Authors: Walter Smith (, Alan M. Feuerbacher (alanf@tekig6.pen.tek.c

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

====================================================================== Authors: Walter Smith (, Alan M. Feuerbacher ( Title: Jehovah's Witnesses in General ====================================================================== By Walter Smith: On the subject of the Jehovah's Witnesses / Watchtower Bible and Tract Society being misleading/dishonest with some of their quotes, Mark Sornson writes: > The responses given by myself and other Witnesses therefore address >the criticisms according to their degree. The issues at hand have to >do with whether intentional distortions were made, and whether >accusations of such can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. My >replies so far express my own conclusions that fault to the degree of >willful deception, is both not present, nor provable beyond a shadow of >a doubt. With the "cutesy" way the tend to quote, they do a good job of making things appear ambiguois. So, instead of looking at how they have quoted others, why don't we just look at what they themselves have said, about themselves, and see if there is any evidence of willful deception. 1) Selling books that they know contains false teachings. In 1973, the Jehovah's Witnesses / Watchtower Society published a book called, "God's Kingdom of 1000 Years has Approached". On page 346-7, they write about a book called "The Finished Mystery, and how it taught that Charles Russell, the founder of the Watchtower, was the "Faithful and Discreet slave" of Matthew: "This view was prominently featured in a book published by the People's Pulpit Association of Brooklyn, NY. This book was called 'The Finished Mystery'...On its publishers page the book was called the 'Posthumous Work of Pastor Russell'. Such a book and religious attitude tended to establish a religious sect centered around a man...Later in the year 1927 any remaining stocks of 'Studies in the Scriptures' by Russell and of 'The Finished Mystery' were disposed of among the public. But did this leave the Lord's 'domestics' or 'household staff' without spiritual 'food at the proper time'? Not by any means!" Now, why the Watchtower would sell these books, which they felt contained false teachings and tended to "cause a sect centered around a man" to the public at all, is a seperate question which will not be addressed here. The issue is, are the statements in the 1973 book honest, about 'disposing' of all remaining stocks of these false books in 1927? Apparently not. In 1929, that same set of books was being pushed in the door-to-door work; the week of November 10th was designated a "special drive week" for them. In 1932, the bulk of the books spread by the Witnesses was again that same set. In 1944, they *still* were to be found on the list of books offered. And in a 1967 "Kingdom Ministry" (a monthly magazine handed out to Witnesses, with internal notices, etc.) they were listed as "out of stock" in the USA. 2) FDS ("Faithful and Discreet Slave) In Watchtower teaching, the "faithful and discreet slave" of Matthew has extra significance. The current Watchtower Society applies that title to itself; which is their justification for claiming to be God's sole channel for dispensing "meat in due season" to the world. If someone other than themselves claimed to be it, it could threaten their claim to authority today. Along that line, some Jehovah's Witnesses, including a prominant headquarters person around 1980, have looked back at what the Watchtower taught earlier in the century, around the pivotal 1914 years. They found that the founder, Charles Russell, claimed to be, personally and in himself, the "faithful and discreet slave', that this 'slave' was an individual (namely him) and not the whole Watchtower HQ. This claim of Russell's puts the current Watchtower's claim on shaky legs, enough so that it has been addressed several times in their modern literature. In the "God's Kingdom of 1000 Years" book (1973), they write: "From this it is clearly seen that the editor and publisher of Zion's Watch Tower disavowed any claim to being individually, in his person, that 'faithful and wise servant'. He never did claim to be such." What they did was to quote Russell's early position on the 'faithful and discreet slave', when he *did* teach it was a group. Before the year 1900 came, though, he changed his position, and decided it was not a group, but an individual; himself. Even his successor, "Judge" Rutherford, said Russell was "that servant". When people back then wrote in opposition to the Witnesses, one of the issues was the idea of Russell being that "slave". 3) Beth Sarim. In the early 1920s, the Jehovah's Witnesses taught that the OT prophets would be ressurected to the earth in 1925. During that time, the Watchtower purchased a mansion in San Diego, which was said to be for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the rest of the OT prophets, so they'd have somewhere to live. However, in 1975, the Witnesses did a re-write of their history, and said the house was for Rutherford, the then-Watchtower president. Was the rewrite to cover up their failed 1925 predictions? Or was the original stated purpose the lie, and it was really just purchased for the Watchtower president? 4) WWII and Armageddon In the January 1968 "Kingdom Ministry", the Watchtower claims: During World War I, God's people expected it to lead directly into Armageddon, but Jehovah prevented such a climax at that time. We didn't succumb to such an expectation during World War II. Rather, in 1942, we learned that the war would end and that the beastly peace organization would be re-established. And that's just what occured. But when the tribulation is resumed, it will definitly lead into Armageddon. But is this true? Or is the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society rewriting its history again, to cover up more failed predictions? In 1941 they had written: Meantime the German people are awakening to their horrible predicament. They no longer laugh as decent men and women were made to laugh, but their faces are white, pinched, and filled with forebodings of what the near future will bring and is already hastening to bring them - Armageddon, the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Along with that, they also claimed that neither side would win a decisive victory in the war, that Armageddon will come, and that the end of Nazi rule will mark the end forever of demon rule. 5) 1874, 1914 Various Watchtower publications have claimed that various things about what used to be taught about 1914. Some say that since 1919, Witnesses have taught that Christ began his invisible presence then. But this is also not true. Into the 1940s, Jehovah's Witnesses taught that Christ's invisible presence began in 1874; this was part of the original predictions that included Armageddon ENDING in 1914. In the 1927 book "Creation", the Watchtower wrote: The Scriptural proof is that the period of his presence and the day of God's preparation is a period from AD 1874 foreward. The Second Coming of the Lord, therefore, began in 1874... ---------------------------------------------------------------------- By Alan Feuerbacher: Quick history: The Jehovah's Witnesses started in the 1870s, predicting the world would end in 1914. When that didn't happen they predicted it might end in 1915, then 1918, 1920, 1925, and implied, without quite predicting, that it would end in the 1930s. They really thought that WWII would be IT. The last major almost-prediction for the end was 1975. The "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" theme was started in 1918, and by 1920 had become the focus of a major advertising campaign. When the 1914 predictions fell through they quickly came up with a whole new set of doctrines based on the idea that some of the things they had predicted really did happen, only it was invisible. See _Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses_, by M. James Penton, University of Toronto Press, 1985, for a reasonably unbiased history. Carl Sagan made an interesting comment on the 1914 doctrinal transformations in _Broca's Brain,_ pages 332-333: "Doctrines that make no predictions are less compelling than those which make correct predictions; they are in turn more successful than doctrines that make false predictions. "But not always. One prominent American religion confidently predicted that the world would end in 1914. Well, 1914 has come and gone, and - while the events of that year were certainly of some importance - the world does not, at least so far as I can see, seem to have ended. There are at least three responses that an organized religion can make in the face of such a failed and fundamental prophecy. They could have said, 'Oh, did we say `1914'? So sorry, we meant `2014.' A slight error in calculation. Hope you weren't inconvenienced in any way.' But they did not. They could have said, 'Well, the world *would* have ended, except we prayed very hard and interceded with God so He spared the Earth.' But they did not. Instead, they did something much more ingenious. They announced that the world *had* in fact ended in 1914, and if the rest of us hadn't noticed, that was our lookout. It is astonishing in the face of such transparent evasions that this religion has any adherents at all. But religions are tough. Either they make no contentions which are subject to disproof or they quickly redesign doctrine after disproof. The fact that religions can be so shamelessly dishonest, so contemptuous of the intelligence of their adherents, and still flourish does not speak very well for the tough-mindedness of the believers. But it does indicate, if a demonstration were needed, that near the core of the religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry."


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank