Penton is a worthy author though, and certainly knows his subject matter. Each section refers to the others and the result is a rich and sturdy tapestry with all of the blemishes and brilliance of the movement on display. Indeed, Penton cultivates a voice that is all too rare in religious studies. Departing from the typical social science approach to studies of particular religions--to abstain from making any judgments about truth value, even in the face of glaring violations of the law of non-contradiction--Penton does evaluate individual beliefs and even organizational methods, but always from a purely "text-immanent" perspective. When there is evidence for duplicity in , to try to shore up their power, the Board of Directors tossed around the idea of saying that the harvesting of the , began in with the beginning of the space age, rather than , Penton calls it out. Any criticism of Watch Tower beliefs or practices is arrived at purely rationally in terms of documented effects that practices have had or in terms of contradictory claims that arise.
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Rutherford and the Watchtower leadership since his day would have held to be apostasy if we had spoken openly about it. No doubt that was why I felt free to attend the University of Arizona in the early s and the University of Iowa in the latter part of the same decade. I ultimately earned a Ph. Why then did I remain a Witness until ?
I have always been a civil libertarian, and I greatly admired Witness lawyers such as Hayden Covington and Glen How for their successes before the Supreme Courts of the United States and Canada in broadening the rights of freedom of speech and the press. Yet I was somewhat unhappy with Witness teachings as early as the s.
But I said little about the matter and remained a Witness. With the creation of the Governing Body in , the renewal of the elders system, and a greater emphasis on the shepherding work in , I felt that the Witness community might evolve into something less authoritarian and more positive.
Yet in a few years I was disabused of that naive hope. Most outstanding among those persons were Richard Rawe and Jerry Bergman. More powers were given to circuit and district overseers, and greater emphasis was again placed on the preaching work; the number of publishers just had to be increased to replace those who had left.
And when I remonstrated with him on the basis of 1 Corinthians 13, some of my fellow elders looked askance at me. It was evident they believed that what the society asserted was more true than what the Bible taught. I answered that I felt it was so long as it was in harmony with the Scriptures.
As that was happening my older son David was being bedeviled by the circuit overseer. So the circuit overseer made an issue of his supposed lack of time in preaching even though he had reported more time in the door-to-door work than several elders. As a result he and his wife eventually resigned from the organization. On a couple of occasions I had stated openly that more people became Witnesses through incidental witnessing than through the door-to-door work, something that infuriated a number of local pioneers who lobbied the circuit overseer to muzzle me.
But what finally caused an all-out attack on me took place after I visited Brooklyn in the summer of I was shocked at the senile nature of some of the Governing Body, met some of the workers who were thoroughly disgusted with the behavior of that council, and was shocked by the July 15 Watchtower of that year.
This upset me so much that when I returned home, I wrote a long letter to the Governing Body criticizing its members over having stress and for what dishonesty promoting the preaching work. The result of this letter was that upon finding out about it, some of my fellow elders, acting apparently under instructions from the circuit and district overseer and perhaps even from Brooklyn itself, decided to have me removed as an elder.
They did this by soliciting letters from members of several congregations criticizing me on a number of things but principally on being against the preaching work. At first I resigned as an elder, but when a sister revealed to me how my letter had been leaked, I determined to take a stand. So I withdrew my resignation and met with the full body of elders. When a vote was taken the circuit overseer and four elders voted to have me removed, but three others would not go along and resigned in protest.
Very quickly the three congregations in Lethbridge became split and with nearly half of the members of my home congregation refusing to comment at meetings. Naturally, I left on study leave sick at heart. In the early spring I returned from Toronto to Lethbridge to face a specially appointed Watchtower committee to settle matters there. Eventually, that committee decided that I was not guilty of any heresy. But it did nothing to censer the circuit overseer who had proclaimed in a meeting that there was an apostate movement locally and later admitted that he was thinking of me and the three elders who had supported me.
But what was more outlandish was that the committee left him and the local elders to determine whether I should or should not remain as an elder. So when I again learned that I was to be removed from that position for no good reason, my last bit of faith in the Watchtower hierarchy died. Shortly therafter I and a few others began to meet for study and prayer in my home, and within a short time some eighty-three persons, including a small number of children, left the kingdom hall and joined together in fellowship with us.
Extremely bitter over what had happened, I decided to take court action but dropped it when I realized how expensive it was and how hard it was becoming on both me and my wife.
I did not attend the so-called judicial hearing, but many of my supporters did. In the mean time, acting on a tip from Richard Rawe, a photographer from the Alberta Report magazine showed up outside the kingdom hall where the judicial committee and many loyal Witnesses were meeting. Although some of the Witnesses tried to force him to leave from in front of the kingdom hall, he waited on the public sidewalk outside it.
After several hours, David and several others returned to see if the judicial committee meeting was over. At that point, the Witnesses came pouring out of the kingdom hall, and the city overseer began chasing the photographer while yelling at him at top voice.
Thereupon, David called out that the Witnesses should leave the photographer alone because he was within his legal rights. The man was taken to hospital with a broken cheek bone, and the Witnesses tried to press charges against David.
We have heard that he is working on publishing a new book on religious persecution to be published soon. Also watch for updated editions and newly avaialable translations of his current works. The following were copied from Amazon. Charles T. The first prophecy was not fulfilled, but the outbreak of the First World War lent some credibility to the second. They distribute a billion pieces of literature annually, and continue to anticipate the end of the world.
Apocalypticism is the key issue in this detailed history, but there are others. As a long-time member of the sect, now expelled, Penton offers a comprehensive overview of a remarkable religious movement. Others involve internal controversies, including political control of the organization and the handling of dissent within the ranks. Penton has combined the special insight of an insider with the critical analysis of an observer now at a distance from his subject.
From them he has created a penetrating study of a spreading world phenomenon. In this second edition, an afterword by the author brings us up to date on events since Apocalypse Delayed was first published in Penton considers changes in doctrine, practice, and governance on issues such as medical treatment, higher education, apostates, and the apocalypse.
This edition features a revised and expanded bibliography. Documents have been uncovered, however, that prove otherwise. Using materials from Witness archives, the U. State Department, Nazi files, and other sources, M. James Penton demonstrates that while many ordinary German Witnesses were brave in their opposition to Nazism, their leaders were quite prepared to support the Hitler government.
Rutherford called on Witnesses to seek martyrdom by carrying on a campaign of passive resistance. Drawing on his own Witness background and years of research on Witness history, Penton separates fact from fiction during this dark period. Share this:.
Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses
Charles T. The first prophecy was not fulfilled, but the outbreak of the First World War lent some credibility to the second. They distribute a billion pieces of literature annually, and continue to anticipate the end of the world. Apocalypticism is the key issue in this detailed history, but there are others. As a long-time member of the sect, now expelled, Penton offers a comprehensive overview of a remarkable religious movement.
Personal Experience: JAMES PENTON