My dear Brethren:
Grace and peace thru our Beloved Master!
Once more it becomes our unpleasant duty to make public a recent exchange of letters in the much-publicized slander case, the same having been opened up again by Pilgrim William Eschrich in his letter of March 20, 1956. It had been our hope and prayer that there is still sufficient honor remaining in these prominent parties in the LHMM to publish a clear and full statement; but about five months have now elapsed since Brother Eschrich's “confession”, with not a word appearing in the May or July Present Truths, so we are now forced to continue in our “wrong course” by making this further correspondence available to all the brethren, exact reproductions of which appear below and on the pages that follow:
March, 20 1956
In meditation and prayer I have come to see that, while I had no evil intentions when I told Bro. Gavin of conditions in the field where he also serves as a pilgrim, I did wrong in telling him about your investing $1000.00 for a Truth sister, reportedly without giving her a receipt. I want to tell you that I now see that in telling him about matters in which you were involved in a way that might reflect against you I was overtaken in a fault. As you already know from my letter of Nov. 2, 1954, I do not think there was any wrong doing on your part in that transaction. I want to assure you again, I have not peddled rumors around, I now ask your forgiveness for what I told Bro. Gavin, which I should not have done, though I had no evil intentions. Also Sr. Eschrich wishes to ask your forgiveness for mentioning the matter to one or two others. Please do not think that this letter means an approval of your wrong course you are following; but I do feel I Owe you this statement, and I ask your forgiveness in as far as the matter may have affected you.
(Signed) William Eschrich.
March 28, 1956
Dear Brother Eschrich:
Greetings thru Jesus, our Beloved Lord!
In your letter of March 20, which you mailed from Springfield, Mo., and which was forwarded to me here, you ask my forgiveness for whatever part you may have had in the slander that has been circulated about me; and I wish to assure you, my Brother, I am quite happy to note you are beginning to meet your Scriptural requirements in the matter. That is my sentiment toward Sister Eschrich, too; and I truly hope your effort here to “Pursue that true holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” may prove an exhortation to the other two Pilgrims involved with you to also make an honest effort to set their houses in order at this Memorial Season.
But, you say I am not to “think that this letter means an approval of your wrong course you are following.” Your statement has me puzzled, as you do not intimate anything in particular that you consider wrong about it. When I was given your name in connection with the slander, I came to you directly on October 30, 1954 – and to no one else. I thought that letter to you was in all good spirit – that I had come to you in full honesty and compliance with my Scriptural obligation in every particular. Is it your thought that I “followed a wrong course” in any way at all in that letter of October 30, 1954? I think you owe me a clear and frank answer to this question.
And, if you do not find any fault with that letter, are you now contending that my taking the matter to the Brethren, many of whom had been given the slander far and wide, was a wrong course? Your letter of March 20, 1956 is about eighteen months late. The wrong you are now confessing was just as much your obligation eighteen months ago; and, if your refusal to meet it then has caused me to take drastic steps (which I assure you have been most unpleasant to me), are you now attempting to shift to me the blame for your second wrong in this matter?
In my letter of November 18, 1954 I asked you a question: Did any one other than Sister -------- come to you about the matter? And at Jacksonville on February 27, 1955 I asked you if Brother Gavin was correct in telling me you had told him in Springfield, Mass., on September 12, 1954 that Brother Jolly had told it to you – which question you definitely refused to answer then. But I think you should answer both these questions now – in harmony with Brother Russell's saintly article of November15, 1908, which applies in such matters as this one.
In my letter to you of November 6, 1954 I asked you a question: Did any one other than Sister -------- come to you about the matter? And at Jacksonville on February 27, 1955 I asked you if Brother Gavin was correct in telling me you had told him in Springfield, Mass., on September 12, 1954 that Brother Jolly had told it to you - which question you definitely refused to answer then. But I think you should answer both these questions now - in harmony with Brother Russell’s saintly article of November 15, 1908, which applies in such matters as this one.
In my letter to you of November 6, 1954 I told you:
“I can find no fault with what you have written to me (re your conversation with Sister -------- last summer)..... However, the purpose of my letter of October 30 was to learn if you had been told anything at all about this matter, since your conversation with her last summer, by any one other than Sister -------, any one at all; any one at all since that time – along with the name of the parties and the content of the conversation.”
You will note from the above I told you I found nothing wrong with you conversation with the Sister, so there would even now be nothing there for which you need ask my forgiveness.
Furthermore, in your letter of November 2, 1954 you say the whole thing is “absolutely a false charge,” and you have submitted that letter for publication in this last Present Truth to be read by the Brethren far and wide. Now you come to me privately in complete about-face admitting it was not a “false charge”, and you ask my forgiveness. I think I am certainly entitled to an explanation from you here.
I think I should now tell you, too, that Brother Gavin informed me that he had learned in his Pilgrim trips that the reports that had come back to me about my name being besmirched was only a trifle of what he had heard over a wide section of the country. At the time I did not press him for further comments – just allowed him to volunteer what he wished to give me – although several different times he offered the information without any urging from me that the vicious gossip was having a very active distribution. Whether you and Sister Eschrich are the starting point for this disgraceful abuse I cannot know – nor do I accuse you of it now –; but it would seem it must have been given decided impetus from some influential source somewhere.
As you must realize, there are only a few bona fide Pilgrims of Brother Johnson's appointment that are here any more; and this should make each and all of us the more “resolved” to respect and honor his memory by being “faithful to the Lord, the Truth, and the Brethren.” When your good name became enmeshed in this “miry pit”, I came to you as a true brother and a fellow Pilgrim “first of all” – just as you should now come to me first of all concerning any wrong course you may think I am following; and I do hope at least that you are not again committing the same mistake over again, as you did in the slander – by discussing my supposed “wrong course” with others before you come to me about it.
Of course, I cannot know what has prompted you at this late date to comply with at least a part of your Scriptural obligation in this slander case; but with this letter comes my hope and prayers for you that you will now proceed to meet the balance of your obligation in the matter by answering the questions I have put before you as they are set out above. I assure you and Sister Eschrich of my prayers as a brother and as a Pilgrim who served with you side by side in “the GOOD fight” for so many years,
Sincerely your brother,
(Signed) John J. Hoefle
April 26 - 1956.
Your letter of March 28 recieved, in which, referring to my March 20 letter, you say: “You ask my forgiveness for whatever part you may have had in the slander that was circulated about me,” I note that you are stating my reason for asking your forgiveness quite differently than I did in that March 20 letter, viz., my telling Bro. Gavin “about your investing $l000.00 for a Truth sister, reportedly without giving her a receipt.” In your letter of Oct. 30, 1954 You said: “It has come to my attention that you have been a party to a vicious rumor to the effect that I have defrauded a Truth sister, a widow, in the handling of $1000. for her; that I did not even give her a receipt for the money.” In my reply of Nov. 2, 1954 I said: “Your letter of Oct. 30 came to me as a surprise: that I am a party to a vicious rumor to the effect that you have defrauded a Truth sister, a widow, of $1.000. This is absolutely a false charge and misconstrued facts.” Then I gave you a detailed statement of the facts on my conversation with Sr. ....... I still deny having been a party to a slander to the effect that you had defrauded the Truth sister. I never felt that you had defrauded her.
You state also: “In your letter of November 2, 1954 You say the whole thing is 'absolutely a false charge'.” I cannot find any statement in my Nov. 2 letter that can possibly be honestly applied to “the whole thing.” Again, you accuse me of having “submitted that (Nov. 2) letter for publication in this last Present Truth.” I did not submit that letter for publication in the Present Truth, nor did I have any idea it would be published at all, until I read it in the March PT When, after your name had been fully cleared in the P.T. and otherwise, you brought your personal grievance before the brethren world-wide and reproduced and circulated far and wide much private correspondence, you omitted my letter of Nov. 2, 1954; hence I do not see any objection to its appearing in the PT
You ask, “Did any other than Sister come to you about the matter?” I do not recall other than Sister .......... coming to me concerning her business matters with you. As to your question at the Jacksonville Convention: Your unexpected reaction and attitude toward me startled me for the moment; hence under the conditions I did not answer you. Brother Jolly never told me you had defrauded a Truth sister; nor do I recall that his name was mentioned in my conversation with Brother Gavin. As to what Brother Gavin may have told you I do not know, but I understand he also does not recall Brother Jolly's name having been mentioned in our conversation on September 12, 1954, as to conditions in the field in connection with our Pilgrim service. I am sorry that I told him about matters in the field in which your name was connected in a way that night reflect against you. For this I have asked the Lord's forgiveness and your and Bro. Gavin's forgiveness and I now feel that I have made the matter right. Therefore I shall consider the matter as closed.
You express the hope that I will not make the mistake of discussing your supposed wrong course with others before I come to you about it. I do not know of any Scripture or Scriptural principle which requires me to muzzle my lips in defending the Truth and the Spirit of the Truth against adverse attacks circulated among the brethren in general. I hope by the Lord's strength to continue to fight the good fight of faith against error and wrong-doing, both in myself and in others, especially those who are making a general attack on the Lord's dear sheep. Your wrong course is no longer a private matter, for you yourself have made it public far and wide. It is now for the brethren to discuss the matter freely, if they so desire, comparing your teachings and course of conduct with the Scriptures as expounded by Bro. Russell and Bro. Johnson, and deciding on which are right.
As to your inquiry on what I think is wrong in the course you are following: I disapprove especially of your wrong course in teaching and circulating teachings far and wide which are in opposition to the teachings and arrangements given by the Lord through the Parousia and Epiphany Messengers, such as your teaching in opposition to the declaration of the Rev: 5-9 message as due to be declared since Bro. Johnson's demise by the Great Company and Youthful Worthies, before Babylon falls; your teaching in opposition to Bro. Johnson's teaching from the Scriptures, that the Great Company will forever occupy a more honorable position, and perhaps a higher nature than the Youthful Worthies” – E 4, 454; 446; E 16,200; your teaching in opposition to Bro. Johnson's teaching (P 138, 29, col. 1, bottom, etc.) that the Good Levites could be cleansed before 1954; Your teaching in opposition to Bro. Russell's and Bro. Johnson's teaching on the Christ's thousand-year reign; your contradictory teachings on Azazel's Goat, etc. By your circularizing such errors you are spreading confusion among the brethren and are doing a sifting work, which I cannot approve of. Of course, I cannot give you any brotherly fellowship in such a wrong course, I see no need to discuss the matter with you further, as it is sufficiently discussed in the PT. You have my best wishes for whatever blessings you will allow the lord to give you. I do not expect to write you any further until you change your course of conduct and erroneous teachings, and are ready to admit at least some of your many manifested sins against the Truth and its Spirit.
(Signed) William Eschrich
The statement contained above – “your teaching in opposition to Bro. Johnson's teaching (p '38, etc.) that the Good Levites could be cleansed before 1954” – is simply one more falsehood and malicious misrepresentation to add to the long list already accumulated in this disgraceful slander case. Can it be possible that Brother Eschrich's mind is so tragically confused here, or is he willfully falsifying in a desperate effort to “throw dust” into the eyes of God's trusting people? We are certainly not in “opposition to Brother Johnson's teachings” in the 1938 Present Truth; have never been in opposition to it; nor have we even hinted that we were. In the main, Brother Johnson is there discussing individual cleansings in the Epiphany and all during the Gospel Age. But here is what he says about class cleansing:
“There has been no class cleansing of the Great Company yet. This will set in..... very shortly after the 60th post has been set up.”
In Vol. E-4, P 146 (27) Brother Johnson discusses in detail the individual cleansings all during the Gospel and in the Epiphany; then has this to say on Page 147:
“The case will be different with the class cleansing of the crown-losers, which is to set in shortly after the 60th Epiphany post is erected. They will have to cleanse themselves from their errors and accept the Parousia and Epiphany Truth, as well as overcome their sins, selfishness and worldliness.”
It should be noted that in the foregoing Brother Johnson does not even mention 1954; but he does say very clearly the cleansing of the class cannot begin before the 60th post is erected. Was the 6Oth post erected before October 22, 1950? If not, those in that post could not possibly have had their class cleansing by then – according to Brother Johnson's very clear statement about it. If some wish to argue that the 60th post was there in substance, the Great Company – as a class – in that 60th post had not had their Fit-man experiences prior to 1950, so they could not possibly have been cleansed – nor has there been a single Great Company developing truth given in the Present Truth, even to this late date, that could be construed – even by doubleminded twisting – as having effected such a cleansing.
At the bottom of Page 106 and top of 107 in E-4, Brother Johnson comments further on this matter:
“The same principles apply to the Parousia-Epiphany Truth (the Little Flock's part having been duly clarified) needed for the development of the Great Company. It has not all been made clear at once to and by the Epiphany Messenger, nor have all his misunderstandings as to its details been removed at once. Both of these features of this work have been progressing and may be expected to progress as the Epiphany advances – as the antitypical mother of the Great Company advances toward 1954.”
Certainly, such false statements as the one by Brother Eschrich quoted above only tend to accentuate the uncleansed condition of the Great Company Leaders in the LHMM – can only add to their condemnation, cause them to continue under God's disapproval, and make more severe their ultimate Fit-Man experiences – if they are to be cleansed at all. “I am against them that cause my people to err by their lies, saith the Lord.” – Jer. 23:32
By Brother Hoefle
May 8, 1956
Bear Brother Eschrich:
In your letter of April 26 you say you “do not expect to write me further.” I can well understand you would be most happy to drop it – even as you told me at Jacksonville on February 27, 1955. With such a weak and unrighteous cause to espouse, you should indeed want to forget it as quickly as possible – particularly if you have not been moved by that “godly repentance” that produces a contrite spirit. See Psalms 34:18. However, I feel differently about it. It had been my hope and prayer that your letter of March 20 was motivated by that “godly repentance”, and I am truly sorry this was not the case.
In the first paragraph of your letter you say I have stated your meaning “quite differently”. I have asked you several times to state specifically what you did repeat to others; but you have always evaded my question. Brother Gavin stated distinctly – in your presence at the Jacksonville Convention – what you had told him, which you did not deny. I take it from this last letter that you did tell Brother Gavin I accepted $1,000 from a Truth sister, reportedly without giving her a receipt.” If I actually did accept money without giving a receipt then I could not even have given her an accounting, because such an accounting would prima facie be a receipt. And, if I gave her no accounting, wouldn't that be fraud? Also, if you gave the tale to Sister Eschrich, wouldn't that make you responsible for any evil she may have done with it? It seems you both considered the morsel choice enough to repeat it to others.
The defense of yourself in your second paragraph is so thin and childish it seems difficult to believe it of you. You submitted that letter to R. G. Jolly, and you “see no objection to its appearing in the PT” Just why did you give him the letter at all? And did you give him also my Nov. 6 and 18 letters? If so, did you or R. G. Jolly see any objection to publishing those letters in that same Present Truth for the further enlightenment of the brethren? Suppression, perversion and misrepresentations have always been the implements of Satan and his servants (Rom. 6:16).
In paragraph 3 you say my “unexpected reaction and attitude toward you startled” you at Jacksonville on Feb. 27, 1955. You had seen me around the Convention for a couple of days; you knew for four months you had failed to answer my letter of Nov. 18, 1954; and you approached me in conversation that afternoon – I did not approach you. But you immediately gave me your “solemn word” you had repeated the tale to no one except your wife. Your letter of March 20, 1956 now puts the lie to your “solemn word”. So it seems you were so “startled” that afternoon in Jacksonville that you could immediately conjure up an unvarnished falsehood, altho you could not state the simple truth when you were “startled''. When you become “startled” it does strange things to you; it does indeed! Brother Gavin said there that afternoon you had said R. G. Jolly told it to you; and he repeated this at other times in the presence of witnesses. He does not even yet deny it; simply says he “doesn't remember”. It seems he's “startled”, too.
Anyway, at that time you still addressed me as Brother, yet you partook of the Memorial five weeks later, knowing I had a sore grievance against you; and you continued in that same condition for at least four months before I made any move at all to appeal to the general Church. Were you so “startled” all that time that you still could not tell me the simple truth, but allowed that falsehood to hang over your head while you allowed me to pursue a “wrong course”? Too, it was reported that after that Jacksonville Convention you did not hesitate to give your explanations of that conversation to any of the brethren who were willing to listen (along your Pilgrim way). And, even after I made general knowledge of it (openly and in the hearing of all), you still continued silent insofar as the general Church was concerned (although you still recognized me as a Brother) for many more months without any attempt to rectify your wrong. Were you still “startled” all that time? In the position you occupy in the Church you certainly were duty-bound to make a clear and truthful public statement about this disgrace long before you disfellowshiped me; and the publication of your letter of Nov. 2 in the Present Truth without my letters of Nov. 6 and 18 is certainly grossly misleading, to say the least. If you feel that such an evasion brings you the “Lord's forgiveness and makes the matter right”, then you have truly taught yourself very little in all the years you have been attempting to teach others.
I realize acutely that you have had severe trials since Brother Johnson's death; and you may be sure I have not been unsympathetic toward you. I know you were firmly convinced of your Little Flock standing prior to Oct. 22, 1950; nor had you been manifested otherwise before that time. Therefore, if you were a New Creature, you were considered as in the Holy – in harmony with Brother Johnson's teaching; hence, you had never been abandoned to the Fit Man. Thus, you could not possibly have been cleansed; you did not even know you needed cleansing. In view of your conduct and attitude in the matter under discussion, I wonder if you are yet aware of your own true condition. You say you will not “muzzle your lips” in exposing my “errors”; but he who would teach others should himself first be taught. You have shown a pitiable paucity of understanding on the Scriptural teachings regarding slander of a brother (spiritual murder). If you are no better qualified to teach on other vital doctrine (and your fleshly mind makes the use of your unmuzzled lips that you admit), then I think you would be well advised to “muzzle your lips” until such time as you have enlightened yourself on “What is Truth”. “No lie is of the Truth”.
I am informed you were most miserably downcast when you learned your Little Flock hopes were gone. However, regardless of that, it seems incredible you would not wish to attend the funeral of the Star Member who had been such a loving brother to you and had done so much for you. I understand R.G. Jolly told you over the telephone you were not “needed.” How you could have accepted such advice is also incredible. Had you talked with me, I would certainly have told you that the faithful brethren were then all sorely in need of the help of their leaders during their sorrow and bereavement. The anguish on the faces of many of them that Friday afternoon is still a vivid and sorrowful memory with me; and we ourselves — especially those prominently associated with Brother Johnson in service – “needed” to give him that respect and honor due him. But I make reasonable allowance for what you did because I realize you accepted the counsel of an uncleansed Great Company.
I realize, my brother, that I have gone somewhat afield of the point at issue; but I have done so in the hope – and with the prayer for you and Sister Eschrich – that it may cause you to pause and consider what bad advice has done for you over the past five years. You talked to R.G. Jolly about the tift in Jacksonville that Sunday afternoon on Feb. 27. I don't know what advice he gave you; but it was certainly not the advice the Lord Himself or the faithful Parousia and Epiphany Messengers would have given you: “If thy brother have aught against thee, go to thy brother.” Had you followed their counsel, instead of that of an uncleansed Levite, you would have had none of the public humiliation that has been yours over the post year, Apparently motivated by the same bad counsel, you made no effort whatever to correct your wrong you now confess when you saw me three months after Jacksonville at the Muskegon Convention on May 30. Or was that because you were still “startled”? Just give the past five years a little sober, quiet thought, Brother.
You address me as “Dear” John, so I assume you mean what you say. The world resorts to such formalities, but the Lord's people are to be guided by Truth rather than policy, and they are to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” I have addressed you as Brother and I shall continuo to consider you as such until I am convinced you are guilty of willful revolutionism, at which time I would disfellowship you in harmony with Brother Johnson's teachings. I have written this lengthy letter solely for the personal help and upbuilding of both of you, as I pray you may not be completely blinded by Azazel to the Truth I have expressed, may you receive it in the spirit in which I write it and be blessed accordingly! I am applying the Golden Rule in my dealings with you the same as I endeavor to do with all my brethren – and I would appreciate such dealings from you and all my brethren everywhere, both privately and publicly.
Sincerely your brother,
(Signed) John J. Hoefle
It should be noted that Brother Eschrich's letter of March 20, 1956 is in direct contradiction to his letter on Page 20 of the March 1956 Present Truth, the publication of which has misled its readers, many of whom have asked us about it. So it becomes not only a duty, but also a matter of self-defense of our good name, that this additional publicity be given the matter; and it is our hope that a clear and complete answer may now be forthcoming in the Present Truth to the following questions:
(1) Brother Eschrich having on March 20, 1956 admitted repeating the slander to Brother Gavin, does he flatly deny that R. G. Jolly talked with him about this matter at all; or does he merely deny that RGJ used the word “defrauded” in his story to him?
(2) If R. G. Jolly did not give it to him, then did he just make it up himself, or from whom did he receive it? (It should be noted here that he does not accuse the Sister of giving it to him; and she herself has given us a written statement – “I never said, or meant to imply that you had defrauded me, or attempted to do so”.)
(3) In the fall of 1954, when Brother Gavin first gave us this report, we made copious shorthand notes of much of our conversation, in which is contained the clear statement that William Eschrich had given it to him on September 12, 1954 in Springfield, and that William Eschrich said it had been told to him by R. G. Jolly. There was not one word that the Sister in question had given it to any one. Does Brother Gavin now contend that we falsified those shorthand notes – or do they contain the truth ?
There has been so much evasive juggling – “I don't remember” – etc., that it would seem a concerted effort has been made to shield some one; and we think we have a right to know who it is – in harmony with Brother Russell's saintly article on just such a case as this, as contained in the November 15, 1908 Watch Tower.
What think you, Brethren – Has JJH “blackened” these Great Company leaders, as has been charged in the March and May Present Truths; or have they themselves shown by their acts that they are already quite black enough, with no one to blame but themselves for their pitiable condition? With this writing comes the prayer that each of you may “sanctify the Lord of Hosts Himself, in your heart, and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.”
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim