Guide to Truth
All religion claim truth, generally their version of truth is promoted as essential for salvation. The Watchtower assertion is that association with the Watchtower Organization is the only means by which to receive salvation. Jehovah's Witnesses feel such a right claiming they alone adhere to correct doctrine and displays of true love.
Debating doctrine rarely convinces a person to change religion; rather it reduces to an inconclusive volley of choice scriptural texts. Most other religions can also produce "evidence" that their doctrine is truth and that they excel in love. Many 19th century religions have grown as large as the Watchtower Society, filled with sincere and intelligent people. Using doctrine to determine if the Watchtower teaches truth is tedious and ineffective, particularly if as a Witness you have spent many years subjected to constant indoctrination through repetitive meeting attendance and Watchtower study.
The underlying premise to being a Jehovah's Witness is that the Watchtower Society is God's visible organization. This is the foundation upon which everything is based. For as long as you believe the Watchtower Society represents Jehovah's Organization it will not matter if doctrines change or practices are wrong because "who are we to question God?" On the other hand, once you prove that the Watchtower Society is not God's Organization the doctrine become irrelevant. How can you test this claim?
The Watchtower Society claims to be the Faithful and Discreet Slave of Matthew 24:45-47 and Luke 12:35-43, explaining that this parable represents a group of leaders chosen to direct God's people. This vague parable does not mention the word or even concept of an organization, Watchtower or Jehovah's Witness yet it is explained that in 1919 the Slave came to be solely represented by the Watchtower Society. Two critical areas to consider are:
- who was the slave prior to the Watchtower Society
- was the Watchtower found to be cleansed in 1919
Since the Time of Jesus
The Watchtower 1981 March 1 p.24 claims that;
"Beginning with Pentecost, 33 C.E., and continuing through the 19 centuries since then, this slavelike congregation has been feeding its members spiritually…"
If that is true, who was the slave immediately preceding Russell? There was no Slave promoting Russell's teachings prior to the formation of the Watchtower Society. Russell felt that "It was often the case, however, that one religious group was distinguished by a clearer understanding of one Bible truth; another group, by a different truth. Their further progress was frequently hindered because they were shackled to doctrines and creeds…" (jv chap. 10 p. 120) For this reason he created a new religion with no connections to any 19 century historical lineage.
The Watchtower has provided discussion of many religious groups from the 1900 years prior to Russell but is yet to find even one group from any century that believed what the Witnesses now teach. None can be found that adhere simultaneously to the essential Watchtower doctrine concerning the Trinity, Ransom Sacrifice, Soul, Hell, Preaching and War.
There is no justification for the claim that the Watchtower Society represents a constant line since Jesus time.
Cleansed in 1919
Most revealing is to test the concept that Jesus found the Watchtower Society to be cleansed and teaching pure truth in 1919.
It is explained that in 1914 Jesus took rulership and cleansed the heavens. In 1918 this cleansing work was directed to his spiritual temple on earth.(1) In 1919, he re-inspected the Watchtower Organization and found it clean.
Describing this period the Watchtower 1998 May 15 p.17 says;
"Anointed Christians who survived the testing period of 1914-19 were freed from the dominating influence of the world and from many Babylonish religious practices. The remnant went forward as a cleansed and refined people, willingly offering sacrifices of praise to God and having the assurance that they as a people were acceptable to him."
The supposed reason the Watchtower Society is the only means of salvation is that Jesus found it to be the only organization providing "the right sort of food" - truth - when Jesus inspected it in 1919.
"The serving of food, the right sort of food, at the proper time was the issue. It had to be according to this that a decision must be rendered by the returned master... On inspecting the remnant of his anointed disciples in the year 1919 C.E., the reigning King Jesus Christ did find the appointed "slave" faithful and discreet in the feeding of his "domestics." Accordingly, he appointed this "slave" class over all his belongings." God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached pp.350, 355
What exactly did Jesus find when he inspected the Watchtower Society in 1919? He found the following teachings being promoted;
- The last days started in 1799 and the 1800's were the worst time period of all history
- Jesus had begun ruling in 1874
- Armageddon had started and was underway since 1914
- Pyramids and astrology pointed to 1914
- The resurrection on to earth would start in 1925
- Blood was acceptable as food for Christians
- Jesus should be prayed to and worshipped as well as Jehovah
- The Great Crowd were a heavenly class
- Birthdays and Christmas were acceptable celebrations
- The cross appeared on the cover of the Watchtower
- The use of Freemason symbology
- Strong Zionist support
- That Pastor Russell alone represented the Faithful and Discreet Slave
Are these teachings the '"right sort of food at the proper time'"? By current Watchtower truth the food the Watchtower Society was serving in 1919 was seasoned with false prophecy, spiritism, paganism, polytheism, idolatry and political activism. Certainly anyone belonging to such a religion would be considered an apostate by current Watchtower truth. It brings into question if Russell himself could be one of the anointed 144,000.
Did Jesus cleanse the Watchtower Society between 1918 and 1919? No, virtually all teachings remained unchanged. The understanding of 1874 and 1914 was not transformed until 1943(2) and the (so called) idolatry of Jesus continued until 1954. Can you imagine Jesus pronouncing the Slave clean and then allowing them to worship the wrong God for the next 35 years?
An interesting twist is that in 1914 there was no Faithful and Discreet Slave class awaiting the Lord's arrival. Luke 12:35-37 says;
"Let YOUR loins be girded and YOUR lamps be burning, and YOU yourselves be like men waiting for their master when he returns from the marriage, so that at his arriving and knocking they may at once open to him. Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching! Truly I say to YOU, He will gird himself and make them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them.
However, at that time there was no slave class as it was believed that Russell was the Slave.(3) Neither were any members of the Watchtower Society waiting for the Lord's return as in 1914 it was believed Jesus had already returned over 40 years earlier in 1874.
The assertion that Jesus chose the Watchtower Society in 1919 has no basis. The Watchtower Society promoted many false teachings until Rutherford made a radical overhaul of doctrine during the 1930's, and has continued changing teachings ever since.
What should we conclude? Though Jehovah's Witnesses think they alone follow the Bible what really is being followed are a group of men, referred to as the Governing Body. Consider;
Up until the 1950's Witnesses worshipped Jesus. In 1954 the Watchtower said it was wrong to worship Jesus, so all Witnesses stopped worshipping him. Before 1954 a person could be disfellowshipped if they didn't worship Jesus, after they were disfellowshipped if they did! Bible truth had not changed so either before or after 1954 Jehovah's Witnesses were not following Bible truth. It was not God's Spirit that created this important discrepancy; it was the leaders of the Organization. God is a God of truth (Ex 34:6). If this organization was not teaching truth, either before or after the 1950's, then it is not Spirit directed. Its members were not following God's truth, they were following the untruths of men.
It can be seen that to be classified as a Jehovah's Witness following truth is not important, unquestioning adherence to the incorrect teachings of the Governing Body is.
Viewing the history of Watchtower doctrine brings one to the understanding that holy spirit does not direct Watchtower teachings. The same is true in regard to the appointment of brothers and disfellowshipping of wrongdoers, which are also said to be done under the guidance of the holy spirit. When a person becomes aware of the number of people that are appointed to positions of authority whilst engaging in gross sin it is readily apparent that that holy spirit is not guiding the Watchtower Society in this area either.
Few people aware of the above information prior to baptism convert to being Jehovah's Witnesses. Once you leave it becomes difficult to comprehend how you could ever have been convinced that the Watchtower teaches truth. Just a small amount of research will uncover that;
- there are other religions with almost identical doctrine to the Watchtower
- there are some that have a far sounder doctrinal foundation
- there are religious groups that display a stronger anti-war stance
- other groups are more effective in their preaching work
- many religions display charity to an extent unheard of amongst the Witnesses
As a Witness, why are you convinced that no one else worships Jehovah? This is entirely related to the effects of constant indoctrination as described at Fear and Mind Control.
When a difficult question or the information presented here is encountered by the Witness mind it is prevented from understanding the relevance due to a number of mental hurdles. The following 4 though stopping concepts are almost universally used by high control groups to shut down clear thinking. To successfully see through Watchtower dogma you need to overcome every single one of these false concepts.
Sadly the last hurdle is most difficult of all. Fear is so ingrained that for years after leaving former Witnesses may still suffer panic about dieing at Armageddon. Even more real is the pain suffered at being shunned by family and friends on leaving the Organisation. There is no easy way to avoid this. When confronted with such a choice the mind suffers cognitive dissonance. It is safer mentally to refuse to consider the implications of such inconsistencies of belief than to confront them and realise many years of your life were controlled by misinformation and spent in pointless pursuits. With the Watchtower Society no longer stipulating your beliefs related to areas as disparate as theology, morals and your view of the historical past, present and future the mind is left grasping for a new reference point. Until it can find one it struggles in confusion and shock. This is a common dilemma for members leaving high control groups and parallels the philosophical question posed in The Matrix.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.
(In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill)
You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.
(A red pill is shown in his other hand)
You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember -- all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
For many people it is easier to take the blue pill and think no further as to whether what they believe is truth; not everyone can live such a lie.
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights says "a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people." Each individual should have freedom of choice in matters of religion. Are you sure you are being allowed to make your own decisions based on accurate information?
Each belief we have is interwoven with many others, resulting in our overall world view. If one of our fundamental beliefs is incorrect, then this will result in numerous other concepts also being wrong. Whilst you hold the fundamental belief that the Watchtower Society is Spirit directed and the Watchtower is from Jehovah, what it contains will be accepted with little question. After you find the Watchtower Society is not directed by Jehovah you will rapidly realise incorrect beliefs have entered almost every other part of your world view.
(1.) Isaiah's Prophecy-Light for all Mankind II p.348 In 1918, three and a half years after his enthronement, he cleansed Jehovah's spiritual temple, as represented on earth by the congregation of anointed Christians.
(2.) God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached pp.209-210 "In the year 1943 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published the book "The Truth Shall Make You Free." In its chapter 11, entitled "The Count of Time," it did away with the insertion of 100 years into the period of the Judges and went according to the oldest and most authentic reading of Acts 13:20, and accepted the spelled-out numbers of the Hebrew Scriptures. This moved forward the end of six thousand years of man's existence into the decade of the 1970's. Naturally this did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of his invisible presence or parousia."
(3.) Watch Tower 1916 December 1 p.356 "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."