Home | Help | Site Map | Aims   
Latest News and Information:   "Stop judging that you may not be judged" (Matthew 7:1)

Related Articles
» The People
» The Work
» The Beliefs
The Issues
» Repression of Thought
» Institutionally Enforced Shunning
» Organizational Idolatry
Other Articles
» Is Reform a Good Idea?
» Returning to Our Original Vision
» Setting the Example
Letter-Writing Campaign
» Petition #1
Contact Information
Please direct all comments, questions and suggestions to:

Site Administration


Non-Arguments Against Jehovah's Witnesses

Let's not reject a religion for the wrong reasons

Although it is true that the Reformation Movement sees much that needs to be improved in the way that the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses is run, they also recognize that there are many accusations hurled at the group, which some believe demonstrate it to be unchristian, or even unacceptable to God, but which end up holding no water. These we wish to address.  

Jehovah's Witnesses are not Christians, because they do not believe in the deity of Christ.

According to this accusation, the belief in Christ's deity (i.e., that Jesus is God) is a defining belief of Christianity. One cannot be considered a Christian unless one accepts this doctrine. Some go further and claim that one must accept the Trinity doctrine, as formulated by the Church fathers in the fourth century, in order to be considered a Christian.

Setting aside the usual arguments regarding the truth of the Christologies that have developed since the time of Jesus (and the general observation that the Bible never explicitly says that Jesus Christ is God),1 this essay will focus instead on the more important question: What is a Christian?

The dictionaries usually define "Christian" as "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ." A vast number of Christians also accept this definition. However, there are some who insist that a number of doctrines must be accepted in order for a person to carry this name, and among these is the teaching of the deity of Christ.

In order for these people to make such a claim, they must defend it. And to defend it, they would have to provide biblical evidence. This would involve more than just highlighting scriptures that supposedly assert the deity of Christ. It would involve highlighting scriptures that state that one can be considered a true follower of Jesus only if one accepts the teaching of the deity of Christ.

One biblical passage often used as such evidence is 1 John 4:2-3:

"This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."

Now, those who use these verses acknowledge that the scripture does not explicitly say that one must believe that Jesus is God. However, they claim that this passage must be cross referenced with John 1:1,14 (which they believe were written by the same author) where he states that the Word was God and the Word became flesh. Putting these two biblical passages together, they conclude that author is saying that if one denies that Jesus is God in the flesh then that person is the Antichrist.

One needs to be wary of this biblical sleight of hand. The selection from John 1:14 may say something similar to the selection from the First Epistle of John (although there is admittedly a difference in wording, and perhaps in meaning), but the point of comparison then should be limited only to John 1:14. By what justification is John 1:1 brought in? If the epistle explicitly condemns those who say that Jesus Christ has not come in the flesh, how is it that some can add to those words and say that other teachings should be included? By such logic, we could add just about any doctrine we could find in the Gospel of John or the Johannine epistles and claim that those too should be included. It is not proper, nor is it sound reasoning, to assert that John must have meant something more than what he said. If he wanted to say that the belief in Jesus' deity was essential, he would have used words like these: "Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ is God is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus as God is not from God." Yet he does not do this.

Most biblical scholars recognize that 1 John 4:2-3 is addressing a heresy called Docetism, which taught that Jesus only appeared in human form, but was not actually a human. 

For the record, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. They also, for that matter, believe in John 1:1. They simply interpret it differently than some.

Another biblical verse used to put forward the argument that belief in the deity of Jesus is essential is John 8:24:

"I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins."

As the argument goes, Jesus spoke in Greek and said "I am" as "ego eimi." Therefore he was claiming the title "Ego Eimi" used by God himself in Exodus 3:14 (in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which Jesus and his disciples were familiar with).

The question that arises immediately is: How do they know that Jesus was claiming the divine title? Is every appearance of "ego eimi" a reference to the divine title? No. Why should this particular passage be understood in a special sense? Is the sentence not understandable if the words "I am" are used in the ordinary sense? Of course it is. Is there anything else in the context of this passage that points to Exodus 3:14? No. Was Jesus even speaking in Greek to the people of Jerusalem? No. He was most likely speaking in Aramaic. Does the phrase make sense grammatically if "I am" is a title? No. In such a case, there would have to be an additional "I am" inserted (i.e., "I am 'I AM'"). Some might say that the use of the expression need not be perfectly grammatical because Jesus was merely alluding to the divine name, rather than saying plainly that he was God. But are we to understand that an implicit statement should be taken as an explicit command? Is it reasonable to conclude that Jesus would state a fundamental teaching of Christianity by beating around the bush or dropping a hint?  

Most Bible translations do not accept the "divine title" interpretation of this passage and translate it without a divine reference:

"If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (King James)

"You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he" (New Revised Standard)

"If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins" (New International)

"You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am what I am" (Revised English Bible)

Since most translators take the meaning simply to be that the people were to believe that Jesus was who he said he was (and he never said he was God), then those who think differently need to provide convincing evidence to show otherwise. 

For the record, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus was who he said he was.

Sadly, no other scriptural proof texts exist (that we know of) for the argument that one must believe in the deity of Jesus to be considered Christian.

So one has to wonder why certain ones speak with so much authority when they make such claims. Did they receive a special revelation that told them that they must take this position? By going beyond what the Bible says, they are presuming more than even the apostles of Jesus presumed. If they assert that the full Trinity doctrine is an essential belief of a Christian, then they are denying the Christian name to most disciples of Jesus in the first three centuries of the Church's existence.

Jehovah's Witnesses are devoted followers of Christ. They believe in his teachings and try to follow them. They are thus worthy to be called by the name "Christian."

(See further the articles "What is a Christian?", "What is it to be a Christian?" and "Thoughts on the Name Christian" found elsewhere on the net).

Footnote:

1. Some might claim that John 1:1 and John 20:28 say explicitly that Jesus is God. The first, however, says only that the Logos (Word) was God. Since the Logos and Jesus aren't explicitly said to be identical, there is only an implication here that Jesus is God and no more. In John 20:28, it is not the inspired author of the Gospel who calls Jesus, "My God," but a character in the narrative. How do we know that Thomas, who uttered these words, is correct? Was he inspired when he said them? Granted, Jesus does not correct him, but since we would have to appeal to an argument from silence to uphold the truth of the disciple's exclamation, we cannot say that the scripture explicitly teaches that Jesus is God. It is only an implication.  

 

The Watchtower is a false prophet, and therefore does not have God's spirit; Jehovah's Witnesses are followers of a false prophet and for this reason likewise do not have God's spirit.

Those who forward this argument point to the many times that the Watchtower has predicted a date or general time for the end of the world system and have been wrong. They view these predictions as "prophecies," and since they did not come true, then those who uttered them are false prophets. Once this label has been attached to the Watchtower, scriptures that apply to false prophets in Bible times may now be used to condemn it:

"The prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak...that prophet must die.... When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it" (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

Those who call the Watchtower a false prophet are certain that this scripture shows that the Watchtower must be devoid of God's spirit. In other words, the claim is that since God did not inspire the prophecies, then he could not possibly be in any way connected to the persons who uttered them. In fact, not only is he not connected with them, he rejects these false prophets altogether and will destroy them.

A similar verse is this:

"Look out that you are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, 'I am he,' and 'The due time has approached.' Do not go after them" (Luke 21:8)

The warning, "Do not go after them," is understood to mean that one should not join a religious group whose leaders are false prophets. Jehovah's Witnesses are disobeying this command and are therefore unacceptable to God. 

It should be said at the start that it is not our intention in this essay to defend the Watchtower Society. It is certainly true that the Watchtower has, since the beginning of the movement, made predictions that have not come to pass.

  • It falsely stated, first, that the end of the present world system would come in 1914 and then in 1925. It implied several times in the 1960's and early 1970's that it would end in 1975.

  • It indicated that the saints (the remnant of the 144,000) would be taken to heaven in 1878, 1881, 1914, 1918, and 1920.

  • It long taught that the end would have to come before the generation alive in 1914 would pass away. As it became clear that this would not come true, they changed this teaching and now refrain from making predictions as they once did.

When these dates passed, the predictions were, for all intents and purposes, swept "under the rug" by the Society, or a "spin" would be put on it so that modern-day Witnesses, who have not whole-heartedly researched the significance of the weight lent to these dates, will read that the date still had fulfillment in some sense.

The evidence is clear that the Watchtower has shown incompetence in prophetic interpretation, as well as arrogance, insensitivity and stubbornness in the way that it has presented the information and expected all to believe it. However, we wish to defend the everyday Jehovah's Witness, who attends meetings at the local Kingdom Hall and who reads and studies the Watchtower publications, from the charge that he or she does not have God's spirit, is losing out on salvation, or is not a true Christian because he or she is following a false prophet. 

We believe these things for the following reasons:

(1) The scriptures at Deuteronomy 18:20-22 and Luke 21:8 do not apply to just any person or institution who makes a prediction in the name of God, which doesn't come true.

(2) Lack of infallible prophetic inspiration does not mean complete lack of holy spirit.

(3) It cannot be assumed that any person who is taught the Bible by a manmade religious organization, either at meetings or through literature, is choosing to follow that manmade organization as its disciple.

(4) Manmade organizations do not serve as mediators of the holy spirit.

Let us consider each of these points in turn.

(1) The scriptures at Deuteronomy 18:20-22 and Luke 21:8 do not apply to just any person or institution who makes a prediction in the name of God, which doesn't come true.

At the outset, it should be said that there is no such thing as a prophet in the Bible that is an institution or an organization. Prophets are always individuals. This should be enough to make one doubt that the scriptures apply to institutions. After all, institutions are made up of many individuals who stand on their own before God. Nevertheless, we will give serious consideration to the arguments based on these scriptures.  

Those who argue that these Bible passages apply to the Watchtower usually do so for one or both of the following reasons:

a) The Watchtower does exactly what the false prophets described in these scriptures do.

b) The Watchtower claims to be a prophet, and since its prophecies have not come to pass, it must be a false prophet. Therefore, the scriptures about false prophets apply to it.

The first assumption says: "In this text the false prophet is identified as one who speaks a word in God’s name that God did not, in fact, speak, and the word fails accordingly as the word of a man rather than the word of a true prophet of God. The Watchtower has presumed to speak in God’s name, its word has failed numerous times, and therefore it is a false prophet."

However, this argument fails because it focuses on one's actions without giving regard to who is being addressed. The text does not start out: "Anyone who...." It begins: "Any prophet who...." The text thereby limits the application of the words. It is not that any person, or any organization of people, who does such things is a false prophet. It is that a PROPHET (and, as we shall see below, no ordinary prophet) who does such things is a false prophet. So before we can apply this scripture to the Watchtower, we must first establish that it is a prophet in the sense used here.

The second assumption argues the Watchtower perceives itself as a prophet, and that is all that counts. After all, a prophet does not have to be truly a prophet. He only has to claim to be one. If he is not, then he is a false prophet. All scriptures applicable to false prophets therefore apply to it.

The argument fails because it assumes that any and all definitions of "prophet" or "false prophet" are interchangeable. A comparable argument would be that any statements regarding honey in the Bible apply to someone's romantic partner, since he or she is often called "honey."

The Watchtower organization has occasionally referred to itself as a prophet. But the question is: Is it claiming to be a prophet in the same sense as the prophets referred to in Deuteronomy 18 and Luke 21? If those scriptures are using the word "prophet" differently than the Watchtower has used the word to refer to itself, then the scriptures cannot apply to them. A close examination reveals that the Watchtower's claim to be a prophet does not match the claim of those said to be prophets in the scriptures cited.

To what sort of prophet is Deuteronomy 18 referring? NOT to everyday false prophets, but only to those posing as Moses' authorized successor (i.e., the Messiah). In verse 14, Moses warns the people about soothsayers and diviners, and tells them instead to listen to the prophet like him who will come from among their own people. Then he tells them how to identify this prophet. He is referring to one specific and special prophet. Moses relates what God told him:

"A prophet I shall raise up for them from the midst of their brothers, like you; and I shall indeed put words in his mouth, and he will certainly speak to them all that I shall command him. And it must occur that the man who will not listen to my words that he will speak in my name, I shall myself require an account from him" (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).

This is the context of the warning about the false prophets. Too many people take vss. 20-22 out of context. In vss. 18-19, God is clearly referring to the Prophet like Moses, who is given words to speak by God and who should be heeded. Then, in the same breath, God provides a contrast to this Prophet and says that there will be counterfeits. The true Prophet "will speak to them all that I [God] shall command you," and the false Prophet will "speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak." Notice how the same language is used. Moses is informing the Israelites how they will be able to discern this special prophet when he comes. 

A false prophet would appear to be a prophet "like him [Moses]" and would be "from among [the Israelites] own people" and would claim that God "put [his] words in [his] mouth and speak everything [God] commands." Deuteronomy ends with a comment on the special prophet spoken of in Chapter 18, looks forward to the appearance of the prophet like Moses, and emphasizes the uniqueness of Moses:

"There has never yet risen up a prophet like Moses, whom Jehovah knew face to face, as respects all the signs and miracles that Jehovah sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land, and as regards all the strong hand and all the great awesomeness that Moses exercised before the sons of Israel" (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).

When this ending to Deuteronomy was composed (and most biblical scholars would place it in the time of Josiah or later), the true prophet that Moses foretold had not yet come. If that is true, then the verses in Deuteronomy 18 cannot be referring to just any true prophet, because there were many true prophets between the time of Moses and the time of Josiah, and none of them--not Elijah, not Isaiah, not Jeremiah--were this true prophet. It thus becomes clear that the word "prophet" is being used in a specific sense to refer to a unique and special person and also those who would claim to be that person. These would claim to have spoken to God "face to face" like Moses (something not all true prophets experienced) and would perform powerful signs and miracles like Moses to establish their position. They would claim "great awesomeness" on par with that of Moses. But only one would be the true one. Many believe that Jesus was the prophet spoken about, and this is implied in scripture (John 5:46).

Another evidence to suggest Deuteronomy 18 was not intended to apply to common prophets is the clear fact that several TRUE prophets in the Bible do not measure up to the stipulation in Deut. 18:22.

Micah made a flat prediction that Jerusalem would be destroyed (Micah 3:12). A century later, Jeremiah quotes the passage, and it is remarked that it went unfulfilled. But the point brought out is that the king (Hezekiah) and the people repented, and hence God forgave them and spared the city (Jer. 26:17-19). It was the prophet's message that produced the result, and therefore both he and his message were vindicated as coming from God, even though his prediction did not come true. Still, if we were to apply Deut. 18:22 to Micah, then he would be considered a false prophet.

In another instance, Jonah predicted the fall of Nineveh in 40 days (Jon. 3:4). The people of the city repented, and the prophecy did not come true. But Jonah is not considered a false prophet, but a true one, because his prophecy produced results.

Now some might argue that both Micah's and Jonah's prophecies eventually came true, and so they can be considered true prophets according to Deut. 18:22. But two considerations vitiate against such a conclusion. First of all, both of their prophecies were time-bound. Jonah explicitly says that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days. That didn't happen. Micah's audience was 8th century Judah. His prophecy was explicitly directed to them. There would be no reason for him to give the prophecy at this time unless it somehow applied to the people to whom he was talking. Moreover, Jeremiah explicitly says that God repented of the calamity he was to bring upon them, just as he did with the Ninevites. The prophecy was annulled. But to observers, it would have appeared as if Micah made a false prediction.  

So it is an oversimplification of prophecy to simply say that when someone makes a prediction and it doesn't come true, then he is a false prophet. We would have to include Micah and Jonah in the mix. More likely, Deut. 18:22 does not apply to all prophets.

Luke 21:8 does not use the word "prophet" at all. The context shows that it is referring to events from the first century before the destruction of Jerusalem. Some are apt to apply it to events of today, but even if the scripture were applicable to the present time, it clearly says that the ones saying, "The due time has approached," are those claiming to be the Messiah. There is thus a similarity between Deuteronomy 18 and Luke 21 in that the false prophets or messiahs are those who are claiming a special role in God's arrangement. They are claming to be THE ONE, the special servant of God like Moses, the Christ himself. 

In what sense does the Watchtower Society use the word "prophet" when referring to itself? It actually uses it in three different ways:

1) as a metaphor for a religious organization. The WT often applies Matthew 7:15-20 to religious organizations. By saying that religious organizations are represented as "prophets" in this passage, they infer that they also must be one of these "prophets." But the usage is representational, not literal. For example, they also compare religious organizations to the trees in this passage and say they are 'a tree that produces fine fruit.' But to argue that this therefore makes their religion a tree is absurd. They believe Jesus was stating a universal principle here, and they are applying the principle to themselves.

2) as an antitype of a historical prophet. Using Hebrews 10:1, the writers of the WT believe that the Hebrew Scriptures are full of "prophetic patterns" that can be applied to the Christian era. They believes that "matters that a casual reader might view as being simply history" have prophetic significance (Survival, p.39). Objects, persons, and historical periods all may have significance prophetically. The book Survival has a complete discussion of this issue. Here is an excerpt (pp. 40-42):

"Persons referred to in the Scriptures also served as prophetic types. At Galatians 4:21-31 a detailed example of this is explained in the case of Abraham’s wife Sarah (said to correspond to “Jerusalem above”) and the servant girl Hagar (identified with the earthly “Jerusalem today”) and their children. In another case Jesus helped his disciples to perceive that Elijah the prophet had his counterpart in John the Baptist, who, like Elijah, was fearless in exposing hypocritical religious practices.—Matthew 17:10-13. Solomon, renowned for his wisdom and the prosperity and peace of his reign, aptly prefigured Jesus Christ. (1 Kings 3:28; 4:25; Luke 11:31; Colossians 2:3) Although the account in Genesis concerning Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek is very brief, Psalm 110:1-4 indicates that it, too, is filled with meaning, because the Messiah would become “a priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek,” that is, he would receive his priesthood by direct appointment of God, not because of the family in which he would be born. Later, the letter to the Hebrews enlarges on this and associates appreciation for such truths with Christian maturity, an important quality for those who are seeking to please God.—Hebrews 5:10-14; 7:1-17."

In line with this thinking, they sometimes look at the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures as types pointing to prophetic antitypes in our own day. The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses has often been said to be an antitype of some of these prophets (Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.). But antitypes are to be understood figuratively. The antitypical Abraham is not really Abraham. The antitypical Elijah is not really Elijah. The antitypical Sarah is not really Sarah. The antitypical prophet Ezekiel is not really the prophet Ezekiel. An antitype is an allegory. It's symbolic.

3) as a synonym for an interpreter of the prophets. Finally, the WT sometimes refers to itself as a prophet because it is a repeater and an explainer of the words of the biblical prophets: "In a sense his faithful anointed ones are prophets, in that they declare the prophecies written, along with their application" (w69 6/15, p. 366). This interesting use of the word is probably unwise, because it uses the word "prophet" in a rather unique and original way. The apostle Paul differentiates between prophets and interpreters when he speaks about Christian meetings: "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others discern the meaning" (1 Cor. 14:29). Note that the ones who discern the meaning of the prophecies are not prophets too. Paul refers to them as "others."

Fortunately, it has been a long time since the Witness literature has employed the word in this sense. In the vast majority of the literature, the Watchtower uses the word "prophecy" and "prophets" to refer to something apart from itself, more specifically the writings in the Bible. And, over and over again, it presents itself as an interpreter of the prophets.

"As a group, anointed Christians serve as the faithful and discreet slave. (Luke 12:42-44) Their appointed assignment from God is to provide spiritual understanding of the “things revealed.” Even as Bible prophecy pointed forward to the Messiah, it also directs us to the close-knit body of anointed Christian Witnesses that now serve as the faithful and discreet slave. It helps us to understand the Word of God." Wt 10/1/94, p. 8.

"Although the slave class is defined as “faithful and discreet,” Jesus did not say that it would be infallible. This group of faithful anointed brothers still consists of imperfect Christians. Even with the best of intentions, they can be mistaken, as such men sometimes were in the first century. (Acts 10:9-15; Galatians 2:8, 11-14) However, their motive is pure, and Jehovah is using them to supply us with Bible study aids to build up our faith in God’s Word and promises." Wt 12/1/02 p. 17.

"Additionally, the anointed Christian congregation in this 20th century has proved to be a fitting custodian of the Word of God, the written compilation of “the things revealed.” ...It organizes weekly meetings, regular assemblies, and various schools—all designed to help truth seekers to gain accurate knowledge of “the things revealed.” Truly, “the righteous ones” now “shine as brightly as the sun” in a spiritual sense, proving worthy of their stewardship.—Matthew 13:43." wt 5/15/86, p. 11-15.

As can be seen, the Watchtower organization sees itself as "custodian" of the Word of God, an entity that helps people to understand the Bible, and this is what it means when it calls itself God's "channel of communication" (a poorly chosen and misleading term). Since they feel that they are doing this work as commanded better than anyone else (in their opinion), and since God can hire only one servant to do such a work (in their opinion), then they must be the designated servant who helps people understand. This is quite simply an interpreter. Some who may not be familiar with the history or teachings of the Watchtower organization may not know this, but every single one of the predictions made by the Watchtower in times past was based on an interpretation of scripture, including the math used to come up with the dates. To be sure, the Watchtower has shown a distaste for the word "interpretation" when it comes to their own interpretations. This is because it is trying to show that when it interprets the Bible, it bases those interpretations on no personal opinions, but is relying on the Bible to interpret itself. It thus can say that the interpretation is not its own but God's. So it prefers to use the expression "provide understanding" rather than "interpret." But all this is is a trick of words. It amounts to interpretation, whether they want to admit it or not. Moreover, their claim not to interpret is simply not true. They often impose arbitrary interpretations on scripture, just as everybody else does.

These are the only three ways the Watchtower Society uses the word "prophet" to refer to itself. In not one of these instances is the word "prophet" used in the same sense as in the scriptures that condemn false prophets. Those who apply these scriptures to the Watchtower ignore the usage of the word prophet in Deuteronomy 18 and say that anyone who uses the term prophet in reference to themselves (regardless of HOW they use it) fits the scripture. They thus ignore how Deuteronomy uses the word and how the Watchtower uses the word.

It is therefore a mistake for anyone to apply the scriptures in Deuteronomy and Luke to any modern day religious organizations. We cannot take scriptures out of context, scriptures that speak to ancient societies about certain individuals in that society, and reinterpret them to apply to certain modern Christian denominations in entirely different contexts. At most, we could apply them to modern individuals, who claim to be the Messiah or a prophet like Moses, to whom God speaks "face to face."  

This is not to say, however, that the Watchtower is not a false prophet in any sense. It most certainly is. If we understood "prophet" to mean simply anyone who makes a prediction of any sort, and a false prophet as one who makes predictions that do not come true, then we most certainly could call the Watchtower a false prophet. The point here, however, is that while we can condemn the behavior of the Watchtower, we cannot condemn the people who are a part of it or who are associated with it based on the false prophet argument. In other words, the false prophet charge is not justification for passing final judgment on Jehovah's Witnesses or individual members of the Watchtower organization, unless one of them actually claims to be the Prophet par excellence who was to succeed Moses. 

(2) Lack of infallible prophetic inspiration does not mean complete lack of holy spirit.

The false prophet accusation also concludes that the Watchtower's false prophecies have demonstrated that the organization is devoid of God's holy spirit. This argument claims that since false prophets do not come from God and are not imbibed with God's holy spirit, then the same must be true of the Watchtower organization. This argument, however, is confusing the sort of  inspiration that prophets receive with the sort of inspiration the rest of us receive. Although it is true that the spirit is what inspires someone, this does not mean that one who is not inspired like a prophet does not have God's spirit at all. The spirit has many different operations, and prophetic inspiration is but one of them (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). This argument also assumes that a person either is possessed or not possessed of God's spirit (as if it is a light switch turned on or off), but does not recognize that the spirit comes and goes and does not always operate on a person consistently at the same level at all times.

Let's also keep in mind that the vast majority of prophecies in the Bible are not predictions. Predictions make up only a portion of what the prophets say. Prophecy mostly contains warnings and threats, sometimes promises and encouragement. So whenever anyone speaks on behalf of God, on ANY subject whatsoever, that is no less of a prophecy than a prediction, and so if we are to judge the Watchtower a false prophet, we must also pronounce as false prophets any organization and any person who has ever spoke for God and been wrong.

(3) It cannot be assumed that any person who is taught the Bible by a manmade religious organization, either at meetings or through literature, is choosing to follow that manmade organization as its disciple. 

The argument that Jehovah's Witnesses are followers of a false prophet relies on the assumption that all Jehovah's Witnesses, by the very fact that they are members of the religious group, are choosing to be disciples of the Watchtower organization.

It is well known by any who are or used to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses that all of them believe they are disciples or followers of Jesus Christ. If any one of them were asked if they were disciples or followers of the Watchtower organization, the answer would be no.

Nevertheless, it might be argued that, although Jehovah's Witnesses do not think they are followers of the Watchtower organization, they are mistaken, because they accept the doctrines of the organization and assist in spreading these doctrines to others. Is this not what disciples do? "Ah," a loyal Witness might respond, "that is a false assumption, because our teachings come from the Bible, not from the Watchtower organization." However, as has already been made clear, many of the teachings of the Watchtower have not been true in the past (such as the predictions mentioned above) and yet each Jehovah's Witness accepted those teachings when the organization taught them and preached them to others. So yes, some of the doctrines that the Witnesses believe and spread are truly biblical, but others, such as many of the teachings involving chronology, prophecies and predictions, are not. Since Jehovah's Witnesses believe and spread even the teachings of the Watchtower that are not true (and therefore not from God or Jesus), then the argument can be made that they are demonstrating discipleship of the organization.   

There is an illusion that the leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses have worked hard to create, and this illusion is that all Jehovah's Witnesses are united in their thinking, and that the teachings of the organization are accepted willingly by all and preached willingly by all. But the reality is far from the ideal.

There are many Jehovah's Witnesses who do not readily accept and promote all of the teachings of the organization. Like the faithful Beroeans of the first century, they carefully examine the scriptures to see if the things the Watchtower teaches are so (Acts 17:11). If they agree that the teachings are well-founded, they accept them as their own and pass on the teaching to others. They thus preach only what they themselves believe. If they do not agree with the teachings, they do not accept them as the truth and rightly do not preach them as truth to others, whether it be in a talk or at someone's door. We here at the reform movement know this to be true, because there are people from our number who have done just that. These ones realize that no religious organization could possibly have all the right answers or interpret the Bible 100% correctly. They read the Watchtower literature and go to the meetings to glean from them whatever good counsel or teaching they can and for the interchange of encouragement they find there to show love and do fine deeds. They see the Watchtower organization as a teacher, but not as a master.

Thus, while it may be true that some, even many, of Jehovah's Witnesses willingly accept all of the unusual doctrines of the Watchtower Society as truth and preach these doctrines to others (and thus would be followers or disciples of the organization), it is not necessarily true for all of Jehovah's Witnesses. 

(4) Manmade organizations do not serve as mediators of the holy spirit.

It has been said by some that the Watchtower's actions have prevented all those associated with it from having access to God's spirit. However, this position assumes that the spirit comes down from God to individuals through an organization instead of directly to the individual from God. The spirit, however, cannot be cut off from a person by a mediating entity. Each individual Christian has access to it, regardless of the condition of the religious organization they are a part of. (This is a fact that the Watchtower itself denies, but about which it is greatly mistaken.) (Matthew 6:6; Luke 11:13)

So now we return to the original accusation: "You should not be a Jehovah's Witness, because they are false prophets, rejected by God, and if you join, you will be rejected by God as well." Can it rightly be said that that God rejects the entire religion of Jehovah's Witnesses on the basis of an argument of false prophecy? (Whether we choose to reject the religion personally on this basis is another story.) It is clear that all of Jehovah's Witnesses are not rejected or condemned by God for following a false prophet, because 1) there is no scripture that supports such a notion, 2) God's spirit can be found in those whom he has not inspired as prophets, 3) not all Jehovah's Witnesses are followers of the Watchtower organization, and 4) a religious organization cannot prevent the holy spirit from reaching any human being.

A word should be said in defense of individual members of the Watchtower Society, who may even have participated somehow in the advancement of falsehoods, from the charge that they are likewise unworthy of salvation or are not true Christians for saying something that wasn't true and for misleading others. 

Some of these have, or are beginning to, realize that they have done something wrong and feel a responsibility for it. They may not have misled others on purpose, but they promoted an error and may have stumbled some (Matthew 15:14). God freely forgives those who err, and we should forgive these ones as well (Luke 17:3-4). 

There are still others of this group who have not yet realized the seriousness of their error. Perhaps one day they will. However, we ourselves should not make the mistake of magnifying the sins of our brothers and sisters unduly. If they have explained the Bible wrongly, they have made a mistake common to many humans. If they have attempted to coerce others into accepting this understanding, then they have made another mistake common to many humans. If, in their attempts to coerce, they have made extravagant claims about their authority, they have been treading more dangerous ground and may be upsetting the God they claim to worship. If, in addition, they have condemned others for making the same sort of mistakes that they themselves have made, then they are guilty of hypocrisy. However, we cannot judge the hearts of these ones. Only God knows their hearts, and it is never too late to turn around (compare Isaiah 1:18-19). The Reform Movement calls on all those who write or speak on behalf of the organization to cease the practice of passing on information to the membership that they themselves do not believe or that they themselves are not certain is taught in the Bible. Why not ask for a different assignment?






Jehovah's Witnesses and the Trinity
"Christendom has staunchly maintained that those who do not affirm belief in the Trinity are heretics. But instead of being intimidated by men, Jehovah’s servants have recognized that, not the traditions and creeds of uninspired men, but the Holy Scriptures provide the standard for discerning what is truth." (Watchtower, March 15, 1989, p. 18)
The Watchtower's Opinion of Those From Other Religious Groups Who Predicted the End of the World
"Does the failure of such predictions to come true convict as false prophets those who made them, within the meaning of Deuteronomy 18:20-22? That text reads: "The prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: ‘How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?’ 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." There are some who make spectacular predictions of the world’s end to grab attention and a following, but others are sincerely convinced that their proclamations are true. They are voicing expectations based on their own interpretation of some scripture text or physical event. They do not claim that their predictions are direct revelations from Jehovah and that in this sense they are prophesying in Jehovah’s name. Hence, in such cases, when their words do not come true, they should not be viewed as false prophets such as those warned against at Deuteronomy 18:20-22. In their human fallibility, they misinterpreted matters." (Awake, March 22, 1993, p. 3)
Discussion Forum
Beth Sarim's Reform Forum
Sites of Interest
Note: The following sites are supportive of the faith of Jehovah's Witnesses. At the same time, they promote, in one way or another, freeness of speech about the workings and teachings of the JW organization and show where improvement is needed..

Beth Sarim

Our partner site, dedicated to providing a place of shelter from storms both within and without the Witness community.

e-Watchman
Make Sure of All Things
morloc.com
i-witnessing
New Light on Blood
Silent Lambs
  Copyright [ jwreform.org ] 2005


setstats 1