Witness Bulletin

 

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Vol. 1.                     January, 1932                       No. 2

 

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Announcement

 

Several months ago the Associated Bible Students Ecclesia of Greater New York appointed its board of elders to serve as a radio committee to investigate the possibility of preaching the truth by means of the radio. The committee proceeded with the result that weekly programs are now being broadcast over one of the best stations in the New York district.

 

Many were doubtful of the success of such an undertaking, but now that the programs have begun all who have heard are enthusiastic. The programs are proving most effective. Already hundreds of letters are arriving from the public, asking for literature, and expressing the desire that the programs be continued.

 

Because of these requests we find it necessary to publish a weekly RADIO ECHO. We will offer to send free copies of this paper to all who hear the programs. Opportunity will also be given to subscribe for the paper, thus assuring its weekly visit. From present interest we have reason to expect that by this means the radio work will ultimately become partially self-supporting.

 

Attached herewith is a copy of the first issue of the "Echo." Every issue will be on a par with this one, and we shall make them better if possible. In addition to regular contributions, an average of one yearly subscription from all to whom this sample is sent, will assure the continuance of the programs already begun, and at the same time bring to the subscriber a weekly report of the subject discussed in the programs, together with interesting letters, etc. Many of your relatives, friends, and neighbors will enjoy this little paper. An average of one new subscription per month from these, either through solicitation, or complimentary as from you, will make possible an immediate spread of the work to practically all parts of the country. The subscription price is $1 per year (52 copies), and this allows a small margin above actual cost which will be used, as stated above, to continue and extend the radio work. The paper itself will be an excellent witness to go into the homes of the public each week whether they hear the radio programs or not.

 

Thus, almost as if by miracle, the Lord is opening up a country-wide witness for the truth, without "organization," and without glorifying men. We are confident that the friends will rise to this opportunity, and your cooperation will be much appreciated. If requested, additional copies of the "Echo" and subscription blanks will be sent for this purpose. The blank below is for your convenience.

 

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Radio Committee, 85 John St., New York, N.Y.

 

Dear Friends: I am glad to send my dollar for the RADIO ECHO, especially since it will help make possible the continuance and spread of the radio work.

 

Additional subscriptions from my friends are as follows:

 

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Witness Bulletin

 

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Vol. 1.                     January, 1932                       No. 2

 

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ALL SINCERE PROCLAIMERS OF THE TRUTH INVITED TO COOPERATE WITH JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES

 

WHO among the Lord’s people would not like to see all sincere Bible Students joyfully cooperating in the present important work of making known the glad tidings of Christ’s Kingdom?

 

In connection with such a general cooperative program of extension, would you not like to see every consecrated child of God employed, all doing their "reasonable service" in one capacity or another, according to their ability and means-that a more effective witness may be given and that the spiritual interest of all the Lord’s people may be more generally promoted?

 

In addition to the use of the radio and the printed page, would you not also like to see some of those old-time enthusiastic public meetings, with their direct personal appeals which have been so effective, and which indeed brought many of us to a knowledge of the truth a little while ago?

 

Have we not all longed at times, also, for a judicious supply of free tracts treating the various fundamental truths, which we could occasionally give to poor neighbors and inquiring ones "without money and without price," instead of always having to solicit them to buy something?

 

And do we not all have fond recollections of those effective parlor meetings to which we used to invite the newly interested ones; and at which their interest became crystallized, by simple oral explanations of the fundamental truths, and also by Berean studies in the simple outlines of Jehovah’s great purposes?

 

Who would not again enjoy to hear a traveling speaker or competent local elder occasionally deliver to the friends a real heart-to-heart message, one which he himself had thoughtfully and prayerfully prepared, a genuine spiritual lesson that truly represents the sentiments of his own heart and mind, and not necessarily always on the subject of service or a current article, but on whatever theme he may consider to be the most fitting and helpful to the friends at the time?

 

If to any of these questions your consecrated heart instinctively answers Yes, then we know that you will be interested in the entire contents of this WITNESS BULLETIN, which has been written in response to an earnest and kindly appeal made recently by The Golden Age, in which its editor invited all sincere Bible Students who are not now with the Society to joyfully cooperate with Jehovah’s Witnesses in the blessed work of announcing the incoming Kingdom. May we suggest, for your benefit, that you begin at the beginning and read straight through, instead of skipping about; so that you may get the story in a connected and logical manner.

 

INASMUCH as The Golden Age has publicly extended to all truth brethren now outside its ranks an invitation to cooperate with Jehovah’s Witnesses in proclaiming the Kingdom, we feel that it is not only proper but incumbent upon us to make this public reply, setting forth in the same kindly spirit the conditions which the Bible Students Radio Committee regards as a necessary Scriptural basis for Christian cooperation.

 

Our readers will doubtless recall that in the last WITNESS BULLETIN we responded to an editorial that had appeared in The Golden Age of July 8, 1931, entitled "Bible Students Radio Echo," which editorial had severely condemned the RADIO ECHO and the "Frank and Ernest" radio dialogues, not because of any alleged error but because of the fact that they are proclaiming the truth without having been authorized to do so by the Society; and a warning was given to its readers to beware of cooperating or having anything to do with these independent efforts, regardless of whether the message they proclaim is "good, bad or indifferent." Copies of our October BULLETIN which answered the foregoing editorial are still available, and may be had free upon request.

 

On October 14, The Golden Age published a reply to the aforesaid WITNESS BULLETIN, in an editorial, entitled "Liberty or Obedience, Which?" Bible Students were much pleased to note that in this latter editorial, unlike the one of July 8, The Golden Age did not again condemn them to the second death for preaching the Kingdom message independently of the Society, but on the contrary said that those who are thus sincerely seeking to preach the truth would now be welcome in the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and that there is plenty of work for all to do.

 

This conciliatory spirit and warmth of feeling on the part of The Golden Age which we trust represents the attitude of the Society itself-has touched a responsive cord in the hearts of all who truly love the Lord; and it is the hope that this present issue of the WITNESS BULLETIN may promote such an understanding that it may indeed lead to a closer cooperation among God’s people everywhere.

 

In seeking a basis for possible cooperation with others in preaching the Kingdom we deem it important to first set forth briefly just what we understand to be the gospel of the Kingdom; and thereafter we shall outline what we believe to be the Scriptural policies and methods which must govern its effective proclamation.

 

Paul again wrote: "I am determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." {1Co 2:2} So important did that apostle consider this gospel of "Christ and Him crucified" that he later declared: "Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you (namely, the gospel of Christ), let him be accursed." {Ga 1:8} His constant emphasis on the cross and gospel of Christ indicates that Paul had apprehensions that the importance of Jesus and the ransom was liable to be discounted-just as it has been, even in quarters least expected. Hence we too feel that we should emphasize this important matter here, for we wish to be certain that those with whom we are asked to cooperate in preaching the gospel are standing firmly upon the ransom as the foundation, and are not endeavoring to regard it as incidental.

 

While all Christians are happy to honour the name of Jehovah, yet the Scriptures make it plain that this cannot be done acceptably without also exalting the name of His Son Jesus whom He sent as the world’s Redeemer.

 

Again, the Bible declares that "all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which sent Him."  {Joh 5:23} It is no honour to Jehovah to remove the cross of Christ from view, as has recently been done. Indeed, the above text makes it clear that if we fail to honour Jesus even as we honour Jehovah, and regard Christ’s great ransom sacrifice as merely incidental to the Kingdom, instead of emphasizing it as the very basis upon which the Kingdom hope is built, then we dishonour the Father which sent Him. Without the ransom there would be no Kingdom.

 

We believe that the Gospel of Christ’s sacrifice is still "the power of God unto salvation," and that no witnessing work can be acceptable, effective, nor honouring to Jehovah’s name, unless Jesus and His ransom are given the proper emphasis in our message.

 

We hold that the gospel of Christ is the only gospel mentioned in the Bible which Christians are commissioned to preach; that as they faithfully proclaim it as commanded they are truly honoring Jehovah, its Author; and that any attempt to change or becloud this gospel of Christ, under the pretense that Jehovah has somehow mysteriously authorized a "change in work," or otherwise, can only meet with divine disapproval, and result in a general bewildering and scattering of the Lord’s sheep, such as indeed we now see.

 

The gospel should be elaborated on without beclouding its simple outline. Besides the ransom itself, our public message should make clear the following fundamental facts:

 

(1) Man’s creation in perfection.  (2) Man’s fall into sin and death.  (3) The coming of the Redeemer.  (4) The call and preparation of the Church, leading to its final glorification with Christ.  (5) Christ’s second coming.  (6) The times of restitution-which, according to the Scriptures, includes the resurrection of the dead (see Ac 3:19 to 4:2.)  (7) The final destruction of all incorrigibles in the second death.

 

The part which the Church plays in the divine purpose is outlined in the Scriptures, and this we understand to be as follows:

 

That from Pentecost until the full establishment of the Kingdom the work of the Church has been and now is that of preaching the gospel of Christ among the nations; that every Christian is authorized to do this; and that God’s main purpose in thus having His gospel preached is that it might attract those who have "ears to hear," that they may see their privilege of making a full consecration to the Lord and enter upon the "narrow way" of sacrifice which leads to joint-heirship with Jesus Christ in the glory and work of His Kingdom.

 

We understand that coincident with the foregoing main work to be accomplished by the present proclamation of the gospel, a witness is also given to mankind, which informs them that the present reign of sin and selfishness, under Satan’s control, shall eventually give place to the new King of earth, Christ Jesus; and that we should now point out that the present distress of nations is the foretold day of Jehovah’s vengeance upon the unrighteous systems of earth, preparatory to the full establishment of His righteous world-wide Kingdom.

 

We believe that pursuant to the declaration of the day of vengeance the Lord would have us emphasize and reiterate the "glad tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people," in order that those who mourn may be comforted; also, that God’s people must be encouraged to Agrow up into Him in all things," that they may make themselves ready and thus be prepared to participate with Christ in the joy of dispensing blessings to all during the Kingdom reign.

 

We indeed feel certain, and therefore insist, that a very important part of our present work as Christians is and must be that of encouraging the consecrated to perform their vows of consecration; not merely in the direction of engaging in certain special forms of activity, but also in being transformed in mind and made conformable to the image of their head, Christ Jesus, in all things; and we believe that if the latter service is neglected our works cannot be acceptable to God, no matter how great they may appear to be.

 

Believing that plain elaborations of the fundamentals of the gospel constitute all that is essential or needful as a witness to the public, we must decline to cooperate in emphasizing before the world any fanciful, doubtful or debatable theories as to the meaning of Old Testament narratives, Apocalyptic symbols, or prophetic visions, either of Ezekiel or of other prophets.

 

While a candid undogmatic discussion of various proposed explanations of the foregoing difficult subjects may be of great interest and importance to mature Christians; yet, inasmuch as there is still much uncertainty as to the true meaning of these particular portions of the Scriptures-as proved by the fact that "final" interpretations of them have so often been changed, especially since 1918-we hold that to inject such speculative discussions into our public witness work does harm rather than good, in that it confuses the reader and tends to dishonor God by making Him appear to be the one responsible for all our contradictorily changing views-whereas we should be honouring His name by plainly proclaiming the simple facts of the gospel of Christ in an understandable way.

 

As an example of interpretations which we believe tend only to confuse rather than to enlighten the public, we may mention the one on Re 12. We refer to the proposed explanation of that portion of this chapter which sets forth the theory that Satan was cast out of heaven in 1914. This theory has now been exalted to such importance as to be listed on the second page of the Watchtower as one of the fundamental tenets of faith to which Jehovah’s Witnesses must subscribe.

 

We have no objection to anyone’s believing that Satan was cast out of heaven, either in 1914 or at some other time. But why should we ask a skeptical world to believe this merely on our "say so"; and why exalt such a debatable theory to the position of a fundamental doctrine, and insist even on God’s people believing that a spirit being was actually stunned for a considerable time after crashing all the way from heaven to the solid earth? A thinking man of the world would doubtless feel thoroughly justified in asking us to specify the exact spot on the globe where Satan materially bumped his spiritual head when he landed. Certainly Bible students outside of the Society are not prepared to do this.

 

But the thinking public, with few exceptions, cannot help but be confused, dismayed, disappointed and doubtless disgusted, if the greater part of our literature consists of lengthy discussions of symbols, visions, and theoretical applications of Old Testament narratives, none of which are essential or particularly pertinent to a plain public presentation of the gospel; or, if we try to tell them that the Devil was cast out of heaven in 1914 and lay stunned while the nations marched to war; or, that Christ came to His temple in 1918 (without our citing any Scriptures which prove the point, and especially if at the same time we try to tell them that not even the walls of the temple were built in 1918, that construction on them began only 1922); or, if we declare to them that Bible Students recently have been given and are now widely advertising their "new name which no man knoweth saying he that receiveth it," and that this new name is "Jehovah’s Witnesses"; that these Witnesses are now fulfilling many important symbolisms in the book of Revelation; that they poured out the entire seven last vials at their conventions in Cedar Point, Indianapolis, London, Toronto, and other places, during the past few years; that the seventh and last vial was poured out in Detroit in 1928, at which time a voice was heard from heaven, saying, AIt is finished," though really it was not finished.

 

And some of the same public have not yet forgotten that the same authority had officially declared that this last vial was also poured out eleven years before. They are indeed likely to recall that during that first outpouring of the last vial the finish of the mystery was said to be the seventh volume, which also was then authoritatively hailed as the "penny" of the parable, and was duly accepted as such by the laborers in the vineyard; but that now the same authority informs them that a later flash has disclosed that the penny which it once said the Lord had "given to the church in a time of direst need," was a counterfeit, and that the finished mystery was very far from being finished.

 

Equally confusing to the public are the successive messages which declare that in 1922 it was divinely revealed that all the faithful people of God had been in possession of a double portion of the Lord’s spirit since the spring of 1918, but that in 1930 another flash from the temple disclosed the startling fact that since 1918 God’s people have not needed the holy spirit at all.

 

Nor can the world understand how that only a few years ago the message of the hour was said to be, "Millions now living will never die," during which campaign it was officially reiterated that nobody would need to die after 1925, and that the ancient worthies would certainly be resurrected by that date; but that now by the same authority they hear that nobody knows when the ancient worthies will be resurrected, that "time is no more," and that nobody now is justified in setting up or emphasizing dates-except the date 1918, which marks the beginning of the Society’s present regime; and that this date should be emphasized continually.

 

Nor is it reassuring or convincing to a public, thus disappointed, to now suggest, through authorized newspaper interviews and otherwise, that when David does come back he will choose to live in Southern California, where a large and luxurious mansion has been specially built, furnished and willed to him. Furthermore, in view of the certain and impending destruction of the "Devil’s organization," including everything now defiled by it; and in view of the further fact that it was under the laws of this doomed organization of Satan that this mansion was willed to Prince David, some might be inclined to wonder what difficulties the sweet singer of Israel may encounter if, and when, he does attempt to claim this property and establish his headquarters for the Lord’s work there, under this will.

 

The same skeptical world, with a sense of humor, may also be inclined to question the consistency of the whole proceeding, in view of the more recent dictum of The Watchtower which boldly repudiates Pastor Russell’s will in these words: "The work of God’s organization is not subject to the control of man, or to be controlled by the will of any creature." Watchtower Dec. 15, 1931, p. 376.

 

We do not here criticize the building of mansions by any brother who thinks it proper to spend his consecrated money for that purpose; but we

 

It is difficult for even the Lord’s people to have blind, unquestioned confidence in leaders who from the date of ascendancy to power have repeatedly sent out the obedient sheep in utterly futile efforts to tread the winepress of God’s wrath, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to twice smite the antitypical Jordan in an attempt to cause a division of the people for and against the truth, to call forth the prisoners from Babylon, and many other similar abortive works, down to and including the latest command-that of leading the people over the highway of holiness out of Babylon. As in the other great works attempted, practically none of those who are supposed to be affected by this message are able to comprehend anything at all of what it is about; nor is it likely that they would accept such leadership as being of the Lord even if they did comprehend the intricacies of this or the various other messages aforementioned. And who can say that in this they would not be perfectly justified?

 

If the blood did not flow when we trod the winepress-and it didn’t; if the people did not divide when we smote the Jordan-and they didn’t; if the prisoners did not come out of Babylon when we called to them so earnestly-and they didn’t; if by all our efforts not a single king was bound, but many of the Lord’s people found themselves bound instead; then there does not seem to be any good reason now to expect that very many will follow those who are at present attempting by the sale of some new books on Revelation and Ezekiel, to start a march over the highway of holiness.

 

How can the fair-minded among the public be attracted to the truth by literature which suggests to them that if they consecrate and then cannot honestly accept the aforementioned and other such new flashes as being from the Lord, and continue to hold merely to the major simple truths of God’s Word, such as those set forth in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, they thereby automatically become disreputable Are probates concerning the faith," wicked "Judases," the "man of sin," the "son of perdition": and that if they give voice to their conscientious doubts as to the genuineness of the aforesaid and other similar recent "flashes from the temple" they are thereby guilty of speaking "great swelling words against the Most High" and will certainly suffer destruction!

 

And, confusion more confounding to the public: Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves, as recently as 1929, were ordered to put on a ten-day drive and get rid of the odds and ends of Pastor Russell’s STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES on hand; which of course, was a splendid thing to do, for these books should be in circulation. But then, beginning the very next week the workers were instructed to go back to the same public and sell them other books which would not only deny much that is in the STUDIES but which would also inform them that if they believe the STUDIES which they recently had been induced to buy, and then refuse to accept the teachings of the later books which contradict them, they would be dishonoring Jehovah and putting themselves in line for the second death.

 

We are not chiding or ridiculing anyone for having made mistakes. We all are imperfect; and in almost any book there is a possibility of occasional errors creeping in, which may need to be corrected in later editions. But the point we are here making is that the major portion of each and all of the Society’s later volumes, which they now are selling to the public, consists of labored arguments attempting to explain and bolster up the aforesaid and other similar bewilderments of fanciful ideas on symbols, visions, and flashes almost without number, all of which confuses rather than clarifies the simple gospel truths; and only incidentally, here and there, is the plain gospel message to be found.

 

The public cannot grasp the outline of God’s purposes when presented in this disjointed fashion, sandwiched in between lengthy dissertations on irrelevant theories. Results prove this. The five million copies of Pastor Russell’s DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES brought more people to a knowledge of the truth than have the hundred million copies of the Society’s later books.

 

While having to decline to cooperate in promulgating to the world the aforesaid numerous questionable and variously changing interpretations, which cause confusion rather than conviction in the public mind, we nevertheless are willing to grant to all brethren in Christ fullest liberty in respect to their individual acceptance or rejection of any of them-so long as they do no violence to the doctrine of the ransom upon which all true Christians must stand together, nor contradict any plainly fundamental truths of the gospel, nor effect the Scripturally defined conduct required of a child of God. Necessarily we could not agree that any questionable theories or private views on matters that are non-essential to Christian faith in the gospel should be deemed as fundamental, nor made tests of fellowship in the Church.

 

All will undoubtedly agree that all acceptable Christian activities must be in harmony with the policies and methods outlined by Jesus and His apostles; otherwise they will profit us nothing. In the last issue of WITNESS BULLETIN many instances of what Bible Students regard as violations of the Lord’s prescribed course for the Church were pointed out in a kindly and Christlike manner. We also produced much evidence of what appears to many brethren to be a baneful lack of Christian liberty in the Society today. The facts in that BULLETIN were not railings; they were stated in love and with a desire to help. They challenge Christian attention and should not be passed by lightly or deliberately brushed aside as unimportant, for they concern the spiritual life and welfare of the new creature.

 

The Golden Age then concluded its editorial with a letter from a brother who had for a time been away from the Society, and who says that during that time he had not grown "in grace and knowledge" of the Lord. He also says that during the aforesaid period he had neglected to study the Scriptures. How anyone could expect to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord without studying the Bible is difficult to see.

 

Irrespective of what others may do or neglect to do, or however they may be misjudged and called the "man of sin" or "son of perdition," all true Bible Students are endeavoring to live up to that name, have no desire to throw it into the discard, are growing in grace and knowledge in proportion to their drinking at the sure fountain of truth, the Bible; and they consistently seek to manifest a tolerant Christian spirit toward all. Though they cannot be tolerant of error, either in doctrine or practice, yet they gladly extend the hand of fellowship to all groups who stand squarely upon the ransom, even though they may not agree fully on non-essential subjects.

 

Let it be said at this point that we are truly glad of the opportunity to give credit to The Golden Age for having made more apparent progress in the development of tolerance and Christian liberty than has its parent, The Watchtower. While The Golden Age last July did unfortunately follow the lead of its contemporary in dubbing sincere Bible Students "the man of sin," and at that time unmercifully condemned us to perdition for persisting in preaching the Kingdom message without the Society’s authority, yet in his October article on "Liberty or Obedience, Which?" the editor seems pleased to lift us out of the second death to which he had hopelessly consigned us, and then kindly invites us, the "man of sin," to come and cooperate with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Watchtower, however, continues to consign us to everlasting destruction.

 

This vacillating and contradictory method of interpretation and judgment of Christ’s brethren is further reflected in the fact that the Society has long chided Bible Students outside of its ranks for not being sufficiently active in public work; and then when they do manifest increased activity in proclaiming the Kingdom message they are relegated to the second death because they do. In like manner the Society since 1918 has frequently censured the sheep whom it scattered, for being supposedly "hopelessly divided@ into "57 varieties@ of folds; and now that these groups of consecrated ones are earnestly seeking to cooperate with each other, the Watchtower suddenly grows alarmed and exclaims that these scattered ones are gathering together for dark, ulterior purposes, and agitatedly charges that we are going to try to stop its sale of books; though it declines to submit any proof on which this wholesale senseless, unchristian charge is founded.

 

Nevertheless, we are happy to believe that the heart of the editor of The Golden Age is really much broader than is his newly adopted theology; otherwise he would not have extended the invitation to us to cooperate. For this reason we gladly forgive his apparently deliberate misstatement in his October 14 {th} editorial above mentioned, in which he said that our WITNESS BULLETIN told its readers "where to send donations" when he must have known that not a word concerning or suggestive of donations was anywhere mentioned.

 

We believe that the commands of Jehovah, which Jesus and His apostles have clearly set forth for our guidance in Christian conduct as well as in Church organization and activity, are as binding upon the Church today as in times past. We know of no new orders or changes which His Word has authorized. When the apostle, in Eph 4 11,12, says that "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ," we feel that this arrangement was intended to be heeded by the Church, and that it cannot be improved upon by any human leader. Indeed, to change this divine arrangement in the Church seems to us to be not only presumptuous but spiritually dangerous to all.

 

The Church needs all these various kinds of servants and forms of service; it needs some elders to evangelize, some to exercise a pastoral care over the ecclesia, and some to serve as teachers of Bible study meetings.

 

These servants should be chosen by each ecclesia as the Bible instructs, the Scriptural qualifications alone being used to test their fitness; and after being selected they should be permitted to function as the Lord intended that they should-each serving in the capacity for which he has been found qualified. Each speaking elder should be permitted to prayerfully select and prepare his talks according to the need of the class as he sees it; just as the Lord intended he should do, "for the edifying of the body of Christ" rather than for the mere furtherance of a certain work while the spiritual upbuilding of the Christ body is sadly neglected.

 

To now limit the church to one class of servants and one form of service, and to insist that every discourse that is given before an ecclesia shall be a service talk, or a resume of some recent article, extracted from or taken literally out of the current writings of one man, is unjust, impoverishing and unchristian-an abridgement of the liberty of thought and action which the Lord intended His people to enjoy, and a plain revival of the ancient Catholic idea that the papal head is ordained to do all the thinking on religious subjects, and that his ex-cathedra utterances are the infallible words of God.

 

To practically take the government of the Church out of the hands of the ecclesia, where the Lord had placed it, and to delegate it to a few regional sales directors appointed by a publishing house, which in turn is governed by one man, we regard to be in direct violation of the Lord’s instruction for Church organization and government. To ask us to cooperate in any humanly devised plan which sets aside the spiritual arrangement appointed of God and substitutes therefore a modern business arrangement for the government of the Church, would be equivalent to asking us to cease listening to the voice of the Lord; and this we are not at all prepared to do. We cannot honor Him while violating His instructions.

 

We feel, furthermore, that in matters of doctrine and authority all sophistries, word-jugglings and theories that ignore or cannot be verified by plain statements of the Scriptures, such as arbitrary human application of Old Testament narratives to present day events, should not be taken too seriously by any of the Lord’s consecrated people; nor should they be induced by such mere deductions to believe that the Lord’s work or message has undergone a momentous change by divine decree. If we should not believe it even if "an angel from heaven preach any other gospel," then surely we should prove very carefully by the plain statement of God’s Word all proposed interpretations that come from sources much less authoritative.

 

We believe the aforementioned matter is worthy of emphasis, for the reason that so much is now being based upon just such forms of interpretation-theories which have not been verified as truth and which rest on no higher authority than that a contemporary human leader has said they are true. Once a theory is "officially" set forth, as, for example, that of the Lord’s coming to His temple in 1918, it becomes a basis for many other theories to be built upon it; and for one to then dare to go back and question the soundness of the foundation of the structure usually results in epithets being hurled at him; he is called a disrupter, a "man of sin," and is forthwith ostracised and relegated to the second death class. Jesus suffered in a similar manner, and for the very same cause.

 

The setting up of such unauthorized, unchristian tests of fellowship as those heretofore mentioned has been the greatest cause of division in the Church in recent years. Hence in seeking a basis for possible cooperation with others we cannot but insist, with the Apostle Paul, that anything that causes division contrary to the Scriptures must be avoided.

 

As a Scriptural basis for cooperation we must here lay down, first and foremost, the fundamental fact that Jesus is the head and leader of His Church. To His disciples Jesus said that they must not Aassume the title of leaders; because one is your leader, the Messiah."  {Mt 23:10, Diaglott.} In view of this plain instruction from the Lord we must insist that no individual or group of individuals be considered as now possessing such authority over the flock as that their orders must be deemed as orders of Jehovah, and that refusal to obey such human decrees constitutes one disobedient to God’s law and makes him worthy of annihilation.

 

The name of Jehovah, and the name of Jesus, should be honored, not only by word but by example. While Scriptural titles are entirely proper, yet no person in the Church should be exalted by the flock, nor take unto himself "flattering titles." We may say in our literature that we do not believe in honoring men, that we wish to honor the name of Jehovah only; but the public is not impressed that our claim is sincere if at every turn we thrust before them the name and title of a man as the celebrated author of the literature, and thus seek to exalt and stamp indelibly upon their minds the name and title of that man as something great in the Church. Such a method of advertising continually detracts from the honor due to Jehovah, in exact proportion to the honor it seeks to heap upon such human leader. This would be equally true whether the "flattering title" of the leader were borrowed from the ecclesiastical or the political divisions of "Satan’s organization."

 

In this connection we cannot do better than quote, with hearty approval, the following statement taken from The Watchtower of July 15, 1929, page 217, to wit:

 

We fully agree with the foregoing. Let us, dear brethren, put this admonition into practice. Otherwise it is but as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.

 

The Golden Age suggests that in order to enjoy Christian liberty one must be a bond slave of Jesus Christ; and to this also we heartily agree. But the editor should realize that when one becomes a bond slave of Christ he is thereby set free from all assumed human headships and control. This is what we understand to be Christian liberty as outlined in the Scriptures, and we must be sure that it is recognized and exists in any group with which we could join in hearty cooperation. We believe, with the apostle, that "where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty", {2Co 3:17} and that when liberty is lacking there is necessarily a lack of the Lord’s spirit.

 

The Lord alone must be regarded as the leader of His people; and we must be guided by His Word and constrained by divine love, rather than by bulls, encyclicals, mandates, anathemas, excommunications, epithets, threatening, cajolings or railings that may come from popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, ministers, synods, presbyteries, conferences, societies, boards or presidents, which seek to substitute their own authority in the Church for that of Christ’s, and to teach that disobedience to their orders is tantamount to disobedience to Jehovah. We believe that everyone who is fully consecrated to the Lord, and who acknowledges Jesus as his head, is united to Him in holy service; and that all such are divinely ordained to preach His gospel, whether they serve individually or collectively, in America or in Europe or in the wilds of Africa, and regardless of whether some particular group of brethren in one part of the world has commissioned them, or knows about them or not. Among those who do thus recognize only Jesus as their head there is no division of spirit-the A57-varieties" argument to the contrary notwithstanding.

 

It is quite true, as The Golden Age says, that Noah alone was commanded to build the ark, and that his sons were merely his assistants in that work. But that magazine certainly once knew, and should know now, that Noah was a type of Christ, not a picture of some individual human leader or corporate board. Hence, it is to Christ that we must look for orders; and all those who do so are honoring the name of Jehovah and of His Son, regardless of all earthly associations or societies. The Lord’s commands are recorded only in the Bible-not in humanly written documents of any sort, whether they be year books, magazines, special letters, or tabloid sales sheets issued regularly to class workers or service directors; and irrespective of how necessary the latter may be in an efficient sales organization.

 

We are not, by the above words, seeking to discount the good that might be accomplished by the proper use of such instruments aforementioned; but are merely emphasizing the fact that no humanly written publication should be considered as a divine channel or law in the Church.

 

We have no objection to any brother’s beseeching another, in the spirit of the Lord, to do his reasonable service. This is something that every Christian should seek to do on behalf of others in the Church, inasmuch as it is such an easy matter to become lax in the service of the Lord. But, we do object to the binding of burdens upon anyone, and to the holding of the whip of ostracism and the second death over the heads of God’s people in order to make them further the ideas or ambitions of another, or to compel them to take part in one particular kind of service, regardless of whether they are qualified for such service or could serve in some other capacity much better.

 

Those who preach the gospel should do so in a manner that will honor only the Lord, by accepting His Word as the repository of all truth. Paul says that to serve with any other design than this is "carnal." In his day some were saying, "I am of Paul; others, I am of Apollos; and still others, I am of Cephas." Today some say, "I am of the Society; and unless you are of the Society I will regard you as dead." The argument of The Golden Age in favor of such a position today is that such "should know where they got the truth"- but it was this very argument that Paul designated "carnality." For this very reason Paul thanked God that he had not been the instrument that had baptized very many of the Corinthian brethren in Christ, so that they could not claim him as being their channel. The Roman "successors" of Peter, however, built a great organization on the claim that they are the repository of all truth-even as the Society now claims for itself-and they ask all others: "When did truth and authority become transferred from us to you?"

 

It was the great Apostle himself who said, "Who is Paul? who is Apollos? and who is Cephas?" And if he were here today he would most certainly say, "Who is the Society?" Who, in fact, is anyone who merely serves the truth to another? While all true servants in the Church are important, even as Paul points out-some being privileged to sow and others to water-yet it is God alone who gives the increase.

 

In view of this plain statement to the effect that only the Lord is responsible for our being in the truth, it is sad that some seem not able to see beyond a human organization or leader, and are not sufficiently strong in the Lord to depend wholly on His Word; being willing rather to listlessly trust their eternal destiny to imperfect human leadership rather than to individually assume the divinely imposed responsibility of proving all things by the Word and of holding fast only to that which they have personally proven to be the truth. It is indeed true that all should know where they got the truth-from the Lord-and they should see to it that this pure message shall not become clouded by the muddy waters of human speculation and sophistry.

 

We are not averse to the acceptance of "new light" if it can be proven to be genuine; but we cannot credulously hail every new interpretation as light merely on human authority. Those who do so may not be surprised that the Lord shall send them a strong delusion, that they may believe a lie in lieu of the truth. We require more substantial proof than the mere dogmatic assertion of a man or of a committee of men; and in matters of fundamental importance we ask for more Scriptural proof than a theoretical modern application of some Biblical story, symbol or vision. We also believe that we should have the right to honestly question any proposed interpretation without being peremptorily judged and consigned to eternal damnation by our brethren.

 

In summing up: Our conception of the kind of activity that we believe the Lord will approve, includes all possible forms of service-the use of the radio; the printed page-not merely books alone, but also a generous use of free literature; public meetings-including the use of charts or other illustrated lectures, if available and appropriate to the subject; parlor and other small meetings of a semi-public nature, for the benefit of the newly interested; and, by all means, class meetings of such a refreshing nature as will contribute to the spiritual upbuilding of the consecrated-not merely lectures, conferences and testimonies on service alone.

 

The Bible Students Radio Committee is now cooperating wherever possible in all the aforementioned forms of Christian activity. For radio work we have a splendid series of electrical transcription programs, which present the truth in a simple, convincing and entertaining manner in the form of "Frank and Ernest" dialogues; and these we gladly furnish free to any group of brethren who desire to use them. We are also glad to give as much publicity as possible to other radio programs, provided they are broadcasting the truth in harmony with the Scriptural policies herein outlined.

 

We are prepared also to supply free tracts for general distribution, asking only that those ordering them in quantities be willing to pay the carriage charges. For public meetings we can furnish advertising matter for house-to-house distribution, also song sheets for use at the meetings; and these we also supply free.

 

"The Divine Plan of the Ages" -and no better presentation of the fundamental truth has ever been written-is now available for general dissemination. In fact everything is being arranged as rapidly as possible in order that all the Lord’s people who are free from bondage to human systems may proceed in an untrammeled manner in the divinely commissioned work of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom effectively. Full information as to the work of the Bible Students Radio Committee, as well as that of other service organizations outside the Society which are joyfully cooperating in harmony with the principles outlined in the Scriptures as herein set forth, will be furnished upon request.

 

If the Society does not choose to cooperate on the Scriptural basis as herein outlined, and if there are those now with it who, after reading this BULLETIN, feel that we have outlined "the better way," all such will find a warm welcome in our fellowship and Christian work. In any event let all be assured that regardless of the course that may be taken by others we shall endeavor to throw around all brethren the cord of love, and shall leave all judgment of them to the Lord who judges righteously.

 

Meanwhile we shall continue to do what we can to preach the truth, and in the manner that we believe meets with the Lord’s approval. Although we may not be able to boast of any great works-as indeed none of God’s people would wish to do-yet we desire to be faithful in the few things entrusted to us, and ask the prayers of the Lord’s people everywhere to that end.

 

”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’

Interesting Comments

 

An interesting comment on one of the points contained in the last issue of WITNESS BULLETIN has been made by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, from Dallas, Texas. The comment relates to a statement found in the first paragraph on page three of the Bulletin, which reads:

 

The Associated Bible Students are not forming an alliance with the clergy; they are not spending their time slandering the officers of the Society; and they are not trying to influence the government to stop the sale of the Society’s books, as has been charged."

 

The Texas brother’s comment on the above statement is as follows:

 

But the request above cited has not been complied with. Instead, The Watchtower continues to repeat the aforementioned blanket libel against Bible Students in general; and, as usual, offers no proof to substantiate the vicious charge it thus seems glad to lay against this entire group of earnest, consecrated Christian brethren.

 

In its issue of November 1, 1931, page 329, it says that the "man of sin" endeavors "to convince the ruling powers that Jehovah’s witnesses are guilty of sedition"; and then adds: "Such are now endeavoring to get together for that very purpose."

 

Lest there be any doubt as to just who is meant, the Tower of October 1, 1931, page 293, mentions the Associated Bible Students by name, and suggests that they constitute "the man of sin"; although Paul said that this iniquitous thing was beginning its development even in his day. -See 2Th 2:3-7.

 

******************************************************************************************************

 

He drew a circle that left me out  

 

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

 

But love and I had the wit to win,  

 

We drew a circle that took him in.

 

- Markham.

 

”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’

 

””””””””””””””””””””””’

 

Your brethren that hated

 

you, that cast you out

 

for my name’s sake,

 

said, Let the Lord be

 

glorified: but He shall

 

appear to your joy, and           Love-Love-Love-Love-Love-Love L

 

they shall be ashamed.         O                                 O

 

-Isa 66:5.                  V        Fear                    V

 

E           Intolerance               E

 

L           Prejudice                L

 

O           Sectarianism             O

 

V                                 V

 

E                                 E

 

Love All ye are brethren Mt 23:8 Love

 

It has been well said that "Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn." It is also true that Christians’ unchristianity to Christianshascaused much sorrow, and has produced countless divisions among God’s people from the beginning of the Christian era.

 

The text in the upper corner of the illustration shown above reminds us that God foresaw this condition among His people, and foretold that the intolerance of certain of His brethren would be perpetrated in an effort to glorify Jehovah’s name. The Lord appears finally to those who are cast out, and they rejoice because of His favor. The others become ashamed.

 

Love is the weapon with which the faithful gain the victory. Jesus showed the way in this great struggle. The religious leaders of His day cast him out-and the leaders are usually the ones responsible for such actions-but Jesus’ loving heart said:

 

The apostles had the same kind of experiences as did Jesus. The undeveloped in the early church began to draw circles, saying, "I am of Paul; I am of Apollos; I am of Cephas"; and thus they left the others out. But Paul reminded them that the Lord had drawn no such circles.

 

Luther rebelled against the selling of Indulgences, and was soon cast outside of the Catholic circle. Others rejected Predestination, and they were flouted by the Calvinists. Many of those who were flouted drew circles of their own and left all others out; but, thank God, there have always been some who "had the wit to win," for they had enough love to draw a circle that took all Christians in.

 

There are many circles at the present time, various kinds of circles in fact. There are many channelite circles, which are perhaps the most intolerant of them all, because those drawing them assume to teach that a failure to appreciate their interpretations of the Bible is an evidence of God’s disfavor. This is presumption indeed, and intolerance feeds upon presumption.

 

No Christian should tolerate what he considers to be wrong doctrine or practices, but no true Christian will be INTOLERANT OF HIS BROTHER, but will be glad to love him and, so far as possible, fellowship and cooperate with him, so long as he remains loyal to the ransom and is fully devoted to the Lord.

 

Let us ask ourselves the question: "Where am I located in that picture?" "Am I within the inner circle and asking the Lord merely to bless those who can see eye to eye with me on every new idea, and turning my back upon all other Christians, thinking of them as being outside of God’s favor and as already dead? Or am I seeking to form that larger circle in which all my brethren are welcome?"

 

”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’

 

Radio Committee,                                      New York, N.Y.

 

342 W. 71 St.,                                          Dec. 7, 1931

 

Sirs:  I want to express my appreciation for the little pamphlet entitled "Bible Students Radio Echo" left with me by a lady who called at these offices on Saturday last. I was unable to attend the lecture which it announced, but I found this pamphlet one of great interest; it caused me to read the Biblical references with a newer and keener interest and understanding than I ever had before.

 

I am not clipping the coupon found in this pamphlet, as I desire to mail the paper intact to my mother-a very religious soul-who resides in Ohio. However, I should indeed appreciate your sending me the four articles mentioned in the coupon. Would it be asking too much to send them in duplicate, that I may forward the extra ones to a friend who I know will more than appreciate them?

 

I should like to know more of your organization, its meetings, aims and purposes. Again I thank you and the lady who made it possible for me to see your paper for the first time.

 

Very truly yours,           J.E.S.

 

Address: BIBLE STUDENTS RADIO ECHO

 

342 W. 71 {st} St., New York, N.Y.