The Society quit fixing exact dates a few years ago but that does not stop them bringing ambiguous teaching that leads their loyal members to interesting conclusions. An article in this category is foundinThe Watchtower 15 December 2003, pp.14-19. Its title alone, Our Watchfulness Takes on Greater Urgency would lead one to ask, “What has happened that means we now should have greater urgency”?
We are told that:
“To keep on the watch, we must remain alert and vigilant. This require more than simply acknowledging that we are living in the last days, more than recognizing that times are hard. We must have firm conviction that ‘the end of all things has drawn close.”
Here then is the reason for the urgency, no specific date but the end of all things is close.
The article goes on to draw parallels with Noah’s day and we are categorically told that:
“Since he brought an end to the ungodly world of Noah’s day, he will certainly destroy the wicked world of today.”
What will the reader be thinking – the world is going to end in the days in which I live. No specific dates but certainly it is not going to be long. However, there is a clearer indication of when this will be still to come. Talking of the year 2490 BC when Jehovah declared His judgement in Noah’s day, we read:
“Only 120 years more and Jehovah would bring ‘deluge of waters upon the earth….”
Then in the very next paragraph we read:
“Some 90 years have passed since the last days of this system of things began in 1914. We are certainly in ‘the time of the end'”
We have dealt elsewhere with the date of 1914 but just read this as a Jehovah’s Witness would. In Noah’s day it was 120 years; we have now had 90 and so there can only be another 30 years at the most. No dates fixed, everything deniable but no question as to the conclusion a Witness would arrive at.
Much of what is read in this article regarding things in this age compared with the days of Noah is true; the fact that we are in the last days we would not dispute; but the specific timing that is hinted at and then what a Witness must do because of the time is clearly not Biblical teaching. We will look at some of these issues.
“Jehovah has kept these warnings in front of his people by means of timely reminders through the spiritual food provided by ‘the faithful and discreet salve.'”
I presume these are the dates that they have claimed in the past for the end of this system of things that have not come true. Strange that a truthful God would own the lies of this human organisation. Strange too, in these circumstances that they claim sole fulfilment of the message of the Kingdom and allude to the fact that they are the only organisation that God is using today:
“An integral part of the Kingdom message preached earth wide by Jehovah’s Witnesses is the warning that God’s Kingdom will soon remove human rulership.” p.16
“Similarly, as Jehovah’s Witnesses diligently fulfil their commission to preach, the message of God’s Kingdom is being declared worldwide… The Watchtower magazine, announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom, has a circulation of over 25,000,000 and is printed in more than 140 languages.” p.18
The article concludes with the fact that only a few survived in Noah’s day and only a comparatively few will survive in this day. How can I be sure of surviving, well probably not sure, but what must I do to stand a chance? The answer is we must be like Noah who was faultless or blameless. Anyone reading this article want to claim that? This then becomes the problem for every Witness, how can I prove myself faultless and so at least stand a chance? The full answer to that comes in the next article, Prove Yourself ready for Jehovah’s Day – pp.19-24. We will not look at this article now but simply to say that the way the Society tell their members to prove themselves faultless and be ready is to do things, such as get out preaching more.
Herein lays the problem because no one can ever be faultless and the more we do the more we are likely to do things that are not right and the more faults we will have. It misses the fact that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. It was not what he did but what God did for him. How sad that the Witness feels that they must work to their salvation when the Bible shows clearly, whether in Noah’s day or today that is impossible; however, we are to work out our salvation.
This point is underlined again when the final paragraph tells us that Jesus Christ is directing a spiritual building work today so that an, “arklike spiritual paradise exists”. And who or where is it? Although not mentioned by name here, it is in other articles, the inference is clear – the ark is the organisation and you had better be an active part of it in the last days. As the next article concludes:
“Our regularly attending Christian meetings and sharing in preaching the good news are included in the acts and deeds of godly devotion”.
The Watchtower, 15 March 2006, p.26 informs us of the new members of the Governing Body. The ‘exciting news’ had been released back last August and the new appointments took effect from 1 September 2005. This brings the current membership of the Governing Body back to 12 and, we are informed, they are all ‘anointed Christian’. We list them here in alphabetical order:
C.W.Barber; J.E. Barr; S.F.Herd; G.W.Jackson; T.Jaracz; M.S.Lett; G Lösch; A.Morris III; G.H.Pierce; A.D.Schroeder; D.H.Splane; D.Sydlik.
That sub heading can either be taken as the name of the second president of the Watchtower Society or what should be done to his words. The following was an interview carried in 1941 in the “Globe Democrat” newspaper.
The whole article is very interesting, as it shows the thinking of this leader, but we have highlighted some interesting quotes, made at the time, which might not exactly fit in with the modern-day spin given to the history of the Society.
Joseph F. Rutherford, leader of the obedient multitude of Jehovah’s Witnesses here for their national convention, began his career as a “follower of Jesus” in St. Louis 37 years ago, he disclosed to the Globe-Democrat yesterday in the first interview he has given a news-paper-man in three years.
“One night in 1904,” he said, “I wandered into a meeting of 150 Bible students on Grand Avenue and came out so impressed and delighted I returned to Boonville, Mo., where I was practicing law, and formed a Bible study group there.” Six years later, in New York, he became associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses as a lecturer and subsequently travelled every state in the Union and spoke in many large cities in Europe and Asia.
BACK IN CITY
His present five-day visit to St. Louis during the convention is the longest since “that Bible meeting, which was the turning point of my career.”
Although his word is absolute among the more than 500,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in United States, Judge Rutherford objects to being called their leader – “I’m just a follower of Jesus like the others, fighting alongside them” – and prefers to be known only as president of the three corporations which do the Witnesses publishing.
“The many thousands that have come to St. Louis have not come on my account, but only that we together might bear testimony and encourage people who have been mislead and deluded by false doctrines in order that they might see that the theocratic government is the hope and only hope of the human race.” he said.
LAWYER 17 YEARS
“For 17 years I practiced law in the courts of Missouri, including the courts of St. Louis, state and federal. The title “judge” some people still apply to me comes from my service as special judge under the provisions of the Missouri statute. But Christian people are not interested in men, but their interest is centered in the theocratic government and the truth concerning that government is proclaimed by men in all walks of life and one does not stand above the other.
“To me, titles mean nothing.” he laughed. “It doesn’t matter whether I’m called Judge or jackass.” But from the Witnesses Rutherford is accorded a mixture of reverence due a divine agent, and honor and gratitude that would go to a teacher and way-shower.
Conventionites deny they fear for his safety, but the tall, soft-spoken man is guarded with a thoroughness rivaling the Secret Service ring about President Roosevelt. His place of abode in St Louis is a secret which officials preserve with a polite “I don’t know.”
When he arrives at the Arena a double line of husky well-instructed men link arms to shield him. Efficient flying squads block any approach near him in the building, while at least two guard are on duty at each of four landings in the arena stairway leading to the fourth-floor administration offices.
The Judge takes the elevator. Others must walk, explaining their mission four times en route. Few survive the gauntlet. Rutherford said he tries to make himself available to any Witness, but his subordinates explain they are seeking to conserve his strength.
Before and after addresses from the speakers’ platform, the guard is even tighter. He arrives only seconds before he begins to talk and is whisked to an automobile before the concluding applause dies out. The audience is cautioned not to whisper. Ushers have turned back everyone seeking to enter the auditorium with a pop-bottle in his hand. No one not wearing a “convention servant” ribbon is permitted within 50 feet of the platform.
Asked to explain the basic differences between beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religions, Rutherford said: “They are diametrically opposed and therefore can’t be classified together just as you can’t add a man and a house and have two men or two houses. Christianity, as opposed to “christianity” means doing the will of Almighty God. Religion is the doing of anything that is contrary to the will of God.”
NO HUMAN LEADER
Along the same lines, Rutherford explained, Jehovah’s Witnesses could be called neither a sect, cult, church, nor organization. “The first two imply a human leader, which I am not,” he said. “The latter two definitions are improper because our work is an individual mission, individuals serving God in their own way.”
As to the literal interpretation of the Bible he asserted “we simply do what it says and don’t try to twist out interpretations that will serve our agenda. There are no contradictory parts of the Bible. Rutherford was reluctant to talk of international affairs, since he felt an expression of personal opinion might be construed as reflecting of members “who must, in all things”, follow their own consciences.”
“We naturally are neutral in the European crisis,” he said. “Jehovah’s Witnesses are fighters, but not with carnal weapons. It’s truth that makes people free, and we are fighting with truth as our weapon. We couldn’t conscientiously fight for the German, Italian or such governments, since we are devoted to fighting for the theocratic government.
CALLS HITLER CRAZY
“Hitler,” he commented, “Is as crazy as a bedbug. He is under the control of demons as sure as the sun shines, but there isn’t the remotest chance he will succeed in his purpose of dominating the world.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses, as ordained ministers, are exempt under the Selective Service act, he said, and have been specifically covered in an exemption order by Gen. Hershey, Selective Service director.
Rutherford, often rumored to be wealthy since he took up residence in “Bethsarim,” $75,000 mansion near San Diego, Cal., laughed at a question pertaining to his personal income.
“If I died tomorrow,” he said “I wouldn’t have money enough to buy a coffin. I imagine though, I would depend on the society buying me one. I haven’t showed a net personal profit in anything all my life.”
NO COLLECTION TAKEN
Collections are never taken among Jehovah’s Witnesses, he added, and they never ask for money.
“As the scriptures declare, all the wealth belongs to Almighty God,” Rutherford declared. “We are engaged in His work and He sees to it that
a sufficient amount of money is provided to carry on the work. He does not beg nor do His faithful followers.
“Every one of Jehovah’s Witnesses serves freely and without hire. Every person attending this convention, who is able, pays his own expenses and if he has a little surplus he joyfully gives that to help pay for the expenses of the poor, and here we are feeding many poor people free of charge.”
He declined to disclose the society’s income from literature on the ground that the “religions never submit a public statement on theirs.”
The California mansion, he went on, is not his property. “It was bought and is owned by the Watchtower Society,” he added. “I have no property myself. Even the copyrights from my books and pamphlets are held by the Society.
“I occupy Bethsarim only by virtue of being president of the society, and succeeding presidents will be entitled to do the same.”
Judge Rutherford at one point elaborated on references many convention speakers had made to the end of the world being near. Asked for a date prediction and probable first manifestations of destruction of the world, he said:
“It isn’t wise to try to fix biblical prophesies to a calendar *, but there are certain upheavals in civilization predicted in the Bible after which the final stage then will begin. The word “then” is not amplified, but there are many indications the trend toward Armageddon began in 1914. Coincidentally, that marked the beginning of Hitler’s evil career.
“The earth will not be destroyed physically. There will always be an earth and there will always be men on it because God put them there. It simply means the triumph of Christ’s will over evil. The destruction will be a displacement of evil in the same way that light displaces or dissipates darkness.
Judge Rutherford’s quiet voice and friendly manner is wholly unexpected in view of the unquestioning promptness with which he is obeyed by subordinate officials. As Rutherford’s spokesmen, the commands of his subordinates are likewise law to members.
Their obedience is astounding. At one night session the chairman inside the Arena announced over the loudspeaker the Arena grounds were badly littered with the refuge of a thousand tincan meals and beds made of newspapers. He requested it be cleaned up. Instantly every person within hearing sprang into action and the debris vanished in seconds.
In the lobby of the Arena, during speeches, booth attendants growl a firm “Be quiet,” if any stranger has the effrontery to interrupt their listening. Throughout the convention, no smoking has been permitted.
* This is interesting in the light of the book Children released at this time talked of the remaining months to Armageddon!