A Witness offered to build a house for Rutherford because he was under a doctors’ order to spend winters in San Diego since his remaining lung was damaged. Rutherford relented and agreed on the condition that it only be used for work furthering the Christian preaching. And he insisted that it be deeded also to the “Ancient Worthies” such as Abraham and Isaac whom they felt would be soon resurrected. It would thus serve as a testament to the belief in the resurrection.
Here are excerpts from the Proclaimers book:
“In the 1920's, under a doctor's treatment...Rutherford spent the winters working at a San Diego residence he had named Beth-Sarim. Beth-Sarim was built with funds that were a direct contribution for that purpose...‘The Hebrew words Beth Sarim mean House of the Princes; and the purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there might be some tangible proof that there are those on earth today who fully believe God and Christ Jesus and in His kingdom, and who believe that the faithful men of old will soon be resurrected by the Lord, be back on earth, and take charge of the visible affairs of earth.’
“Footnote: At the time, it was believed that faithful men of old times...would be resurrected before the end of this system of things...
“A few years after Rutherford's death, the board of directors of the WTS decided to sell Beth-Sarim. Why? The WT of Dec 15, 1947, explained: ‘It had fully served its purpose and was now only serving as a monument quite expensive to keep; our faith in the return of the men of old time whom the King Christ Jesus will make princes in ALL the earth (not merely in California) is based, not upon that house Beth-Sarim, but upon God's Word of promise.’"
When the house was completed a full account was written in the Golden Age magazine by R. J. Martin, the Witness who donated the house. And the deed was also published in full. (Mar 19, 1930; 405-407)
You will note that the deed legally included the stipulation that:
“The grantor and the grantee are fully persuaded from the Bible testimony...and from extraneous evidence that God's kingdom is now in course of establishment and...that the governing power and authority will be invisible to men but that kingdom of God will have visible representatives on the earth who will have charge of the affairs of the nations...that among those who will thus be the faithful representatives and visible governors of the world will be David,...and other faithful men who were named with approval in the Bible... The condition herein is that ...such men shall have possession and use of said property....”
Witnesses feel no great embarrassment regarding Beth-Sarim. As you can see it is clearly described in our publications for all to see. Jehovah's Witnesses freely admit that they have at times changed their beliefs. But of course even the Apostles had to change their beliefs regarding their understandings of end-times (Lk.19:11; 24:21; Ac.1:6). So any criticisms regarding Jehovah's Witnesses changing their understanding of prophecies would also condemn the Apostles!
We appreciate the fact that the Scriptures said that knowledge would "increase" in the last days (Dan 12:4). So, Jehovah's Witnesses don't pay much attention to the mistaken misunderstanding by early Witnesses from 50 to a hundred years ago. Because it just doesn't matter, nor does it disprove what we believe now.
Further, any criticism on this is hypocritical because EVERY religion has changed it's beliefs and practices over the same time period!
We might ask others on this forum the question: “How concerned are you about your religion's past beliefs that black people were cursed, that slavery was "Christian," and that racial intermarriage was condemned by the Bible?”
Are you embarrassed when you realize that your religion used to teach that hell was literally in the center of the earth? Or when your own theologians were denying that women had souls, or preaching that anesthesia during childbirth was from the devil?!!
Jehovah's Witnesses regularly study our history, but, do other religions willingly tell you about the uninformed things their predecessors believed?"
SOURCE: This is an answer by BAR_ANERGES to a question posed at Yahoo Answers.
J. F. Rutherford and "Beth-Sarim" (Search For Bible Truths)
Russell's "Pyramid Chronology" & Rutherford's "Beth-Sarim" (Search For Bible Truths)
Beth-Sarim (Pastor Russell)
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