Modern History of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Part 11—Restoration of Theocratic Organization
THE final change-over to a theocratic organization of Jehovah’s witnesses occurred in 1938. In that year The Watchtower, in its issues of June 1, June 15 and July 1, presented an exhaustive study of the organizational operations of the early Christian congregation in the days of the apostles. There it was clearly demonstrated how the power to appoint congregation servants rested in the hands of a governing body composed of the twelve apostles and other mature associates such as Timothy and Titus. Similarly today the power of appointment of all servants in congregations rightfully rests with the governing body of the “faithful and discreet slave” class, which is under the direct supervision of Christ Jesus at the temple. (Matt. 24:45-47) These powers do not rest democratically with the congregations. In consequence of this Biblical study of organization the following was the resolution suggested to and adopted by all congregations who desired to be welded together under the Society’s theocratic leadership:
“We, the company of God’s people taken out for his name, and now at ___________, recognize that God’s government is a pure theocracy and that Christ Jesus is at the temple and in full charge and control of the visible organization of Jehovah, as well as the invisible, and that ‘THE SOCIETY’ is the visible representative of the Lord on earth, and we therefore request ‘The Society’ to organize this company for service and to appoint the various servants thereof, so that all of us may work together in peace, righteousness, harmony and complete unity. We attach hereto a list of names of persons in this company that to us appear more fully mature and who therefore appear to be best suited to fill the respective positions designated for service.”*
Finally, for the service year of 1939—just twenty years after the germ of theocratic supervision had been planted in the office of “service director” of a congregation—Jehovah’s witnesses enjoyed their first full year of complete theocratic supervision as to their individual congregations. What a period of peace and prosperity was ushered in! Gone were the days of electioneering, wrangling and democratic voting. The King Christ Jesus was now at the helm of his earthly organization, being the one to direct appointments and guide the government of the assemblies of Jehovah’s people. No more was there a loose affiliation of individuals doing what each considered right in his own eyes. Rather now the wide-awake, forward-looking ones had enlisted themselves in a fighting organization, happily submitting themselves to kingly theocratic control.—Isa. 43:21; 60:17.
However, already in 1922 the anointed witnesses were in sufficient solid formation organizationally to undertake Jehovah’s judgment work on earth. This work was prophetically pictured by the blowings of the “seven trumpets” and the pourings out of the “seven bowls of the anger of God.” (Rev. 8:2; 16:1, NW) These two series proved to be simultaneous happenings, each blowing and pouring commencing at seven respective international conventions held annually from 1922 to 1928 inclusive.*
The first in this series of seven historic events was the Cedar Point (Ohio) convention September 5-13, 1922. Its final-Sunday public lecture was attended by more than 18,000, the daily sessions by about 10,000 witnesses. This assembly occurred in the same place as their famous 1919 convention, but this time hundreds more were in their ranks and convention field service became an added feature. On the convention’s Tuesday hundreds of car groups inundated the northern part of Ohio with a flood of literature placements. On the fourth day of the convention, known as “The Day,” the Society’s president gave the key speech on the subject of “the kingdom.” He emphasized that the King is here! Also, proof was submitted for the first time from Scripture and current history that the King Christ Jesus had come to the temple in 1918 and had begun judgment process against apostate Christendom. At the conclusion of this stirring address, at the same instant that the speaker shouted the words, a very large banner was gracefully unfolded in the sight of the vast audience that simultaneously heard and saw the electrifying slogan “ADVERTISE THE KING AND THE KINGDOM!” Unusual enthusiasm prevailed throughout the assembly, sparked by spiritually rich discourses giving evidence of the foretold further outpouring of Jehovah’s invisible active force upon his chosen witnesses.*
The convention public lecture on the last Sunday was climaxed by the unanimous adoption of a resolution that later was published in a tract called “Proclamation.” It was headlined, “A Challenge to World Leaders—Impossible to establish world peace, prosperity and happiness by international conference—Real remedy suggested—Issue vital to all nations of earth—International Bible Students pass resolution.” In the course of weeks 35,000,000 copies of this stinging judgment message expressing Jehovah’s anger were distributed throughout Christendom.* A truly significant assembly was this Cedar Point convention!
The second epoch-making convention was held at Los Angeles, California, August 18-26, 1923. For the first time the Society used radio to broadcast a convention session. The outstanding Scriptural discourse was that delivered by the Society’s president, J. F. Rutherford, on the subject “Sheep and Goats,” which address was later published in The Watch Tower for October 15 of that year. There for the first time it was shown that the “sheep” in Jesus’ parable refer to an earthly group.* The speaker said: “Sheep represent all the peoples of the nations, not spirit-begotten but disposed toward righteousness, who mentally acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Lord and who are looking for and hoping for a better time under his reign.”* The climax of this assembly was Judge Rutherford’s public lecture on Sunday, attended by some 30,000, packing out the Coliseum. The convention also passed a historic resolution which led to the second outpouring of God’s anger against Christendom.* This resolution was printed in another tract called “Proclamation,” which subsequently was distributed to the amount of 45,000,000 copies in this country and Europe.* It heralded “A Warning to All Christians—World’s Impending Crisis—The Cause—Duty of Christians—The Result.” Bitter and hostile was Christendom’s reaction to this trumpet blast of God’s judgments against her for her apostasy.
The third significant international assembly was held at Columbus, Ohio, July 20-28, 1924, attended daily by about 20,000 witnesses with 35,000 attending the public meeting in the Ohio State University Stadium on the final Sunday. Radio broadcasting and electrical speech amplification were used in connection with this convention. Field service was also featured at this assembly as at its two predecessors. In the principal talk by the Society’s president it was pointed out that Satan is still unbound and that the clergy and their allies have become the tools of the Devil. A historic indictment was enthusiastically adopted by the entire audience, rising in full support. This was incorporated as part of a new tract entitled “Ecclesiastics Indicted,” which spoke out in headlines, “Civilization Doomed—Reason for World Crisis—Blessing of the People to Follow—The Seed of Promise versus The Seed of the Serpent.” Once again Christendom was shaken by the distribution of millions of copies of this true indictment.*
The year 1925 was one of particular expectancy, as many of the anointed thought that the remaining members of the body of Christ were then due to be changed to heavenly glory.* But, as it proved to be, there was yet much work for them to do on earth to aid those who were still to be gathered out. Nevertheless, 1925 turned out to be a marked year in that a flood of new spiritual truths came to Jehovah’s people. It was in this year that The Watch Tower brought them the sublime revelations that the name of Jehovah must have its proper place; that the birth of the man-child Kingdom organization occurred in 1914; that Satan had been cast out of heaven and now must confine his operations to the earth; that Jehovah purposes to make a great and lasting name for himself at the battle of Armageddon; that such battle is not a fight between capital and labor, conservatives and radicals, or by any human parties and nations, but is God’s fight against the entire Devil’s organization, invisible and visible; and finally, that Jehovah’s servant class on earth have no part in that fight, but must only warn of its coming.*
This year of great change-over in thinking was highlighted by the general convention at Indianapolis, Indiana, August 24-31, 1925, attended by 10,000. At the conclusion of J. F. Rutherford’s public lecture entitled “A Call to Action,” a loving resolution was passed, addressed “To All People of Good Will.” This was incorporated in a tract called “Message of Hope” headed “World Reconstruction—A Standard to Guide the Peoples.” About 50,000,000 copies were circulated in Christendom as the months passed by.* The hands of the witnesses continued to be kept busy during this crucial year of 1925. For this year a peak of 90,434 was recorded as the attendance at the spring Memorial celebration.*
(To be continued)
The Watchtower, 1938, page 182. In this manner almost all of the congregations affiliated with the Watch Tower Society surrendered their democratic (or presbyter) style of church control exercised by them for the previous sixty years in exchange for a voluntary requested theocratic system of congregational operation. (See Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 6, pp. 273-347.) From this time forward the Society of the anointed ones came into its rightful Scriptural relationship with congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Light, Book One, pp. 102-107; Light, Book Two, pp. 19-67.
W 1922, pp. 323-352; W 1930, p. 374; W 1940, p. 102; W 1943, p. 216; W 1944, p. 234; W 1948, p. 311; W 1950, p. 218.
W 1922, p. 390.
W 1943, p. 342; W 1944, p. 10; W 1946, p. 156.
W 1923, p. 309.
W 1923, pp. 326, 327.
W 1923, p. 373.
W 1924, pp. 259-264.
W 1925, p. 3.
W 1925, pp. 67-74, 115-120; W 1930, p. 233; W 1946, p. 347; W 1944; p. 10.
W 1925, p. 358.
W 1925, p. 263.
[Picture on page 333]
ADVERTISE THE KING AND THE KINGDOM!
CEDAR POINT, OHIO—1922