After the release of our new book in March 1999 (Jehovah’s Witnesses – their beliefs and practices) I was invited onto a North of England Radio program entitled, Thank God its Thursday. Nothing unusualaboutthat, but what made this broadcast different was, for the first time, the Jehovah’s Witnesses allowed one of their members to come on with me. The program was not the greatest I have ever taken part in but it left me with a question, “are the Watchtower Society changing their attitude?”
I was interested in the way the Witness, Paul Stephens, answered some of the questions. It gave the impression that if I did not know the difference he was not going to reveal it. The interviewer started with the heart of the gospel and the person of Jesus. Paul used phrases such as ‘only begotten’ and even the interviewer was at a loss to tell the difference until I explained the different way that the Watchtower Society uses that phrase as opposed to the Bible. No wonder the man at the door is confused.
The real surprise came when Paul was asked if they believed that Jesus was an angel – no, came the resounding reply. I could not contain myself at this and asked whether the Society had ever taught that Jesus and Michael the Archangel were the same person and had they now withdrawn it? Oh, came the answer, if you mean, do we say that the name Michael the Archangel is one of the names given to the Lord Jesus, then yes of course we believe that. Such a subtle difference that only a Jehovah’s Witness would be able to argue with such conviction knowing they had just tried to hide the truth.
The classic denial came when the interviewer started talking about the Society’s past record and whether they could still believe Rutherford’s book Millions Now Living Will Never Die. I think you misquoted came Paul’s remark I have the advertisement for the talk and it is Millions Now Living May Never Die. Oh no it is not although that is how the Watchtower wants people to believe it these days.
It appears there is a change, in that the Society wants to show itself as far more middle of the road than it has done in years past. Also, there is an aggressiveness that has not been there before. On a couple of occasions now I have been told that Reachout Trust simply exists to persecute and destroy the Watchtower Society. They are even quoting an Oxford Professor who is supposed to have stated this. I am trying to track this quote down and will give more details if and when I do. Certainly, the heads are coming up over the castle wall in a way I have not known before.
What is also clear is that the Society wants to give the impression that it is encouraging outside checks to be made by its members to confirm the authenticity of the Organisation. Take these quotes as just an example:
Someone who trusts too much may be gullible and, as a result, easily deceived and manipulated… Only a very naive, inexperienced person, is going to trust blindly every word he hears… How, then, can you ‘consider your steps’ so that you do not misplace your trust? The Bible encourages us to test out what people say rather than just blindly accept everything we hear… No one who is genuine will take offence if we check his credentials… The apostle Paul advised: ‘Put all things to the test.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21, Today’s English Version) The word used by the apostle Paul for ‘test’ was also used in connection with testing precious metals to see if they were genuine. A prudent person always tested to see if what he was buying was genuine. – Awake! 8 February 1996, p.6.
Are you an avid reader of God’s Word? Digging into it is the means by which “you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:4, 5) So develop good study habits. Try reading a portion of God’s Word every day. (Psalm 1:2) Make it a habit to read each issue of The Watchtower and Awake! as soon as it is received. Pay close attention at congregation meetings. Learn to do careful research. By learning to `trace all things with accuracy,’ you can avoid exaggerations and inaccuracies when you teach. -Luke 1:3. – The Watchtower 15 March 1999, p.12.
Of course the second quote gives the game away, because you can only use the Watchtower’s own publications. If the researcher simple went to the original publications, there is not need to start with the ‘apostate’ literature, he or she would find so many things wrong and would draw very different conclusions to the ones the Society offers.
One area to check carefully would be the teaching already mentioned concerning Jesus being Michael the Archangel. The Watchtower Society like to teach that Michael is unique and so is the special creation of Jehovah and is thus Jesus. Investigate what the Angel Gabriel said to Zacharis in Luke 1:19, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God.”
That is never said of Michael and at the very least puts Gabriel on a par with Michael and thus he is not unique. Notice also what a recent Watchtower said:
This was by no means an ordinary pregnancy, for Jesus had had a prehuman existence in heaven. (Proverbs 8:22-31; Colossians 1:15) His life had been transferred by Jehovah’s miraculous power to the womb of Mary, making it possible for this beloved Son of God to be born as a human. (John 1:1-3,14; Philippians 2:6, 7) – The Watchtower, 15 February 1999, p.15.
We need to investigate this carefully, because what character was Jesus in heaven – an angel? What a miracle if an angel was transferred to the womb as a human! On a secondary issue, anyone looking at this page will note a picture of Jesus wearing a beard! Something else that needs to be checked because in the Society today beards are considered to be a sign of immaturity!
One final area that we would suggest warrants further careful investigation would be this paragraph that comes on p.17, later in the same article in the above Watchtower.
Love moved Jehovah to send forth his beloved Son. (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9… If we appreciate what Jesus did for us, we will respond… How can we demonstrate heartfelt appreciation for the ransom?… Obedience to Jesus… One of the finest ways we can show appreciation for the ransom is by attending the Memorial of Christ’s death, which this year will be held on April 1.
Investigation will show that to be obedient to Jesus’ words does not mean that they attend a meeting but that they partake of the emblems of bread and wine. That only happens to a very small number of Witnesses the rest are being encouraged to be disobedient.