Light Gets Brighter
Jehovah's Witnesses have had a constant change of doctrine and failed predictions during its short history, most significantly during the time of their second leader during the 1930's. Why does a religion claiming to represent Jehovah and to be the only group teaching truth require ongoing changes in doctrine? Does truth really change?
The main justification from the Watchtower for changed doctrine is Proverbs 4:18;
"But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established."
In reality this line of argumentation is simple justification for prior error and a "thought stopping" technique.
Three aspects to consider are;
- Is this the intended meaning of Proverbs 4:18?
- Does Watchtower doctrine get brighter or change?
- Would Jehovah direct a religion to promote falsehood?
Read Proverbs chapter 4 and it becomes clear this does not refer to the development of doctrine. The surrounding verses say "the wicked …do not sleep unless they do badness. … The way of the wicked ones is like the gloom; they have not known at what they keep stumbling… listen to the discipline of a father … keep my commandments … safeguard your heart." Solomon was comparing the difference of behaviour between good and bad people, not the revealing of doctrinal truth to an organization. For thousands of years people have understood this scripture to be discussing a person's behaviour.
"What is clear from Proverbs is that the reader can choose to either seek wisdom or live a life of folly. (Prov 4:14-19)" http://www.thisischurch.com/christianinfo/proverbs.htm (25/03/2005)
The Watchtower Society did not originate the concept of excusing failed predictions as "new light". Barbour had used this concept to justify why the end did not arrive as predicted in 1874, two years prior to being joined by Russell.
Brighter of Changed
Let us entertain the idea that the Governing Body is correct, and within this scripture is hidden a second prophetic meaning. This second meaning is that Jehovah would progressively reveal his truth to his people at the time of the end. This concept is still not relevant to the Witness history.
Consider whether the following change is really a matter of light getting lighter:
Imagine being the Witness parent of a child that needed a kidney transplant in 1970. Although the Awake! 1949 December 22 had described transplants as "wonders of modern surgery" in 1967 God's brighter light had apparently revealed that transplants were wrong in his eyes. The Watchtower 1967 November 15 pp.702-704 stated that being now "enlightened by God's word" God's people understood that transplants are against divine principles and cannibalistic. The parents must sincerely have believed they were putting Jehovah first when watching their child die, refusing them the opportunity of possible survival through a transplant. How would that parent feel on reading the Watchtower 1980 March 15 p.31 "There is no Biblical command pointedly forbidding the taking in of other human tissue…. It is a matter for personal decision…"? The enlightenment of 1967 had proved to be dark, harmful and in need of later correction, a regressive doctrine that resulted in the unnecessary death of members. When a doctrine changes and then reverts back to the original position this is not evidence of light getting brighter, it is evidence of a lack of Holy Spirit directing the Governing Body.
It has regularly been the case that Watchtower doctrine is not illuminated but eclipsed. It was not increasing light that dictated in the 1950's that Jesus was no longer to be worshipped; it was a fundamental teaching that was (or currently is) wrong. Failed date prophecies, pyramids, superior authorities, the generation; these were not clarifications, these were wrong teachings. How many wrong teachings did God allow to become part of the Bible canon? Now compare that with how many wrong teachings contained within the Watchtower over less then 150 years. Ongoing reversal of doctrine can only indicate God is not involved in these new flashes of light.
When is it truth?
This concept is easily applied to any Christian religion similar to the Witnesses, such as Christadelphians and Church of God. Both of these have a doctrinal structure almost identical to Jehovah's Witnesses. It could be applied to Seventh-day Adventists who started concurrently with the Witnesses from the same basic teachings of Miller, preach and have grown at the same rate. A person raised in any of these religions is equally convinced that the things that seem wrong with their religion will be clarified by the light getting brighter.
The Church of God uses the same "new light" reasoning, as shown in an experience of a member at http://www.ex-sda.com/experience-WCG.htm (May 2 2006)
"Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong still took what seemed to me a less than candid approach. He called our Divorce & Remarriage change "new light," "new truth" which God has (finally) shown us. In other words, he subtly blamed our doctrinal error on God."
The following article about the Catholic Church is equally applicable to the Watchtower Society.
""Tell me," he asked, "how can I have confidence in anything? How can I believe in the Bible, in God, or have faith? Just ten years ago we Catholics had the absolute truth, we put all our faith in this. Now the pope and our priests are telling us this is not the way to believe any more, but we are to believe 'new things.' How do I know the 'new things' will be the truth in five years?"" Awake! 1970 Apr 22 p.8
The Watchtower Society notes that predicting a date for the end of the world amounts to false prophesy if it does not come true.
"True, there have been those in times past who predicted an 'end to the world' even announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The 'end did not come'. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing from such people were God's truths and the evidence that He was using and guiding them." Awake! 1968 Oct 8 p.23
It is ironic that the Society condemns other religions in such manner when it has spent many decades actively predicting wrong 'end of the world' dates that did not occur, such as 1914 being the year for Armageddon.
What the Bible Says
Though the Bible explains that truth would be revealed over time it does not allow for Jehovah directing his people with falsehood.
John 16:13 "However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide YOU into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to YOU the things coming."
Daniel 12:4,10 "And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of [the] end. Many will rove about, and the [true] knowledge will become abundant... 10 Many will cleanse themselves and whiten themselves and will be refined. And the wicked ones will certainly act wickedly, and no wicked ones at all will understand; but the ones having insight will understand."
Though Daniel did not understand what he wrote he did not make false interpretations. The Society's interpretation of Daniel has changed constantly with explanations that were applied to the 1800's now applied to the 1900's. Despite this the Organization insists that only they are enlightened by God to accurately interpret these scriptures.
Rather than indicate that doctrine would get brighter or change the Bible warns against anyone that makes false predictions.
1 John 4:1 "Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world."
Deut. 18:20-22 "However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: "How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?" 22 when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it."
Galatians 1:8, 9 "But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed."
Apostles Made Mistakes
An additional line of reasoning by the Watchtower Society to justify their errors is to make a comparison to the Apostles and the mistakes that they made.
"Like the apostles of Jesus Christ, they have at times had some wrong expectations.-Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6". Reasoning from the Scriptures p.136
This addresses an issue quite different to the one at hand. No one questions that individual Jehovah's Witnesses or even individual members of the Governing Body have to be perfect. The issue is whether the Governing Body operates under guidance of Holy Spirit as a collective group after prayer. Does Jehovah direct what appears in the Watchtower journals?
Rather than suggesting that Apostles made mistakes ask "What percentage of the Apostles writings in the Bible are wrong?" Zero percent. "What percentage of Watchtower statements has been wrong?" The difference being that God's servants were directed by God, the Governing Body is not.
Yet the Governing Body tells us about themselves:
"Today, Jehovah provides instruction by means of "the faithful steward." Pay Attention to Yourself and to All The Flock p.13
Why then is it that when the Watchtower Governing Body relies on Jehovah they have regularly been wrong? How can they pray for Holy Spirit on a decision, publish it in the Watchtower, say it is to be accepted as the 'voice of God', and then later discard it as incorrect?
Religions claiming to have all the answers consistently are shown up as wrong. The Watchtower reliance on the 'new light' doctrine is no more than an excuse to justify inaccuracies. "New light" is an unhealthy concept that promotes blind, unquestioning devotion to an earthly Organization.
Watchtower changes include numerous false dates, changes of significant doctrine and the promotion of pagan symbols and teachings. Rules on shunning, medical advice and education have been adversely life changing, even life threatening.
Deuteronomy 18:22 provides a foolproof way to determine if words being spoken have come from God;
"the word [that] does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak."
Ongoing doctrinal meandering can not be justified as new light; rather it is proof that God does not direct the Watchtower Society. The Bible does not make room for error; falsehood does not originate from Jehovah.