As a JW I like to read letters send to the Watchtower Society or its Governing Body by many who have issues with them especially doctrinal issues. Here I am posting a few such letters for you readers. This is the first one.
Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Britain
Thursday, March 08, 2001
Your Ref: EF
I thank you for a speedy reply to my letter.
However I am puzzled. You sent me a detailed reply and evidence to support our claim about the Gentiles times ending in 1914 and how the early Bible students were preaching this. However if you reread my last letter to you, you will see that this was not the question that I had asked. In fact I mention that I agree with this point on page 2..I wrote:
“So we can see that the early Jehovah witnesses believed that Jesus Parousia began in 1874. The truth book states this above and it is in all the old books. It was not until 1925 that the doctrine was changed. Before 1925 we as Jehovah’s witnesses believed that 1914 was the END of the Gentile times and Christ parousia (which had started in 1874) and the START of Armageddon. This is what Russell and Rutherford believed. The Witnesses back then were not knocking on people’s doors and telling them that Christ presence was GOING TO START IN 1914 but that it had started in 1874 and would last 40 years and would culminate in Armageddon.”
Please reread my last letter but perhaps I did not explain myself properly so I will try and re-explain it: The early Bible students were preaching that Christ had returned in 1874.Then in approximately 1925, Brother Rutherford wrote an article that taught that Christ had returned in 1914.I have again copied the portion from the “Proclaimers” book for your convenience:
*** jv 138-9 10 Growing in Accurate Knowledge of the Truth ***A real milestone was reached, therefore, in 1925, when The Watch Tower of March 1 featured the article "Birth of the Nation." It presented an eye-opening study of Revelation chapter 12. The article set forth evidence that the Messianic Kingdom had been born-established-in 1914, that Christ had then begun to rule on his heavenly throne, and that thereafter Satan had been hurled from heaven down to the vicinity of the earth. This was the good news that was to be proclaimed, the news that God’s Kingdom was already in operation. How this enlightened understanding stimulated these Kingdom proclaimers to preach to the ends of the earth!
The “Truth book” states this:
*** ka 209-10 11 "Here Is the Bridegroom!" ***55 In the year 1943 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published the book "The Truth Shall Make You Free." In its chapter 11, entitled "The Count of Time," it did away with the insertion of 100 years into the period of the Judges and went according to the oldest and most authentic reading of Acts 13:20, and accepted the spelled-out numbers of the Hebrew Scriptures. This moved forward the end of six thousand years of man’s existence into the decade of the 1970’s. Naturally this did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of his invisible presence or Parousia. The millennium that was to be marked by the detaining of Satan the Devil enchained in the abyss and by the reign of the 144,000 joint heirs with Christ in heavenly glory was therefore yet in the future. What, then, about the parousia (presence) of Christ? Page 324 of the above book positively says: "The King’s presence or parousia began in 1914." Also, in the Watchtower issue of July 15, 1949 (page 215, paragraph 22), the statement is made: " . . . Messiah, the Son of man, came into Kingdom power A.D. 1914 and . . . this constitutes his second coming and the beginning of his second parousía or presence."
So after reading the above quotes, I am sure that you would agree with me that the belief that Christ had returned in 1914 was not accepted until 1925. Before 1925, the belief was that Christ had returned in 1874.
So then why do we publish things like this?:
*** w90 3/15 13 'The Faithful Slave' and Its Governing Body ***On arriving to inspect his slaves in 1918, therefore, whom did the Master, Jesus Christ, find giving to his body of attendants their measure of food supplies at the proper time? Well, by then, who had given sincere truth-seekers the correct understanding of the ransom sacrifice, the divine name, the invisibility of Christ’s presence, and the significance of 1914?
I am sure that you will agree with me that the above quote cannot be true in the light of what the “Proclaimers” book says. We did not have the correct understanding until at least 1925?
*** w65 7/15 428 Jehovah's Advancing Organization ***19 As we look back over the years, we can clearly see how God’s organization in modern times has progressed in understanding. For example, it learned that Christ’s second presence was to be in the spirit, and not in the flesh as many professed Christians believe. His rule would be from the heavens. This was a new revelation of great importance to God’s people who had been anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century.
Brother Russell and the Early Bible students were not “anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century”. They believed that it had already happened in 1874?
*** w54 6/15 370 The Revelation of Jesus Christ ***4 Why, then, do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world-wide advertising of Christ’s return and his second presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur.
This again cannot be true when compared against the “Proaclaimers” book?
*** w88 5/1 22 Jehovah Does Not Forsake His Servants ***At the back of our house in Tojo-cho, Osaka, there was a house with a sign: "Osaka Branch of the International Bible Students Association." Assuming it to be a Christian group, I visited the house.
"Do you believe in the second advent of the Lord?" I asked the young man who came to the door.
"Christ’s second advent was realized in 1914," he answered.
In astonishment, I told him that was impossible. "You should read this book," he said, handing me The Harp of God.”
This account cannot be true. Get hold of a copy of the "Harp of God" and look at page 235.For your convenience, I have typed it here for you:
"This date, therefore, when understood, would certainly fix the time when the lord is due at this second appearing. Applying the same rule, then, of a day for a year, 1335 days after 539 A.D brings us to 1874 A.D, at which time, according to Biblical chronology, the Lords presence is due…The searcher of truth can find an extensive treatment of this question in volumes 2 and 3 of "studies in the scriptures"".
Nowhere in “The harp of God” does it mention about 1914 as being the date for Christs return?
This is the account of Jack H Nathan
*** w90 9/1 11 Trusting in Jehovah Brings Happiness ***After the war ended in 1918, there was no work available in England, so I rejoined the army and went off to India as part of the peacetime garrison. In May 1920 the malaria flared up again, and I was sent up into the hills to recuperate. There I read all the books I could get my hands on, including the Bible. Reading the Scriptures intensified my interest in the Lord’s return.
Months later, down in Kanpur, I started a Bible study group, hoping to learn more about the Lord’s return. It was there that I met Fredrick James, a former British soldier who was now a zealous Bible Student. He explained to me that Jesus had been present since 1914, invisible to man. This was the most thrilling news I had ever heard.
This account is not supported by our chronology. This account places the experience around the 1920’s, around 5 years before the official doctrine had changed?
*** g73 1/22 8 Who Can Accurately Predict Man's Future? ***Of all men used by God to prophesy, Jesus is outstanding. Based on what he said, along with the words of Daniel and John, Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of "the conclusion of the system of things."
This is a misleading statement. Brother Russell believed that 1914 was the end of the conclusion of the system of thing not the start. Zion’s watchtower 15 July 1894 page 1677 says: “We see no reason for changing the figures-nor could we if we could. They are, we believe, Gods dates and not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.”
So Brothers, THIS is my question: We can see clearly that we did not change the doctrine of Christ’s return until 1925 at the earliest. Up until this time, we felt that Christ had returned in 1874. So why do we publish articles that say that the early Bible students were looking to 1914 as the date for his return?
My second point is about Brother Franz. I note your point that Brother Franz stated that he was told privately by Dr. Joseph Harry that he had been chosen to receive the scholarship. This cannot be verified either way. But what can be verified, are the records at the Rhodes scholarship. I e-mailed them and this is their reply. I have written the lady’s e-mail address in case you feel the need for verification:
From: Joyce Knight [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 8:06 PM
To: 'John Hibberd'
Subject: RE: Franz
Dear Mr. Hibberd,
In the earlier years of the Rhodes Scholarships, candidates were required to
pass a Rhodes Qualifying Examination. The examination itself was set in
Oxford by the Oxford Delegacy of Local Examiners and sent overseas to local
examination centers. The examinations themselves were returned to Oxford to
be marked. The Delegacy then advised examination centers and the Rhodes
Trust of the results. The original examinations, given in October each
year, required students to pass in Latin, Greek and Mathematics to be
eligible to continue in the competition. However, in 1909, the Rhodes
Trustees amended the rules to allow candidates to take the Latin and
Mathematics sections in October and to postpone the Greek section until the
following September, immediately prior to the candidate's formal acceptance
to an Oxford college.
The Oxford University Gazette of November 1913 listed Frederic (sic) W.
Franz as having passed the qualifying examination conducted in October 1913
in Latin, Greek and Mathematics. These are the results I refer to in my
former e-mails, i.e., qualifying examination results, not the results of the
competition. Having passed the qualifying examination, Mr. Franz would have
been eligible to continue in the competition, which meant he would have then
been invited to an interview in his state of application. State winners
then moved on to regional competitions throughout the United States. The
Scholarship winners were announced at the conclusion of the regional
According to Mr. Franz' statement, he dropped out of the competition before
the results of the qualifying examinations were known. It appears clear
that Mr. Franz was offered the opportunity to compete for
a Rhodes Scholarship. However, it also appears clear that Mr. Franz was
never offered a Rhodes scholarship.
I hope this information is helpful.
Thank you for your inquiry.
So you can see from the Rhodes scholarships own records that Brother Franz had taken and passed the qualifying exams in order to proceed to the next stage of the competition. He still had a long way to go before anyone (privately or officially) could offer him a place on the scholarship. As Joyce Knight states above “ Mr. Franz was never offered a Rhodes scholarship.” This statement is coming from the organization that offered the scholarship and keeps written records of such. I am not implying that Brother Franz was deliberately trying to mislead people, but somewhere along the line he has become confused and should have checked his sources. I am sure that a man as intelligent as him would have known the procedure of the scholarship foundation. So again, are we not being misleading when we publish things that are not checked out thoroughly and turn out to be false?
I look forward to your comments.
Your brother in Jehovah’s service
Any comments will be welcome.