people about by pretending to explode the truths as brought forth before 1916. Its true course is to follow in the same path of the just which its organizer walked.' (Watchtower, 1923, pages 259-263)."
At this point one of the nurses walked in and began checking the machine. "Don't mind me," she said, and Arthur resumed: "But you see, no one was doing this but Rutherford himself. This goes to show how far his mind was gone. Who else 'harped on' Proverbs 4:18? Who else pointed to the greatness of the 'channel' to bolster his reversals of formerly held truths?"
The nurse began inspecting the tubes leading from his wrists for blood clots, and Arthur was temporarily distracted. Ted made use of this after a moment to lead him away from the topic of Rutherford. He knew that Arthur had a thing about Rutherford, and he'd heard most of it before, so he said, "You know, before I came here today I stopped over at the Barton's -- you know, Phyllis Dorsey and her husband Terry? Well, anyway, we got to talking about these things, and he told me a lot about Rutherford that he'd heard from a brother at Bethel who went back and read the old literature --" He wondered if he had Arthur's attention, but since it was better than silence, he went on, "He told me about how Rutherford changed the date of his imprisonment to fit in with his interpretation of the days of Daniel --"
"The 1929 Watchtower, page 372, paragraph number eight, where he gives the date as February 1918, whereas everywhere else the correct date of May 8, 1918 is given (the l918 Watchtower, page 133, paragraph 5, for instance, and the 1975 Yearbook, page 104)."
Ted who thought Arthur was mumbling incoherently at first, now realized that he had his alert mind at full attention despite his seeming preoccupation with the nurse's activities. "Yeah, and he also told me about 1925 --"
"Millions Now Living Will Never Die," Arthur rattled off, "pages 89, 90, 97. Compared with the 1925 Watchtower, page 259."
"Yes, so, well, I think I know all about Rutherford now." Ted said.
"Did he tell you about the mansion he had built in San Diego for King David and the other 'ancient worthies' whom he thought would either be resurrected there or sent there after their resurrection? And how he himself lived there instead? And how the Society, despite its many claims and 'advertised' position of holding the deed for David until he came, sold the mansion shortly after Rutherford's death? And how now they no longer admit they had this crazy notion, but instead think it's better to confess the bare fact that it was built solely for Rutherford's use during a time when the hard-working Bethel brothers had to share cramped quarters in New York and the rest of the world was in dire straights between depression and world war? They make much of the fact that this mansion was not bought with 'Society' funds, but that a brother (I think it was MacMillian) bought it for him. But how did this Bethel brother, making $14 a month at the most for his services, acquire such a great sum of money that he could afford such a gift? That they don't explain. With all the other corporations Rutherford doubtlessly took over (many of which are probably still being run by the Society in addition to others), it would be no problem to transfer Watchtower contributions to one of them and claim the home wasn't bought with 'Society money.'"
"But many people feel," Ted objected, feeling the need to make some defense of the religion he'd devoted his life to rather than sit back submissively as it took such a beating, "that none of this 'ancient history' matters, and I can see their point. What difference does it make that the Society committed shady deals or even wrong doings and lies in the past? That's not what it is now. Judging from their own experience of what the Society is like today, they conclude that no matter what it was before, now it's God's organization."
"That's what the brothers told themselves under Russell's and Rutherford's administrations, too. They didn't know what was all going on at the time, and neither do we. But can you honestly say that even in your own limited experience with the Society on the congregational level, you've found nothing wrong with it so that you'd naturally conclude, without them having to tell you, that this is God's only organization on earth?"
"No, I’ll have to admit I've seen too much to say that."
"Then just think what you'd say if you'd seen it all from the top down. Just think if you'd seen Brother Knorr, then president of the Society, accepting a wayward brother back into excellent standing after that brother had come to Bethel and given Knorr a brand new car. Just think if you could've known that this brother had just before offered a few thousand dollars to the Dawnites to accept him as a member and they turned him down. So he applied to the Jehovah's Witnesses with better success in his bribery attempt. Think if you knew that this particular brother really didn't go along with the 'Truth' (since his first choice was the Dawn group, this was manifest already) but that you later saw Knorr presenting him at a convention as an excellent example of a brother putting the Truth first in his life.
"You see, we're all afraid to trust our own experiences because the Society tells us not to judge (although they continually judge the congregations of Christendom as well as us), and that we must make allowances for the 'imperfections' of the brothers. And so we must. But believe me, brother, the whole Society is only the sum of its parts, and the part you have experienced is no different in nature from the whole. Trust your own experience.
"And as for the present being better than the past, the question hinges on this: is it better to admit a sin and repent of it and apologize to those hurt by it, or is it better to deny the sin and add the sin of lying to the record? The great philosopher Pascal had this to say about it:
"'To have defects is not as bad as to try in every possible way to conceal them.'
"Since the Society of today has gone to great lengths to hide the truth about its past -- lying extensively in at least three different versions in print -- it's worse now than then. In any case, it certainly doesn't comport well with our definitions of faithful, discreet, or true."
"Then it's not the Truth?" Ted asked.
"What do you think?"
"I don't see how it can be."
"Then what's your conclusion?"
"My difficulty is in deciding how much is true and how much is false. I accepted it all in one big bundle, with everything hanging together. To deny one part was to lose the whole. So now what do I do with 'no Trinity' and 'no hell-fire' if I drop the 'faithful and discreet slave' doctrine? Where does that leave me after I've been disowned by my family, lost my best friend, lost the girl I love, and suffered public reproof from the organization I've given my all to?"
"I guess you'll have to start thinking and feeling for yourself," Arthur said seriously, "But don't worry about it; you've already hurtled over the worst obstacle by admitting to yourself that you haven't been."
"They wouldn't let me. I thought I was anointed and born-again at my baptism and they wouldn't let me talk to you about it. They even tried to talk me out of it!"
"You see," Arthur explained, "they want you to deny your own personal experience, what your own eyes and ears and mind tell you in favor of what they tell you. And they knew I'd only congratulate you and accept your experience instead of denying it."
Having crossed this forbidden boundary unscathed, Ted ran to the next, telling what he had repressed even more than his anointing. He told it to himself for the first time as well, and was more surprised to hear it than Arthur: "Did you know Richard tortures his children?"
Ted flushed. Certainly it was too drastic a word his subconscious had thrown into his mouth. He wished to take it back but could only ponder the horror of all the scenes of tyranny as they gushed forth in his mind.
"It's a terrible thing," Arthur said in amazement. "I knew his daughter had run away and came back tamed, but I didn't know he was guilty of child battering. Are you sure it's as bad as all that? Wild children do need some discipline, you know."
Ted wanted to hesitate and find a way to say, "no, I guess it's really not that bad," but the words flew out refusing hindrance: "Yes, I'm sure. It's awful. He's beaten his wife as well. Everyone at the hall saw her black eye. She wanted me to tell someone and help her, but I couldn't. I failed her, and she's been such a good friend to me."
"Your telling me won't absolve you, you know," Arthur spoke sternly, "I can't do anything about it. But you, as a witness, should call one of those agencies for child protection and report him. They can help him."
"But Richard wouldn't listen to worldly people. He'd tell them he's following the Bible and that it recommends not sparing the rod."
"He'd listen, or eventually he'd either lose custody or go to prison."
"I don't know, maybe it's not that serious. I don't want to be a Judas."
"Only you know how serious it is, Ted. This is your chance to begin thinking for yourself and making your own decisions."
"You don't make it easy."
"No decision is easy. Life isn't easy."
"All right. I’ll think about it seriously and prayerfully. But before I go, just let me ask you how it is that your own life is such a contradiction? You say to think for yourself and you freely acknowledge all the wrongs and lies of the Society. You can support the doctrines of Christendom as well as if not better than our own doctrines.
"You disagree with the Society's main contention that everyone outside the organization will be destroyed. Yet, in spite of all this, you remain a member, and a well-respected one at that. No one at the hall outside of Bob and Richard suspects you of being anything but an orthodox Witness. How do you explain these things?"
"I don't explain them, but I refer you to the first and last lesson of importance I've tried to teach you: faith is more important than, and beyond reason."
"But how can you have faith in something you know has lied?"
"Maybe I don't have faith in that part of it. But as soon as you start asking questions, you no longer have faith, just reason -- and we've seen where that has gotten us and where it's gotten the Society. The Society has stressed reason ever since the time of Rutherford, and that's the wrong approach in regards to matters of faith. No one knows more about the unknown than another, and it's foolish to claim that one does. We cannot sit around and discuss whether or not God is three persons or if man's soul is immortal or how big heaven is. We can either believe in these things or disbelieve; and the rest no man knows. So we must choose our religion by faith, not reason. Therefore, I can give no reason for my faith, and that's that."