'LOVERS OF THE TRUTH...NOTHING TO FEAR FROM EXAMINATION.'
'WHO FORM THE BODY OF TRUE WORSHIPERS TODAY?'
At first glance the 'Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania' (hereafter WBTS), as they are known in their publications, appears to encourage the examination of their teachings for, in their book 'The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life,' 1968, p.13-14, they state:
1. 'WE NEED TO EXAMINE, NOT ONLY WHAT WE PERSONALLY BELIEVE, BUT ALSO WHAT IS TAUGHT BY ANY RELIGIOUS ORGANISATION WITH WHICH WE MAY BE ASSOCIATED.' Are its teachings in full harmony with God's Word, or are they based on the traditions of men? IF WE ARE LOVERS OF THE TRUTH, THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR FROM SUCH AN EXAMINATION.' It should be the sincere desire of every one of us to learn what God's will is for us, and then to do it.' John 8:32. The mere fact that church members may have the Bible or that it is occasionally read to them from the pulpit does not of itself prove that all the things they are taught are in the Bible. It is good to have the Bible; each and every person should have one. But we must also know what it says and believe it. IF A RELIGION REALLY ACCEPTS THE BIBLE AS GOD'S WORD, IT IS NOT GOING TO USE CERTAIN PARTS OF IT AND REJECT OTHER PARTS.' 'All scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.' (2 Timothy 3:16) SINCE THIS IS SO, THE RELIGION THAT IS APPROVED BY GOD MUST AGREE IN ALL ITS DETAILS WITH THE BIBLE. The man who wants to please God must be sincere. But SINCERITY ALONE DOES NOT MAKE ONE'S RELIGION APPROVED IN GOD'S EYES. The apostle Paul was moved by God's spirit to write concerning certain ones in his day: 'I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.' (Romans 10:2,3) As a result their sincerity was mis-directed....WHAT, THEN, OF THE RELIGIONS THAT TAKE THE NAME OF CHRIST AND PROFESS TO ACCEPT HIM AS THEIR LORD? DOES THEIR PREACHING IN HIS NAME GUARANTEE THAT THEY MEET WITH GOD'S APPROVAL?'
2. From these statements it would appear that the WBTS are encouraging:
a. THE EXAMINATION OF THEIR TEACHINGS, AS WELL AS THE TEACHINGS OF OTHER RELIGIONS;
b. THE USE OF THE BIBLE ALONE AS THE STANDARD BY WHICH WE ARE TO JUDGE RELIGION -AND TO BEWARE THE TRADITIONS OF MEN.
c. IF WE ARE LOVERS OF THE TRUTH, THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR FROM SUCH AN EXAMINATION.
d. SINCERITY ALONE DOES NOT MAKE ONE'S RELIGION APPROVED IN GOD'S EYES.
e. the questioning of the validity of 'THE RELIGIONS THAT TAKE THE NAME OF CHRIST AND PROFESS TO ACCEPT HIM AS THEIR LORD.'
3. Again, in 'The Watchtower' magazine (15th November, 1963, p.688) the WBTS encourages the exposure of false religions:
'Can there be false religion? IT IS NOT A FORM OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION FOR ANYONE TO SAY AND TO SHOW THAT ANOTHER RELIGION IS FALSE. IT IS NOT RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION FOR AN INFORMED PERSON TO EXPOSE PUBLICLY A CERTAIN RELIGION AS BEING FALSE, THUS ALLOWING PERSONS TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FALSE RELIGION AND TRUE RELIGION.'
'MEEKLY GO ALONG WITH THE LORD'S THEOCRATIC ORGANISATION...'
4. It seems that the WBTS invites us to investigate their organisation and all others -which we will now begin to do. In 'The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life,' WBTS, 1968, p.130, we read: 'Who, then, are the ones who form THE BODY OF TRUE WORSHIPERS today? On the basis of the evidence, which is known or available to persons in all parts of the earth, we do not hesitate to say that they are the Christian witnesses of Jehovah....Since God assures us that practicing true religion brings great contentment now and opens up the way for eternal life in his new system of things, it surely will be WORTH YOUR WHILE TO MAKE SUCH AN INVESTIGATION. (Deuteronomy 30:19,20) You have our warm invitation to do so. WHY NOT INVESTIGATE NOW?'
Since we are told that Jehovah's Witnesses are the 'true worshipers' and advised that it will be 'WORTH YOUR WHILE TO MAKE SUCH AN INVESTIGATION' - to 'INVESTIGATE NOW' - we will look carefully at the evidence.
'COME TO JEHOVAH'S ORGANISATION FOR SALVATION...'
5. In 'The Watchtower,' 1st October, 1967, p.590) we read: 'After cleansing those belonging to this house who were alive on earth, Jehovah poured out his spirit upon them and assigned them the responsibility of serving as HIS SOLE VISIBLE CHANNEL, THROUGH WHOM ALONE SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION WAS TO COME. Those who recognise Jehovah's theocratic organisation, therefore, must recognise and accept this appointment of the 'faithful and discreet slave' and BE SUBMISSIVE TO IT.'
This is consistent with 'The Watchtower,' 1st February, 1952, p.80), which stated: 'We should MEEKLY GO ALONG WITH THE LORD'S THEOCRATIC ORGANISATION and wait for further clarification, rather than balk at the first mention of a thought unpalatable to us and proceed to quibble and mouth our criticisms and opinions as though they were worth more than the slave's provision of spiritual food. THEOCRATIC ONES WILL APPRECIATE THE LORD'S VISIBLE ORGANISATION AND NOT BE SO FOOLISH AS TO PIT AGAINST JEHOVAH'S CHANNEL THEIR OWN HUMAN REASONING and sentiment and personal feelings....After being nourished to our present spiritual strength and maturity, do we suddenly become smarter than our former provider and forsake the enlightening guidance of THE ORGANISATION THAT MOTHERED US?'
Notice that the WBTS claims that there is nothing to fear by examining both what we believe and the teachings of religious organisations -UNLESS WE ARE A JEHOVAH'S WITNESS - THEN WE SHOULD MEEKLY GO ALONG WITH THE THEOCRATIC ORGANISATION.
6. 'The Watchtower,' 1st November, 1984, p.18, had this to say about the WBTS view of the spiritual position of Jehovah's Witnesses: 'Jehovah's worldwide congregation of anointed ones is a 'pillar and support of the truth.' (1 Timothy 3:15) For newly interested ones to benefit from that 'support,' they HAVE TO JOIN the hundreds and thousands of meek ones who are flocking to associate with these anointed ones. (Zechariah 8:23) Today those meek ones make up an international brotherhood more than two and a half million strong, and ACCEPTING THE TRUTH INCLUDES ASSOCIATING WITH THAT INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD.'
So the WBTS claims that 'accepting the truth' must include 'ASSOCIATING WITH THAT INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD' (of Jehovah's Witnesses).
7. The importance of the claims of 'Jehovah's theocratic organisation' was made clear in 'The Watchtower,' 15th November, 1981, pp. 16-17: 'Any person who wants to survive into God's righteous new order urgently NEEDS TO COME INTO A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH JEHOVAH AND HIS EARTHLY ORGANISATION NOW.'
'And while now the witness yet includes the invitation to COME TO JEHOVAH'S ORGANISATION FOR SALVATION, the time no doubt will come when the message takes on a harder tone, like a 'great war cry.'' (p.21)
HERE IS THE UN-MISTAKEABLE CLAIM THAT WE HAVE TO COME TO THE WBTS FOR SALVATION.
But what does the Bible - which the WBTS claims to take as its guide - teach?:
SALVATION IS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST ALONE! (John 10v1-16).
8. In their 'Awake' magazine, 22nd August, 1984, p.28, they stated: 'The Catholic Church occupies a very significant position in the world and claims to be the way of salvation for hundreds of millions of people. ANY ORGANISATION THAT ASSUMES THAT POSITION SHOULD BE WILLING TO SUBMIT TO SCRUTINY AND CRITICISM.'
As Orthodox Christians we observe that the WBTS makes no distinctions between Rome and Bible-believing 'born again' Christians. We will never defend the errors of the Papal cult, but we have observed that the WBTS claim:
a. to be Jehovah God's sole visible channel for spiritual instruction;
b. that it is right to submissively and meekly go along with the organisations spiritual food;
c. that accepting the truth means associating with the WBTS organisation;
d. that we should come to Jehovah's organisation for salvation;
WE ACCEPT THEIR CHALLENGE TO INVESTIGATE THEM.
The orthodox Christian reading the Bible alone will be surprised to find any organisation claiming that we should come to THEM for salvation. Scripture informs us that the name that has been given is NOT 'The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society' but 'that BY THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST THE NAZARENE, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead....He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the head of the corner (the cornerstone). AND THERE IS SALVATION IN NO ONE ELSE; FOR THERE IS NO OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN AMONG MEN, BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED' (Acts 4v10-12).
9. Reading Acts 1v8 we discover that we are not to be 'Jehovah's Witnesses' but that Jesus told His disciples 'you shall be MY WITNESSES both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.'
In Acts 2v21 we discover that 'EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.' At least, this is what even 'The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures' (copyright 1985 by the WBTS of Pennsylvania and International Bible Students Association, v20-21) tells us. However, their translation has smuggled 'Jehovah' into the text instead of 'Lord.'
We will discuss elsewhere the way in which they have replaced the Greek word 'kyrios' (which should be literally translated 'Lord') by their selective use of 'Jehovah' no less than 237 times in the New Testament.
'ONLY ORGANISATION...THAT UNDERSTANDS THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD'
10. The WBTS have made many statements of the following kind: 'JEHOVAH'S ORGANISATION ALONE, IN ALL THE EARTH, IS DIRECTED BY GOD'S HOLY SPIRIT....ONLY THIS ORGANISATION FUNCTIONS FOR JEHOVAH'S PURPOSES AND TO HIS PRAISE. TO IT ALONE God's Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book....THE ONLY ORGANISATION ON EARTH THAT UNDERSTANDS THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD'....THIS ORGANISATION ALONE is supplied with 'gifts in men', such as evangelisers, shepherds and teachers....THERE IS NO OTHER ORGANISATION THAT IS DOING THE DIVINE WILL or educating people for life everlasting....THE ONLY ORGANISATION on earth that is serving Jehovah God under his Messianic King....enthusiastically DIRECT OTHERS TO GOD'S ORGANISATION. ('The Watchtower,' 1st July, 1973, pp.402-406)
'A FAILURE TO RESPOND TO HIS ORGANISATION REALLY INDICATES A
REJECTION OF DIVINE RULERSHIP'
'THE BIBLE CANNOT BE PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD WITHOUT JEHOVAH'S
11. This next statement reveals the way in which the WBTS organisation has replaced the leading of the Holy Spirit, for the Jehovah's Witness, with the 'organisational' thinking of the WBTS:
'We must take seriously what his Word says and WHAT HIS ORGANISATION REVEALS TO US....WOULD NOT A FAILURE TO RESPOND TO DIRECTION FROM GOD THROUGH HIS ORGANISATION REALLY INDICATE A REJECTION OF DIVINE RULERSHIP?' ('The Watchtower,' 15th February, 1976, p.124)
This attitude by the WBTS reaches the point where they are in fact practically demanding the WORSHIP of their adherents:
'If one renders obedient service to someone or some ORGANISATION, whether willingly or under compulsion, LOOKING UP TO SUCH AS POSSESSING A POSITION OF SUPERIOR RULERSHIP AND GREAT AUTHORITY, THEN THAT ONE CAN SCRIPTURALLY BE SAID TO BE A WORSHIPER.' ('The Watchtower,' 1st September 1961, p.525)
It is ironic that their book 'Revelation - Its Grand Climax At Hand,' (1988, p.35-36) should state of their 'John class' (more of these in a later edition): 'They resisted those who tried to introduce sectarianism through PRACTICALLY IDOLIZING the first president of the Watchtower Society, founder, Charles Taze Russell, following his death in 1916.'
Ironic, because Russell's successor, 'Judge' Joseph F. Rutherford, did not prevent the following from appearing in 'The Watch Tower,' (Dec. 1st, 1916, pp. 376-377): 'Charles Taze Russell, thou hast, by the Lord, been crowned a king; and through the everlasting ages thy name shall be known amongst the people, AND THY ENEMIES SHALL COME AND WORSHIP AT THY FEET.'
We contrast this with the clear Scriptural teaching to WORSHIP GOD ALONE (cf. Acts 10v25 & 14v11-18; Rev 19v10 & 22v8-9 where men and angels refused WORSHIP).
Interestingly, an honest translation of the Bible shows that the same angels who refused worship are commanded by God to WORSHIP the Lord Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1v6 & Rev 5v13.
IF WE ARE UNABLE TO DEFEND OUR RELIGIOUS VIEWS, WE MAY FIND OURSELVES LASHING OUT...WITH SLURS AND INNUENDOS...'
12. Do the WBTS really want us to examine their teachings?
In 'The Watchtower,' 15th May, 1984, (p.17), we read:
'Those who despise Jehovah's teaching include individuals who criticize and complain about Jehovah's CLEAN ORGANISATION and its rules for maintaining peace and good order. There is only a fine line of demarcation between such and those who are outright rebels.'
The WBTS invited us to examine their organisation and stated that 'ANY ORGANISATION CLAIMING TO BE THE WAY OF SALVATION SHOULD SUBMIT TO CRITICISM.' We have found that the WBTS claims that we should 'COME TO JEHOVAH'S ORGANISATION FOR SALVATION' and they are, therefore, such an organisation.
HOWEVER, THIS IS WHERE WE FIND A CONTRADICTION.
WHAT THE WBTS MEANS IS THIS: SCRUTINISE AND CRITICISE OTHER RELIGIONS AND ORGANISATIONS -BUT NEVER CRITICIZE THEM OR USE HUMAN REASONING AGAINST THEM. WE HAVE ONLY EXAMINED THE WBTS HERE BY LOOKING AT THE STANDARDS THAT THEY CLAIM TO BE CORRECT.
We will not use human reasoning to examine the WBTS but apply the Scriptural tests which abound:
For example 1 Thessalonians 5v19-22 teaches us: 'Do not put out the fire of the spirit. Do not treat prophesyings with contempt. MAKE SURE OF ALL THINGS; hold fast to what is fine. Abstain from every form of wickedness.'
In Acts 17v11 we find the Beroeans, upon hearing the teachings of Paul and Silas, setting a fine example for Christians by 'examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.'
Obviously, if it was wise to examine the teachings of men like Paul and Silas, then it must still be equally important for us to examine the teachings of any who claim to bring the Word of God. This must include the WBTS for we find that the congregations of Galatia were advised (Galatians 1v8): 'even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed.'
It is noteworthy that 'The Watchtower,' 1st February, 1952, p.80, which was quoted above ('We should go meekly along with the Lord's theocratic organisation....') should attempt to deflect the believer from checking out the WBTS because it goes on to say:
'Even the Beroeans first received Paul's preaching 'with the greatest readiness of mind,' and then went 'carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so'. (Acts17:11, NW) This was the first real contact the Beroeans had with Paul's preaching, yet they received it readily and then studied the Scriptural support for themselves. HOW MUCH MORE READILY WE CAN RECEIVE THE SLAVE'S PROVISIONS WITH CONFIDENCE, SINCE, UNLIKE THE BEROEANS, WE HAVE MUCH PAST EXPERIENCE WITH THE PRECIOUS PROVISIONS FROM THE SLAVE. After receiving these food supplies we prove their Scripturalness for ourselves to make the message our own, in a spirit of meekness and trustfulness and NOT COMBATIVENESS.'
What are the WBTS saying? DO NOT CHECK US OUT - YOU CAN TRUST US - HAVEN'T WE PROVED OURSELVES TRUSTWORTHY IN THE PAST? DON'T ARGUE ABOUT THIS.
It is clearly Scriptural for the congregations of God to test the teachings they are receiving -and the only measure by which this can be done is by the Word of God -the Bible. However, when a Jehovah's Witness believes that he can 'prove their Scriptural accuracy' he has a problem. The only books, Bibles and reasoning he is expected to use are those of the WBTS and these will usually bear out the teaching - for reasons we will go into later. But this is not always the case and we shall be looking at the way in which the WBTS deals with this other problem in a future news-letter. NOTE: Where annotated in brackets (NWT) the Scriptural quotes above are from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, revised 1984. We shall be looking at the accuracy of this translation.
13. Can we actually check out the WBTS on our own? Apparently not, according to their writings:
'Thus the Bible is an organizational book and BELONGS TO THE CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION AS AN ORGANISATION, 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 ORGANISATION IN MIND.' (WT, 1st October, 1967, p.587)
So they are saying that we cannot check out the WBTS using the Bible because ONLY the WBTS can tell you what the Bible means. Would you send a fox into the chicken run to check out a fox?
In their 'Awake!' magazine of November 22nd, 1984 (p.3-4), the WBTS included an article entitled: 'An Open or Closed Mind -Which Do You Have?' Here are some quotes: 'A necessary part of life is that we make decisions and reach judgements. BUT DECISIONS MADE 'WITHOUT DUE EXAMINATION' OR JUDGEMENTS REACHED 'ON OTHER GROUNDS THAN REASON OR JUSTICE' ARE EVIDENCES OF A CLOSED MIND. 'A closed mind may betray a lack of interest in the subject or a reluctance to look into the matter. IN FACT, IT COULD EVEN BE A SIGN OF UNCERTAINTY OR DOUBT. FOR EXAMPLE, IF WE ARE UNABLE TO DEFEND OUR RELIGIOUS VIEWS, WE MAY FIND OURSELVES LASHING OUT AGAINST THOSE WHO CHALLENGE OUR BELIEFS, NOT WITH LOGICAL ARGUMENTS, BUT WITH SLURS AND INNUENDOS. THIS SMACKS OF PREJUDICE AND A CLOSED MIND.'
'Are you open-minded enough to consider the possibility that you may not be? IT WILL PAY TO FIND OUT. Whereas an open mind can serve to your advantage, a closed one will almost certainly serve to your detriment.'
14. The 'Watchtower' (15th Dec.,1989, pp.6-7) had this to say about their appointed leaders:
'They (WBTS) have a modern Governing Body....THESE MEN, LIKE THE APOSTLES...ARE ANOINTED MEMBERS... HISTORY HAS PROVED THAT THEY CAN BE TRUSTED TO FOLLOW THE DIRECTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THAT THEY DO NOT RELY ON HUMAN WISDOM....' We will examine what history has really shown about the WBTS Governing Body!
15. Finally, of the many quotes which show the attitude of the WBTS towards orthodox historical Christianity, we quote from their book 'Revelation - Its Grand Climax At Hand,' (1988): 'Jesus has long since rejected the clergy, judging them adversely and throwing them away, just as a fisherman disposes of unsuitable fish caught in his dragnet. The miserable plight of Christendom's churches today testifies to that judgement of her. May her eventual fate serve as a warning to us - Matthew13:47-50 (p.72)...The evidence is all around us that Christendom is cold as far as love is concerned. In contrast, may we as true Christians respond fervently to Jesus' message (p.73)...divided into sects or denominations...they shout confused or mutually contradictory messages...they leave it to a professional clergy class to do their praising for them...cry out that they owe salvation to the holy spirit...servants of a trinitarian god (p.123)...Her religion is the fruit of the great apostasy from true Christianity...their doctrines are far removed from Bible truth, and they continually bring God's name into disrepute...(p.133).
This is a book which finds time to attack 'Christendom' (any group they consider to be 'orthodox' Christianity) throughout its pages and we find these views represent similar attitudes to those of the Mormon church. Are these the views of a humble and loving spirit, boasting only of what God has done and seeking that He will receive the glory?(Matthew 18v4; Philipp 2v3-8; 1 Corinthians 1v31; Galatians6v14)
We gladly accept the challenge of the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses. We will also find it worthwhile to examine other statements and their leaders' historical records as 'prophets of God.' Allowing the facts of history and the Bible record to speak will determine whether these beliefs are 'orthodox' or 'heretical'. It was the latter that Paul warned about when he wrote:
'I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different (Greek 'heteros') gospel' (Galatians 1v6; cf. 2 Corinthians11v4,13-15)