Part of a series: The WTS and the End of the World
- Part 1: Why So Many False Alarms?
- Part 2: The Orwellian Thinking of JWs
- Part 3: Unassailable Proofs
- Part 4: More Unassailable Proofs
- Part 5: Sanitizing the Past
- Part 6: Later Effects of the Society’s False Predictions
- The Orwellian Thinking of Jehovah’s Witnesses
- We Never Said We Were Inspired!
- The Basis of Early False Predictions
- C. T. Russell’s View of Himself
- Conclusion of Parts 1 and 2
The famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four,1 written by George Orwell in 1949, described a totalitarian society called Ingsoc (from ‘English Socialism’) in which a supreme state had imposed a kind of theocracy on the populace — in effect, had created a “Kingdom of Heaven on earth.” The novel was intended as a serious warning about what could happen if certain totalitarian trends Orwell saw developing during and shortly after World War II were allowed free rein. The supreme group at the head of the state was the Party. To ensure that everyone thought along Party lines, the Party carefully altered facts to suit its present situation, and rigorously trained people to go along with it. Orwell wrote:
Whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth. [Part 3, Ch. II; p. 252 hardcover; p. 205 paperback]
To ensure that Party truth was followed by everyone, a thought process called doublethink was enforced. Doublethink, as Orwell conceives it in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “is a vast system of mental cheating”:
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt. Doublethink lies at the very heart of Ingsoc, since the essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. [Part 2, Ch. IX; p. 215-6 hardcover; p. 176-7 paperback]
Refer back to part 1 of this essay, where Haydon Covington expressed his thoughts about “unity at all costs.” This is probably the most classic case of sincerely expressed doublethink one is likely to find anywhere.
The acknowledged forcing of Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept false prophecy can be identified as a particular type of Orwellian doublethink Orwell calls blackwhite:
Oceanic society rests ultimately on the belief that Big Brother is omnipotent and that the Party is infallible. But since in reality Big Brother is not omnipotent and the Party is not infallible, there is need for an unwearying, moment-to-moment flexibility in the treatment of facts. The key word here is blackwhite…. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. [Part 2, Ch. IX; p. 213 hardcover; p. 175 paperback]
Some Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally said that if the Society told them to believe that the green book in front of them was really black, they would go along with it completely. One elder said that if the Society told him to jump, on the way up he would say, “How high?” Still others have said that if the Society told them to roll a peanut down the street with their nose they would do it.
Let us return to our discussion of the March 22, 1993 Awake!. The writer is apparently unaware that his argument is a two-edged sword. In the last paragraph quoted, he sets the stage for the claim that, in making its false predictions, the Society was not speaking in God’s name. Nebulously speaking of “some who make spectacular predictions of the world’s end” (but giving no hint that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been foremost in making such predictions), he says:
They are voicing expectations based on their own interpretation of some scripture text or physical event.
As the May 15, 1930 Watchtower said, they were “sounding forth man-made theories” or “their own dreams and guesses.”
If this is true, the Society was certainly not acting as “God’s channel of communication” when it made its false predictions. This means that at best, the Society sometimes speaks in God’s name and sometimes does not. How are the two cases to be distinguished? How does an individual Witness decide whether Jehovah put something into the “channel” or whether the “channel” is discharging the dreams of imperfect men? Does not Deuteronomy 18:20-22 have something to say about this?
The answer is that the Society does not want individuals to make that determination, but to act as Fred Franz and Haydon Covington said. It does not want individuals to act in accord with Psalm 32:9: “Do not make yourselves like a horse or mule without understanding, whose spiritedness is to be curbed even by bridle or halter,” but rather to obey the words of Governing Body member Lloyd Barry: “We must be like an ass, be humble, and stay in the manger.”2 In practice, if an individual Witness decides that in some particular case the Society is not speaking in God’s name, and publicly says so, he is liable to be branded an “apostate” and disfellowshipped, as Fred Franz explained. In short, the Watchtower Society requires its members to practice doublethink.
Benjamin Franklin stated a good principle to guide those who love freedom:
They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
To summarize, in order to parry the charge that Jehovah’s Witnesses are false prophets because they have made false predictions in God’s name, Awake! is forced to deny that the “anointed remnant” has ever claimed to be a prophet class. It is forced to admit that they have only been expounding their own “man-made theories” and their own “dreams and guesses.”
The question now arises, if this is true about something so fundamental to the doctrines that Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to believe, how much confidence can be put in all the rest of the Society’s doctrinal interpretations?
Another important question is whether Awake!’s argument is even true. If so, then Jehovah’s Witnesses are just another Christian religion. If not, then the Society has compounded the initial problem by putting lying on top of false prophecy. We shall examine these questions next.
“Amnesia’s fine, but everybody else still knows who you are.” — anonymous
On part 1 this essay, the last paragraph quoted from page 4 of the March 22, 1993 Awake! contains a reference to a “*” footnote. This footnote is extremely significant. Although the paragraph itself is expressed in general terms, the footnote gets down to business and is really the main point of the series of articles. The Society has often used this literary technique, burying a “difficult” but important argument within a footnote.3 In the footnote, Awake! claims the Society never originated its false predictions in the name of Jehovah, just as it suggested in the main paragraph. But this is just bandying words, as the discussion following the footnote quoted below shows.
Keep in mind everything we have discussed so far when reading the footnote. It said:
Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’ The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has said: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (January 1883, page 425) “Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible.” (December 15, 1896, page 306) The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit “does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.” (May 15, 1947, page 157) The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.” (August 15, 1950, page 263) “The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)” — February 15, 1981, page 19.
This would be a very good explanation if it were true. The following quotations and discussion will allow the reader to judge for himself the extent to which Awake! has spoken truth. Note that saying Jehovah’s Witnesses “have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect” is somewhat like saying Adolf Hitler suggested that Jews be exterminated. See if there is any hint of mere “suggestion” in the quotations below.
One statement above said the Society is not dogmatic. Dogmatism, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “positiveness in assertion of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant.” All the Society’s false predictions were certainly unwarranted. See if the quotations below are not arrogant and dogmatic. The Society has, in fact, obligated itself to write all its publications as if it had great authority, even when the arguments are patently ridiculous, as can be seen in the following statement of philosophy from the April 1, 1986 Watchtower, page 30:
Many…. denominations allow widely divergent views among the clergy and the laity because they feel they cannot be certain as to just what is Bible truth. They are like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day who were unable to speak as persons having authority, which is how Jesus taught.
So even if the Society’s writers are not sure their argument is correct, this philosophy prevents them from taking a cautious position. They must speak with “authority” even when they know they are speaking nonsense.
Here are some quotations that illustrate these points. They show unequivocally that the Watchtower Society has said explicitly, “These are the words of Jehovah.”
From the very first, C. T. Russell stated his beliefs strongly. He and N. H. Barbour coauthored a book in 1877 called Three Worlds and the Harvest of this World, in which they started their chronology with “a date well authenticated and generally accepted by scholars,” namely, 536 B.C., for the first year of Cyrus the Great, conqueror of Babylon. The actual date, available in their time, was 539 B.C. This publication contained the seeds of almost all the Society’s chronological speculations that appeared over the next fifty years.
To show that Russell and Barbour were not the least bit tentative in stating their views, here is what Three Worlds said:
…. I am not willing to admit that this calculation is even one year out. Not from dogmatism, for I am ready to admit that my opinion, or my reasoning, may be as faulty as that of many others; and if, in the present case, there was but this one argument, I should say, it is quite possible errors may be found arising in some unexpected quarter. But there is such an array of evidence…. If you had solved a difficult problem in mathematics, you might very well doubt if you had not possibly made some error of calculation. But if you had solved that problem in seven different ways, all independent one of another, and in each and every case reached the same result, you would be a fool any longer to doubt the accuracy of that result. And this is a fair illustration of the weight of evidence that can be brought to bear on the truthfulness of our present position. [p. 84]
The very first issue of Zion’s Watch Tower, July, 1879, stated on page 1 that the object of its publication was to present, not theories, but facts:
That we are living “in the last days” — “the days of the Lord” — “the end” of the Gospel age, and consequently, in the dawn of the “new” age, are facts not only discernible by the close student of the Word, led by the spirit, but the outward signs recognizable by the world bear the same testimony.
Volume II of Studies in the Scriptures, entitled The Time Is At Hand, originally published in 1889, said concerning the Times of the Gentiles, on pages 76-7:
God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Jehovah’s Anointed… will be established gradually, during a great time of trouble with which the Gospel age will close, and in the midst of which present dominions shall be utterly consumed, passing away amid great confusion.
In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be reached in A.D. 1914; and that that date will be the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men. And be it observed, that if this is shown to be a fact firmly established by the Scriptures, it will prove: —
Firstly, That at that date the Kingdom of God, for which our Lord taught us to pray, saying, “Thy Kingdom come,” will have obtained full, universal control, and that it will then be “set up,” or firmly established, in the earth, on the ruins of present institutions.
Then are listed six more predictions, which also failed. Note that what Russell called a “Bible proof” has proved to be nothing more than his own wishful thinking. On page 99 The Time Is At Hand further said:
In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914.
On page 101 The Time Is At Hand said:
Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in A.D. 1878, and that the “battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced. The gathering of the armies is plainly visible from the standpoint of God’s Word.
In the July 15, 1906 Watch Tower, on page 229, Russell wrote:
Many are the inquiries relative to the truths presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN and ZION’S WATCH TOWER, as to whence they came and how they developed to their present symmetrical and beautiful proportions — Were they the results of visions? Did God in any supernatural way grant the solution of these hitherto mysteries of his plan? Are the writers more than ordinary beings? Do they claim any supernatural wisdom or power? or how comes this revelation of God’s truth?
No, dear friends, I claim nothing of superiority, nor supernatural power, dignity or authority; nor do I aspire to exalt myself in the estimation of my brethren of the household of faith….
No, the truths I present, as God’s mouthpiece, were not revealed in visions or dreams nor by God’s audible voice, nor all at once, but gradually, especially since 1870, and particularly since 1880. Neither is this clear unfolding of truth due to any human ingenuity or acuteness of perception, but to the simple fact that God’s due time has come; and if I did not speak, and no other agent could be found, the very stones would cry out.
Clearly Russell’s arrogance knew no bounds. He, like the Watchtower Society today, wanted to have it both ways. He wanted his writings to be viewed as coming from God, because he, as “God’s mouthpiece,” was telling forth God’s thoughts. On the other hand God did not directly “inspire” him, but in some mysterious and unspecified way “revealed” things to him. Today, hardly anyone making statements such as “I am God’s mouthpiece” would be taken seriously.
A number of times Russell clearly implied he could not possibly be wrong. Zion’s Watch Tower, July 15, 1894, said on page 226, under the subtitle “Can It Be Delayed Until 1914?”:
Seventeen years ago people said, concerning the time features presented in MILLENIAL DAWN, They seem reasonable in many respects, but surely no such radical changes could occur between now and the close of 1914: if you had proved that they would come about in a century or two, it would seem much more probable….
Now, in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy, our readers are writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date. They say that they do not see how present conditions can hold out so long under the strain.
We see no reason for changing the figures — nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble. We see no reason for changing from our opinion expressed in the view presented in the WATCH TOWER of January 15, ’92. We advise that it be read again.
The January 15, 1892 Watch Tower said on page 19:
The Scriptures give unmistakable testimony to those who have full faith in its records, that there is a great time of trouble ahead of the present comparative calm in the world — a trouble which will embroil all nations, overthrow all existing institutions, civil, social and religious, bring about a universal reign of anarchy and terror, and prostrate humanity in the very dust of despair, thus to make them ready to appreciate the power that will bring order out of that confusion and institute the new rule of righteousness. All this, the Scriptures show us, is to come to pass before the year 1914 (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II, Chapter IV.) — that is, within the next twenty-three years.
If the scriptural testimony was “unmistakable,” and if Russell was presenting “God’s dates,” and he was “God’s mouthpiece,” it can hardly be denied Russell was arrogantly dogmatic. What man of faith would doubt the words of “God’s mouthpiece”?
Under J. F. Rutherford the Society’s dogmatism reached new heights. The 1917 book The Finished Mystery, published shortly after Rutherford took office, on pages 62 and 64 said with great authority:
The data presented in comments on Rev. 1:1…. prove that the Spring of 1918 will bring upon Christendom a spasm of anguish greater even than that experienced in the Fall of 1914.
The book Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920 Edition, said on pages 89-90:
As we have heretofore stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925. At that time the earthly phase of the kingdom shall be recognized…. Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews chapter eleven, to the condition of human perfection.
On page 97 it said:
Based upon the argument heretofore set forth, then, that the old order of things, the old world, is ending and is therefore passing away, and that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old and the beginning of reconstruction, it is reasonable to conclude that millions of people now on the earth will be still on the earth in 1925. Then, based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die.
Would any reader take these things as mere “suggestions?” Anything that is “positive and indisputable” is infallible. Further showing boundless dogmatism, Rutherford’s first book, The Harp of God, after describing the development of Bible Societies, the increase of colleges and all kinds of inventions, says of them on page 239:
This is without question a fulfilment of the prophecy testifying to the “time of the end.” These physical facts can not be disputed and are sufficient to convince any reasonable mind that we have been in the “time of the end” since 1799.
In a similar fashion the March 1, 1922 Watch Tower offered more suggestions:
The indisputable facts, therefore, show that the “time of the end” began in 1799; that the Lord’s second presence began in 1874.
The 1927 book Creation, on pages 294, 295, 298 said:
Twelve hundred and sixty years from 539 A.D. brings us to 1799, which is another proof that 1799 definitely marks the beginning of “the time of the end.”
The 1929 book Prophecy, pages 65-66, said:
…. the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D. This proof is specifically set out in the booklet entitled Our Lord’s Return.
The Society made many dogmatic statements about what 1925 would bring. In an article on chronology, the May 15, 1922 Watch Tower said:
We have no doubt whatever in regard to the chronology relating to the dates of 1874, 1914, 1918, and 1925.
It was on this line of reckoning that the dates 1874, 1914, and 1918 were located; and the Lord has placed the stamp of his seal upon 1914 and 1918 beyond any possibility of erasure. What further evidence do we need?….
There can be no more question about 1925 than there was about 1914. The fact that all the things that some looked for in 1914 did not materialize does not alter the chronology one whit. Noting the date marked so prominently, it is very easy for the finite mind to conclude that all the work to be done must center about it, and thus many are inclined to anticipate more than has been really foretold. Thus it was in 1844, in 1874, in 1878 as well as in 1914 and 1918. Looking back we can now easily see that those dates were clearly indicated in Scripture and doubtless intended by the Lord to encourage his people, as they did, as well as to be a means of testing and sifting when all that some expected did not come to pass. That all that some expect to see in 1925 may not transpire that year will not alter the date one whit more than in the other cases.
It is interesting to see in the above quotation how the Society set up the reader to handle future disappointments. The onus is placed upon an unspecified “some” who might be developing expectations for 1925. In putting matters this way the Society avoids taking any responsibility for the false expectations — expectations that it was even then planting and cultivating in the minds of those who took them seriously. This policy of blaming the victim has been a constant practice from Russell’s day down to the present, as we will see.
That this is an effective policy is shown by the way a Bible Student woman active in that time period later described the events. The 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses attributed the problem, not to the organization that published the information, but to “the brothers” who read it, saying on page 146:
The year 1925 came and went. Jesus’ anointed followers were still on earth as a class. The faithful men of old times — Abraham, David and others — had not been resurrected to become princes in the earth. (Ps. 45:16) So, as Anna MacDonald recalls: “1925 was a sad year for many brothers. Some of them were stumbled; their hopes were dashed. They had hoped to see some of the ‘ancient worthies’ resurrected. Instead of its being considered a ‘probability,’ they read into it that it was a ‘certainty,’ and some prepared for their own loved ones with expectancy of their resurrection.”
The Watch Tower of June 15, 1922 said:
The chronology of present truth might be a mere happening if it were not for the repetitions in the two great cycles of 1845 and 2520 years, which take it out of the realm of chance and into that of certainty…. where the agreements of dates and events come by the dozens, they cannot possibly be by chance, but must be by the design or plan of the only personal Being capable of such a plan — Jehovah himself; and the chronology itself must be right.
In the passages of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh the agreement of one or two measurements with the present-truth chronology might be accidental, but the correspondency of dozens of measurements proves that the same God designed both pyramid and plan — and at the same time proves the correctness of the chronology….
It is on the basis of such and so many correspondencies — in accordance with the soundest laws known to science — that we affirm that, Scripturally, scientifically, and historically, present-truth chronology is correct beyond a doubt. Its reliability has been abundantly confirmed by the dates and events of 1874, 1914, and 1918. Present- truth chronology is a secure basis on which the consecrated child of God may endeavor to search out things to come.
The July 15, 1922 Watch Tower, under the heading “The Strong Cable of Chronology,” said:
This chronology is not of man, but of God. Being of divine origin and divinely corroborated, present-truth chronology stands in a class by itself, absolutely and unqualifiedly correct….
In the chronology of present truth there are so many inter-relationships among the dates that it is not a mere string of dates, not a chain, but a cable of strands firmly knit together — a divinely unified system, with most of the dates having such remarkable relations with others as to stamp the system as not of human origin….
It will be clearly shown that present-truth chronology displays indisputable evidence of divine foreknowledge of the principle dates, and that this is proof of divine origin, and that the system is not a human invention but a discovery of divine truth…. we believe that it bears the stamp of approval of Almighty God.
It would be absurd to claim that the relationship discovered was not the result of divine arrangement.
The Watch Tower, September 1, 1922, said on page 262:
…. all Europe is like a boiling pot, with the intensity of the heat ever increasing. If any one who has studied the Bible can travel through Europe and not be convinced that the world has ended, that the day of God’s vengeance is here, that the Messianic kingdom is at the door, then he has read the Bible in vain. The physical facts show beyond question of a doubt that 1914 ended the Gentile times; and as the Lord foretold, the old order is being destroyed by war, famine, pestilence, and revolution.
The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures because it is fixed by the law God gave to Israel. Viewing the present situation in Europe, one wonders how it will be possible to hold back the explosion much longer; and that even before 1925 the great crisis will be reached and probably passed.
The 1922 Cedar Point, Ohio, convention is regularly referred to in Watchtower publications as a major milestone in the organization’s history. Today the Society sometimes quotes a small portion of the keynote address in support of 1914. It ignores the fact that 1799 and 1874 figured with equal strength in the argument advanced and in the conclusion the audience was called upon to reach. The November 1, 1922 Watch Tower reproduced the talk:
Bible prophecy shows that the Lord was due to appear for the second time in the year 1874. Fulfilled prophecy shows beyond a doubt that he did appear in 1874. Fulfilled prophecy is otherwise designated the physical facts; and these facts are indisputable….
Since [Christ] has been present from 1874, it follows, from the facts as we now see them, that the period from 1874 to 1914 is the day of preparation. This in no wise militates against the thought that “the time of the end” is from 1799 until 1914….
For six thousand years God has been preparing for this kingdom. For nineteen hundred years he has been gathering out the kingdom class from amongst men. Since 1874 the King of glory has been present; and during that time he has conducted a harvest and has gathered unto himself the temple class. Since 1914 the King of glory has taken his power and reigns. He has cleansed the lips of the temple class and sends them forth with the message. The importance of the message of the kingdom cannot be overstated. It is the message of all messages. It is the message of the hour. It is incumbent upon those who are the Lord’s to declare it. The kingdom of heaven is at hand; the King reigns; Satan’s empire is falling; millions now living will never die.
Do you believe it? Do you believe that the King of glory is present, and has been since 1874? Do you believe that during that time he has conducted his harvest work? Do you believe that he has had during that time a faithful and wise servant through whom he directed his work and the feeding of the household of faith? Do you believe that the Lord is now in his temple, judging the nations of earth? Do you believe that the King of glory has begun his reign?
Then back to the field, O ye sons of the most high God! Gird on your armor! Be sober, be vigilant, be active, be brave. Be faithful and true witnesses for the Lord. Go forward in the fight until every vestige of Babylon lies desolate. Herald the message far and wide. The world must know that Jehovah is God and that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. This is the day of all days. Behold, the King reigns! You are his publicity agents. Therefore advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.
Stirring words, indeed. But have they stood the test of time? Two of the three key dates mentioned have already been abandoned. Of the millions then living that were never to die, most already have. Can it be said The Watch Tower was not dogmatic? Interestingly, this talk also moved the events that had been taught to have occurred in 1878, up to 1914.
The Watch Tower, April 1, 1923, said on page 106, in the “Question and Answer” section:
Question: Did the order go forth eight months ago to the Pilgrims to cease talking about 1925? Have we more reason, or as much, to believe the kingdom will be established in 1925 than Noah had to believe that there would be a flood?
Answer: …. There was never at any time any intimation to the Pilgrim brethren that they should cease talking about 1925…. Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures, marking the end of the typical jubilees. Just exactly what will happen at that time no one can tell to a certainty; but we expect such a climax in the affairs of the world that the people will begin to realize the presence of the Lord and his kingdom power. He is already present, as we know, and has taken unto himself his power and begun his reign. He has come to his temple. He is dashing to pieces the nations. Every Christian ought to be content, then, to do with his might what his hands find to do, without stopping to quibble about what is going to happen on a certain date.
As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had (so far as the Scriptures reveal) upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge.
The Watch Tower, July 15, 1924, said:
Let no one now be deceived by calculations as to just when the Lord will cease his work with the Church on earth. The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914; but it would be presumptuous on the part of any faithful follower of the Lord to assume just what the Lord is going to do during that year.
So it is clear that, while some disclaimers were issued, the Society wanted its members to firmly believe that 1925 was to be an extremely important year, just as it did with 1975. As with Russell earlier, all the predictions were based on indisputable facts and were from God.
Returning to our discussion of Awake!, the footnote on page 4 stated:
The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has said: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (January 1883, page 425) “Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible.” (December 15, 1896, page 306)
True, such statements have been made, but they are overshadowed by far stronger ones. Before looking at a few of these, here is the context of the December 15, 1896 Zion’s Watch Tower, page 306 (p. 2080 Reprints). Using the royal “we,” Russell wrote:
As we have been to some extent, by the grace of God, used in the ministry of the Gospel, it may not be out of place to say here what we have frequently said in private, and previously in these columns, — namely, that while we appreciate the love, sympathy, confidence and fellowship of fellow-servants and of the entire household of faith, we want no homage, no reverence, for ourselves or our writings; nor do we wish to be called Reverend or Rabbi. Nor do we wish that any should be called by our name. The name of him who died for all — the name Christian — is quite sufficient to designate the spiritual sons of God, the true brethren of Christ; and whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil, of carnality, and tends toward more of the same.
Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is, that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build.
Here are some statements that overshadow disclaimers such as the above.
The Holy Spirit has revealed to us through the word the presence of the Bridegroom and we heard his voice and opened the door of faith and he came in to us and supped with us, and caused us to sit down to meat (truth), and himself has been our teacher and served us. [Zion’s Watch Tower, August, 1880, p. 3; p. 126 Reprints]
During the last six or seven years, the Lord has been leading us, his people, in a very remarkable manner. As we look backward we can see that our pathway has been as “a shining light …. shining more and more.” It has been progressive, bringing us strength with “meat in due season.” It has caused us to grow both in grace and knowledge and this growth, taken in connection with the fact that we are not obliged to look back and now call darkness what was then called by some of the brethren, “a great flood of light,” is the very strongest grounds for confidence that the same Lord who then supplied us light from the word, is still providing of the same kind.
If we were following a man undoubtedly it would be different with us; undoubtedly one human idea would contradict another and that which was light one or two or six years ago would be regarded as darkness now: But with God there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, and so it is with truth; any knowledge or light coming from God must be like its author. A new view of truth never can contradict a former truth. “New light” never extinguishes older “light,” but adds to it. If you were lighting up a building containing seven gas jets you would not extinguish one every time you lighted another, but would add one light to another and they would be in harmony and thus give increase of light: So is it with the light of truth; the true increase is by adding, not by substituting one for another. [Zion’s Watch Tower, February, 1881, p. 3; p. 188 Reprints]
Contrast the confident statements above, about having had so much truth revealed to him by “the Lord,” with Russell’s statement in the September 15, 1910 Watch Tower on pages 298-9 (4684-5 Reprints). Judge whether his confident statement that Jesus “himself has been our teacher and served us” was true, or whether all along he was really speaking “man-made theories and guesses”:
Those parts of the Bible which once we thought we understood well, we find that we did not understand at all. Some of the very things relative to the ransom, relative to salvation, we did not understand. Looking back over our experiences, we fully believed that there was a God and that he would reward those who diligently sought him, and that he had sent Jesus his Son, but how and why, we did not comprehend. We had wrong ideas as to what was the penalty for sin; wrong ideas as to why a Savior should come; entirely wrong ideas as to what the Savior did; wrong ideas as to what he was to do in the future, and as to what would be our relationship to the Father and the Savior. We knew, in some sense of the word, that we were called to be a son, but how to become a son and what was meant by the begetting of the holy Spirit, and kindred terms, we did not comprehend; and in our experience we have found none who ever did comprehend these things.
So we believe that the thought for us to take in this connection is that it is because we are living in this particular time, in the ending of this age, that we are favored with such a clear unfolding of spiritual things…. The very ablest minds in the world have examined these subjects, but now, by God’s grace, we have come to the place where the vail is taken away and where we can see the real meaning of God’s Word — not merely one person can see it, but hundreds, thousands, see it.
We think that we get the right conception to thus view it rather than to think that we had some great power which enabled us to put together a great system of theology, more wonderful than all other systems of theology put together — a thousand times more wonderful. Therefore, the simplest way to explain the matter is to acknowledge that the Lord’s due time has come and that he has guided to the right understanding.
If, then, the Lord has provided us with something in our day that other days than those of the Apostles knew nothing about, no matter how good nor how wise they were — for us to ignore the line of teaching which has been thus developed would be, in our judgment, to ignore the Lord’s providences. It is for each one to think for himself, however, and to guide his conduct in every way accordingly.
So at all times, whether in 1881 or in 1910, Russell felt his current teachings were completely correct, “by God’s grace.” At any given time he had the “real meaning of God’s Word,” having been guided by the Lord “to the right understanding.” Disagreeing with his “line of teaching which has been thus developed would be, in our judgment, to ignore the Lord’s providences.” This is intellectual intimidation. Who would be so bold as to “ignore the Lord’s providences?” As with the Society today, these practices nullify any statements about not being infallible or inspired. Russell’s suggestion that a person should “think for himself” and “guide his conduct in every way accordingly” was thoroughly disingenuous.
That Russell had an exalted opinion of himself can be seen in the following statement by the presiding Justice from the decision in his 1908 divorce trial:
His course of conduct towards his wife evidenced such insistent egotism and extravagant self praise that it would be manifest to the jury that his conduct towards her was one of continual arrogant domination, that would necessarily render the life of any Christian woman a burden and make her condition intolerable.
Russell’s arrogance apparently stemmed, not from any personal ambition, but from a sincere belief dating back to his childhood that he had been specially chosen by God to dispense spiritual food. He ultimately came to believe that he personally was the “faithful and discreet slave.” The December 1, 1916 Watch Tower, page 5998 of Reprints, said:
It is here interesting to note that Jesus said, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing! Verily, I say unto you that he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell’s writings believe that he filled the office of “that faithful and wise servant,” and that his great work was giving to the household of faith meat in due season. His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation.
It was apparently this belief — that he had a special appointment from God — that led to virtually equating his own writings with the Bible itself. In the following material from the September 15, 1910 Watch Towerarticle “Is the Reading of ‘Scripture Studies’ Bible Study?”, pages 298-9 (4684-5 Reprints), note the difficulty Russell had in maintaining humility. The article discussed the “plan of reading twelve pages of the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES each day.” It gave a rather mixed message about how the Bible ought to be viewed. Since Studies in the Scriptures pretty well covered everything the serious Bible student needed to know, it said that, while reading the Bible was important, and “the six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are not intended to supplant the Bible,” nevertheless the volumes “are in such form that they, of themselves, contain the important elements of the Bible as well as the comments or elucidations of those bible statements.”
If the six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are practically the Bible topically arranged, with Bible proof-texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes — the Bible in an arranged form. That is to say, they are not merely comments on the bible, but they are practically the Bible itself, since there is no desire to build any doctrine or thought on any individual preference or on any individual wisdom, but to present the entire matter on the lines of the Word of God. We therefore think it safe to follow this kind of reading, this kind of instruction, this kind of Bible study.
Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the SCRIPTURE STUDIES aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years — if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the SCRIPTURE STUDIES with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.
How would Russell view the Watchtower Society today, having laid aside the Scripture Studies for some seventy years?
Further along in the article, after suggesting that people should check Studies in the Scriptures against the Bible, Russell said:
We would conclude, practically, that we could not understand anything about the Bible except as it was revealed. We would, therefore, not waste a great deal of time doing what we know some people do, reading chapter after chapter, to no profit. We would not think of doing it. We would not think we were studying the Scriptures at all. We would think we were following the course that had been anything but profitable to ourselves and many others in the past — merely reading over the Scriptures. We would say that the same Heavenly Father who had guided us to this truth, to this understanding of the Scriptures as his children, if he had some further information for us he would bring it to our attention in some manner; and therefore we would not see the necessity of reading the new Testament every day or every year; we would not consider that necessary. We would consider that the Scripture which says, “They shall be all taught of God,” would imply that in his own appointed way God would bring to our attention whatever feature of divine truth would be “meat in due season for the household of faith.”
In other words, God had already revealed to Russell everything he needed to know up to that point, and when God wanted him to know anything else, he would bring it to Russell’s attention. In the meantime there was no need for Russell to read the Bible, since he already had everything he needed from it. Was he not God’s specially appointed messenger, God’s mouthpiece? Of course, this applied also to the Bible Students generally. Apparently Russell never read Joshua 1:8:
This book of the law should not depart from your mouth, and you must in an undertone read in it day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.
After some discussion about preaching only what one understands, Russell continued:
After God favors us in this time with an understanding of Present Truth, he has given us a knowledge of more truth than we could have gained in a thousand years if we had read and studied unaided; and now we can attempt to present it to others. Why has he given us a knowledge of this Truth? He wishes us to be “thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work.”
It must be asked, who aided Russell to gain his “understanding of Present Truth?” It certainly was not the Second Adventists, as regards much of the doctrine he taught in 1910. What he implied was that God — somehow — mysteriously revealed truth to him. Russell was as incapable of seeing the possibility that he could be wrong right now as any of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. He clearly came to think his own writings were indistinguishable from the Bible itself. This is obvious in his next statement, which is a left-handed way of implying that his volumes could not possibly contain error:
This is not, therefore, putting the SCRIPTURE STUDIES as a substitute for the Bible, because so far as substituting for the Bible, the STUDIES, on the contrary, continually refer to the Bible; and if one has any doubt as to a reference or if one’s recollection should lapse in any degree, one should refresh his memory, and, in fact, should see that his every thought is in harmony with the Bible — not merely in accord with the SCRIPTURE STUDIES, but in accord with the Bible.
Returning to the Awake! footnote, we next consider these statements:
The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit “does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.” (May 15, 1947, page 157) The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.” (August 15, 1950, page 263)
Again these statements are basically true, but are overshadowed by many others implying or stating directly that the publications of the Watchtower Society are from God. As Fred Franz stated, Jehovah is the editor of The Watchtower. Who would be inclined to argue with such an editor? The July 1, 1943 Watchtower contained statements that reveal how the Society really expects people to view it. On page 203 it stated:
… Christ Jesus, the court’s official mouthpiece of interpretation, reserves to himself that office as head of Jehovah’s “faithful and wise servant” class. He merely uses the “servant” class to publish the interpretation after the Supreme Court by Christ Jesus reveals it.
In the same Watchtower the article “Righteous Requirements,” on pages 204-6, further illustrates such intellectual intimidation. The article explicitly declares that the Society’s instructions are exactly the same as if God himself spoke directly to the members.
This Society was authorized by the Lord to bring forth things new and old for the household of faith and do the work for which the Lord had organized it. Therefore it is fully qualified and duly authorized to issue a “call to action” to all who claim to be on the Lord’s side to busy themselves in doing the work of the Lord.
This “call to action” sent out by the Lord through the Society is based on the fulfilled prophecies of his Word clearly revealed to those who have the mind of the Lord….
Now, the apostle says, Jehovah speaks to us through his Son. (Heb. 1:1, 2) The Son has returned as King; he has come to his temple. He has appointed his “faithful and wise servant”, who is his visible mouthpiece….
These expressions of God’s will by his King and through his established agency constitute his law or rule of action for the “faithful and wise servant” and for their goodwill companions today who will dwell upon the earth for ever in the New World. The Lord breaks down our organization instructions further and makes them more practicable by further instructing us through his “faithful and wise servant”. He says, ‘Let us assign the field, the world, to special pioneers, regular pioneers and companies of Jehovah’s witnesses in an orderly way, sufficient for everyone to thoroughly witness therein, and let us place upon each one the responsibility of caring for the New World interest in these respective assignments.’ He says the requirements for special pioneers shall be 175 hours and 50 back-calls per month, which should develop into a reasonable number of studies; and for regular pioneers 150 hours and as many back-calls and studies as can be properly developed during that time. And for company publishers he says, ‘Let us make a quota of 60 hours and 12 back-calls and at least one study a week for each publisher.’ These directions come to us from the Lord through his established agency directing what is required of us; and, for those who really love the Lord and are guided by his counsel, that is a reasonable service requirement. This expression of the Lord’s will should be the end of all controversy. It is for your good that these requirements are made; for thereby you are enabled to prove your integrity and magnify the Lord’s name.
These directions from the Lord come to us as individuals and as collective units called “companies”….
The Lord through his “faithful and wise servant” now states to us, “Let us cover our territory four times in six months.” That becomes our organization instructions and has the same binding force on us that his statement to the Logos had when he said, “Let us make man in our image.” It is our duty to accept this additional instruction and obey it.
Somehow, the idea that covering territory four times in six months has the same force as Jehovah’s telling the Logos “Let us make man in our image,” is difficult to picture. It brings on a severe bout of cognitive dissonance.
Back in the Awake! footnote, we find these further statements:
“The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)” — February 15, 1981, page 19.
As with earlier statements, these are overshadowed by much other published material. For example, the 1983 book United in Worship of the Only True God book asks several questions on page 123:
Do we truly appreciate how Jehovah is directing his visible organization? When we appreciatively accept the spiritual provisions that come through the ‘slave’ class and its Governing body, for whom are we showing respect?
The reader is referred to Luke 10:16, which says:
He that listens to you listens to me [too]. Moreover, he that disregards me disregards [also] him that sent me forth.
Although it is not directly stated, the implication is that an appreciative Witness will accept whatever spiritual provisions the Society makes as if those provisions came directly from God. So while the Society admits it can, in principle, make errors, it wants individual Jehovah’s Witnesses to treat it as if it were infallible.
The June 1, 1982 Watchtower contained the main study articles “Loyally Submitting to Theocratic Order” and “Each One in His Place.” On page 17, one paragraph says of the “faithful slave”:
Their duties include receiving and passing on to all of Jehovah’s earthly servants spiritual food at the proper time.
The spiritual food that is received must logically be sent by someone. The sender is implied to be Jehovah. Another paragraph on page 17 says:
How vital it is for everyone in God’s family to submit loyally to the teachings and arrangements of the Great Theocrat, Jehovah, and his King-Son, Christ Jesus, as transmitted through the ‘faithful slave’ on earth!
A third paragraph, on page 24, says:
Jehovah has provided a goodly quantity of aids to Bible understanding in the form of publications….
To reinforce statements like these, articles often include warning examples of those who failed to submit to “theocratic order,” such as the rebellion against Moses by Korah (December 1, 1981 Watchtower, p. 13) or by Miriam and Aaron (June 1, 1982 Watchtower, p. 17).
In the foreword to the 1961 edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures the translators described their work thus:
The translators who have a fear and love of the divine Author of the Holy Scriptures feel especially a responsibility toward Him to transmit his thoughts and declarations as accurately as possible…. It was with such a sense of solemn responsibility that the committee of dedicated men have produced the New World Translation…. In releasing it for publication we do so with a deep sense of gratitude to the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures, who has thus privileged us and in whose spirit we have trusted to co-operate with us in this worthy work. [italics added]
The above information should be sufficient to show that the March 22 Awake!’s statement above is false: “Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.'” Although some qualifiers are made, they are lost among the strident tones of “authoritative teaching.” Furthermore, the tests set out in Deuteronomy 18 do not include a claim of inspiration.
Let us return to Awake!’s main article. Note that the Watchtower quotation on the right below reveals the Society’s expectations for the 1990s.
Undeterred by previous failures, some seem to have been spurred on by the approach of the year 2000 and have made further predictions of the end of the the world. The Wall Street Journal of December 5, 1989, published an article entitled “Millennium Fever: Prophets Proliferate, the End Is Near.” With the year 2000 approaching, various evangelicals are predicting that Jesus is coming and that the 1990’s will be “a time of troubles that has not been seen before.” At the time of this writing, the latest occurrence was in the Republic of Korea, where the Mission for the Coming Days predicted that on October 28, 1992, at midnight, Christ would come and take believers to heaven. Several other doomsday groups made similar predictions. [g93 3/22 4]
The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity. He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century. [January 1, 1989 Watchtower, p. 12. The bound volume for 1989 changed “in our 20th century” to “in our day.”]
With this prospect ahead, no wonder many have such eagerness for Jehovah’s new world of righteousness to hurry up and replace this old one filled with sorrow, crime, sickness, and death! No wonder their eagerness is so great that they are prone to set early dates for its arrival! Now, however, there are not just bits and pieces of the sign of its incoming to tempt us into sounding false alarms. Now we can see the complete composite sign unfolding to give solid foundation for our eager expectation of this wicked world’s end and Jehovah’s new world to supplant it. [March 22, 1993 Awake!, p. 11]
This sounds like a description of the Society’s prediction of 1975 as the end of the world. True, this was not explicitly predicted in official publications, but it was emphasized in public lectures at Kingdom Halls and larger assemblies around the world from 1966 through 1975. This informal channel is an effective means of distributing information the Society wants members to act upon but which it does not want to publish. This way it is difficult to later pin anything down since it was never part of “official” policy. Difficulties can easily be chalked up to overenthusiastic members.
The following is taken from a talk entitled “Serving with Everlasting Life In View,” given at a circuit assembly in the spring of 1967 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin by a representative of the Society. It illustrates how much stronger were the pronouncements about 1975 that came through the informal channels. Without setting a specific date, the speaker emphasized the nearness of Armageddon. Speaking of the world to come after Armageddon, he said:
Well, now, who will be there, of us here tonight? For the Society has made application of this scripture, in pointing out that those of us among Jehovah’s Witnesses that are not regularly associating with his people, without good cause, such as being flat on our back, will not be in the new order. And we’re the ones that are going to come around when the doors close, and say ‘I want in now. Sir, open to us!’ And Jesus will have to say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t even recognize you.’ Now wouldn’t that be an awful thing. Do you see now why the Society implores us, year in and year out, the same old thing, ‘Brothers, get in the flock. Don’t let any excuses get in our way. Nothing of any nature. There’s only one thing that’s going to count when that time comes, and that’s that we are inside.’ And we hope that all of us here tonight are going to listen to the Society’s imploring. We’re going to listen to the agonizing entreaty, ‘Brothers get in!’, because they know what’s coming. And it’s coming fast — and don’t wait till ’75. The door is going to be shut before then.
Back to the March 22, 1993 Awake!:
The flood of false alarms is unfortunate. They are like the wolf-wolf cries of the shepherd boy — people soon dismiss them, and when the true warning comes, it too is ignored.
This is quite amusing, coming from the “shepherd boy” himself. Since the Watchtower Society has cried ‘wolf’ so many times, why should it expect anyone to pay attention to it now? Nothing has changed in the hundred and twenty years since Russell and Barbour made their first predictions. None of their predictions came true nor did those of Russell’s successors. If anything, by crying wolf the Watchtower Society may have made itself responsible for the deaths of many at Armageddon. It only adds to its grave responsibility before God by continuing to cover over its mistakes rather than honestly taking steps to tell people the full truth and doing whatever is necessary to make amends.
But why has there been such a tendency through the centuries and down to our day for false alarms to be sounded, as Jesus said they would be? (Matthew 24:23-26) Jesus, after telling his followers about different events that would mark his return, said to them, as we read at Matthew 24:36-42: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be…. Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
Awake! is attempting to distance the Society from the stigma of false prediction. The scripture quoted should be sufficient to convince Christians to avoid setting dates for Christ’s return, no matter how much they think they can predict it. Why can “God’s channel of communication” not see this? Has God ceased communicating with his “channel?”
This is actually quite an amazing statement on the part of Awake!, for it is applying the injunction of Matt. 24:23-26 to itself: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise… so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.” But because examples of false predictions by others have been offered to illustrate its points, Awake! obviously feels the typical reader will not realize that the Watchtower Society is the 20th century’s foremost sounder of false alarms about Christ’s return. The article further softens the impact of Matt. 24:23-26 by calling the predictions of false Christs and false prophets “false alarms” rather than false prophecies.
Awake! continues on page 4:
They were told not only to be on the watch and to be prepared but also to watch with eagerness. Romans 8:19 says: “For the eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.” Human nature is such that when we fervently hope and yearn for something and wait in eager expectation of it, a powerful temptation arises within us to see it at the door even when the evidence is insufficient. In our eagerness false alarms may be sounded.
In a roundabout way, the Society is here admitting that it has sounded false alarms. Since Christ explicitly stated that trying to figure the date of his return would be futile, Awake!’s claim that eagerness excuses the misleading of millions of people is disingenuous. Awake!’s attempt to excuse the Society really is an admission that the Society’s record of making predictions in God’s name is no better than that of Christendom.
In the foreword to the 1916 edition of The Time Is At Hand Russell admitted that his predictions had not come to pass (p. x). Note the similarity of Awake!’s excuse to his:
The author acknowledges that in this book he presents the thought that the Lord’s saints might expect to be with Him in glory at the ending of the Gentile Times. This was a natural mistake to fall into, but the Lord overruled it for the blessing of His people. The thought that the Church would all be gathered to glory before October, 1914, certainly did have a very stimulating and sanctifying effect upon thousands, all of whom accordingly can praise the Lord — even for the mistake.
It is a sad commentary on the mental state of Jehovah’s Witnesses that Awake! can so rightly expect that most of them will accept its excuses without blinking. Remember, all the prophetic speculations were presented as “food in due season,” as coming through “God’s channel,” the “faithful and discreet slave.” This “slave” claims special approval and guidance from Jehovah. It is God’s “genuine prophet.”
As Awake! points out, anyone may express an opinion. But men who claim to be God’s spokesmen on earth do not have the right to express mere opinions while claiming that what they say is backed up by God’s own Word and should be accepted as such. When statements are spread around the world as God’s message for mankind, as spiritual “food in due season,” those publishing them are neither “faithful” nor “discreet” if they express fallacious opinions, argue tenaciously for them, belittle any who disagree or, worse, question their loyalty and humility before God.
Furthermore, it is not just the explicit words that the Society has published that are important in this regard, but how the rank-and-file of Jehovah’s Witnesses views them. When the “opinions” are published in millions of pieces of literature in scores of languages; when these “opinions” are systematically taught and promulgated by an army of Jehovah’s Witnesses; when they must be learned, accepted and incorporated into one’s beliefs; when the acceptance of them becomes a requirement for baptism; when questioning them can lead to censure or disfellowshipping; then such “opinions” are transformed into rigid, uncompromising dogma.
Can it be denied that the leaders of the Watchtower Society foster the acceptance of such dogma among Jehovah’s Witnesses?
What, then, will distinguish the true warning from the false ones? For the answer, please see the following article.
Awake! argues so as to turn a liability into an asset. As marketing people often say when faced with selling a less than perfect product, “if you can’t fix it, feature it.” However, we will see that the Society’s doctrines about 1914 and the end of the world are so broken they cannot be fixed. Awake!’s second article is a stripped down rehash of the “composite sign” of Christ’s “presence” and presents nothing new. How can anyone distinguish this latest claim that the Society is not crying ‘wolf’ from the others, especially when the arguments are the same? The only difference is that here the Society does not specify a particular date. The Watchtower Society appears incapable of learning from its mistakes.
“Whoever has even once become notorious by base fraud, even if he speaks the truth, gains no belief.” — Phaedrus, Fables
1 Remember “Big Brother is watching you?”
2 May 29, 1980, in address to elders of Bethel family.
3 See, for example, the explanation given for the change from 606 B.C. to 607 B.C. for the fall of Jerusalem, on page 171 of the 1944 book The Kingdom Is At Hand and page 239 of the 1943 book The Truth Shall Make You Free.
(For a more thorough examination of these issues, see The Sign of the Last Days — When? by Carl Olof Jonsson and Wolfgang Herbst.)