Part 4: The WTS Says It Is a Prophet and Inspired
The Watchtower Society Says It Is a Prophet
The Watchtower, January 15, 1959, pages 40-41, showed that the Society views itself as a "prophet" organization when it said:
Whom has God actually used as his prophet?.... Jehovah's witnesses are deeply grateful today that the plain facts show that God has been pleased to use them.... Jehovah thrust out his hand of power and touched their lips and put his words in their mouths.
The Watchtower, June 15, 1964, page 365, clearly states that Jehovah's Witnesses are prophesying:
As Jehovah revealed his truths by means of the first-century Christian congregation so he does today by means of the present-day Christian congregation. Through this agency he is having carried out prophesying on an intensified and unparalleled scale. All this activity is not an accident. Jehovah is the one behind all of it. The abundance of spiritual food and the amazing details of Jehovah's purposes that have been revealed to Jehovah's anointed witnesses are clear evidence that they are the ones mentioned by Jesus when he foretold a "faithful and discreet slave" class that would be used to dispense God's progressive revelations in these last days.
The Watchtower of April 1, 1972, pages 197, 200, said:
So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?.... This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian witnesses.... Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a "prophet" of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?....
Jehovah's witnesses today make their declaration of the good news of the Kingdom under angelic direction and support.... And since no word or work of Jehovah can fail, for he is God Almighty, the nations will see the fulfillment of what these witnesses say as directed from heaven.
Yes, the time must come shortly that the nations will have to know that really a "prophet" of Jehovah was among them. Actually now more than a million and a half persons are helping that collective or composite "prophet" in his preaching work and well over that number of others are studying the Bible with the "prophet" group and its companions.... Jehovah is interested not only in the vindication of his own name but also in vindicating his "prophet."
The Watchtower of July 1, 1973, page 402, said that the Society is the
only organization on earth that understands the deep things of God.
In referring to its prophecy about the "Times of the Gentiles" ending in 1914 the same issue said that
only God by his holy spirit could have revealed this.
Of course, God would have had to reveal this to some man or men, and whoever that was would have been God's prophet by virtue of teaching this revelation to others. The book The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah, 1971, pages 58-59, said:
Who is Ezekiel's present-day counterpart, whose message and conduct correspond with that of that ancient prophet of Jehovah? Of whom today was he a "sign" or "portent"? Not of some individual man, but of a group of people. Being made up of a unified company of persons, the modern Ezekiel is a composite personage, made up of many members, just the same as the human body is.... So it is with the modern-day counterpart of Ezekiel: it is, not one person's body, but a composite body, made up of many members.... Who, then, are the group of persons who, toward the beginning of this "time of the end," were commissioned to serve as the mouthpiece and active agent of Jehovah? In order to determine this, check the history of 1919, the first postwar year after the first world war....
Certainly, then, back there in the postwar year of 1919 there were none among the war-guilty religious elements of Jewry and Christendom who qualified to be commissioned as the modern-day counterpart or antitype of Ezekiel.... Whom could the real "chariot" of Jehovah's organization roll up to and confront that He might bestow upon this qualified one the commission to speak as a prophet in the name of Jehovah?....
They were a small minority group of men and women who had dedicated themselves to Jehovah as God by following in the footsteps of his Son Jesus Christ....
The book never manages to get around to explicitly mentioning who this group was, but it strongly suggests that it was the group benefiting the most from The Watchtower. This, of course, was The International Bible Students. Finally the book again mentions who the "Ezekiel class" is on page 67:
So it was with the anointed, dedicated witnesses of Jehovah back there in the year 1919 C.E. The facts from then on down to this date prove that they received their ordination and appointment and commission for their work in this "time of the end" from Jehovah himself through his heavenly chariotlike organization. Hence they have taken their divine commission very seriously....
The Watchtower of September 1, 1979, declared on page 29:
For nearly 60 years now the Jeremiah class have faithfully spoken Jehovah's Word.
The Watchtower of October 1, 1982, described how, on pages 26,27, it views itself as being a prophet like Jeremiah:
A "prophet to the nations" is what Jehovah made him. (Jeremiah 1:5) Now today, if anything, there needs to be a "prophet to the nations".... Jehovah has considerately raised up his "prophet to the nations." Jehovah has done this during this "time of the end," since World War I ended.... the "prophet" whom Jehovah has raised up has been, not an individual man as in the case of Jeremiah, but a class.... At this late date there is a mere remnant of this "prophet" class yet on earth.... One thing is now certain: if the "prophet" class, the Jeremiah class, is facing Har-Magedon....
The Watchtower Society Has Claimed To Be Inspired
According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, "inspire" means to "influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration; to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on; to spur on, impel, motivate." 2 Timothy 3:16 says: "All Scripture is inspired of God." According to the Insight book, Vol. 1, pp. 1202-3,
the phrase "inspired of God" translates the compound Greek word theopneustos, meaning, literally, "God-breathed" or "breathed by God."
Also according to Insight, pages 1202-4, "inspiration" is:
The quality or state of being moved by or produced under the direction of a spirit from a superhuman source. When that source is Jehovah, the result is a pronouncement or writings that are truly the word of God.... The men used to write the Scriptures therefore cooperated with the operation of Jehovah's holy spirit. They were willing and submissive to God's guidance...., eager to know God's will and leading.... God directed them so that what they wrote coincided with and fulfilled his purpose. As spiritual men, their hearts and minds were attuned to God's will, they 'had the mind of Christ' and so were not setting down mere human wisdom nor a "vision of their own heart," as false prophets did.
The following quotations from Watchtower publications make it abundantly clear that the Society feels its activities fit this definition, although it reserves the word "inspired" for the Bible alone and uses other words to describe its activities. How are guidance and direction different from inspiration? It is a distinction without a difference.
Keep in mind the above definitions when reading the following quotations, as they reflect the language we speak and the Bible's view of inspiration.
The November 1, 1956 Watchtower declared on page 666, for all practical purposes, that the Society is inspired:
Who controls the organization, who directs it? Who is at the head? A man? A group of men? A clergy class? A pope? A hierarchy? A council? No, none of these. How is that possible? In any organization is it not necessary that there be a directing head or policy-making part that controls or guides the organization? Yes. Is the living God, Jehovah, the Director of the theocratic Christian organization? Yes!
While the writer did not use the word "inspired," for obvious reasons, to be directed by God is to be inspired. That is the definition of inspiration, as shown above.
The Watchtower of April 1, 1972 page 200, said:
.... Jehovah's witnesses today make their declaration of the good news of the Kingdom under angelic direction and support.
The book Holy Spirit -- The Force Behind the Coming New Order!, 1976, said on page 148:
The holy spirit, which Jehovah prophesied that he would pour out in the last days, has not ceased to operate, for the remnant are still baptizing disciples of Christ in the name of that spirit.... The announced purpose behind God's pouring out of his spirit upon all sorts of flesh was that the recipients thereof might prophesy. The facts substantiate that the remnant of Christ's anointed disciples have been doing that prophesying to all the nations for a witness in favor of God's kingdom. Logically, then, they must be the ones upon whom God's spirit has actually been poured out. That spirit is behind their worldwide preaching. Why argue about it?
Clearly, anyone whom God causes to speak his own words is, by definition, inspired. Note what the book Holy Spirit -- The Force Behind the Coming New Order! further said, on pages 175-6:
Here is what he [Jehovah] says in Isaiah 51:15, 16:
"I, Jehovah, am your God, the One stirring up the sea that its waves may be boisterous. Jehovah of armies is his name. And I shall put my words in your mouth, and with the shadow of my hand I shall certainly cover you, in order to plant the heavens and lay the foundation of the earth and say to Zion, 'You are my people.'"
No obstacle put in His way by the enemies will prove to be insurmountable for Jehovah. Just as at Mount Sinai He put his word in the mouth of his chosen people through the mediator Moses and thereafter he led them under the protective shadow of his hand into the Promised Land, so he has done for the remnant of spiritual Israel. He has put his word, his message of the hour, into the mouth of the spiritual remnant for them to confess openly before all the world, for their own salvation and for that of responsive hearers.
Anyone in whose mouth Jehovah has "put his word" is inspired by him, by definition. That word is by definition 'God-breathed,' and fits the definition given above by the Insight book. Clearly, this material proves that the Society considers its own words to be equivalent to those of Moses at Mount Sinai, through whom Jehovah gave his word to the Israelites. Moses was certainly inspired at that time, and nothing that Jehovah spoke through him failed -- "it all came true." (Joshua 21:45) Nor did it need to be revised at some later time, as "new light" appeared. The same cannot be said of what the Society has put forth in its publications.
Similarly invoking the notion of 'God-breathed,' the book Survival Into a New Earth, 1984, said, on page 109:
The members of spiritual Israel were looking forward to an inheritance "reserved in the heavens" for them. (1 Peter 1:3-5) But before they actually received that reward, Jehovah had a work for them to do. Concerning this, he prophetically said: "I shall put my words in your mouth, and with the shadow of my hand I shall certainly cover you, in order to plant the heavens and lay the foundation of the earth and say to Zion, 'You are my people.'" (Isaiah 51:16) He put his "words," his message, into the mouth of his servants for them to proclaim earth wide. With confidence they began to make known that God has planted the "new heavens" that neither men nor demons can uproot them. The way in which Jehovah has dealt with the representatives of heavenly Zion has clearly identified them as his people. In contrast with the spiritually and morally desolate condition of the world, the "land" occupied by spiritual Israel, their field of activity, has become a place where spiritual values and activities thrive. It is a spiritual paradise!
The two above quotations explicitly state that God causes the "anointed remnant" to speak God's words. That is inspiration.
The book Light I, 1930, said on page 12:
The remnant now "see visions"; that is to say, are given an understanding of things not heretofore understood.... The time for the fulfilment of the prophecy of Revelation seems to be from about 1879 forward until the kingdom is in full sway. It was about that date that the second presence of the Lord began to be observed, and that and other truths began to appear in The Watch Tower, which since then until now has been the means of communicating truth to those who love the Lord. All those who love God supremely believe that The Watch Tower was started and has been maintained by his power and grace.
On page 106 Light I said:
Visible human creatures had to do with that message, [a resolution adopted at the 1922 Cedar Point, Ohio, convention] yet, in fact, it was a message of the Lord sent through his invisible angels, because without a doubt these are clothed with authority to direct the course of earthly members of God's organization.
On page 113 Light I said:
.... it seems clear that the spirit of the Lord, operating by his invisible angels, directed his people on earth to take this action [of distributing a resolution adopted at a convention in Los Angeles in 1923].
The Watchtower, February 15, 1976 said on page 214:
We must take seriously what his Word says and what his organization reveals to us.... Would not a failure to respond to direction from God through his organization really indicate a rejection of divine rulership?
The Society has even published anecdotes that attempt to show direct guidance by God of the actions of certain of its members. The 1975 Yearbook described how Jehovah's Witnesses got their name, and related this story on pages 150-151:
When he was eighty-eight years old A. H. Macmillan attended the "Fruitage of the Spirit" Assembly of Jehovah's Witnesses in the same city [Columbus, Ohio]. There, on August 1, 1964, Brother Macmillan made these interesting comments on how the adopting of that name came about:
"It was my privilege to be here in Columbus in 1931 when we received ... the new title or name ... I was amongst the five that were to make a comment on what we thought about the idea of accepting that name, and I told them this briefly: I thought that it was a splendid idea because that title there told the world what we were doing and what our business was. Prior to this we were called Bible Students. Why? Because that's what we were. And then when other nations began to study with us, we were called International Bible Students. But now we are witnesses for Jehovah God, and that title there tells the public just what we are and what we're doing....
"In fact, it was God Almighty, I believe, that led to that, for Brother Rutherford told me himself that he woke up one night when he was preparing for that convention and he said, 'What in the world did I suggest an international convention for when I have no special speech or message for them? Why bring them all here?' And then he began to think about it, and Isaiah 43 came to his mind. He got up at two o'clock in the morning and wrote in shorthand, at his own desk, an outline of the discourse he was going to give about the Kingdom, the hope of the world, and about the new name. And all that was uttered by him at that time was prepared that night, or that morning at two o'clock. And [there is] no doubt in my mind -- not then nor now -- that the Lord guided him in that, and that is the name Jehovah wants us to bear and we're very happy and very glad to have it."
Of course, almost everyone who has thought hard about a subject has experienced something similar. One will be doing something totally unrelated to the subject when a flash of thought comes up and one feels like the problem is solved. This even occurs in the middle of the night when one is lying awake thinking. People who don't think much do not experience this and don't understand how it can happen.
When convenient, the Society says it is fallible and is not inspired. Reasoning from the Scriptures says on page 136:
Jehovah's Witnesses do not claim to be inspired prophets. They have made mistakes. Like the apostles of Jesus Christ, they have at times had some wrong expectations.... It is true that the Witnesses have made mistakes in their understanding of what would occur at the end of certain time periods, but they have not made the mistake of losing faith or ceasing to be watchful as to fulfillment of Jehovah's purposes.... Matters on which corrections of viewpoint have been needed have been relatively minor when compared with the vital Bible truths that they have discerned and publicized.
Note how the major predictions discussed above are trivialized into "corrections of viewpoint." The test that Deuteronomy 18:20-22 gives for a false prophet is not discussed. That test was: "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. You must not get frightened at him." Good motives and mostly correct teachings are not enough to negate a failure of this test. Failed predictions by one who claims to speak for God pass the test. Claiming to have God's direction and support, and to be the only "channel of communication between God and men" on the one hand, and to not be inspired on the other, is nothing but doubletalk.
Awake!, October 8, 1968 page 23, said:
.... 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.
This is truly an amazing admission, when one considers all the failed predictions the Society has made, in view of the fact that Matthew 12:37 (New English Bible) says:
For out of your own mouth you will be acquitted; out of your own mouth you will be condemned.
At this point it should be evident that the only reason any of the predicted dates were changed, such as that of the Lord's presence from 1874 to 1914, was the failure of the predictions. As I said earlier, at a number of assemblies in 1975, Fred Franz gave a talk in which he told how J. F. Rutherford characterized his 1925 prediction:
I know I made an ass of myself.
The Society treats the problems which resulted in this admission as merely due to human imperfection, and as evidence of great desire and enthusiasm to see God's promises fulfilled.
But there is much more to it than that. It is one thing to make an "ass" of oneself because of wanting to see something happen. It is quite another thing to urge others to share ones views, to criticize them if they do not, and to question their faith or impugn their motives if they do not, even to the point of disfellowshipping.
It is still more serious for an organization representing itself as God's appointed spokesman to all mankind to do this -- and to do it for decades earthwide. The responsibility for the results can hardly be shrugged off by simply saying, "Well, nobody's perfect." As regards all the unfulfilled predictions, is it not true that the Society's words have fallen "to the earth" (1 Sam. 3:19)? As regards Jesus words at Matt. 24:44, "at an hour that YOU do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming," do not all the Society's current exhortations on the nearness of the end violate their spirit? Is not the whole spirit of the Gospel accounts that Christians should ignore dates and times, and always be ready for Christ's return?
But individual Jehovah's Witnesses are not allowed to accept this view. Instead they must accept prophetic interpretations as they are published, without questioning. The Society may change its views on an interpretation at any time. But a Witness who, after studying a published interpretation of a passage, concluded that it was wrong and persisted in this view before it was so identified by the Society, would be disfellowshipped.
It is clear from the portion of the trial transcript which follows,1 that the the Governing Body views its authority, and the unity of the organization as shown by support of the Witnesses' current views, as more important than truth. The testimony is taken from the Pursuer's Proof of the Douglas Walsh trial, held in the Scottish Court of Sessions, in November, 1954.
Fred Franz, then vice-president of the Society, was first on the stand and answered the questions of the attorney for the Ministry of Labour and National Service.
Q. In addition to these regular publications do you prepare and issue a number of theological pamphlets and books from time to time?
Q. Can you tell me this; are these theological publications and the semi-monthly periodicals used for discussion of statements of doctrine?
Q. Are these statements of doctrine held to be authoritative within the Society?
Q. Is their acceptance a matter of choice, or is it obligatory on all those who wish to be and remain members of the Society?
A. It is obligatory.
Q. So that there will be in effect a new human society existing on earth as the result of that?
A. Yes. There will be a new world society in a new earth under new heavens, the former heavens and the former earth having passed away in the battle of Armageddon.
Q. Then the population of this new earth, will that consist of Jehovah's Witnesses alone?
A. Initially it will consist of Jehovah's Witnesses alone. The members of the remnant expect to survive that battle of Armageddon the same as a great crowd of these other sheep. The continuance of the remnant upon the earth after the battle of Armageddon will be temporary because they must finish their earthly course faithful in death, but the other sheep by continued obedience to the will of God may continue to live on earth for ever.
Q. And are these disciplinary powers in fact exercised when the occasion arises?
A. Yes, they are.
Q. Well I will not ask you any more questions about that side of the matter but are there offences which are regarded as so grave as to warrant expulsion without hope of re-instatement?
A. Yes. The fact is that ex-communication in itself can lead to the annihilation of the ex-communicated one, if that individual never repented and corrected his course of action, and he continued outside the organisation. There would be no hope of life for him in the new world, but there is a course of action which would result in ex-communication from which the individual could be certain never to return, and this is called the sin against the Holy Spirit.
The British government counsellor later directed attention to certain teachings that the Society had in time rejected, including some involving certain specific dates. What if someone, at the time when such teaching was promulgated, had seen the error in it and had therefore not accepted it? What would the organization's attitude toward such one be? The testimony explains:
Q. Is it not the case that Pastor Russell put that date in 1874?
Q. Is it not the case that he fixed the date prior to 1914?
Q. What date did he fix?
A. The end of the time of the Gentiles he fixed as 1914.
Q. Did he not fix 1874 as some other crucial date?
A. 1874 used to be understood as the date of Jesus' Second Coming spiritually.
Q. Do you say, used to be understood?
A. That is right.
Q. That was issued as a fact which was to be accepted by all who were Jehovah's Witnesses?
Q. That is no longer now accepted, is it?
Q. Pastor Russell in so concluding posted the view, did he not, on an interpretation of the Book of Daniel?
Q. And in particular Daniel, chapter 7 Verse 7, and Daniel, Chapter 12, Verse 12?
A. Daniel, 7, 7, and 12, 12. What did you say, he based some thing on these Scriptures?
Q. His date of 1874 as a crucial date and the date of Christ's Second Coming?
Q. What did you say he fixed it as; I understood that is what you said, I must have misunderstood you?
A. He did not base 1874 on these Scriptures.
Q. He based it on these Scriptures coupled with the view that the Austro-Gothic Monarchy occurred in 539?
A. Yes. 539 was a date that he used in the calculation. But 1874 was not based on that.
Q. But it was a calculation which is no longer accepted by the Board of Directors of the Society?
A. That is correct.
Q. So that am I correct, I am just anxious to canvas the position; it became the bounden duty of the Witnesses to accept this miscalculation?
Q. So that what is published as the truth today by the Society may have to be admitted to be wrong in a few years?
A. We have to wait and see.
Q. And in the meantime the body of Jehovah's Witnesses have been following error?
A. They have been following misconstructions on the Scriptures.
A. Well, error.
Again the question as to how great the authority attributed to the Society's publications is came in for discussion. While at one point the vice president says that "one does not compulsorily accept," his testimony thereafter reverts back to the earlier position, as can be seen:
A. In order to become an Ordained Minister of a congregation he must come to an understanding of the things contained in these books.
Q. But, then, is baptism not the ordaining of a person as a Minister?
Q. Therefore at baptism must he know those books?
A. He must understand the purposes of God which are set forth in those books.
Q. Set forth in those books, and set forth in those books as an interpretation of the Bible?
A. These books give an exposition on the whole Scriptures.
Q. But an authoritative exposition?
A. They submit the Bible or the statements that are therein made, and the individual examines the statement and then the Scripture to see that the statement is Scripturally supported.
Q. He what?
A. He examines the Scripture to see whether the statement is supported by the Scripture. As the Apostle says: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good".
Q. I understood the position to be -- do please correct me if I am wrong -- that a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses must accept as a true Scripture and interpretation what is given in the books I referred you to?
A. But he does not compulsorily do so, he is given his Christian right of examining the Scriptures to confirm that this is Scripturally sustained.
Q. And if he finds that the Scripture is not sustained by the books, or vice versa, what does he do?
A. The Scripture is there in support of the statement, that is why it is put there.
Q. What does a man do if he finds a disharmony between the Scripture and those books?
A. You will have to produce me a man who does find that, then I can answer, or he will answer.
Note that Franz is unwilling, even under oath, to admit that present understanding can be in error, even though he just finished testifying that what is published as truth today may be error in a few years.
Q. Did you imply that the individual member has the right of reading the books and the Bible and forming his own view as to the proper interpretation of Holy Writ?
A. He comes -- -- --
Q. Would you say yes or no, and then qualify?
A. No. Do you want me to qualify now?
Q. Yes, if you wish?
A. The Scripture is there given in support of the statement, and therefore the individual when he looks up the Scripture and thereby verifies the statement, then he comes to the Scriptural view of the matter, Scriptural understanding as it is written in Acts, the seventeenth chapter and the eleventh verse, that the Bereans were more noble than those of Thessalonica in that they received the Word with all readiness, and they searched the Scripture to see whether those things were so, and we instruct to follow that noble course of the Bereans in searching the Scripture to see whether these things were so.
Q. A Witness has no alternative, has he, to accept as authoritative and to be obeyed instructions issued in the "Watchtower" or the "Informant" or "Awake"?
A. He must accept those.
Q. Is there any hope of salvation for a man who depends upon his Bible alone when he is in a situation in the world where he cannot get the tracts and publications of your Incorporation?
A. He is dependent upon the Bible.
Q. Will he be able to interpret it truly?
Q. I do not want to bandy texts with you, but didn't Jesus say, "Whosoever believeth in me, liveth" and "believeth in me shall never die"?
The Proper Source
Next on the stand was the legal counsel for the Society, Haydon C. Covington:
Q. Is it not vital to speak the truth on religious matters?
A. It certainly is.
Q. Is there in your view room in a religion for a change of interpretation of Holy Writ from time to time?
A. There is every reason for a change in interpretation as we view it, of the Bible. Our view becomes more clear as we see the prophesy fulfilled by time.
Q. You have promulgated -- forgive the word -- false prophesy?
A. We have -- I do not think we have promulgated false prophesy, there have been statements that were erronious, that is the way I put it, and mistaken.
Q. Is it a most vital consideration in the present situation of the world to know if the prophesy can be interpreted into terms of fact, when Christ's Second Coming was?
A. That is true, and we have always striven to see that we have the truth before we utter it. We go on the very best information we have but we cannot wait until we get perfect, because if we wait until we get perfect we would never be able to speak.
Q. Let us follow that up just a little. It was promulgated as a matter which must be believed by all members of Jehovah's Witnesses that the Lord's Second Coming took place in 1874?
A. I am not familiar with that. You are speaking on a matter that I know nothing of.
Q. You heard Mr. Franz's evidence?
A. I heard Mr. Franz testify, but I am not familiar with what he said on that, I mean the subject matter of what he was talking about, so I cannot answer any more than you can, having heard what he said.
Q. Leave me out of it?
A. That is the source of my information, what I have heard in court.
Q. You have studied the literature of your movement?
A. Yes, but not all of it. I have not studied the seven volumes of "Studies in the Scriptures," and I have not studied this matter that you are mentioning now of 1874. I am not at all familiar with that.
Q. Assume from me that it was promulgated as authoritative by the Society that Christ's Second Coming was in 1874?
A. Taking that assumption as a fact, it is a hypothetical statement.
Q. That was the publication of false prophesy?
A. That was the publication of a false prophesy, it was a false statement or an erronious statement in fulfilment of a prophesy that was false or erronious.
Q. And that had to be believed by the whole of Jehovah's Witnesses?
A. Yes, because you must understand we must have unity, we cannot have disunity with a lot of people going every way, an army is supposed to march in step.
Q. You do not believe in the worldly armies, do you?
A. We believe in the Christian Army of God.
Q. Do you believe in the worldly armies?
A. We have nothing to say about that, we do not preach against them, we merely say that the worldly armies, like the nations of the world today, are a part of Satan's Organisation, and we do not take part in them, but we do not say the nations cannot have their armies, we do not preach against warfare, we are merely claiming our exemption from it, that is all.
Q. Back to the point now. A false prophesy was promulgated?
A. I agree that.
Q. It had to be accepted by Jehovah's Witnesses?
A. That is correct.
Q. If a member of Jehovah's Witnesses took the view himself that that prophesy was wrong and said so he would be disfellowshipped?
A. Yes, if he said so and kept persisting in creating trouble, because if the whole organisation believes one thing, even though it be erronious and somebody else starts on his own trying to put his ideas across then there is disunity and trouble, there cannot be harmony, there cannot be marching. When a change comes it should come from the proper source, the head of the organisation, the governing body, not from the bottom upwards, because everybody would have ideas, and the organisation would disintegrate and go in a thousand different directions. Our purpose is to have unity.
Q. Unity at all costs?
A. Unity at all costs, because we believe and are sure that Jehovah God is using our organisation, the governing body of our organisation to direct it, even though mistakes are made from time to time.
Q. And unity based upon an enforced acceptance of false prophecy?
A. That is conceded to be true.
Q. And the person who expressed his view, as you say, that it was wrong, and was disfellowshipped, would be in breach of the Covenant, if he was baptized?
A. That is correct.
Q. And as you said yesterday expressly, would be worthy of death?
A. I think -- -- --
Q. Would you say yes or no?
A. I will answer yes, unhesitatingly.
Q. Do you call that religion?
A. It certainly is.
Q. Do you call it Christianity?
A. I certainly do.
Q. In connection with mistakes, you were cross-examined at some length as to differences of view which might have taken place in the authoritative exposition of the Scriptures over the years since the foundation of the Society, and I think you agreed there had been differences?
Q. You also quite frankly agreed that persons who at any time are not prepared to accept authoritative exposition are liable to expulsion from the Society, with such spiritual consequences as that may entail?
A. Yes, I said that and I state it again.
Covington's testimony for the Society is certainly significant.
1. As the Society's legal counsel and its former vice-president, he admits that he had never even read the seven volumes of Studies in the Scriptures, all of which, except for the last volume, were written by C. T. Russell, the Society's founder.
2. He agrees that the Society had been guilty of publishing and promulgating "false prophecy."
3. Unity can require of a Christian that he accept as true what he believes God's Word shows to be false.
So according to Covington, no matter what he reads in the Bible a Christian must wait for the "proper source," the Governing Body, to tell him what is acceptable for belief and for discussion. A "unity at all costs.... based upon an enforced acceptance of false prophecy" under the penalty of eternal death, does not seem like a Christian teaching. In effect, while one may read the Master's own words in writing, he cannot accept or act on them if the Master's professed "slave" tells him something different. This is, in plain language, what the Society has required since the days of J. F. Rutherford.
It is not surprising that the attorney asked Covington: "Do you call it Christianity?" No where in the scriptures does it say that true Christian unity is created, sustained, safeguarded and enforced by any human institution. Where in the Bible does one find the principle or statement that God urges "unity at all costs" or at the expense of the truth? One can find such principles in the excesses of the Catholic Inquisition, but not in the Bible.
The final witness giving testimony was Grant Suiter, Secretary-Treasurer of The Watch Tower Society, and he offered these statements of official position:
Q. What is the position of a Company Servant in that respect?
A. He must have met the qualifications that have been previously testified to, of maturity and understanding and spiritual understanding, and in ability to read the Congregation. He must have that training previously mentioned in the Theocratic Ministry School, be a leader in the field ministry itself, be apt to teach, and otherwise have qualifications that the Scriptures laid down. Man cannot lay down qualifications that the Scriptures do not, you see.
Q. That is in general terms. But to come down to actual practice, he must attend the Theocratic Ministry School, must he not?
Q. And there he finds the library?
Q. Isn't he expected to familiarise himself with the publications of the Society?
A. He certainly is.
Q. Indeed can he in the view of Jehovah's Witnesses have an understanding of the Scriptures apart from the publications of Jehovah's Witnesses?
Q. Only by the publications can he have a right understanding of the Scriptures?
A. That is right.
Q. Is that not arrogance?
Q. You heard the evidence about 1874 having been found to be wrong as a material and crucial date, and about 1925 being a wrong date. On these two items, acceptance and absolute acceptance as Truth was imposed upon all Jehovah's Witnesses at the time?
A. That is right.
Q. You agree that that was acceptance of the false?
A. No, not entirely. The points that were wrong were false because they were in error, but the overall result is what is important. All through these years of the ministry of Jehovah's Witnesses, since the formation of the Society, the Pennsylvania Corporation, there has been a constant turning of the hearts and the minds of people to God's Word and its righteous precepts, and giving them spiritual strength to stand up for what they know to be right, to hold high Jehovah's name to announce his Kingdom. There is no comparison between the incidental points that have been corrected compared with the importance of the main thing, the worship of Jehovah God. That has been inculcated in the minds of Jehovah's Witnesses and countless other persons all through these years.
Suiter affirmed that "Man cannot lay down qualifications that the Scriptures do not." Yet his own testimony, as well as that of the two other officials, is that "only by the Watch Tower Society's publications can anyone have a right understanding of Scripture." Though false prophecy was advanced, "absolute acceptance [of such] as Truth was imposed upon all Jehovah's Witnesses at the time," and he firmly declares this imposition to be right. Suiter asserts that "the overall result is what is important," hence the organization should not be judged adversely because they promulgated errors on "incidental points" as long as the "main thing, the worship of Jehovah God" was conveyed. It would be unfair to equate the importance of those errors with the main message. "There is no comparison," Suiter said.
This latter claim is all very well of itself. But Suiter's own testimony, as also that of the other two, shows that, whereas the organization asks for such tolerance and balanced assessment for itself as its rightful due, it denies this to others. While asking for tolerance for itself, it does not grant it to any member who objects to, and who cannot accept, erroneous teachings. For them the result is disfellowshipping, being cut off as worthy of death. This is the case no matter how thoroughly the individual might accept the "main" point of the message, or how sincerely and devotedly he might "worship Jehovah God." No, the person must accept the whole message, lock, stock and barrel, just as the organizational messenger saw fit to present it, errors included, with expulsion as the alternative. The organization discounts as only "incidental" the errors it publishes, yet, if those same errors are not accepted or are objected to, they paradoxically become of enormous importance, sufficient to warrant taking disfellowshipping action.
This thinking makes it appear that God is displeased with any person who fails to accept errors a claimed messenger may speak in his name, displeased that the person should insist on "testing everything and holding fast only to that which proves good and true," genuinely from God. Such a person, if put out by the organization, God would not judge worthy of life. Incredibly, the ones giving this testimony evidently saw no inconsistency in all this.
All of which calls to mind Proverbs 20:23, that "two sorts of weights are something detestable to Jehovah, and a cheating pair of scales is not good." It seems reasonable that this scripture applies, not only to commercial transactions, but especially to dealings involving spiritual interests, where men apply one standard for themselves when asking for tolerance and a very different standard when called upon to show it to others. Jesus said: "For with what judgment you are judging, you will be judged; and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you." Clearly, double standards are not acceptable to God.
Job 13:7-11 has something to say about people who bend the truth in order to defend God:
Will you men speak unrighteousness for God himself, and for him will you speak deceit? Will you be treating him with partiality, or for the [true] God will you contend at law? Would it be good that he sound you out? Or as one trifles with mortal man will you trifle with him? He will positively reprove you if in secrecy you try to show partiality; will not his very dignity make you start up with fright, and the very dread of him fall upon you? -- New World Translation
Will you speak unjustly on God's behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for Him? Will you be partial toward Him? Will you plead God's cause? Will it go well when He examines you? Will you fool Him as one fools men? He will surely reprove you if in your heart you are partial toward Him. His threat will terrify you, and His fear will seize you. -- JPS Tanakh
Is it for God that you speak falsehood? Is it for him that you utter deceit? Is it for him that you show partiality? Do you play advocate on behalf of God? Will it be well when he shall search you out? Would you impose on him as one does on men? -- New American Bible
Must you go on 'speaking for God' when he never once has said the things that you are putting in his mouth? Does God want your help if you are going to twist the truth for him? Be careful that he doesn't find out what you are doing! Or do you think you can fool God as well as men? -- The Living Bible
Will you speak unfairly on behalf of God and talk deceitfully for Him? Will you choose His side, posing as special pleaders for God? Will it be well when He examines you, or can you deceive Him as one deceives a man? -- Modern Language Bible
Do you talk wickedly for God's sake or speak dishonestly for Him? Do you need to show Him special favor or contend for God? Will all go well when He examines you? Can you fool Him as men are fooled? -- An American Translation
Why are you lying? Do you think your lies will benefit God? Are you trying to defend him? Are you going to argue his case in court? If God looks at you closely, will he find anything good? Do you think you can fool God the way you fool men? -- Today's English Version
Will you speak unrighteously for God and talk deceitfully for Him? Will you show partiality to Him [be unjust to me in order to gain favor with Him]? Will you act as special pleaders for God? Would it be profitable for you if He should investigate your tactics [with me]? Or as one deceives and mocks a man, do you deceive and mock Him? -- The Amplified Bible
You should not speak for God by saying evil things. You cannot speak God's truth by telling lies. You should not unfairly choose his side against mine. You should not argue the case for God. You will not do well if he examines you. You cannot fool God as you might fool men. -- New Century Version
Will you speak wickedly on God's behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive men? -- New International Version
Will you speak what is unjust for God, And speak what is deceitful for Him? Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God? Will it be well when He examines you? Or will you deceive Him as one deceives a man? -- New American Standard
Will you plead God's defense with prevarication, his case in terms that ring false? Will you be partial in his favor, and act as his advocates? For you to meet his scrutiny, would this be well? Can he be duped as men are duped? -- Jerusalem Bible
Will you tell lies on his behalf? -- James Moffatt's translation
The Keil-Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 4, "Job," pages 209-10, made the following commentary on Job 13:7-11, which spoke of the false testimony given by Job's companions:
Their advocacy of God -- this is the thought of this strophe -- is an injustice to Job, and an evil service rendered to God, which cannot escape undisguised punishment from Him. They set themselves up as God's advocates..., and at the same time accept His person,... or lift it up, i.e. favour, or give preference to, His person, viz. at the expense of the truth: they are partial in His favour, as they are twice reminded and given to understand.... They know that Job is not a flagrant sinner; nevertheless they deceive themselves with the idea that he is, and by reason of this delusion they take up the cause of God against him. Such perversion of the truth in majorem Dei gloriam is an abomination to God. When He searches them, His advocates, out..., they will become conscious of it; or will God be mocked, as one mocketh mortal men?.... God is not pleased with latreia [Greek, 'sacred service'] (John xvi. 2) which gives the honour to Him, but not to truth, such zelos Theou all ou kat epignosin [Greek, 'zeal of God but not according to accurate knowledge'] (Rom. x. 2), such advocacy contrary to one's better knowledge and conscience, in which the end is thought to sanctify the means. Such advocacy must be put to shame and confounded when He who needs no concealment of the truth for His justification is manifest... and by His direct influence brings all untruth to light. It is the boldest thought imaginable, that one dare not have respect even to the person of God when one is obliged to lie to one's self. And still it is also self-evident. For God and truth can never be antagonistic.
Not only in the Walsh trial but many other times the Society calls on Jehovah's Witnesses to pass over its errors, asserting that these are counterbalanced and outweighed by other, more favorable factors. The December 1, 1981 Watchtower contains a series of articles clearly advocating that standard. Yet the Society does not apply it in its dealing with those under its authority. If they hold any view, even though minor, that does not coincide with its teachings, this is not viewed as just a human error which may in time be corrected, but instead is deemed a basis for disfellowshipping. The fact that the "overall picture" may show that the individual who thus disagrees clearly manifests genuine Christian qualities is not considered relevant. He must agree with the organization. Jesus' words make clear that he does not approve of such unequal application of standards.
In the December 1, 1981 Watchtower, on page 30, the Society rejected the patriotic principle: "Our country!.... may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong" by saying "But not so the Christian witnesses of Jehovah!" But as the above testimony from Fred Franz, Hayden Covington and Grant Suiter proves, the Society requires Witnesses to subscribe to: "The Society, may it always be in the right; but The Society, right or wrong!"
C. T. Russell may well have been surprised to hear testimony such as the above. The September 1, 1893 Watch Tower, on page 264 said:
The endeavor to compel all men to think alike on all subjects, culminated in the great apostasy and the development of the great Papal system; and thereby the "gospel," the "one faith," which Paul and the other apostles set forth, was lost -- buried under the mass of uninspired decrees of popes and councils. The union of the early church, based upon the simple gospel and bound only by love, gave place to the bondage of the church of Rome -- a slavery of God's children, from the degradation of which multitudes are still weak and suffering.
Interestingly, Russell did not at first agree with what have become the Society's practices with regard to "new light." On page 188 of the February 1881, Zion's Watch Tower he wrote:
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.
The Society does not subscribe to this view today. Instead it advances the doctrine of "progressive revelation," a particularly hazy concept which is never clearly defined and never carefully analyzed. It usually means a progressive organizational understanding of the Bible through the application of reason, study, and some sort of undefined guidance of the holy spirit. It is said to be based on Prov. 4:18, which says: "But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established."
However, an examination of the context of this scripture shows there is no basis for the Society's interpretation. The writer of Proverbs is making a simple contrast between what happens to the wicked on one hand and the righteous on the other. The passage has nothing to do with a "revealing of new truths," either to individuals or an organization.
The December 1, 1981 Watchtower states on page 17:
Prophecies open up to us as Jehovah's holy spirit sheds light upon them, and as they are fulfilled in world events or in the experiences of God's people.
In what manner were prophecies that have been discarded been opened up to the Society by God's spirit? Were these not merely products of wishful thinking? Does not the Society's application of Prov. 4:18 make virtually any change of direction, no matter how radical, justifiable? Even a product of God's direction? Is it not true that when new knowledge was opened up to God's servants in the Bible, it did not contradict previous knowledge but supplemented and fulfilled it? Is it not true that no true servant of God is described in the Bible as ever having made false predictions? They made mistakes, true, but never in uttering prophecies in God's name.
The Society often uses contrived illustrations to justify its many failed predictions and doctrinal changes. The illustration from the December 1, 1981 Watchtower, page 27, is a marvelous example of intellectual sleight of hand:
At times explanations given by Jehovah's visible organization have shown adjustments, seemingly to previous points of view. But this has not actually been the case. This might be compared to what is known in navigational circles as "tacking." By maneuvering the sails the sailors can cause a ship to go from right to left, back and forth, but all the time making progress toward their destination in spite of contrary winds.
Has not the Watchtower ship actually been sailing in circles in some cases? Such as the complete circle made with regard to understanding the "superior authorities"? And the understanding of who should be called an ordained minister? How can it be said that these doctrinal changes have not been to a "previous point of view"?
In the illustration the sailors make the ship tack. Who makes the Society's "ship" tack? Is this illustration not an exercise in cynical sophistry? As such, do not the purveyors of it fit the description of Proverbs 3:32: "For the devious person is a detestable thing to Jehovah, but His intimacy is with the upright ones"? And is one not reminded of the Apostle Paul's description at Ephesians 4:14: "We should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error"?
The May 15, 1976 Watchtower, although referring to other religions, well described such tacking in circles:
Although referring to other religions, the May 15, 1976 Watchtower well describes this tacking in circles:
It is a serious matter to represent God and Christ in one way, then find that our understanding of the major teachings and fundamental doctrines of the Scriptures was in error, and then after that, to go back to the very doctrines that, by years of study, we had thoroughly determined to be in error. Christians cannot be vacillating -- 'wishy washy' -- about such fundamental teachings. What confidence can one put in the sincerity or judgment of such persons?
Well illustrating how the "increasing light" principle works is the March 1, 1979 Watchtower, which said on pages 23-24:
Because of this hope [of an earthly paradise], the "faithful and discreet slave" has alerted all of God's people to the sign of the times indicating the nearness of God's Kingdom rule. In this regard, however, it must be observed that this "faithful and discreet slave" was never inspired, never perfect. Those writings by certain members of the "slave" class that came to form the Christian part of God's Word were inspired and infallible, but that is not true of other writings since. Things published were not perfect in the days of Charles Taze Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society; nor were they perfect in the days of J. F. Rutherford, the succeeding president. The increasing light on God's Word as well as the facts of history have repeatedly required that adjustments of one kind or another be made down to the very present time. But let us never forget that the motives of this "slave" were always pure, unselfish; at all times it has been well-meaning. Moreover, the words found at Romans 8:28 are fitting here also: "God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose." Actually any adjustments that have been made in understanding have furnished an opportunity for those being served by this "slave" to show loyalty and love, the kind of love that Jesus said would mark his followers. (John 13:34, 35; compare 1 Peter 4:8) For those who truly love God's law there is no stumbling block. -- Ps. 119:165.
Is this not virtually the same argument Russell used in justifying the obvious failure of most of his predictions, that it "certainly did have a very stimulating and sanctifying effect upon thousands, all of whom can praise the Lord -- even for the mistake"? This is further proof that, even though Jehovah's Witnesses have been required to believe many changing doctrines down through the years, whenever the doctrines became untenable the Society would retreat to the assertion that "the faithful and discreet slave" is not infallible but must progress with the increasing "new light."
Warning Against False Prophets
Some recent statements from the Society about false prophets are found on page 3 of the February 1, 1992 Watchtower, in the article "Beware of False Prophets!"
When you think of prophesying, perhaps the first thing that comes to your mind is the foretelling of the future. This was indeed an aspect of the work of God's prophets of old, but it was not their primary work.
The article then attempts to equate a false prophet with one who misunderstands and teaches falsehood about the "Kingdom." While this may be one test of a false prophet, it disregards the Bible's test of such in Deut. 18:20-22, which the Society obviously fails. The argument avoids having to discuss the many obvious failed predictions the Society has made. Is this not cynical and self-serving?
The March 1, 1979 Watchtower advances another argument that would prevent the Society from being classed as a false prophet:
But let us never forget that the motives of this "slave" were always pure, unselfish; at all times it has been well-meaning.
Where in the Bible does it say that "pure motives" are of any value in determining whether the words of a prophet are true or false? The Society itself often says that God will destroy members of all religions other than Jehovah's Witnesses, no matter how sincere they may be, since God's standard is Truth, not sincerity. Is this not a double standard? If a Witness publicly disagrees with the Society, is he not subject to disfellowshipping, no matter how pure his motives may be?
With regard to misrepresentations of the Bible, the 1974 book Is This Life All There Is? said on page 46, without regard for the motives of the misrepresenter:
Knowing these things, what will you do? It is obvious that the true God, who is himself "the God of truth" and who hates lies, will not look with favor on persons who cling to organizations that teach falsehood. (Psalm 31:5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Revelation 21:8) And, really, would you want to be even associated with a religion that had not been honest with you?
A Recent False Prophecy
The Watchtower Society has often commented on the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Daniel. The Society claims that those who are of the "anointed class" fulfill Daniel 12:3, 4, which reads, in The New World Translation:
"And the ones having insight will shine like the brightness of the expanse; and those who are bringing the many to righteousness, like the stars to time indefinite, even forever. 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."
The Watchtower Society believes that the ones of Jehovah's Witnesses of the "anointed class" are "the ones having insight," as shown by the July 1, 1987, Watchtower, which said, on pages 23-5, under the sub-title "True Knowledge Will Become Abundant":
But for those who remain faithful, the prophecy says: "And the ones having insight will shine like the brightness of the expanse; and those who are bringing the many to righteousness, like the stars to time indefinite, even forever." (Daniel 12:3) "The ones having insight" are clearly the faithful remaining members of the anointed Christian congregation, who are 'filled with accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual comprehension.'.... Ever since 1919, though 'darkness itself covers the earth, and thick gloom the national groups,' they have been "shining as illuminators" among mankind. (Isaiah 60:2; Philippians 2:15; Matthew 5:14-16) They "shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." -- Matthew 13:43.
How do they prove to be "those who are bringing the many to righteousness"? (Daniel 12:3) Thanks to their faithful witnessing, the final ones of spiritual Israel have been gathered in and declared righteous for life in the heavens. Additionally, a great crowd of "other sheep" has manifested itself, flocking to the light from Jehovah as reflected by 'Daniel's people.'....
The angel then offers words of counsel to Daniel: "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." (Daniel 12:4) These words arrest our attention. Although the angel's prophecy concerning the two kings began to be fulfilled some 2,300 years ago, the understanding of it has been opened up primarily during "the time of the end," particularly since 1919. In these days, "many ... rove about" in the Bible, and true knowledge has indeed become abundant. Now is the time that Jehovah has given knowledge to understanding ones....
Stay close, then, to "the ones having insight," who are 'shining like the brightness of the expanse.'
The above means that during the time of the end, true knowledge would become abundant due to teaching by "the ones having insight." This would especially include understanding the book of Daniel itself, since Dan. 12:9-10 says:
And he went on to say: "Go, Daniel, because the words are made secret and sealed up until the time of [the] end.... And the wicked ones will certainly act wickedly, and no wicked ones at all will understand; but the ones having insight will understand."
In a similar vein, the 1958 book Your Will Be Done on Earth said:
To us in this "time of the end" Daniel's book has been opened and unsealed (p. 328; see also Apr. 1, 1960 Watchtower, p. 222).
Only the Scripturally intelligent ones will be allowed to understand the book of Daniel and all the rest of the Bible (p. 333; see also Apr. 15, 1960 Watchtower, p. 250).
The May 15, 1969 Watchtower put it all together, saying that the book of Daniel "has been opened up":
The prophet Daniel foretold the momentous times in which we are now living.... The angel told him that the fulfillment was a secret and sealed up until the "time of the end," and that is exactly where we are now. How thrilled Daniel would be if he could be alive today as his book of prophecy is opened up to human understanding! Oh, how he would rejoice and delight to reach this time in history for the climax of his prophetic words! So we should take great delight in examining Daniel's words for our day, feeling especially privileged to understand what Daniel himself could not discern (p. 296).
Some of Jehovah's servants might discuss with him [Daniel] the contents of the book "Your Will Be Done on Earth," which volume contains a detailed discussion of many of Daniel's prophecies. He will be very interested in learning how his wonderful prophecies worked out, to God's glory. We will be interested in his reactions and rejoice with him in his lot (p. 308).
Yes, the angel associate of Michael pointed out a great work for the true followers of the Messianic Prince Michael in this "time of the end." Here is the prophecy: "The ones having insight will shine like the brightness of the expanse; and those who are bringing the many to righteousness, like the stars to time indefinite, even forever." (Dan. 12:3) Here, then, is foretold the work for us today. Spiritually intelligent ones must shine with heavenly light. With the good news of the newborn kingdom of God, Jehovah's witnesses have shone like the sun, which lets nothing be concealed from its heat all around the globe. In the midnight darkness of this world we must be like stars of light, to help many more of the "other sheep" turn to righteousness, which is the worship and ministry of the grand God, Jehovah. Living as we do in this "time of the end" since Michael the Great Prince stood up in heaven, we are living in a time more highly favored than that of Daniel. Daniel's book has been opened up. Blessed are those who act in harmony with Daniel's words for our day!
The 1977 book Our Incoming World Government -- God's Kingdom said:
We are living in a favored time.... the "time of the end." It is the time for increased spiritual enlightenment, for much of the unexplained prophecies of the Holy Bible, including Daniel's prophecy, to be opened up to our minds and hearts. Ours is the time to which the angel pointed forward when he said to Daniel: "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." -- Daniel 12:4. (p. 125)
Daniel "could not understand" what he heard, in his day. But we, in this day, in this "time of the end" since 1914, can understand. (p. 132)
Does the Watchtower Society truly understand what the book of Daniel says about our time period, which it says is the time of the end? In a series of articles covering the prophecies of Daniel 11 and 12, the July 1, 1987, Watchtower said, on page 11:
Many years ago, Jehovah revealed the historical development of events that would lead up to his bringing peace to the earth. Through an angel, he spoke to his faithful prophet Daniel about "the final part of the days," our own time. (Daniel 10:4) He foretold today's superpower rivalry and showed that it will soon end in a way that neither power suspects....
Next, the articles speak about some of the the fulfillments of Daniel 11, referring the interested reader to Your Will Be Done on Earth. In particular, the articles discuss the activities of the "king of the north" and the "king of the south." In 1987 these are supposed to be, respectively, the "mostly socialistic bloc of nations" and the "largely capitalistic bloc" (p. 13).
The description applied to the socialistic bloc sounded very striking in 1987 (pp. 13-4):
The disposition of the latest king of the north is well described in verses 37, 38 [of Dan. 11]: "And to the God of his fathers he will give no consideration ... But to the god of fortresses, in his position he will give glory; and to a god that his fathers did not know he will give glory by means of gold and by means of silver and by means of precious stone and by means of desirable things." Can anyone fail to recognize this description? Todays king of the north officially promotes atheism, rejecting the religious gods of previous kings of the north. He prefers to trust in armaments, "the god of fortresses."....
So what finally happens between these two kings? The angel says: "And in the time of the end [the end of the history of the two kings] the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing, and against him the king of the north will storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships." (Daniel 11:40; Matthew 24:3) Clearly, summit conferences are no solution to the superpower rivalry. The tensions caused by the 'pushing' of the king of the south and the expansionism of the king of the north may go through more or less intense phases; but eventually, in some way, the king of the north will be provoked into the excessively violent action described by Daniel.
The article then refers the reader to "light" from Your Will Be Done on Earth, pages 298-303. Here are some examples of what the Society predicted in that book. How do these things fit in with the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses, along with most other religions, are now experiencing a tremendous expansion in the former Soviet Union and its allies, because of the legalizing of religion?
This persecution [by the king of the north against true Christians] is foretold to continue until the king of the north comes to his "time of the end" at Armageddon (p. 286).
.... the king of the south and the king of the north stand at Armageddon.... In the confused fighting between the "two kings" as crazed enemies of Jehovah God and his kingdom, the "kings" will have opportunity and occasion to try out and use their frightful, deadly weapons of all kinds against each other. (p. 297)
.... now at God's appointed time for the Armageddon fight the king of the north sets out to destroy the "beauteous land" [spiritual relation of the 'anointed' class to Jehovah] to wipe it off the earth.... This becomes the time for Jehovah to begin the war of his great day. (p. 298-9)
Jehovah's angel foretold further aggressions by the Communist king of the north before his end in Armageddon: "And he will stretch forth his hand against some countries, and the land of Egypt will not escape. And he will have control over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the costly things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians will follow at his steps.".... How far the king of the north will have got when he reaches his "time of the end" the future alone will tell. But he is predicted to gain control over the treasures of gold, silver and all the precious things of this commercialized, materialistic world, including oil. (pp. 300, 303)
Clearly, the demise of the Soviet Union and most of its allies has put these predictions beyond possibility of fulfillment. Since the Watchtower Society cannot admit that the prophecies given in Daniel could be wrong, the failed prediction must lie in the interpretation the Society itself has given. But according to Dan. 12:3, 4, 10, the ones having insight would understand the prophecies that Daniel had been told to seal up, and would make them abundantly known. The book of Daniel itself clearly implies that the "ones having insight" cannot be wrong when they make "abundantly known" the interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel. Since the Watchtower Society's interpretations of Daniel are clearly in error, Jehovah's Witnesses are not the "ones having insight." But as they claim this designation, they must therefore be false teachers, and by their own standard of judgement, false prophets.
As The Watch Tower of May 15, 1930, pages 154-155, said:
.... a true prophet is one who is faithfully proclaiming what is written in the Bible ... But it may be asked, How are we to know whether one is a true or a false prophet? There are at least three ways by which we can positively decide: (1) If he is a true prophet, his message will come to pass exactly as prophesied. If he is a false prophet, his prophecy will fail to come to pass.... The difference between a true and a false prophet is that the one is speaking the word of the Lord and the other is speaking his own dreams and guesses.... The true prophet of God today will be telling forth what the Bible teaches, and those things that the Bible tells us are soon to come to pass. He will not be sounding forth man-made theories or guesses, either his own or those of others.... In the New Testament, and in our day, the word "prophet" has a thought similar to that of our word "teacher," in the sense of a public expounder. Hence when the term "false prophet" is used, we shall get the correct thought if we think of a false teacher.
Who really is it that causes the Watchtower Society to publish what it does? For example, is it not fallible men who edit The Watchtower magazine? Not according to the Watchtower Society. With regard to statements published in the November 1, 1914 Watch Tower concerning the events that had been predicted for 1914, the 1930 book Light I said on page 195:
The Lord foreknew and foretold what was to come to pass, and... he doubtless caused his angels to direct the preparation of exactly what was published.
According to Fred W. Franz (vice-president of the Watchtower Society from 1949 to 1977, president from 1977 to his death in 1992), under oath in the Olin Moyle case (New York Supreme Court, Kings County Clerk's Index No. 15845, 1940, p. 795), Jehovah is the editor of The Watchtower. Franz gave his testimony in May, 1943, which is here reproduced:
Q. Who subsequently became the Editor of the magazine, the main editor of the "Watch Tower" magazine?
A. In 1931, October 15th, as I recall, the "Watch Tower" discontinued publishing the names of any editorial committee on the second page.
The Court. He asked you who became the editor.
The Witness. And it said --
The Court. Who became the editor?
Q. Who became the editor when this was discontinued?
A. Jehovah God.
Q. Is the "Watch Tower" magazine dogmatic?
A. The magazine is not dogmatic. Dogma literally means opinion and the "Watch Tower" does not set forth the opinion of man. The "Watch Tower" instead of being dogmatic is confident because it bases its conclusions upon the word of God and therefore it is sure of the ground upon which it is walking. It does not arrogantly assert any opinion with unwarranted positiveness.
1 Occasional spelling errors appearing in the quotations are those made by the court transcriber.