As we enter a new year Jehovah’s Witnesses will be knocking on our doors with their scripted presentations. The December Kingdom Ministry from the Watchtower Society suggestion as a sample presentation for offering the January Watchtower is:
“Do you think that the world would be a better place if everyone lived by this principle? [Read Hebrews 13:18, and allow for response.] The Bible encourages us to be honest in all things. This month’s issue of The Watchtower discusses how honesty affects every aspect of our life.”
They go on to quote Scripture:
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS: “Jehovah detests a devious person, but His close friendship is with the upright.” (Proverbs 3:32) “Now that you have put away deceit, each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.”—Ephesians 4:25.
They define dishonesty as:
“Saying something false to someone who is entitled to know the truth. Lying can include misrepresenting or distorting facts in order to mislead a person, omitting key information to deceive someone, and exaggerating the truth in order to give a false impression.”
The Watchtower Society gives an accurate and full definition of dishonesty but there is a dissonance between what they say and what they do. This is a typical cultic characteristic. Members can take comfort in the fact that they have high standards because it says so in their literature, but are blind to the fact that, when they present themselves at your door, they prove to be institutionally dishonest. Note that they are not necessarily individually dishonest, but the organisation has them in its grip and so they conspire in the deception of the institution.
One of the fundamental marks of a cult is the strict management of information. In his book, Combating Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan observes that:
“Information control is the second component of mind control [the first is behaviour control].Information provides the tools with which we think and understand reality. Without accurate up-to-date information, we can easily be manipulated and controlled. Deny a person the information they require to make sound judgements and they will become incapable of doing so.
Deception is the biggest tool of information control, because it robs people of the ability to make informed decisions. Outright lying, withholding information and distorting information all become essential strategies, especially when recruiting new members. By using deception, cults rob their victims of ‘informed consent’ and in the case of religious cults, this lack of honest disclosure most certainly violates people’s individual religious rights.” (Steven Hassan, Cult Mind Control, 25th Anniversary Edition, 2015, pp 118/9)
The philosopher and ethicist Sissela Bok wrote in her book Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life:
“To be given false information about important choices in [our lives] is to be rendered powerless. [Our] very autonomy may be at stake.” (Sissela Bok, Lying,1980)
The Watchtower Society controls information in the first place by controlling behaviour. I recall witnessing a friend trying to give a simple leaflet to a Jehovah’s Witness. It was one of those, ‘I’ll take your literature if you’ll take mine’ situations. The Jehovah’s Witness squirmed and prevaricated, offered excuses and did everything she could to talk herself out of taking a piece of ‘apostate literature.’ Such is the power the Watchtower Society has over its members, such the fear and dread they put in people’s hearts.
In such circumstances it is easy to control the flow of information both into the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as what is presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses on the doorstep. The Witness on your doorstep may or may not be aware of unresolved issuesi but, either way, they become part of the conspiracy to hide the facts.
2015: The Year of Child Abuse
The Watchtower Yeartext for 2016 is Hebrews 13:11, ‘Let your brotherly love continue.’ The 2016 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses informs us of numbers of hours on the doorstep, reports the thrill of conventions, celebrates the innovations of witnessing carts and JW.ORG, and bemoans the ‘persecution’ of Jehovah’s Witnesses in different parts of the world. The Watchtower Society professes a high moral code but fails to acknowledge the shocking scandal of child abuse in their organisation. 2015 has been the year of child abuse, in which overwhelming evidence of the Society’s harbouring paedophiles has come to light in an Australian Royal Commission on Child Abuse. 2016 promises to be a year when such inquiries spread to many other countries.
The Society professes to base its beliefs and conduct on the Bible, yet it seems blind to the biblical charge:
‘For the Lord’s sake subject yourself to every human creation: whether to a king as being superior or to governors as being sent by him to inflict punishment on evildoers but to praise doers of good.’ (1 Pet.2:13-14, NWT)
It is surely not brotherly love to fail in the fundamental charge to protect those in your care, to refuse to bring to justice those who harm the ones you profess to love, the most vulnerable in our society. The charge of ‘harbouring child abusers’ might have been swept aside at a stroke, may never have even arisen, had they been prepared to obey the word of God they profess.
Typically, they seem to be a law to themselves, resenting what the Bible commends, and dealing with scandal and abuse internally. They are effectively hiding in their congregations men who should have faced the full authority of the law. Perhaps a good question to ask a Jehovah’s Witness is, ‘Do you believe in being subject to every human authority who rightly inflict punishment on evildoers?’
The Watchtower Society espouses a high standard of honesty but fails to tell people, even their own members, about their history of failed prophecies. The 2016 Yearbook tells readers, ‘Today, we are nearing the destruction of Satan’s entire global system of things.’ The same adventist message, the same urgent warning that time is short from an organisation with a track record of stretching time and credulity to explain their failed prophecies. Here is a comprehensive list taken from another article on the Reachout website.
The Watchtower Society has defined ‘prophet’ and ‘false prophets’:
False prophets: Definition: Individuals and organisations proclaiming messages that they attribute to a superhuman source but that do not originate with the true God and are not in harmony with his revealed will. – Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1989 p132
This ‘prophet’ was not one man, but was a body of men and women… Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses … Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to examine the record. What does this show? – The Watchtower, 1st April 1972, p197
How reliable and consistent has this body of men and women been in bringing prophecy? If we examine the record, what, indeed, does it show?
The Watchtower Society claimed:
The Lord’s presence began in 1874, as heretofore stated. – Creation, 1927, p.306
Then measuring [the Egyptian pyramid] … we find it to be 3416 inches, symbolising 3416 years … This calculation shows AD 1874 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble. – Studies in the Scripture, Vol 3, Thy Kingdom Come, 1903 edition, p.342
Compare that with the 1923 edition:
Then measuring [the Egyptian pyramid] … we find it to be 3457 inches, symbolising 3457 years … This calculation shows AD 1915 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble.
Is this pyramidology from God?
If the pyramid is not mentioned in the Bible, then following its teachings is being led by vain philosophy and false science and not following after Christ … It is more reasonable to conclude that the great pyramid of Gizeh, as well as the other pyramids … were built … under the direction of Satan the Devil … Those who have devoted themselves to the pyramid … The mind of such was turned away from Jehovah and his Word. – The Watchtower, 15th November 1928, pp.341,344
In the passages of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh … the correspondency (sic) of dozens of measurements proves that the same God designed both pyramid and plan – and at the same time proves the correctness of the chronology … Its reliability has been abundantly confirmed by the dates and events of 1874, 1914, and 1918. – The Watchtower, 15th June 1922, p.187
These internal connections of the dates impart a much greater strength than can be found in other chronologies. Some of them are so remarkable a character as clearly to indicate that this chronology is not of man but of God. Being of divine origin and divinely corroborated, present-truth chronology stands in a class by itself, absolutely and unqualifiedly (sic) correct. – The Watchtower, 15th July 1922, p.217
In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e. the full end of their lease of dominion will be reached in AD 1914 and that that date will be the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men. – The Time is at Hand, 1912, pp.76-7
Also in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by the 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’. – The Finished Mystery, 1917, p.485
There will be no slip-up … Abraham should enter upon the actual possession of his promised inheritance in the year 1925 AD – The Watchtower, 15th Oct 1917, p.6157
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 chapter eleven, to the condition of human perfection. – Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, pp.89-90
… those faithful men of old may be expected back from the dead any day now … the Scriptural and physical facts prove that Job is due to be resurrected shortly with those faithful men and to appear on earth with them. – The New World, 1942, pp.104, 130
Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the longed-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then ? Possibly … It may involve a difference of weeks or months, not years. – The Watchtower, 15th August 1968, p.499
Even if we presume that youngsters 15 years of age would be perceptive enough to realise the import of what happened in 1914, … it would still make the youngest of ‘this generation’ nearly 70 years old today … – Awake! 8th October 1968, p.13
It is the generation of people who saw the catastrophic events that broke forth in connection with World War I from 1914 onward … If you assume that 10 is the age at which an event creates a lasting impression … – The Watchtower 15th October 1980, p.31
… the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older … Jehovah’s prophetic word through Christ Jesus is: ‘This generation [of 1914] will by no means pass away until all things occur’ (Luke 21:32). And Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfilment of his Son’s words in a relatively short time (Isaiah 46:9,10;55:10-11). – The Watchtower, 15th May 1984, pp.5-7.
The words ‘[of 1914]’ are in the original but compare:
Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah’. – Awake! 22nd March 1993, p.4
Compare from the same page!
Why Awake! Is Published … Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.” (emphasis added – quote included on page 4 of Awake! for most of 1980-95)
Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah’s people have at times speculated about the time when ‘the great tribulation’ would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However, we ‘bring a heart of wisdom in’, not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation, but by thinking about how we ‘count our days’ in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah (Psalm 90:12). Rather than provide a rule for measuring time, the term ‘generation’ refers principally to contemporary people of a certain historical period, with their identifying characteristics. – The Watchtower 1st November 1995, p.17
According to Watchtower Society literature, according to the New World translation, this is how we identify a false prophet:
… their prophecies to date have not come to pass; and that alone is strong evidence that they are false prophets. – Light, Vol 2, 1930, p.47
… the false prophet is not a person, but is a system, or an organisation – The Watchtower 15th June 1974, p.381
‘For the reason that YOU men have spoken untruth and YOU have visioned a lie, therefore here I am against YOU,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. And my hand has come to be against the prophets that are visioning untruth, and that are divining a lie … And they will have to bear their error. And the error of the inquirer will prove to be just the same as the error of the prophet. –Ezekiel 13:8,9;14:10, New World Translation.
Judge for yourself whether Jehovah’s Witnesses follow a false prophet. Read the full article The Truth About Jehovah’s Witnesses
New World Translation
In their 2016 Yearbook the Watchtower Society boasts:
“AS OF August 31, 2015, the New World Translation had been translated in whole or in part into 129 languages. The Bible is also available on jw.org in 129 languages, including seven sign languages.”
The Watchtower Society claims to have the most accurate translation of the Bible but fails to tell people that the original translators were, none of them, qualified to translate the Bible, and their current translation committee remains anonymous. This is very different from the custom and practice of qualified and orthodox Bible translators. Nor are they in a hurry to point out that there is not a respectable Bible scholar in the world who would lend credence to the New World Translation. For instance, Professor Bruce Metzger wrote of it:
‘On the whole one gains a tolerably good impression of the scholarly equipment of the translators (their names are not divulged) … Some of the translations which are simply indefensible … The introduction of the word “Jehovah” into the New Testament …John1:1… is not justified despite a lengthy note … the translators have not hesitated to insert four times the word “other” (totally without warrant from the Greek) … in Col[ossians] 1:16f.’ (Professor Bruce M. Metzger, “The Bible Translator”, Vol 15, 1964 pp151-2)
Any Jehovah’s Witness worth his salt will, of course, come back with the charge that the churches of ‘Christendom’ haven’t faired any better. Indeed, church history can be a painful and embarrassing read. There is a fundamental difference, however, between church and Kingdom Hall.
Where the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society aims to recruit people to their organisation, the Christian Church seeks to bring people to Christ.
Where the Jehovah’s Witness Yearbook seeks to sing the praises of its own dangerously flawed organisation, the Christian Church points unashamedly to the perfections of Christ.
Where the Watchtower Society insists there is no hope outside its organisation, the Christian Church declares, ‘There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…’ 1 Timothy 2:5 NIV)
Where the Watchtower Society insists that it is God’s chosen means of salvation, the Christian Church echoes Scripture, ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given to men by which we must be saved (than that of Jesus Christ)’ (Acts 4:8-12)
Nether is the church simply an administrative organisation, a bureaucracy of believers, a hierarchy of the hopeful. It is through Christ, not an organisation, that our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable to God.
‘As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.‘ (1 Peter 2:4-5 NIV)
As Jehovah’s Witnesses come around our doors it would be good to hold them to their own standard of honesty and integrity. They have been robbed of the necessary information to help them make intelligent and informed decisions. We can put that right by challenging their claims while simultaneously sharing the good news of Jesus.
i I remember rehearsing to a couple some of the historical problems of the Watchtower Society. He was dumbfounded and knew nothing of it but, when he looked at his wife, she nodded and affirmed that all I had said was true. I never had the opportunity to follow up and have sometimes wondered how that conversation went after I left.