Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Witnessing to Witnesses Part 3

Chosen in 1919? Was Watchtower Society Really Faithful and Discreet?

The Watchtower Society claims that those directing the organization are representatives of Jehovah's "faithful and discreet slave". This group is God's "channel" of communication with his people. So everything that appears in Watch Tower publications is indirectly from God. We are going to examine the basis for the claim that those directing the Society represent the so-called "faithful and discreet slave."

The text used to make this claim is found at Matthew 24:45-47 NWT). It reads: "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings."

The Watchtower magazine of 1 March 1981 (p. 24) gives the Society's official interpretation of Jesus' statement as contained in these verses. It reads:

"Jehovah's Witnesses believe that this parable pertains to the one true congregation of Jesus Christ's anointed followers. Beginning with Pentecost, 33 C.E. and continuing through the 19 centuries since then, this slave-like congregation has been feeding its members spiritually, doing so faithfully and discreetly. Especially as the identity of this "slave" becomes clear at the time of Christ's return or presence. The "slave" is identifiable by its watchfulness and by the fact that it is faithfully and discreetly providing spiritual food as needed by all in the Christian congregation. Indeed, this "slave," or spirit anointed congregation, is the one approved channel representing God's Kingdom on earth in the "time of the end." (Dan. 12:4) Witnesses of Jehovah understand that the "slave" is comprised of all anointed Christians as a group on earth at any given time during the 19 centuries since Pentecost. Accordingly, the "domestics" are these followers of Christ as individuals.

What they are saying is that this slave class, the only true church, therefore came into existence on Pentecost, and was to have a continuous, uninterrupted history down throughout the centuries, up to and including the end of the world. What they are saying is the church, or the "slave class" is all the "anointed" or in our terms "born again" Christians on earth at a single time. The "slave class" then represents God's kingdom and organization on earth. Throughout the centuries it has been progressively feeding its members on spiritual food, becoming increasingly enlightened as time has gone by. They have done so faithfully, and wisely. They say that the true identity of this Slave class, or the true Church, becomes clear at the time of Christ's invisible return in 1914. How was it identified? It was identified because it alone was awaiting the Lord's return and faithfully teachings spiritual truth via it's literature.

Don't forget the internal organizational strife that was happening in the Society against the backdrop of the First World War. It was an extremely difficult time for the Bible Students. Not only was Russell dead, but his prophecies regarding the end of the world in 1914 had gone unfulfilled. Both the Watch Tower Society and the Bible Student community were split into divisions over the Society's management, as Rutherford enacted his hostile take over. In addition, Bible Students were ridiculed as false prophets. The leadership-including Rutherford-were to be imprisoned under the terms of the U.S. Espionage Act for opposing American's military effort during the war. It was at this time, however, that something remarkable supposedly happened to those Bible Students faithful to the Society.

According to present-day Watch Tower teachings, Jesus Christ was supposed to have "come" invisibly in 1914. After his coming to have entered into the the judgment of his earthly servants, essentially to cleanse the temple. The Society interprets Jesus' words at Matthew 24:46, 47-"Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings." - as having been fulfilled at that time by the loyal Bible Student community. According to Watch Tower calculation, this appointment went into effect in the spring of 1919. Christ returned (invisibly) in October 1914 and 3½ years later in 1918; they say, Jesus made a temple judgment which resulted in the rejection of all Christian religions except their own. According to their own judgment they, too, were spiritually unclean at this time:

The Watchtower, July 15, 1960, p. 435, 6

“The scriptures describe them as having unclean garments because of their long association with Christian apostasy. They had many practices, characteristics and beliefs similar to the weed-like sects of Christendom.”

WT tradition has it that their organization survived this period of judgment despite their unclean condition. The proof that Christ had chosen them was when the leadership of the Organization was released from prison in 1919. According to the Society today, it was at the instigation of the Catholic Church that Rutherford and the leadership were arrested. This is what they call the fall of Babylon the Great, because the Catholic Church failed to stop their organization. At that time the Bible Students were entrusted with all the earthly interests of God's newly established heavenly kingdom.

If this is the case, we should look at how the Witnesses describe their own spiritual condition during the period of 1914-1918, the period when, according to them, they were being evaluated for enlarged privileges of services on earth by the glorified Lord Jesus Christ.

The question to be answered, then, is how does this teaching or doctrine, square with the history of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society?

If the Society was faithful and discreet why were they spiritually unclean, and why were they being punished for it?

Also, notice what the Watchtower publication, "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose" says,

"Russell was not the founder of a new religion and never made such a claim. He revived the great truths taught by Jesus and the apostles, and turned the light of the twentieth century upon these teachings. He made no claim of a special revelation from God, but held that is was God's due time for the Bible to be understood; and that, being fully consecrated to the Lord and to his service, he was permitted to understand it."

So apparently this “slave” congregation, this slave “organization” had existed for 1800 years when the young Charles Russell began his independent study of the Bible. However, Russell didn't join or seek out this slave, he just did his own thing and started his own group. Is that really what is being taught by this “faithful slave” doctrine?

If the “faithful slave”, the true congregation and organization, had a continuous existence since Pentecost, where was this “slave” when Russell got his start?

How could Russell revive the great teachings of Christ and the apostles independently of the "channel" of communication, Jehovah's earthly organization? How could he come to a knowledge of truth apart from this “slave?”

If there had been a 1900-year-old “slave” faithfully serving up progressive spiritual truths, why was it necessary for Russell to “revive” these truths?

In order to justify their authoritarian, hierarchical system, the Society must argue that Jehovah is using an organization-an earthly "channel"-to which all must submit and which all must accept. But to insist upon it today, they must also argue consistently that this has been the case since the beginning of the Christian church in 33 C.E. But Russell did not turn to any earthly organization. He acted independently, on his own.

But further, the Society claims that one of the identifying marks of the "faithful slave" would be that it was awaiting Jesus invisible coming in 1914. Notice these three quotes to this effect:

The 1986 publication Jehovah's Witnesses Unitedly Doing God's Will Worldwide said on page 8:

"Russell and his associates also saw that Christ's presence was to be invisible, in spirit. The Gentile Times, during which period God's sovereignty was not being expressed through any government on the earth, were to end in 1914. Then God's Kingdom would be established in heaven. These teachings are identified with Jehovah's Witnesses today. Russell and his companions announced these truths far and wide by talks and printed page."

The greatest Man who ever lived. 1991 chap. 132

A careful study of Bible prophecies, including Jesus’ own prophecy regarding the last days, reveals that “the Lord’s day” began in the history-making year 1914, yes, within this generation! So it was in 1914 that Jesus returned invisibly, without public fanfare and with only his faithful servants being aware of his return. In that year Jehovah gave Jesus the command to go subduing in the midst of his enemies

Watchtower 1998 9/15 p. 15

A prophecy providentially caused sincere 19th-century Bible students to be in expectation. By linking the “seven times” of Daniel 4:25 with “the times of the Gentiles,” they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914.

Is that really what was taught? The Watchtower has doctored their history. They have intentionally misled and lied to their followers. We've already been through the Watchtower's history. They did not believe that Jesus was returning in 1914. Russell taught that Jesus returned invisibly in 1874 and that teaching wasn't changed until something like 25 years after his death.

Here are three Watchtower quotes from the time period that show that this is not what they had in mind.

...the 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced," (The Time Is at Hand, 1908 edition, p. 101)

"Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874," (Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 4, p. 621, 1897).

Even after 1914 came and went they were still teaching that Jesus returned in 1874 for almost 30 years.

"The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873," (1916, The Time Is at Hand, forward, p. ii).

If one of the marks of the “faithful slave” was being awake and in expectation of the Christ's return, how come the Watchtower taught that he had already returned in 1874 before and after 1914?

So it is clear, in the case of the first identifying mark, being awake and awaiting the Lord's return in 1914, the Society fails.

What about the second criteria? Was the Society giving the right spiritual food? Were they faithful and discreet? Not unless you consider false prophecy a sign of faithfulness. We've already shown that Russell taught that 1914 was supposed to be the end, Armageddon. Even after 1914, the false prophecies continued. Here are just two more....

The Finished Mystery, (1917) p.485

“Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of “Christianity.”

Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89., 1918

"Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection,"
The Watchtower further explained, Sept. 1, 1922, p. 262. "

The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914,"

Notice what the criteria for a false prophet is:

"But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NIV)

But this also goes beyond false prophecies. The WT has since rejected the old teachings on the Cross, Birthdays, Christmas. Russell used the Great Pyramid to arrive at arrive at all sorts of weird conclusions. In fact, history records the Rutherford changed many of Russell's teachings on many different subjects. On all their own criteria, the Watchtower fails the test.

Based on Deuteronomy 18:20-22, would not the Society be a false prophet?

If serving the “spiritual food” faithfully and discreetly was the basis for Christ’s approval, how would you describe the food being served by the WBTS from 1879 to 1925?

If the Watchtower Society failed the test as the Faithful Slave, how can they be God's Organization?


Anonymous said...

thank you for this. I have an ongoing debate going on with some JWs. It is hard because they know the bible so well.

Matthew said...

Indeed debating with a JW can be a challenge. But they only "know" the bible superficially. If you are born again and saved by the grace of God through faith, you "know" the bible better then the anyone from the Watchtower Society. Let me know how the debate goes.



Matt Atack said...

Brother, these are very timely posts as 2 JW's are coming over tonight for the second time.
I appreciated 2 of your points in the recorded lectures (1) that we should not debate them where they expect to be debated and (2) that we must drive home the gospel.

I have a BA in Biblical Studies from TIU. I dashed to pieces their translation of John 1 beyond reasonable argument. They would not respond. They just read their position from a book which added nothing to their case for everything the article said I directly demolished. It's one of the saddest things I've ever witnessed.
I genuinely think that for this man's wife (they're a married couple who came and are coming tonight) the seeds of doubt were planted. At several points in our 3 hour visit, she seemed perplexed by truth. Tonight I'm going to drive home the Gospel, Paul Washer style. It is the power of God for salvation!

Matthew said...

@ Matt Atack

Brother, thanks for the encouragement. I'd like to be a fly on the wall when you present the Gospel "Paul Washer" style.

I like Paul Washer. While he may not be a world class exegete, like D.A. Carson, or John Calvin, he can preach the Gospel well and he is very good at making the Gospel clear. His work on what the Gospel is and what it isn't and how it has been reduced is timely indeed.

Let me know how it goes.