Review of the Watchtower – 1.2. – 1.6.2004

IT’S A DATE

Dating has always been the central theme of the Watchtower Society right from earliest times. Over the years this has brought them many problems but they still come back to the subject fromtimeto time because after all they are God’s chosen organisation, proclaiming His will.

There does not appear to be anything new in this article and there will therefore be no need for anything new in reply; but as they are churning out the information again, we will answer it again.

This article talks of

“…two lines of evidence that demonstrate that we are living in the time of the end and that the new world is at hand.” – The Watchtower, 1 February, 2004.p.19.

We will examine what they say about these two evidences, first,

BIBLE CHRONOLOGY

This of course is a misnomer because all Bible Chronology can do is put events in order and maybe give the number of years between certain events. What it cannot do is date any events, and so the moment the Watchtower starts dating events they have moved away from Bible Chronology and entered the realm of Secular Chronology. Nothing wrong with that, except maybe the fact that the Society does not explain this to their members, who trust them to tell the whole truth.

To date the end times, we need a beginning, which, in this article, is the Fall of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.; but here we have our first problem, where do they get this date from? The Bible? No, because as we explained there are no dates in Scripture. From Secular sources then? No, because secular chronology gives another date for this event. Where does the date come from? The minds of the founders of the Watchtower Society.

Any calculations used, even if they seem to appear in the Bible, are of no avail if the starting date is wrong. Quite simply the way they arrive at 1914 is neither Biblical nor scientific and it is about time they accepted this fact.

As indicated above, in this article they do not go into the details, but 607 is actually not the starting point, rather they use the fall of Babylon in 537 B.C. Is this borne out by secular authorities, yes, but, as we have often said before, this only shows the selective chronology entered into by the Witnesses.

“To date an event with a ‘BC’ date you must accept scientific chronology. The Witnesses will say that they are using biblical chronology, but that only places events in their right order with the correct interval of years in between. Their article in the WT, I5 August 1968, entitled ‘The Book of Truthful, Historical Dates’, shows that to establish the absolute date of 539, they must use secular historians. They quote twenty-five reliable authorities to fix 539 but at least twenty-two of these also prove that Jerusalem fell in 586/587 BC, not 607 as claimed by the Watchtower.

“If these authorities are reliable over 539, surely they are reliable over 586? In any case, why choose 539 as the starting point when we could equally prove 586 as the absolute date and be able to miss out the first two calculations? Sound scholarship would mean that we must either accept both 539 and 586 as reliable or reject both, they stand or fall together.

“This is further shown by the basis for fixing 539. The Watchtower article mentioned above explains:

“… a stone document… (which) gives precise details… This, in turn, enables modern scholars, with their knowledge of astronomy, to translate these dates into terms of the Julian or Gregorian calendars (p. 490).

“On the same basis we can fix the absolute date for the fall of Jerusalem as 586 BC. This is based on a clay tablet with precise details that can be translated into terms of our modern-day calendar by the same accurate astronomical tables used for 539.

“The Witnesses must have realised they were skating on thin ice because a few years after the article in the Watchtower they changed their mind: “… the co-relation of astronomical data with human events in the past is subject to various factors and human interpretation, allowing for error (INSIGHT, Vol.1, p.454).

“This means that 539 is not an absolute date and there is no reliable Watchtower chronology!” – The Jehovah’s Witnesses – their Beliefs and Practices, Doug Harris, 1998, pp.25-26

The chronological evidence does not demonstrate the date of 1914, neither does it demonstrate that we are in the end times. However what about the second evidence,

DETERIORATING WORLD CONDITIONS

Many Christians would agree with the statement that observing world conditions we are living in the end times. However, that is not exactly what the article wants to show; it wants to prove that 1914 became the pivotal point and the start of the time of the end.

No evidence is really given in the article, except a quote about World War 1, which proves nothing concerning the entering in to the Biblical End Times. And where does all this lead? A statement that no one knows the day or hour, which seems to be like Cadbury’s saying, you shouldn’t eat chocolate. Just as Cadbury’s has made its money out of chocolate so the Society has built its ‘success’ on dating the end of this system of things!

No dates now but just the statement that, “Jehovah will soon ring down the curtain…” This then means that we must, “…make sure that our zealous deeds in Jehovah’s service always reflects our deep love for him.” Roughly translated this article means, the end is near and so work harder!

Is there any encouragement? Yes, in the last couple of sentences,

“How will you feel as you survey the scene? No doubt you will move to exclaim, ‘I waited a long time for this, but it has been well worth the wait!’ – p.22.

I just wonder if those who are around, that were told the end was 1914 or 1915 or 1925 or 1941 or 1975, will actually feel that.

GUARD AGAINST DECEPTION

Every once in a while the Society publishes an article which, I cannot help but think, is written with tongue in cheek. This (The Watchtower, 15 February, 2004) is one of them. Those who write such articles are surely fully aware that they could be writing about their own Society and yet it is published as though it is for everyone else but not us!

After talking about deception in general, we read,

“Then there is religious deception. The clergy mislead the masses by teaching false doctrines, such as the immortality of the soul, hellfire, and the Trinity. – 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.”

Convincing to those who do not know Biblical doctrine but how sad that an article that talks about religious deception is itself deceiving. The verses they quote in Timothy are regarding those who turn aside to myths. How about the myth that there are only 144,000 in heaven, or that Jesus came back in 1914 (changed from 1874) or that God forbids blood transfusions?

As the title of the article indicates the bulk of the article is teaching how we can guard against being deceived. First they tell us to guard against deception by apostates. In words that could have come from some of the early publications of Reachout Trust, we read,

“What methods do apos
tates use to achieve their aim? They often resort to distortions, half-truths, and outright falsehoods.” – p.16.

Amazing, how they can condemn themselves as apostates in their own magazine. However, for the faithful follower all it will do is ensure they do not speak or have anything to do with such people that may be branded apostate – exactly what the Society want. Indeed, as they go on to say, anyone who would ’cause division’, that is say, something different than the Governing Body says, we avoid whether “in person, in printed form, or on the Internet.” The boundary is drawn and the input of information is limited to the Society alone. There is nothing to check things out with.

However, there is something else we can do to ensure we are guarding ourselves from deception, not only do we steer clear of those that might tell us lies, we “love the organisation that has taught us the precious truths.” Notice we love the organisation, not Jehovah or Jesus. We are to remain loyal to what the organisation says and listen to no one and nothing else, this is true mind control.

After some paragraphs about avoiding self-deception, which boils down to not spending time on most entertainment that is unwholesome but “regularly feed on the Bible and Bible-based publications” (emphasis added), we are then told to “Guard Against Satan’s Lies”. How do we do this? Basically again, listen only to the Organisation and its teachings, rejecting all others.

No wonder it is a hard job to communicate with Jehovah’s Witnesses, they believe we teach satanic doctrines and only want to draw them away from the organisation they are told to love.

However, the answer to the lie is truth and we need to take every opportunity to share truth in love so that the deception they are held in by the Society can be exposed by the work of the Holy Spirit.

WHICH RELIGION?

In The Watchtower, 1 June 2004 we find on p.6 an article entitled, Which Religion Should You Choose? This article begins to deal with the issue of benefits of right association and states that an accurate understanding of the Bible will enable a person to identify the religion that meets divine requirements.

This statement in many magazines would be suicide, but the Society knows that no one is going to check it out.

The requirements they have referred to are found in Psalm 15 and are particularly, walking faultlessly, practising righteousness and speaking truth. We have written a wealth of articles that would show clearly that the Watchtower Society is far from faultless; they certainly have lied and covered up, thus they are not practising righteousness. Many times they have not spoken the truth, even falsifying their own history. Clearly then the Watchtower Society is not the religion to identify with, which I am sure is not the conclusion they wish us to come to.

The article goes on to state that the Watchtower Society has shown it is possible to achieve unity in a disunited world and add that they realise that they cannot dictate their beliefs to others.

Outwardly there does appear to be unity, for the simple reason that if you make it known you disagree, you are thrown out. They do also dictate to their members what to do and as such what we have is not a unity of the spirit, which we see from Ephesians 4, is the true oneness and unity. This is far from the unity that God wants, a willing allegiance; this is of fear, of being kicked out of the Organisation and thus lose any hope of a future life.

I wonder, if given the opportunity, how many Witnesses would disagree with some of the secondary teachings. We know it is true of blood and disfellowshipping because some have been brave enough to come out and say so.

There is also unity on the central issues amongst all true Bible-believing Christians. There are also many more Christians spreading the true gospel than the 6,000,000 or so active publishers of Watchtower material. Indeed we read on one website:

“Evangelical Christianity is the world’s fastest-growing religious movement, researchers said. There are 645 million evangelicals in the world, about 11% of the world’s population, the U.S. Center for World Mission and researchers Patrick Johnstone and David Barrett said. The movement is growing 3.5 times faster than the world population, and Pentecostal and Charismatic churches are growing 4.5 times faster. ‘That makes evangelical Christianity the fastest-growing major religious group and the only movement growing significantly through conversion,’ Johnstone said.”

The Society also claim to be at work in 235 lands but many others are too. For instance Wycliffe Bible Translators have already made God’s Word available to more than 35 million people. They have completed or helped complete the New Testament for people speaking over 578 languages and are currently working in a further 1,246 languages.

So, whether it is the numbers game that should be our benchmark for choosing our religion, or truth of Scriptures, Evangelical Christianity far out performs the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society.

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