Working on a Letter
Posted by REM on September 02, 1999 at 23:27:51
1. Why does the Society insist Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 when secular history shows it was destroyed in 586? There is no support (outside of the Watchtower Society) for the 607 date. This is a crucial date for the Society's Bible Chronology as it the basis for the Gentile Times calculations. This puts into question the 1914 date.
When the 607 date is questioned, the Society merely tries to avoid the issue and discredit secular sources and claim that they conflict with Bible history. The truth is that secular history does not conflict with Bible history, it conflicts with the Society's interpretation of Bible history. Just think who has more of an agenda for the 607 date? The secular sources don't have any special attachment to any one date, but the Society does. It is the basis for much of our "Present Truth". In fact the truth is that the Seventh Adventists derived the 1914 date before C. T. Russell was even on the scene. Also, from researching writings by brother Russell, it has come to my attention that the 1914 date was derived by many questionable means even before the 607 chronology was created including pyramidology (using the measurements of the pyramid of Gizeh). This can be shown in the Proclaimers book as well.
Could we say that the Society is unaware of the date discrepancy? Hardly! The Society uses sources such as Encyclopedias and books on Jewish history all of the time. Obviously they must have come across the 586 date on many occasions. In the 23 years I have been a Witness, it was never explained to me that the date we use conflicts with modern historians. Are they trying to hide this fact? In fact, while doing research on this topic, I looked up an article on Jewish history in the Catholic Encyclopedia. This encyclopedia was dated 1913 and it also showed the 586 date. So this date has been accepted for years. I have looked up literally dozens of sources on this topic and every single one confirmed the 586 date for Jerusalem's destruction. This is an established and accepted date by historians all over the world of all different religious and social backgrounds.
In fact the Society accepts the 539 date as the overthrow of Babylon by the Medo Persians. This date is derived using the exact same methods for 586 that the Society tries to discredit in the Insight book! But since this date works with their interpretation of the scriptures and fits into the 1914 prophecy, then it is accepted as credible. If they accept the exact same historic evidence for 539, why is it disregarded as unreliable for the 586 date?
Another question is if the prophecy in Daniel was to be understood to point to Jesus return in heaven (which, incidentally, was not what the Society was teaching until the 1920's -- before then 1914 was to be Armageddon), why did Jesus not know the "day nor the hour"? Obviously Jesus quoted from the book of Daniel when he was explaining the sign of his presence so he knew of the prophecy of the 7 times. Why did he not apply that himself or tell his apostles about this. Surely Jesus had enough Bible knowledge to be able to calculate this prophecy and come up with a date corresponding to 1914 -- but he didn't. I believe this is because the scripture was never intended to be interpreted that way. Are we saying that we could figure it out but Jesus couldn't?
It could be said that Jesus was speaking about Armageddon when he said "day nor hour" and was not speaking about his presence. But even then, the Society was preaching that Jesus presence had already occurred in 1874 and 1914 was to be Armageddon. This was the view as late as 1943. The Bible students were never teaching that Jesus presence was going to occur in 1914 -- they were preaching the end of the world for 1914. Interestingly this is something that we as modern day Witnesses are never taught. In fact the Watchtower has consistently claimed that the early Bible Students were preaching about Jesus presence in 1914 when there is proof that the Bible Students were teaching Armageddon would come that year. This is misleading. I don't know whether it is intentional or not. (For just one example see the Watchtower, January 1, 1924, page 5 and compare with the Watchtower, September 1, 1990, page 11)
Also, one could reason that since the book of Revelation had not been written yet, then Jesus could not know about the definition of "times". Why would Jesus not know this rule? It was fairly obvious in the context that the dream referred to 7 years. And why is a rule that is written about in the first century C.E. applied to a "prophecy" that was written around 600 B.C.E? Why did not Daniel expound on this prophecy and spell out the end of the Gentile times and show there was to be a greater fulfillment like he did for his other prophecies? Why did Jesus not specifically restate this prophecy and tell his disciples that it's greater fulfillment involved his future presence? I believe this is because this dream was not to be interpreted as a prophecy with a "greater fulfillment".
How am I supposed to preach this doctrine from door to door when I know there is no way to prove it is true? Would this not be hypocritical of me to be dogmatic about a doctrine like the Society is when preaching when I know the reasoning to be false or unproven? How can I use the Society's literature to study with someone when I know it contains false or unproven doctrine stated as Truth? Am I just to skip those parts of the book? How do I explain that to my study?
2. Why are we so confident that the 144,000 anointed ones is a literal number? The argument is that the 144,00 are contrasted with a Great Crowd that no man was able to number so it must be literal. This doesn't PROVE anything. In fact there is more weight that the number is figurative because, first -- we are talking about the book of Revelation that is almost completely figurative, and second -- the 144,000 are described as coming from the 12 tribes of earthly Israel (Rev 7:4-8). Also Revelation 14:4 says they are virgins -- is this to be taken literally? The Society doesn't think so, but the actual number is to be taken literally.
My point here is why is the Society so dogmatic about things that it can not prove without a doubt. There is never a qualifying statement like "it could be interpreted that..." or "it may be that...". All statements about such things are stated with authority as if there is no question and that the fact is proven beyond a doubt. The fact is that there is reason for doubt on this teaching and the Bible does not clearly explain everything in black and white terms. I'm not saying that the 144,000 couldn't be literal, I'm just asking how we are 100% sure and why we teach it to be 100% truth when our reasoning is speculative. This seems to get the Society into trouble so it needs to come up with "new light" to explain things that are eventually found to be untrue.
Another example of this is whether Jesus died upon a cross or a stake. First of all -- who cares -- is this really a salvation issue -- I don't think so. But because of the Society's phobia of anything that resembles Christendom, they interpret the scripture as meaning stake and are dogmatic about it. There is no question in their mind even though they can not prove it -- it is just another theory. Why do historians -- they don't even have to be Christians -- believe that the Romans impaled criminals on crosses? It seems to me that this is just another way the Society tries to make itself look like it is separate from the world when it can not prove without a doubt its viewpoint. Like I said, not a major issue, but is strange that we should be so dogmatic and use this as proof that we are the only true organization (circular reasoning).
Another example is the Society's insistence that earthquakes have been on the increase since 1914 when science and history has actually shown the reverse! Independent studies have shown how the Watchtower Society has manipulated statistics and taken quotations of scientists out of context to support their view. Never was I shown in the Society's literature the exact references where the Society comes up with these statistics. It seems it is because the Society knows that if we were to read the statistics and quotes in context that their arguments would be destroyed.
3. Why does the Society insist that they are receiving "new light" -- citing Proverbs 4:18 (which, incidentally, is the only scripture they can use to support this doctrine). If you read the entire chapter from where that scripture comes from it becomes entirely clear that that verse is taken out of context. It has nothing to do with accurate knowledge becoming clearer and clearer, but has to do with the quality of life one has when associating with wise ones instead of unrighteous. There simply is no scriptural backing to the "new light" doctrine.
It seems to me that the Society has had to come up with this to explain its many failed attempts at Bible prophecy and its flip-flopping on Bible doctrine. In fact the Society, or the "Faithful and Discreet Slave" as they call themselves, have failed time after time to provide absolute truth. 1874, 1914, 1925, 1975 and more are all failed dates that the Society has made their followers put faith in as the time Armageddon or the resurrection would begin. These statements were made with authority and never with the connotation that they may be speculation or theory (except in some cases with 1975). If anyone disagreed, they were termed apostates.
When the dates were not fulfilled as expected, the followers of the organization were blamed for "reading into things". In actuality the Society has not taken appropriate responsibility for its actions in claiming to be "the only true communication channel to God" when it obviously has proved not to be. Would we not say that the Society has spoken presumptuously when it spoke of these dates? Deuteronomy 18:20-22 shows how we should feel about those who prove time and again to speak presumptuously.
So were they speaking from Jehovah? Can they claim to be the only true channel? How do we know when what they say comes from God and when it is just the fanciful musings of a few men in New York? These things are explained away by using such terms as "present truth". There is no such thing! Truth is not relative -- it is absolute! This means that "Present Truth" is the same thing as a lie if it does not continue to be true. Does God not know how to give his people truth?
Why are people disfellowshipped for applying Absolute Truth when the Society has only sanctioned "present truth"? After the Society has changed its stance on an issue are the disfellowshipped ones who are now viewed as in line with the Society's truth reinstated? No. For example, organ transplants, vaccinations, blood fractions, etc... Does the Society ever apologize for its wrong thinking? No. Why are people labeled as apostates when they bring up questions and show where the Society is in error, when the Society does eventually change it's viewpoint to the same as the "apostates"? Is this a humble servant class?
Why does the Society flip-flop on doctrine? For example, the superior authorities (to name just one!). The scripture in Romans is very easy to interpret -- it takes no special gift from God to realize that the scripture is talking about the governments as being the superior authorities. It is simple! Yet brother Rutherford changed that way of thinking and said that only Jehovah and Jesus are the superior authorities. This continued for many years until it was reversed back to the original thinking. Was Jehovah involved in this in any way? Was this more than human thinking? How many people suffered and were sent to prison for this viewpoint? What of those that did not share this view? Were they considered good Christians at the time? Or were they looked upon as having a "bad attitude"? The Society tries to explain this embarrassing event away by claiming that "nothing really changed" because of this misunderstanding.
What is worse is that this mistake was made on such a simple scriptural truth. Anyone with minimal Bible knowledge can interpret that scripture correctly, but because of human thinking it was misapplied. This brings into question the "deeper things". If the Society could get something as simple as this wrong, then what about the more complex doctrine (like maybe 1914)? Has the "faithful and discreet slave" class really proven to be faithful and discreet? Was this the proper food at the proper time? Is it ever proper to give false teaching as food at any time?
Why does the Society take so long to correct its views? Are they not continually refining truth? Why did it take so long to figure out the real meaning of the word Genea from the original Greek? Was this not because their thinking was clouded by human doctrine all these years? Is that how Jehovah makes things clearer? Seems to me that they went as long as they could with the 1914 generation doctrine -- changing it slightly from time to time until it was completely evident that their thinking was wrong. Obviously Jehovah had nothing to do with the original thinking. Yet this is what we were forced to preach and what people's hopes and lives were hanging on for years. Instead of being used by God it seems that they are actually blinded from the truth and can only see it when their own predictions and doctrines are proved by time to be ridiculous and full of error.
Also, the reasoning the Society is the faithful and discreet slave class hinges upon the teaching that Jesus picked the Organization out of all others in the year 1919 since they were the only ones preaching his presence in 1914. As stated above, the Society was NOT preaching Jesus presence in 1914. This was not formal doctrine until 1943! In fact they were stating that Jesus was already present and influencing the Organization since 1874 -- so why did he have to pick them out in 1919 if they were already the chosen ones? And if we look back in history, were they really any better off than "Christendom" by 1919? Not really. They were still celebrating holidays, preaching Jesus presence had come in 1874, and they preached that Armageddon was to come in 1914. The Society prepared the talk "Millions now living will never die" in 1918 in which it was shown that the faithful of old would be resurrected in 1925. Obviously none of these things were true, yet Jesus was using them? Now after Jesus officially chose them as his only channel in 1919 (which he was apparently already doing since 1874) the Society must have cleaned itself up -- right? Not so. For the next few years they were actively preaching this resurrection that was to happen in 1925. Was this Jesus' special message? How were they really any better than "Christendom"?
From these examples it seems clear to me that the "faithful and discreet slave" as the Society refers itself is not especially appointed by God and has no special gift from God in interpreting scripture. What sickens me is that even though this is apparent, the Society is always dogmatic in its interpretations and never allows for independent thinking or outside review. All other views are false and apostate, even though they reserve the right to change their views when they see fit. Jehovah is consistent. His prophets have always been consistent. Jesus was consistent. Noah was consistent in his preaching. The Society is not consistent and even admits that there will be "new light" in the future. So basically we know that we are doing some things wrong right now, but we are not allowed to think independently and change our life to be in harmony with Jehovah's ways on our own. We are not really allowed to have a personal relationship with Jehovah and have a conscience. All actions are governed and must be sanctioned by the Society, which has proved to be incapable of providing absolute truth from Jehovah.
4. Who really is the "faithful and discreet slave"? Are they just the Governing Body or are they all Anointed Christians as the Society claims. If this is true, then why are not individual anointed ones allowed to dispense spiritual food on their own. Why must the governing body sanction it if all of the anointed are part of that slave class?
How long has the slave class been around? The Society claims that it has been around since Pentecost 33 C.E. It claims that there has always been one group -- one true religion. If so, then why did Russell start a new religion in the 1800's if there was already a "slave class" on earth? Were the Seventh Day Adventists that slave class? Is the scripture that refers to the "faithful and discreet slave" maybe misapplied? Could it apply to all Christians who should be doing the work of the Lord when he returns? It's hard for me to say at this point. It's hard for me to know who to believe and put my trust in. I know the Bible tells me not to put my trust in nobles. Could "nobles" be interpreted as the Governing Body of the Society? These are certainly men that are looked up to (almost worshipped) by millions of Witnesses.
5. Why are Jehovah's Witnesses not allowed blood transfusions -- especially their own blood? Seems like an odd question, but the Society does allow us to take vaccines and certain blood fractions. The basis of the argument against blood is that Jehovah said it must be poured upon the ground (Deuteronomy 12:24). First of all, that scripture is misapplied because it was just showing that the blood had to be removed from the animal and it would naturally return to the ground. It did not lay any precedent for a special handling of blood. Also, if blood were so sacred that it must be poured out on to the ground, then why allow vaccinations that are made of blood products? Obviously the large amounts of blood that are used to create these vaccines and "legal" blood fractions were stored and not "poured out on the ground". Also, this puts into question why we can't store our blood for future operations.
The truth is that the blood commandment from Jehovah was a Jewish dietary law. The Society likens a blood transfusion to taking in alcohol intravenously. The fact is that blood that is transfused has no nutritional value like alcohol -- it is not digested into the body the same way. In fact transfusing blood is actually an organ transplant (which has been approved by the Society since 1980). This is like comparing apples and oranges. The Society tried to use this same logic against allowing organ transplants by calling it cannibalism in the 1960's. We know today that this is not true. The logic just doesn't fit. If we are really so certain to abstain from blood as the Israelites did, then why is all of our attention on blood transfusions and not the real dietary issue? Why are we not taught to only purchase meats from kosher meat markets? Is the law really not that important? Will the Society be held as blood-guilty before Jehovah for all those who have died because of this doctrine if they receive "new light" in the future that makes this a conscience matter? What about those who died because they were not allowed to accept an organ transplant before "new light" came out? They put a "hedge around the law" like the Pharisees in Jesus day by making rigid rules that Jehovah never intended! (See Watchtower, March 15, 1995, page 27.)
6. Why is the term "organization" used so frequently in Society literature when the term is never used in the Bible? Did Jesus say the identifying mark of the true Christian congregation would be great organizational skills? Why is this stressed more than anything else is? It is interesting that the Society defends the liberal use of the term "Organization" though it does not appear in the Bible, but uses the argument that the Trinity doctrine is definitely false because the word "Trinity" never appears in the Bible.
7. Why are birthdays, holidays, and smoking disfellowshipping matters? These things are not spelled out in the Bible. These are opinions of men. There is no proof that first century Christians would be disfellowshipped for doing such things. Instead the Society feels it must make rules for us to obey. It seems we are not allowed to use our conscience except in extremely petty matters or gray areas in which the Society can not easily make blanket rules.
8. Why does the Society not print the name of the authors of articles and books it publishes? Were not Paul and the other Bible writers named? I believe that this is merely to give the impression that the information does not come from men but comes from the "faithful and discreet slave" class, which is the same as God for Jehovah's Witnesses. I also believe this is to hide the fact that the ones in authority who are writing do not have any higher education.
Why do we not use other Bible translations more often? It seems that the New World Translation is regarded as a poor translation by many outside the organization (despite what the facts may or may not be). It would seem fitting to use a more accepted translation -- especially form door to door or when giving public discourses. I know when one brother in my hall used another Bible translation for a few verses in his public talk it made some in the congregation uncomfortable. They thought it was strange! But that is how we have been trained by the Society.
9. Why are all of the members of the Governing Body white? Is Jehovah not impartial? Was it coincidence that Fred and Ray Franz were both on the Governing Body? Does Jehovah promote nepotism?
10. Why does the Society encourage people of other religions to research their religions and get out of them if they are not true, but discourage the research of itself by its members? Why does the Society print misleading articles about its past?
11. Why does the Society force us to report our field ministry activity every month? Is not our ministry something private between Jehovah and us? Does it not encourage a competitive and boastful spirit in the congregation when we compare hours? Why is hours in the field ministry used as a determination in the qualifications of a servant when the Bible does not mention this? I've heard it said that Servants should be an example in the ministry (which is equated to time reported in the field) since that was expected of all first century Christians. Well if you look at the scripture that defines the qualifications of a servant -- all of those things were required of first century Christians too. It's interesting that the field ministry was left out and yet that seems to be the main qualification for servants today.
12. What am I supposed to do now?