The Watchtower May 1, 1957 pg. 284
“The Watchtower invites careful and critical examination …”
If this statement is true, then a Jehovah’s Witness should be free to read this blog posting, but they are not.
This is not an attack on the Jehovah’s Witnesses, its followers or the Watchtower Society. It is a reasoned and careful critical examination of the organization. I have family who has been Jehovah’s Witnesses the entire lives, so my aim is not to offend or upset. As I defend my Christianity against all comers without offense, my hope is that those of other beliefs can do the same. My experience is that anger, is a weapon of the poorly defended.
This is part one, click Here for part two.
Charles Russell claimed that the New Testament had become corrupted over the century’s. In his time, there were very few manuscripts, in fact, the King James bible had been translated using only 7 manuscripts. Today historians have over 5,800 and all of the early papyrus manuscripts were found only in the last 150 years.
The Holy Bible is the bestselling book of all time according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Despite the Holy Bible being the bestselling book on the planet, over the decades people have been picking and choosing what they like and what they don’t like about its teaching. In some cases, scripture is modified to support their personal views and in extreme cases, the bible is rewritten.
In many situations, with the reinterpreting or rewriting also comes a greater control over the dissemination of information.
Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses identify as Christians, they stand apart from traditional Christianity. The teachings are not compatible. The same holds true with others who identify as Christians such as Mormons. Each religion has companion teachings incompatible with historical orthodox Christian doctrine.
What are some key flags of cult like control? Some could say that any religion is cult-like, but there are differences between following God and being controlled by a person or a group. In the religion game, money and power is a driving force for many.
For example, a Christian is expected to adhere to the Holy Bible teaching if they expect to benefit from the promises of God, who adherents believe wrote the books through inspired authors, or were first hand accounts of God’s work among people.
2 Timothy 3:16; “All Scripture is inspired by God”
2 Peter 1:16; “For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes”
2 Peter 1:20,21; “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.”
1 John 1:1-3; “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard”
A Christian is free to attend any denomination of Christian church and is encouraged to read multiple translations of the Holy Bible. The term Christian, is deceptive, that is it denotes a wide range of beliefs and some that have little resemblance to the core tenets of historical Christianity and the Holy Bible.
An orthodox Christian isn’t afraid to investigate assaults on their beliefs or the bible and are encouraged to prove for themselves the accuracy and truth of God’s.
Personally speaking, I have had many conversations with hostile opponents to the bible. Some have proposed seemingly good arguments which drove me into study and examination. I learned early that these investigations need to be more than just asking someone else, someone more mature in the faith what they think. Yes, their input is valuable but you have to determine why their opinion has more foundation than the critic. If you don’t, you are just choosing one opinion over another and learning nothing.
In doing this, I have found that my belief in the accuracy of the bible is only growing as that belief is challenged from every direction. For the Christian, the bible is the final court of arbitration and if you promote the idea that some of the bible is inaccurate and some is, your footing is gone as your foundation relies on someone else’s opinions which is truth and which is not.
But what about a “church” or sect that demands a higher degree of control over its followers? What are some flags that raise the suspicion you are being manipulated or controlled?
- Special Enlightenment: A group or individual who claims special enlightenment the rest or majority of followers don’t have.
- Authoritarian Control by Few: The espoused truth comes only from an elite one, or few that rigorously control the flow of that truth.
- Isolation & Censorship: Insulate, or isolate members from outside influence and admonish those bring up criticism by stifling critical examination.
- Censorship and Contradiction: Leadership dismisses their own errors and contradict themselves while claiming they alone have the keys to enlightenment.
Acts 17:11; “and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.”
For the sake of argument, I am using Jehovah’s Witnesses as a test group. You can decide for yourself if followers are free to examine and critique the teachings. Are they isolationists?
Does the leadership of the organization claim to be the only source of special enlightenment? You decide. Every statement is supported by citation and or a picture of actual text from the Watchtower literature.
Charles Taze Russell (February 16, 1852 – October 31, 1916) & the Watch Tower Society
Russell is the founder of Watch Tower Society and the writer of the “Studies in the Scriptures”, which are six volumes of teachings that are the foundation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine.
Although when asked, a Witness will say that they follow the bible alone, the reality is that all enlightenment comes through the Watchtower Society. Yes, technically a Witness does follow the bible, but only to the extent that the WT explains it.
Russell’s claim was that the word of God had become corrupt over the centuries and he had reclaimed the truth, through God giving him understanding.
“The results of these investigations are well known to WATCH TOWER readers, and are set forth in the volumes of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series. We found that for centuries various sects and parties had split up the Bible doctrines amongst them, blending them with more or less of human speculation and error; and that the misplacement of the truth frequently made of it gross error.”
1899 Watch Tower p87
- NOTE: Historians have most of the Apostle Paul’s epistles to the churches. It is called Papyrus 46 (1930) and it contains 1&2 Corinthians, Romans, Hebrews, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians. It has been dated as early as 175 AD. Not enough time for “gross error” to have crept into the new Testament. In addition to the Pauline epistles, there are tens of thousands of manuscripts available for comparison dating back to within decades of their writing. Of course, the true accuracy of today bible was not known in Russell’s time. The Dead Sea Scrolls were not discovered until well after his death.
According to the Watch Tower Society, the Scripture Studies Russell wrote are equal to the bible itself. So much so that the follower is told that reading the bible alone will lead them back into darkness within two years. Only through the Russell’s interpretations, (Scripture Studies), combined with the further enlightenment by the Watchtower Society, can the bible be effectively understood.
Watch Tower Society archive website
The clear intent here is to draw attention away from the bible and to establish reliance on Russell’s interpretation. Yes the bible references are included giving the directive a veneer of authenticity, but the follower is expected to accept not the proof text itself, but the interpretation of it. The language states they are teachings with proof texts, focus on teachings.
Today, the utilization of a reinterpretation of the Holy Bible called the New World Translation is used to support the teachings. This translation is far removed from the historic bible on critical tenets of Christianity. For example;
- Jesus is not God
- Jesus is not to be worshiped (a change in doctrine that once was the opposite)
- Jesus is a created being who became a god (small G)
- The Holy Spirit is just a force not a person
- The Trinity does not exist
- God the Father has a body and is not omnipresent.“God being an individual, a person with a spirit body has a place where he resides, and so he could not be at any other place at the same time.” Wt.2/15/1981 pg. 6
Historically, these tenets are the foundation of the bible. The God, and Jesus that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are following are not the God and Jesus of the bible. That is why a new bible needed to be published. My comments are not to say so much that they are not Christians, because they are their version of Christianity. All I am saying is they are considered heretical and not part of orthodox Christianity.
I whole heatedly encourage a thorough and balanced examination of the teachings, credentials and validity of the people and materials used to substantiate the claims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society. I encourage the same depth of examination of any group or organization including orthodox Christianity.
2. Authoritarian Control by Few
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WT) was brought under control and supervision of the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1976.¹. It is the voice of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and claims to be the only organization for which God disseminates revelation to the laypeople. (supporting data below)
The WT does claim it is open to correction and encourages careful examination in the light of scripture. This sounds reasonable and transparent, but there is a problem. The only ones who have the light of scripture are the ones in control, the ones who set the doctrine, the WT.
Here is the circle of reasoning that allows them to say critical examination is encouraged.
- There is no light outside the anointed few governing the Society
- If you are bringing criticism, or disagree with the Society’s teachings, that isn’t enlightened criticism as you are questioning God’s organization and you are dismissed as a trouble maker, or worse, shunned.
- So, only valid criticism can come from those who institute doctrine. Because you can’t bring correction to the source of light itself.
Salvation Through The Watchtower + God?
1939 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 85.
“It should be expected that the Lord would have a means of communication to his people on the earth, and he has clearly shown that the magazine called The Watchtower is used for that purpose.”
1951 Watchtower Oct. 1 p.375
“…besides individually possessing God’s Word, we need a theocratic organization. Yes, besides having God’s spirit of illumination, a Christian needs Jehovah’s theocratic organization in order to understand the Bible.”
1957 The Watchtower, May 1 p. 274
“If we are to walk in the light of truth we must recognize not only Jehovah God as our Father but his organization as our mother.”
1957 The Watchtower, May 1
“Do not criticize the organization. If Jehovah permits it, who are we to insist it should be different?”
1967 The Watchtower, Oct. 1, p. 591
“Make haste to identify the visible theocratic organization of God that represents his king, Jesus Christ. It is essential for life. Doing so, be complete in accepting its every aspect.” “We cannot claim to love God, yet deny his word and channel of communication.”
The Watchtower, Oct. 1,1967 pg. 587
“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind.”
1973 The Watchtower July 1, page 401, 402
“Consider, too, the fact that Jehovah’s organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God’s holy spirit or active force. (Zech. 4:6) Only this organization functions for Jehovah’s purpose and to his praise. To it alone God’s Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book.”
So what do you say to a Jehovah’s Witness who says they only follow the bible? They do but can only do so through the key holder of enlightenment, the Watchtower Society. Their bible holds the truth, but only they can reveal the truth it holds.
The use of scare tactics is a flag. Above the WT say you can’t claim to love God and question the WT. Below, a follower cannot have eternal life, without the WT.
1983 The watchtower, Feb.15, pg.12. “To receive everlasting life in the earthly paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it.”
1994 The Watchtower; Oct. 1, 1994; p.8 “Channel to understanding the Bible… All who want to understand the Bible should appreciate that the “greatly diversified wisdom of God” can become known only through Jehovah’s channel of communication, the faithful and discreet slave.”
Who is the faithful and discreet slave (Matthew 24:45)? The Parable of the faithful and Wise Servant as told by Jesus is in regard to the teachers, pastors and leaders of the churches feeding the flock. The Watchtower has at contradicted itself on this principal, they have turned into a doctrine.
1922, The Watchtower, May 1, page 132. “Charles Taze Russell is the faithful and wise servant, who alone was dispensing food in season. “Jesus clearly indicated that during his second presence he would have amongst the church a faithful and wise servant, through whom he would give to the household of faith meat in due season. The evidence is overwhelming concerning the Lord’s second presence, the time of the harvest, and that the office of “that servant’ has been filled by Brother Kussell”
2012, The Watchtower Annual Report, P.5, “From 1919 on, there has always been a small group of anointed Christians at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have supervised our worldwide preaching work and have been directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food. In recent years, that group has been closely identified with the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The evidence points to the following conclusion: “The faithful and discreet slave” was appointed over Jesus’ domestics in 1919. That slave is the small, composite group of anointed brothers serving at world headquarters during Christ’s presence who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food. When this group work together as the Governing Body, they act as “the faithful and discreet slave.”
Problem: In 1922 the wise slave was Russell alone, in 2012 the slave has been a small anointed group of the governing body since 1919.
People have been claiming special enlightenment since the days of Jesus Christ. That is precisely why the apostles warned us those who will come with a different gospel than they had taught.
Galatians 1:8,9; “Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.”
Any group who claims the keys to enlightenment, do your do diligence, examine and prove the claims as best as can done, including orthodox Christianity.
Are the teachings reliable, how old are the writings compared to the original, are there any eye witnesses to events? Some historical data;
- Buddha – (560 BC – 480 BC) writings 500 – 900 years later
- Alexander the Great (died 330 BC) Oldest biographical source 425 to 450 years later.
- Apostle Paul epistles (60 AD, written 25 years after his conversion) Papyrus 46, 7 books, 110 years later. Considered by skeptical scholars to be historical and reliable.
- Franz 2007, pp. 80–107