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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Paul S. L. Johnson, The "Epiphany Messenger"

After the death of Pastor Charles Russell on October 31, 1916, the divisions within the Watchtower Society soon started. Read about one of the ring leaders by the name of Paul S. L. Johnson. This review of Paul Johnson and his sect the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement, is not from Watchtower publications. However Jehovah's Witnesses can also read all about him in the 1973 & 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, the Proclaimers of God's Kingdom book, the Divine Purpose book, and Faith on the March. Paul S. L. Johnson published a number of books and magazines, in which he attacked Joseph F. Rutherford, the Watchtower Society and other Bible Students, to include the Dawn Bible Students Association, and the Pastoral Bible Institute. Johnson saw himself in scripture, and he wanted to be Russell's replacement. This might be why the majority of Bible Students don't want anything to do with him or his sect. Johnson saw "types" in everything as one Bible student put it: “If Moses farted in the wilderness, Paul Johnson would find a type for it”. Most of the Bible Students dislike Johnson as much as they distain Joseph Rutherford. Johnson lost the battle with Rutherford over the leadership of the Watchtower Society, so he simply started his own faction.

Additional Reading:

Additional Reading:

BIBLE STUDENTS IN BRITAIN - Bible Fellowship Union

Pastor Russell had died on October 31.

On or about November 13, there set sail from New York, bound for Liverpool, one Paul Johnson, erstwhiile right-hand man of Brother Russell, now coming to England as an emissary of Joseph Rutherford, who at the moment had his hands full in the states endeavoring to effect his own succession to the Presidency of the Society. In the light of subsequent events it is tolerably clear that Rutherford’s object in sending him was to "sound out" the attitude of the British brethren as to his succession, he was engaged in a difficult task in the States and he was probably not too sure that he would not meet with the same opposition-perhaps more so-in Britain. In such case, events proved him to be right.

Johnson landed in Liverpool on November 19 and proceeded to London, where he confronted the three London co-managers with the assertion that he had come as "minister plenipotentiary," whatever that may have meant-nobody ever did find out-to enquire into the state of the churches and put right anything that was wrong. As a means of settling the differences of thought on.policy which had preoccupied the London Church for twelve months this sounded good, and the brethren prepared themselves to talk and listen. They speedily found out, however, they were expected to listen and not talk. Johnson claimed that as the Society’s representative with sweeping powers he would give the orders and the brethren would obey. His own words, a month later, were "no discussion is permitted. It is for the UK brethren to carry out the suggestions of the Society’s representative who has full charge of its affairs in this country." It is not surprising that the euphoria generated by his coming evaporated rather quickly-except in the case of Jesse Hemery. And when it was revealed that Johnson had come fully armed with full knowledge of the proposal which the London Church had sent to the Pastor for his endorsement, and intended to suppress it completely, light began to dawn.

It turned out later-from Johnson’s own writings-but was not known at the time, that he had come to England having in his possession not only a copy of the proposal signed by the Elders, but also a copy of the 1916 Elders’ Schedule marked by Jesse Hemery to show which of the Elders were sponsoring the move toward control of its own affairs by the Church. And he says that Jesse had sent two copies of this list to America before he left for Britain. Now if this is true, it does raise a query. The news of the Pastor’s death could not have reached the London office before November 2-the Pastor died in California while on a preaching tour and the news had to be first received at Brooklyn and be cabled from there to London. If Jesse Hemery sent the schedules to Rutherford immediately upon hearing of the Pastor’s death, they could not have reached Brooklyn before November 9, and Johnson left New York no later than November 13. It looks that there was some urgent discussion at the American end before Johnson left, and now here he was, having by his own admission already prejudged the issue.

His first exercise of his claimed authority was to dismiss Henry Shearn and William Crawford from their positions of co-managers of the Society in Britain, and order them to remove their furniture and effects from the premises forthwith. His next was to declare that the resolution intended for Brother Russell’s approval was invalid and refused-the Tabernacle arrangements were to remain under the control of Jesse Hemery. This, unwelcome as it was to the majority of Elders and the Church, was welcome news indeed to Jesse, who now had a powerful and indeed all-sufficient ally.

He nest announced that he was off on a tour of the country and it is probably that the London brethren saw him go with a feeling of relief. They had never before had a brother from the States quite of this nature and most were not quite sure what it was all about and what they ought to do about it. The general feeling that whatever came to them from Brooklyn must be good precluded most from making any hasty judgment. Anyway he was off to Manchester and that was that for the time being.

Manchester, however, thought differently. The national Convention at Manchester was due over the period December 30 to January 1 and the arrangements had long since been made and the programs printed and circulated, featuring eighteen British speakers from the whole country, Scotland to the South. Johnson demanded that the program be torn up and he himself be given a major share of the speaking appointments. Under strong protest, the organizers gave way, probably on the same basis as London.

By January he was back in London in time for the annual election of Church elders and deacons. Normally Jesse Hemery as Chairman of the congregation, presided over this function.

Johnson insisted that he, as the Society’s representative, preside, quite illegally since this was an individual Church matter and nothing to do with the Society. Weakly, Hemery gave way. It is surprising that the congregation as such did not protest-but the fact is that Johnson was an eloquent and quick-witted man with a certain winning manner which served to mask in some degree his brusque authoritarianism. And the congregation, completely unused to this kind of behavior on the part of one coming from America as a pastor and counselor, were still in considerable doubt in what way they should react.

Now he returned to the attack on Shearn and Crawford, demanding from the pulpit that they be dismissed from their position as Elders, or at least not elected as such at the election. "Brother Crawford is no longer a child of God" he declaimed "but I believe Brother Shearn is." In the stunned silence that followed, one teen-aged observer wondered inwardly why some of the Elders did not rise and protest at this unwarranted slur on their fellow-elders, but no one did. As the silence continued, William Crawford rose quietly from his seat, carefully gathered his books together from the pew shelf in front of him, spoke decisively and clearly "That’s enough for me,": made his way along the pew to the side aisle, walked down the aisle and out of the building. For the first time it became evident that something was seriously wrong.

That something was plainly demonstrated when Johnson an-nounced that he was called of God to perform a work in London which, he said, was typified by the work of Nehemiah and the enemies of the Jews at the Restoration, that in a symbolic sense he was to judge and slay those enemies who, said he, were those in London who supported the resolution proposing freedom of action for the congregation. Outlining this thesis one day to a group of London brethren he was approached by Duncan Cronk, one of the Elders, who could always be relied on to relieve the tenseness of a difficult situation with a little light humor. "So you are Nehemiah, Brother Johnson?" "That is so." And Brother Shearn is Tobiah and Brother Crawford is Sanballat and you are going to hang them in the Tabernacle?" "That is so." "Then who am I?" "The Lord has not shown me yet, Brother Cronk, but he will." "And Nehemiah is said to have plucked out the hair of his enemies." "That is so." "Then pluck mine out," and so saying he bent his head forward revealing a pate so neatly trimmed that even Nehemiah would have found difficulty in performing his recorded action. For perhaps the first time since his arrival the other was for a moment at a loss for words.

It is fairly evident that Jesse Hemery was banking on Shearn and Crawford, the principal advocates of the freedom proposal, being eliminated by Johnson so that upon the latter’s return to the States Jesse would be left in supreme control. By late February, however, Johnson announced that he, and not Rutherford, was the true successor to Pastor Russell and that he himself was to fulfil the role of the "Steward" in the Parable of the Penny. To the unbiased mind at the time the root of the trouble was obvious. Here were three men, Rutherford, Johnson and Hemery, each convinced that he, and he alone, was the best man to rule and direct the brethren, ambitious enough to attempt achievement of the coveted position, and blind to the harm they were causing. There is an old proverb, the origin of which the writer has long since forgotten, which runs "When Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war." In this case there were three Greeks, and the tug of war was a triangular one. There could be only one winner, and in the upshot that winner had to be the one with the strongest pull.

In the meantime Johnson was traveling the country visiting the larger churches assuring them that he was the rightful head of the Society and they should do well to heed and obey him. In most places he got short shrift; a few did take some notice and when in later years he formed a body called the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement these did associate themselves as a "British branch." At the time, however, the overwhelming majority wanted nothing more than to see the back of him. From Liver-pool he wrote Jesse Hemery a long letter in which he predicted the coming of a long famine, fulfilling an episode in the life of Elisha, (although what connection there was between an eighth century BC Hebrew prophet and a possible English famine in the twentieth century AD did no immediately appear) and instructing that supplies of food be purchased and stored, especially including "wheat and monkey nuts!" It was now that the truth began to be glimpsed; the man was undergoing a severe mental break-down.

"Am not al all well," he said, "my brain is quite weary . . .

I am sure that the Lord has given me Sister A" (a Bethel sister accompanying him for secretarial purposes) "to give me much needed relief. If this relief had not been forthcoming I am satisfied I would have had a repetition of my 1910 breakdown, but the Lord will sustain me to finish the work he has given me to do." He had suffered a breakdown in 1910 but it had been thought then that would be non-recurring. This, and the many eccentricities which he manifested at them time, and which lingered a long time in the memories of brethren who witnessed them, and his dictatorial manner and extravagant claims so uncharacteristic of brethren in the Truth, led to the British brethren chiefly concerned, and Rutherford in America, reaching the same conclusion simultaneously, and in consequence Paul John-son received a summons from Brooklyn to return at once. John-son refused to go and declared once again that the election of Rutherford as Society President was invalid and that he himself was Pastor Russell’s true successor. At the time he "dismissed" Jesse Hemery as manager for the Society; Jesse took no notice of that but realizing, rather late it must be admitted, the seriousness of the situation, called in Shearn and Crawford, whom he had quite happily seen disfellowshipped and sent into the wilderness only a few weeks previously, to come back and help him get rid of Johnson-which, with perhaps a commendable disregard for old differences, they did. Looking back from the vantage point of many years later, there could be a rather grim humor in this rather tardy appeal of Hemery-the denunciations of Shearn and Crawford by Johnson were as nothing to that of Hemery when many years later, Johnson said that his "experiences with J. Hemery revealed him as one of the most cunning hypocrites with whom he ever dealt." (In these memoirs he always referred to himself in the third person.) "So completely successful was he as a hypocrite that PSL did not suspect this of him until after Rutherford thew PSL down . . ." This kind of language was, of course, totally unacceptable to right-thinking British brethren, however exasperating the circumstances.

Perhaps, after all, he was the instrument of the Lord’s salvation as far as the UK brethren were concerned, for it was chiefly in consequence of the issues he stirred up in his short sojourn in this country that the attitude of at least half of them hardened into a resolve that they would neither accept from America nor set up for themselves any leader wielding dictatorial authority; from thenceforth the British Bible Students would stand by the principles laid down by their deceased Pastor and remain a decentralized body having no cohesive bond between the churches save that of voluntary association together in the practice and promulgation of a common faith and a common hope.

But despite the tragedy of the occurrence, and the succession of incidents, saddening at one time and humorous at another, a dis-passionate of the view of the happening against the background of the position in England prior to and at the time of his arrival might enable a more realistic appraisal of his actions to be made.

In the first place, Paul Johnson could very reasonably have expected to succeed Brother Russell as leader of the world movement. It is likely that many of the USA brethren did so expect, and he would certainly have been a more popular choice than the austere and dictatorial Rutherford. He came to England knowing that Rutherford, largely be means of legal rather than moral considerations was going to win the race, and knowing Rutherford, as he undoubtedly did, as well as anyone in the States, he knew what would as assuredly happen to the move-ment to which he had given his life. And he could not bear the knowledge. Did he think, knowing the sturdy and independent spirit of the British brethren, that if he could get them on his side he could challenge Rutherford from this side of the Atlantic and perhaps win? The line between waiting for the Lord to put things right and trying to put them right for the Lord can on occasion be a very thin one and many a sincere disciple in past history has overstepped that line. Then upon arrival in England, instead of meeting a solid body of brethren ready to do battle for the right under his leadership, as he might perhaps have hoped, he found a community asserting a right to independence which would brook no leaders of the kind he envisaged. Hence he got rid of Shearn and Crawford, the spearheads of the independence movement, only to find that Hemery had ambitions like to his own, so that he now had an opponent in England as well as in America. It is a possibility that, faced with this mounting opposition, and feeling quite sincerely that, if he failed, the whole Bible Student movement would pass into alien hands and fall into ruin, his mind became temporarily disordered and this could account for the strange and unexpected things he said and did. He was normal enough after his return to the States. He went on to break with Rutherford and eventually organize his own movement which still survives and conducts a vigorous evangelical work not only in English-speaking countries but in the third world. The few in Britain who espoused his cause at the time are represented to this day as a branch of the American movement still holding to the theological outlook of Pastor Russell and counting themselves as lineal descendants of his work, but looking to Johnson and his successors as their spiritual leaders and accepting their oversight and control. A closer study of his recorded acts and dealings in this country by anyone who was there at the time suggests a picture of a man convinced that the fate of an entire world community rested on his shoulders, frustrated by opposition to what he sincerely believed to be the only way in which it could be saved, and finally broken in despair at his failure to achieve his aim. Perhaps his real mistake was the very common one of feeling that the well-being of the Lord’s work rested on him and him alone. When tempted to adopt that attitude-and many form the best of motives have been thus tempted-it is well to remember the words of good king Jehoshaphat: "Ye shall not need to fight in this battle, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord."

A week before the end of March Paul Johnson left 34 Craven Terrace, early in the morning, quietly, before anyone else was up. The rather undignified-and unnecessary-mode of his departure, often recounted in other years and invariably invoking some hilarity, need not be recounted here. He went, and there was relief at his going. No one knew where he was until news was received from Liverpool that he had sailed for the United States on March 31. He had been in this country for nineteen weeks and in that short time created an unprecedented scene of confusion and misunderstanding amongst the brethren which was by no means allayed by his departure. A number of churches, mostly from the larger cities, such as Glasgow and Manchester, wrote to Brooklyn requesting that he be not allowed to come to Britain again.

The Herald of Christ's Kingdom - Special History Issue

P. S. L. Johnson had been a prominent pilgrim under Pastor Russell. When his interpretations of the separation of Elijah and Elisha, and of “that evil servant,” caused him to be rejected from the editorial committee of the planned new journal at the Asbury Park, New Jersey, convention in 1918, he, Raymond Grant Jolly, R. H. Hirsh, and most of the Philadelphia congregation left. They formed the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement, and their intense witnessing efforts gathered a sizeable group of mostly former members of the Society as adherents. They held Pastor Russell in high esteem. A prodigious writer, Johnson produced a series of seventeen books under the general title of Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures. Abounding in typology, the LHMM categorized both prominent ones involved in their work, as well as those who differed with them, under various symbolic names. Teaching that the door to the High Calling was closed, they claimed Paul Johnson was the last member of the Church and his successor, Raymond Jolly, was the last member of the Great Company. Their two periodicals The Bible Standard and Present Truth continue to be published today.

Two smaller groups split off from the LHMM. In 1955, Raymond Jolly withdrew the credentials as a pilgrim from John Krewson when Krewson began circulating an opposition paper. Krewson formed what came to be called in 1962 the Laodicean Home Missionary Movement in Philadelphia and published a journal entitled The Present Truth of the Apocalypsis. A year later John Hoefle of Mount Dora, Florida, also had his credentials withdrawn; he formed the Epiphany Bible Students Association. Hoefle taught that the door to the high calling had closed at a date later than the LHMM taught. He published a monthly newsletter that has been continued by his widow.

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Laymen's Home Missionary Movement

Shortly before Pastor Charles Taze Russell died in 1916, Paul S. L. Johnson, a Jew who had become first a Lutheran minister and then a Bible Student pilgrim (teacher/preacher), was sent to England to straighten out troubles among the British students. In order to facilitate Johnson's work, Russell gave him "enlarged powers." Johnson, in November, proceeded to England and, under the authority received from Russell, fired two of the managers of the London office. Judge J. F. Rutherford, confirmed as president of the Watch Tower corporation while Johnson was in still in England, saw Johnson as a major threat to his consolidation of leadership control. Johnson believed that the "special authority" given by Russell was still valid.

The issue came to a head at the 1918 board meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the corporate entity of the Bible Students, at which Rutherford's authority was decisively confirmed. Johnson, Raymond Jolly, and a host of Bible Students withdrew from the Rutherford-led organization and joined in the formation of the Pastoral Bible Institute (PBI). Differences soon arose among the PBI leaders, so Johnson left and formed the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement. The major strength was in the Philadelphia ecclesia. Two periodicals, The Herald of the Epiphany (for general readership) and the Present Truth (an in-group periodical and major polemic organ), were begun.

The Laymen's Home Missionary Movement believes Russell was that faithful and wise servant of Matthew 24:45-47 and was labelled by Johnson the "parousia messenger." As Russell brought word of the presence, so Johnson, as the "epiphany messenger," brought word of Christ's appearance. Raymond Jolly, Johnson's successor, was the succeeding Editor. Like Russell, Johnson published voluminously. During Johnson's lifetime, fifteen of the seventeen volumes of the Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, volumes following the format and appearance of Russell's Studies in the Scriptures, appeared. Jolly published two additional volumes during the 1950's.

The Laymen's Home Missionary Movement remains one of the "orthodox" Bible Student groups which still uses Russell's writings and follows Russell's pattern of finding Biblical types of current events and groups. Other Bible Student groups were typed as divisions of the tribes of Levites (Num. 3:17-37). PBI students were seen as Shimite Gershonites, revolutionists changing Russell's charter into an ecclesiastical, clerical document. Johnson's main disagreement with the PBI and the Dawn Bible Students Association, which he saw merely as the PBI masked under another name, concerned the harvest. Johnson believed that, in 1914, the door of salvation (Luke 13:24-25) closed as an entrance into consecration and spiritual-begettal for high calling purposes. The door, he believed, is closed for entrance into the spiritual kingdom. The PBI believed that the door was still open. In essence, the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement pointed to the closing of the inner circle, but allowed new members, including the great and earthly classes. They also believe they are in the period called the Epiphany, during which the Lord is revealing Himself to the world and His people to establishing His kingdom.

Epiphany Bible Students Association

After the death of Paul S. L. Johnson in 1950, the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement began to experience troubles in its leadership. In the spring of 1955, charges of fraud and dishonesty in business were circulated against John J. Hoefle (1895-1984), a prominent leader who had spoken at Johnson's funeral. Hoefle, in turn, accused the leadership of the Layman's Home Missionary Movement of slander and lying, and, in the ever growing polemics, some doctrinal distinctions between Hoefle and Raymond Jolly, who had succeeded Johnson as head of the organization, began to appear. They disagreed on the nature and validity of John's baptism (Acts 19:1ff), which Hoefle saw as an excuse for Jolly to accuse him of being out of harmony with both Johnson and Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Bible Student Movement. Hoefle was formally disfellowshipped on February 8, 1956.

Hoefle began to publish the correspondence on the controversy and his opinions on the ongoing administration of Jolly. By the end of 1957, these letters had become a regular monthly publication. In 1968, the title Epiphany Bible Students Association began to appear on the masthead. Hoefle continues in the Russell/ Johnson theological school with only minor differences with the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement, primarily of an administrative nature and concerning variations on the interpretation of specific texts. For example, both the LHMM and the Hoefle taught of two classes of individuals who would appear in the future Kingdom of God: the Ancient Worthies who would rule (Ps. 45:16) and the Youthful Worthies who would be in partnership with them. The LHMM under Jolly, were teaching that as of 1954, all of the Youthful Worthies had been won and began to speak of a new class of people, the Consecrated Epiphany Campers. Hoefle rejected this teaching, claimed that no such class existed, and that the Youthful Worthies would be won until the time of restitution.

The Epiphany Bible Students Association is organized around individuals who receive the monthly newsletters. There are regular meetings for Bible study at the Mount Dora Bible House, the headquarters in Florida. Other study groups around the country meet in private homes. Leonard E. Williams has succeeded Hoefle as president of the association, and Emily Hoefle, his widow, remains active as the secretary. Laodicean

The Laodicean Home Missionary Movement

John W. Krewson was a member of the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement who withdrew in protest over the leadership of Raymond Jolly, who had succeeded Paul S. L. Johnson. In 1955, within months of Johnson's death, Krewson was disfellowshipped and soon began to publish a periodical, The Present Truth of the Apocalypsis. He offered LHMM members an option to John J. Hoefle, who had also been disfellowshipped and had formed the Epiphany Bible Students Association. They began to argue, each casting doubt on the other's right to preach and asserting that the other was not a pilgrim (preacher with proper credentials). As time passed, Jolly, Hoefle and Krewson have continued the intrafamily feud; sometimes Jolly and Krewson agree against Hoefle, and sometimes Hoefle and Jolly agree against Krewson. Krewson and Hoefle disagreed on Johnson's status as the last saint, Hoefle arguing that Charles Taze Russell's appointments of other pilgrims (who were still alive) was ample refutation. Both Hoefle and Jolly joined in refuting Krewson's teaching on the apocalypse. The Laodicean Home Missionary Movement is loosely structured around Krewson's periodical by individuals and small groups who use it for study and edification.

The Bible Students' Library - Bible Students Fragments, 1917-1967

Paul S.L. Johnson had fallen out with Rutherford in 1917 but continued to visit IBSA classes for a couple of years (though not under Watch Tower auspices). He was one of the prominent founders of the Committee of Seven, though the affiliation was brief. He organized the Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement and began publishing monthly the Present Truth and Herald of Christ’s Epiphany ("PT" -for believers) on 1920 Jan. 1, and bimonthly the Herald of the Epiphany (in 1952 renamed The Bible Standard and Herald of Christ’s Kingdom - for witness work) on 1920 July 16. By 1941 Johnson taught that Pastor Russell had been the Parousia (Presence) messenger of the Reaping period but that he himself was a special "Epiphany messenger" for the separation time and Time of Trouble. (In later years it was taught that he was the last member of the Church and that R.G. Jolly was the last member of the Great Company-also a heavenly class.) He wrote voluminously on the interpretation of types and shadows before his death in 1950 Oct. 22. Adherents now believe they constitute an earthly class of "Youthful Worthies" or (since 1954) of "Epiphany Campers," who will reign on earth with the Ancient Worthies. Johnson was succeeded as executive trustee by his chief adherent, Raymond Grant Jolly (1886-1979) [then by August Gohlke (1916-1985), and then by Bernard W. Hedman]. The headquarters was moved from Philadelphia to the Chester Springs suburb 1967 Oct. 15. The LHMM publishes the Bible Standard and Present Truth journals in English, Polish, French, Dano-Norwegian, and Portuguese. Perhaps 250-300 partake of the Memorial in the U.S. and Canada. There is a greater number of adherents abroad (e.g., of perhaps 6200 others, about half are in Nigeria, one third in Poland, and several others in France, India, England, Scandinavia, Brazil, and the West Indies). In Poland the LHMM separated from the other Bible Students 1927 April, under the leadership of Czeslaw Kasprzykowski in Warsaw (who then disassociated a few years later). Wiktor Stachowiak (1897-1990) became the Polish representative 1936-1990.

Others prominent in the LHMM work included John J. Hoefle, Michael Kostyn (until ca. 1930) and C.J. Schmidt of Detroit, F.A. Hall of Indianapolis, Wm. Eschrich of Milwaukee, Daniel Gavin of Springfield, Mass., Carl Seebald of Muskegan, Mich., Alex Wayne (Wojnerowski) of Memphis, John Treble of Miami, and J.L.A. Condell of Jamaica. Principal conventions were at Philadelphia, Muskegan, Chicago, and Hyde, Cheshire, England.

There have also been some splinter groups: W.S. Stevens of Atlanta left in 1935 and circulated a letter claiming Johnson was dictatorial. S.A. Cater of Vancouver, B.C., departed in 1948, and Thomas T. Ryde in Los Angeles left soon afterwards. Cyril Shuttleworth, the British representative, left in 1951. John W. Krewson split with Jolly in 1954-1955 over whether Krewson (not eligible for the heavenly hope) should assume the teaching position? he published The Present Truth of the Apocalypsis journal through his Laodicean Home Missionary Movement in Philadelphia and later in Florida. About 1956 Feb. John J. Hoefle left and began issuing a monthly newsletter through his Epiphany Bible Students Assn. of Mount Dora, Fla. Hoefle taught that the elect of the church continued longer than the other two groups had taught. Those who left were commonly disfellowshipped (whether before or after leaving).

“the World’s High Priest”--a false charge?
- "Rebuttal from an anonymous Jehovah's Witness researcher".

The magazine of Johnson’s movement The Present Truth and Herald of Christ’s Epiphany (October, 1975) calls the fact that he entitled himself the “World’s Great High Priest” an unprovable “false charge,” stating that “Surely [he] never arrogated to himself such an office or its prerogatives!” and “at most [he] claimed to be a member of the Body of the World’s High Priest.”

However: There are a number of references we can point to corroborating the fact that P. S. L. Johnson undoubtedly did claim that he was “earth’s great high priest.”

After Johnson separated from the Bible Students, he began to publish the periodical The Present Truth and Herald of Christ’s Epiphany. Later he wrote a series of books entitled Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures. In Series VI of Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, entitled “Merariism,” published in 1938, he states on pages 358 and 359 that “the High Priest here referred to [at Hebrews 7:26, 27] ‘offers up sacrifice first for His own sins.’” So Johnson raises the question: “Can this High Priest be the Church’s High Priest alone, i.e., Jesus?” The reply he gives: “We answer, Certainly not . . . Whose High Priest then is meant here? We answer, Only the World’s High Priest, i.e. Jesus and the Church, as Head and Body.” Thus, Johnson taught that the “World’s High Priest” included not just Jesus but also those that would rule in heaven with Jesus, referring to these as “the Body of the World’s High Priest” and “a Holy Priesthood.” So, according to him, Jesus’ followers while still alive on the earth would be “ministering sacrificially now as parts of the World’s High Priest.” Thereafter, P. S. L. Johnson clearly identified himself as the “earth’s great high priest.” In Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, Series X, published in 1941, page 142, he explains that Zechariah, the son of high priest Jehoida was an antitype of himself. Using the initial J to represent himself, Paul S. L. Johnson (see the abbreviations used on page 755), he refers to the “antitypical Zecharias, J. [Paul S. L. Johnson], the last of the star members, and the last member of the Little Flock to remain on earth.” He adds: “Accordingly, the Zechariah of 2 Chro[nicles] 24:20-22 types J. [Johnson], and that as the main priestly rebuker of the symbolic fornication practiced between the U.S. government and the Romanist Church.”

Since he taught that he was the last one of the “Little Flock,” or those that would be part of the heavenly priesthood, he therefore claimed to be the last one of the earthly part of what he taught as “the World’s High Priest.” At his death, it was clear from the writings of his followers that they believed this. For instance, on page 189 the December 1, 1950, issue of The Present Truth and Herald of Christ’s Epiphany states: “You have the Epiphany writings and doubtless know of Bro. Johnson’s oft repeated presentation that he would be the last Little Flock member to leave the earth.” On the same page of The Present Truth, after making the above-mentioned quotation from page 142 of the Epiphany Studies, (Series X), the author of the article, Mr. Jolly, explains: “Here Bro. Johnson states most clearly that he is the last member of the Little Flock to remain on earth. We also have here a clear Scripture proof of his being the last member of the Body of Christ to remain in the flesh.” This writer’s comments reflect the concept that the World’s High Priest includes not only Christ but also “the Body of Christ,” or the Church, of which Johnson was believed to be the last living member. Therefore, that issue of The Present Truth on page 191 describes Johnson’s death as “the removal of the last priest from the earth.” Thus, by reason of the writings of Johnson himself and his followers, it is evident that he viewed himself—and was viewed by others—as “the World’s High Priest” until his death.

Paul Johnson was a close confidant of Russell, and excepted EVERTHING he thought, even his shortcomings for 1914. While Russell aqdmitted he was wrong about what he expected to happen by 1914, Johnson decided he was right about it all. Johnson believed that the door to heaven closed in 1914, and that we entered the epiphany stage of the Lord's presence. He proclaimed himself the Epiphany Messenger, and had outlined a series of 22 books titled the Epiphany Studies in the Scriptures, only 17 were published, the last few were published posthumous. When he died it was said that he stated in his will that he was the last highpriest on earth (last of the 144,000). The Laymen's Home Missionary Movement was actually founded by C.T. Russell. It was a name he used to publish with. It can be seen on certain "Bible Students Monthly and Old Theology Quarterly tracts as well as mentioned in the Watch Towers of that time period. Apparently it wasn't incorporated, so that Johnson could incorporate it and use it for his own ministry. - Rolando Rodriguez (ex-JW, now "self-appointed" members of the Bride of Christ) Bible Student Ministries, posted on an ex-JW board on 3/22/2010.

It is at times difficult to gain the large perspective within the LHMM due to the minute studying of details. Here we lay out some more information about the LHMM and its history in an effort to sort things out as they occurred. We begin with some of the predictions that Paul S.L. Johnson (PSLJ) made about himself. Among them: * That God knew ahead of time he would be faithful as the Epiphany Messenger and that he would be recognized as the Epiphany Messenger by the other Bible Student groups (like Joseph was recognized by his brothers). - This did not happen. Many Bible Student groups rejected him. * That he would be the last of the Little Flock. - There is no way to know this.* That he would die a violent death in October, 1956. - He died in 1950, instead of 1956....and his death was not violent.* That he would write 21 volumes. - He did not.* That he would expound the entire Bible. - He did not.

Here are a few of the other unfulfilled predictions that PSLJ wrote:

* That he would be in rank in the kingdom behind Bro. Russell, and the 12 apostles. - There is no way to know this. Possibly, God would reward false prophets with a high rank.* That the time of trouble would end in 1956 and the Kingdom would be established with the collapse of society, anarchy, etc. - According to the LHMM, the time of trouble" is still going on.* Before 1939, he said there would not be another World War. - When there was another World War, he said that it wasn't another war, but a continuation of the first one.* He said that Germany would win World War Phase II. - They did not.* That revolution would start in 1934. - When that didn't happen he said that revolution would start in 1949.* That communism would overthrow the capitalist countries. - Didn't happen.* That JWs would form a union with the state and grow to be the majority religion in America. - Not true.* That labor unions would revolt against capitalists (based upon the types Jehu, etc.) Some of these predictions were just continuations of the ones Russell made. - No.* That the end of Epiphany would be in 1954. - Unverifiable.

None of these statements are true and he was not coerced into making any of the statements. They were just a product of his imagination and wishful thinking. The confusion that resulted from the lack of fulfillment gave rise to differences of opinion about what happened, which caused splits and siftings. The fact that these predictions did not come true made his followers wonder about the other predictions. They said that it was a "trial of faith" and by this they meant it was a trial of their faith in Paul Johnson AS THE EPIPHANY MESSENGER. - March 30, 2008
Additional comments:

In the book entitled The Epiphany Messenger (E10), E13, and other places Johnson writes about himself as seen in Biblical antitypes. From informal surveys, many LHMM adherents have not even read these books. In some of the countries where there are larger numbers of followers than in the U.S. (such as Poland and France) the books have not even been translated into their native language. Here are some things presented in those writings that are difficult to believe:

* Johnson sees himself in so many types that it makes him into an overly pivotal person in God's grand plan…mentioned only second to Jesus in importance.* Dates and times of some events were not recorded and so he guessed at the times to make it work out (See E10, p. 22)* There is little Scriptural proof offered that these detailed types are in the Bible. (Only Amos 3:7)* Many of the facts presented can not be verified. They are things that happened in Bro. Johnson's head or during his time period. We can only take his word for it.* Many of the parallels are questionable. For example, on E10 p. 57 Claude of Turin dies and this types Johnson completing wrting up to a certain paragraph of a certain article.* Certain events could have been influenced by Johnson's desired or expected outcome…like losing a debate on a certain day.* Parallel events are not consistent. Sometimes like events in the type represent multiple kinds of events in the antitypes (for example, someone's death types writing an article, someone failing to go somewhere, or someone returning from a trip, etc.)* Johnson speaks of Jesus taking over his mind exclusively while talking to a brother. It's hard to believe he was used in this way. E10 p. 305* If some details of types can be verified as untrue, how can we accept the rest of them as true? For example, in E10 p. 594 Bro. Johnson sees God's speeches to Job typing God speaking to him about the creative works he wrote in the Creation book. In E2 p. 472 Johnson indicates that Behemoth was a hippopotamus and Leviathan was a crocodile. A hippopotamus obviously does not have a tail like a cedar (Job 40:17) nor does a crocodile breath fire (Job 41:19-21). These creatures were more likely dinosaurs considering their descriptions. If God was telling Bro. Johnson what to write, why did he allow him to write these errors?* All the detailed types such as those presented by Johnson ended with his death. Is Jesus done with His work on earth?

How can we reconcile these things? If we decide that some of the types Johnson gives are simply not true, how can we decide which ones are true? How can you prove Johnson was the Epiphany Messenger without appealing to his own writings? Why would God allow him to make such mistakes? How important are these types in a Chirstian's life? How much time should be devoted to studying them?

Johnson stated that no doctrine of the Plan should be based solely upon a type. Types are used to illustrate doctrines taught in clear Scripture and not used to teach (E4 p. 254 ). How can one prove there is a Youthful Worthies class without using types? How can one prove the High Calling is closed without using types? These are contradictions.

Various Bible Students have stated that they don't believe in Johnson because he saw himself in types so much. This is a valid point. If you read the 10th Epiphany volume it is evident. How can one answer this objection? It seems we must first, prove that Bro. Johnson was the Epiphany messenger, then we can accept some of the types he presented by faith. But what if he wasn't? It is a vicious circle of reasoning. Can we prove the types by the source and prove the source by the types? - Jan. 14, 2008,

Bible Standard Discussion Forum: The purpose of this blog is to discuss the teachings and practices of Bible Standard Ministries (BSM)...formerly known as the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement or LHMM. (This blog appears to be run by disgruntled ex-Johnsonites who are also critical of Pastor Charles Taze Russell).