A letter from Walter Salter to then president of the Watchtower Society, Joseph Rutherford:
P.O. Box no. 404
April 1, 1937
Hon. J.F. Rutherford
4140 Braeburn Road
San Diego, California
I wrote you on January 25th embodying an article which I believe proved by the Scriptures that our Lord has not returned and that the saints have not yet been resurrected. That Christ has not returned is proven clearly by His statement in Matthew 24 wherein, having outlined all the things to occur at the end of the age, including the great tribulation, He said: “When ye see ALL these things know that He is nigh even at the door.” Verse 33, Diaglott; and margin King James version. Mark well the Master’s words for He says even after ye see all these things He would not be present, but near, even at the door. Well did He warn His true followers not to be deceived by any man saying He was present when He was not?
I also suggested, that “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” is not necessarily “the battle Of God Almighty” but merely a mighty and final battle of Satan’s visible forces among themselves, in which God would put it Into their hearts to destroy churchianity. The time of the battle is the day of God Almighty, just as one might say in the day of Shakespeare, and that would in no sense prove that God was going to fight any more than it would prove Shakespeare was going to fight. God’s act of destruction of Satan’s forces will be beyond Armageddon.
Two years ago last summer you made the statement to me and another that you had bluffed all your life. I believe that was one of the truest statements you ever made and I am now calling your bluff, and challenge you to answer the article above referred to point by point and prove from the Scriptures that Armageddon is the battle of God Almighty.
The premise of all the teachings of the Society’s publications which might be spoken of as spiritual teaching i.e., teachings which are supposed to be for the Lord’s people, is that Christ has returned and is at His temple for judgement. The burden of the Society’s message to the world is that God at Armageddon will destroy all the forces of Satan. If Christ has not returned, and I now believe He has not, and if Armageddon is not God’s battle, and I believe it is not, the light in that connection has come to us not through the WATCHTOWER but from another source, which, proves that the WATCHTOWER is not the channel through which God is feeding His people and not only so but that all the teachings presented therein since 1918 and based on these false premises are wrong! So much for doctrine: now a word regarding what I feel constrained to state concerning the corruption otherwise of the Society.
As the scales by the Lord’s grace, have fallen from my eyes I have been astounded to see how blinded I have been to your actions, through a superstition that the WATCHTOWER was the Lord’s channel of meat in due season for the household of faith and that you as President of the Society were God’s chief servant amongst His people, and that you being responsible we should be submissive to whatsoever you required done, foolishly thinking that I had no responsibility in the matter and that anything you did that was wrong, or that I did as ordered by you, the Lord would overrule. It was with this thought in mind that I, at your orders would purchase cases of whiskey at $60.00 a case, and cases of brandy and other liquors, to say nothing of untold cases of beer. A bottle or two of liquor would not do; it was for THE PRESIDENT and nothing was too good for THE PRESIDENT. He was heaven’s favorite, why should not he have everything that would gratify his desires for comfort. True, I had a part therein for I partook of your hospitality, or shall I say the Society’s hospitality for it was the Society’s money but I partook, as above stated, being blinded with the idea the THE PRESIDENT was in charge and therefore responsible and not I. Today I see that the thought was absolutely wrong and that the squandering of the Society’s money in that respect was a mis-appropriation of funds, and I should have taken no part therein whatsoever. I confess my wrong before the friends and before the Lord and ask their forgiveness and His. Often as I thought about this extravagance and waste and then thought of the lot of the pioneers I was puzzled, but my conscience was lulled by the belief that the Lord was using you to serve His cause and people and therefore I did not and dared not say anything that I thought would cause the friends to lose confidence in you as a servant of the Lord. True, I have humorously said to those whom I thought were our mutual friends things regarding your idiosyncrasies that all MEN between friends say one of another, just as you have said of me, which things I know have been traitorously (Matthew 24:10, John 16:1,2) reported to you not along out of their setting but so out of their spirit that none who wanted to know the truth would recognize them as the original statements, and before my God I can state I have never to my knowledge done anything intentionally to injure you, the work of the Society, or its interests, in my life. In that betrayal you joined hands – not that I mind in point of fact I thank God that He permitted it and assure you I would do good to any of the conspirators had I the opportunity.
While recognizing your position as President of the corporation I have always reserved the right to think. It has been well said, “A man who cannot think is an idiot, a man who won’t think is a fool, and a man who is afraid to think is a coward.” I absolutely refuse to have any person do my thinking for me. I could not do otherwise and be faithful to my God. I could not be a Russellite and be faithful to God; I could not be a Rutherfordite and be faithful to God; I could not be a Channelite and be faithful to God; and I could not be a Dawnite or any other Ite and be faithful to God. To be such, to my understanding of the Scriptures, would mean one was defiled with women (organizations) and subject to their will and not the will of God. (Revelation 14:4) “He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully (And not the deductions and sophistries of men” no matter what they may claim for themselves or their office – or organization with which they happen to be associated,) “Behold. I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord…and cause My people to err by their lies, and by the lightness.” Jeremiah 23:28,42 . True, all these Ites or Iarns have some truth: some more, some less. Otherwise they could not deceive the people. It is with that very truth, together with the sophistries of men, that Satan blinds men; in fact the more truth they have when wrongfully used, the more deceptive they are. Each claim to speak with authority, some much more dogmatically than others. Paul well counsels, “Beware any lest man spoil your through philosophy.” – Col. 2:8.
The squandering of the Society’s money on liquor was only one thing I had cause to wonder over; there were other things. I could not help but contrast with the lot of the pioneers the luxury that you surrounded yourself with and the comfort that I enjoyed, and among these luxuries I cannot refrain from mentioning the following:
1. Not one but two 16-cylinder cars, one in California and one in New York. One would not suffice for THE PRESIDENT nor would a 6 cylinder car be big enough for THE PRESIDENT, but a 4 would do for a pioneer, or a bicycle or a hand-sleigh, or trudging along without any vehicle at all.
2. Your New York apartment, easily worth a rental of $10,000.00 a year. And its luxurious furnishings.
3. Your palatial residence on Staten Island, camouflaged as essential to the broadcasting station WBBR.
4. As though that residence were not sufficient, a further small place of seclusion in the woods of Staten Island where you can go and rest your weary body while the pioneers and others trudge from door to door.
5. Your further abode at San Diego, for which you yourself told me you were offered $75,000.00, but of course it could not be sold and the funds used to help the pioneers because it was deeded to David – what hypocrisy!
6. Commodious and expensive quarters in Magdeburg, Germany, for the convenience of THE PRESIDENT, to say nothing of the provision made for your comfort in London.
As what is your mental attitude toward all this? Why you glory in it and brazenly advertise it to the friends. “Who dares find fault therewith? Am I not THE PRESIDENT?” Yes, you glory in it, glorying in your shame. Nothing is too good for THE PRESIDENT. He must have every comfort and every consideration, but he feels very sympathetic and so tenderly disposed toward the “dear pioneers.” Words are easy, but actions speak louder than words and I cannot imagine a more striking illustration, even as between the clergy class and laity, than between yourself and the pioneers as referred to be Jesus words when he said: “For they (the hypocrites) bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their little fingers…Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for ye devour widows houses…ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte. And love…the chief seats in the synagogues…and to be called by men, “Rabbi Rabbi” (some distinctive name). Truly the pioneers and others have had burdens heaped upon them that you would not move with one of your fingers. Truly the widows have been robbed at your suggestion, or rather I should say command, for your command to the friends is, “Take their last penny for a book; they need it more than bread.” What a spirit! And yet the friends submit to it. While a few will take the penny and as Paul says, “glory in their shame,” how the vast majority hate it, but feel they must obey – God is speaking. What sacrilege! What blasphemy! What trafficking in the name of the Heavenly Father! The friends have served you faithfully, they have unknowingly been your servants, robbed by you of everything even the word of God and his precious promises which you have made null and void by your vain babblings; trudging on day by day, wondering but without a murmur. My what faithfulness, and what a taskmaster! I feel sure many will have their eyes opened, for 7,000, at least at heart have not bowed the knee to Baal even though they have advertised your name more than that of God Almighty. I would that you had gone from door to door as the pioneers and others have, and you would then know what you are talking about.
I could go on at much length about the things I know considering your personal conduct and the contrast between yourself and the pioneers, but I choose not. My sole purpose in outlining my personal experience with you is with the earnest hope of awakening the friends to the fallacy of putting confidence in man above God’s word, or idolizing an office and putting confidence in that office above God’s word. A Christian must learn that to honor God he must put faith in God’s word and God’s word alone, making it his shield and his buckler and not a man or body of men or corporation, no matter what claim is made for that man, body of men or corporation, for soon we get into the paths of human reasoning and that invariably leads us to disaster as the wrecks all along the pathway of the Gospel Age bear witness to. One organization after another Satan has overreached and brought into subjection of his will. The clergy class being overreached by Satan tried to establish the Kingdom before its time and convert the world. Of course, they claimed they were not doing it but God was. So today Satan has overreached the Society and has caused the friends through the WATCHTOWER to believe the time has come to establish the Kingdom and gather together the great multitude before the time, claiming of course that they are not doing it but that God is. But God is not and they are therefore not getting nowhere as all honest brethren are now admitting and are asking the questions, “if the millions who will never die, constitute the great multitude, are being gathered, where are they? For they certainly are not coming in our town or city.” You know and I know, all who read the reports intelligently know, that despite all our stupendous effort – there are less than 50,000 associated with the Society in its work! If for the next ten years there should become associated an average of 50,000 a year, at the end of that time there would then only be 550,000. How long would it take at that rate to gather the “millions who would never die,” and if such must take their stand before Armageddon, as you teach, how far away is Armageddon? Well, someone will say, “Well, if that be true what are we doing now?” The Bible answers the question: “We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not brought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the earth fallen.” Isaiah 26:18. “Not everyone that saith unto me,’ Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:21-23. The Roman Catholic Church is doing a great work but in the name of the Roman Catholic Church. Likewise the Protestant systems are doing a great work in their names, and the Salvation Army is doing a great work in its name, but the Society is doing it in His most holy name (Jehovah). “In fact, Lord, we’re so busy with works we have hardly time to open our Bibles, let alone study them. You see, Lord we have our YEAR BOOK to study now and that tells of our wonderful works, and our PRESIDENT, too, is very busy writing books. And oh, Lord, he is so courageous and his faith in Thee so great that he gets behind four walls, or surrounds himself literally with an armed bodyguard, and bellows away his dreams (Jeremiah 23:31,82) [sic] and sends us out from door to door to face the enemy while he goes from ‘drink to drink,’ and tells us if we don’t we are going to be destroyed. But don’t misunderstand us Lord, we don’t do it from fear or for reward, but because of our great love for you, and therefore will not be disappointed if we get no reward, but our hope is we will spared through Armageddon. Our PRESIDENT, Lord, is really a very important man. Of course he says he is not even though he thinks he is, but then that is his modesty, and whatever he says we will do. Now, Lord, is that faithfulness to your or faithfulness to a man? You see, he says he speaks for you and it is not for us to reason why; ours is but to do and die; and ‘we love to have it so.’ Of course he says when he speaks personally it might not be correct to say he is speaking for you, but when he speaks as PRESIDENT or through the WATCHTOWER or books then you speak; is it not wonderful!”
In fact these publications, he says, contain your commands and we must obey. My, what a difference a little man-made office or a little paper and ink make. How authoritative one then becomes and just on a par with the Catholic priest who says bread and wine is just bread and wine but he blesses it, oh my, it is the actual body and blood of Christ!! How alike Mr. Rutherford (excuse me, I should have said ‘Judge’) is to Mr. Ratti, for does not Mr. Ratti say when he speaks personally it is nothing but when he speaks as the Pope, he speaks infallibly. “Oh,” some will say, “the Roman Catholic Church is the counterfeit of the true and the Society is the true church.” But the question might be asked is it not more reasonable to conclude that the Society is the counterfeit of the Roman Catholic Church even though the Catholic Church is not the true church, do not appear to be the work of the same potter? Note, the spirit of both: pride, arrogance, intolerance, bombast, to say nothing of the spirit of judging. Furthermore, Paul’s statement in 2nd Thessalonians 2:4,8 seems to have application to both organizations. These verses read: “…so, that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. (When we speak officially, God speaks commands. Beware!)…And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall annihilate with the brightness of his coming!”
Now a word regarding the financial progress of the Society. You inform the friends and the public that the books and booklets are placed with the public at cost – they surely are and more!! You well know that the price to the pioneers until recently covered all costs including all appropriate overhead charges and even now the loss is only slight on some items, while on the other hand the price to the companies and public nets the Society at least 100%! What is this 100% if it is not profit? Poor gullible friends. How they believe everything you tell them!!! Where do they think the millions of dollars invested in buildings, machinery, stock, etc, at Brooklyn, Magdeburg, London, Toronto and other places, to say nothing of your own dwellings, etc, come from if not from profit on the books? You know and I know that the gain the Canadian Office alone during the past few years was a hundred thousand dollars. And at the time I was relieved of my duties there was not only a large sum in the bank as customary but also over $25,000.00 in cash was lying in the Society’s vaults at 40 Irwin Avenue and had for years, which could be used for the needs of the President or those whom he might designate in case of an international emergency – and the dear pioneers? Well, of course they could go hungry. Poor gullible friends!! My, were we not blind, and how blind the friends still are! And yet the annual reports tell of our great losses and how it is hoped the Lord will make it up. Well, it is said, “figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.”
From the article “Upon Our Lord’s Return” which shows it is a future event, which the vast majority of the friends now have, and which others may have upon application, they can choose between a “thus saith the Lord” as found therein and your bombast, bluff, and follow which they choose. Furthermore, from the above testimony, which is true before the Lord as you know it to be, the friends can determine whom you are serving. Many no doubt will decide, “I will remain with the Society until THE PRESIDENT himself through the WATCHTOWER tells me I must go.” Poor, deluded children, may God have pity upon them is my earnest prayer. They ultimately will be forced by the logic of events to realize their mistake even as I was forced to, blindest of the blind.
It seems strange that after our experiences of 1914 and 1925 we should still fail to draw a clear cut line of demarcations between deduction and a “thus saith the Lord”, and go on dogmatizing regarding the Lord’s presence, dogmatizing about the Lord being at His temple, and dogmatizing concerning what Armageddon will bring about. But there are “none so blind as those who won’t see” and they will go on prophesying false dreams until events themselves prove the folly thereof. And this, even though such false teachings bring dishonor to God and His word, for what is prone to dishonor God’s word more in the minds of people than testimony that is made with a declaration that it is based upon God’s word when that testimony is found to be false. One does well to take heed to Deuteronomy 18:21, 22, which reads: “If thou say in thine heart how shall we know the word, which the Lord hath spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the things follow not nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoke, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptously; though shalt not be afraid of him.” (An outstanding example, our nonsense concerning what God was going to do in the year 1925.) And again I quote Jeremiah 23:28-82 [sic] “He that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully…Behold, I am against them that prophecy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness.”
Up until the time I received the article “Upon Our Lord’s Return”, above referred to, I believe the Society was the Lord’s organization. That article shook my belief therein. I wrote you to see if the article could be answered. It has not been answered. I cannot be answered because it is the truth, and I now no longer believe the Society is the Lord’s channel of truth or that you are a servant of the Lord, whatever else you might be. As God is against the Society (Jeremiah 23:98-82) [sic] and every other adulterous woman that defiles men and makes them puppets or “yes men”, so must I be. I was active in the service work up to and including the “Jehovah of Hosts” testimony period and then was forced to the conclusion that such service was not only not of God but dishonoring to His Word and Name. Why, one may ask? I answer: because the message contained in the publications is largely based upon the false premise that our Lord is present, the He is at His Temple and that God at Armageddon will destroy Satan’s organization and usher in His Kingdom in power and glory upon the earth. The message is spoken presumptously and is based upon p;hilosophy or deduction of man and not upon a “thus saith the Lord.” In other words, it is what the Lord speaks of as “false dreams” and He say He is against such and therefore I must be. Was the Lord please with our false dream concerning 1925 and the zeal of the friends in that connection? He was not. Was it a lie. It was. Did we learn any lesson therefrom and humble ourselves before the Lord? We did not but went right on presumptuously heralding broadcast our further dreams in His name. Will He be any more pleased this time with our dream and zeal than he was in 1925? He will not, and therefore it behooves a faithful child of God to courageously take a stand and “come out of her that he be not a partaker of her sins.”
But someone may ask, “if the Society is not doing the Lords work, what is the Lords work?” The answer to this question must stand until a later date. Suffice to say now that just as one required to see in a measure at least the corruption of Churchianity and be dissatisfied therewith before he could accept what truth the Society had, so likewise one must see in a measure at least the corruption of the Society and how far it has departed from a “thus saith the Lords” before he can receive the answer to that question. In the meantime, I would suggest that any who read this letter should read carefully and prayerfully 1st Corinthians 18 and Philippians 4:8, pausing after each sentence to think on what he has read.
While hardly related to the matter at hand, I could not help but think as I read a recent copy of the GOLDEN AGE of Paul’s word in Phil 4:8 which reads: “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, THINK OF THESE THINGS.” I wonder how one could read such blood-curling stuff and obscene language as the GOLDEN AGE contains and at the same time carry out Paul’s admonition. But I can hear some scoffer saying, “Oh that was only Paul and he said it long before the Lord came to his temple in 1918. Since then we are taught to be real “He” men, real “Christians” that know how to use strong language.
In all my twenty years association with you I always had a kindly feeling of love toward you in the Lord and have in sincerity always closed my letters to you giving expression thereto. Even upon this occasion I cannot refrain from saying that I would to God that you would awaken to your position and make full confession before Him, for I have no ill will toward you whatsoever; I pity you and would do you good if I could. Remember, God is a God of loving kindness and tender mercy; His mercy endureth forever!
As I survey the whole matter I am reminded of Jesus words in John: “This is the condemnation that (cometh upon you) lit is come into the world. And me (you) loved darkness rather than light because their (your) works were evil”, not truth but lies, false dreams, vain babblings. “Am I therefore you enemy because I tell you the truth?” Galatians 4:16
W.F. Salter (signed)