This article will give examples of what appear to be revisionist history in Watchtower publications. If true then this is a clear case of the facts being changed to protect the guilty.
1. Faithful andDiscreetSlave
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society book, written to give a clear picture of the history of the organisation, Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom (Proclaimers) appears to blame Mrs Russell for promoting the view that Pastor Russell was the Faithful and Discreet Slave (see pages 142-3, 626, 645).
However, Russell is promoted as such in the Watchtower publication The Finished Mystery, pages 5 and 418. In addition, the 1924 edition of The Divine Plan of the Ages contains a biography of Pastor Russell, which states,
Thousands of the readers of Pastor Russell’s writings believe that he filled the office of ‘that faithful and wise servant’ … His modesty and humility precluded him from openly claiming this title, but he admitted as much in private conversation – p.7.
Is the criticism of Mrs Russell really fair? More importantly, if Pastor Russell died in 1916 believing himself to be the Faithful and Discreet Slave, and accepted as such by the Watchtower Society, how could this be changed? If doctrinal change must come through the FDS, then (1) Pastor Russell needed to resign as FDS from beyond the grave (spiritism), or (2) present-day Jehovah’s Witnesses must point to Rutherford as their modern day founder rather than Russell, or (3) the real Jehovah’s Witnesses are those who remained loyal to Russell’s teachings, who are portrayed in the Proclaimers book as traitors and rebels.
2. League of Nations
Proclaimers, page 708 slams the churches for their attitude to the League of Nations, forgetting what it once said:
We cannot but admire the high principles embodied in the League of Nations… Truly this is idealistic, and approximates in a small way that which God has foretold that he will bring about after this great time of trouble. – The Watchtower, 15 February 1919, p. 51.
Proclaimers, page 141 emphasises the Society’s neutrality on Zionism and all other political matters, in response to enquiries. However, since this has not always been the case, is this really the whole story? The Finished Mystery, on pages 536 and 555 is openly Zionist.
4. Romans 13
The doctrinal change on Romans 13 is given as an example of “the light getting brighter” (Proclaimers pp.146-7). However, this is actually a return to a previously held view (see pp.190 & 264).
5. Jesus’ Return
The doctrine that Jesus returned invisibly in 1874 is discussed in Proclaimers, pp.47 & 133. The uninformed reader would be left with the impression that this was a very short-lived doctrine. In fact, this doctrine was still very much in force after 1914 (see The Finished Mystery, pp. 68-71) and was not totally removed until the early 1940’s.
6. God’s Followers
Much is made of the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses, in the Rutherford era, considered themselves to be God’s followers, not Rutherford’s followers (see Proclaimers, p.220).
It seems this did not apply to the Russell era:
Pastor Russell’s followers persecuted because they tell the people the truth – Proclaimers, p. 69.
All Bible students, followers of Pastor Russell… – The Finished Mystery, p.126.
7. Cross and Crown
No explanation or mention is made of the fact that the ‘Cross and Crown’ symbol on p.200 of Proclaimers is not used by any of Christendom’s religions (as is implied), but is in fact a symbol used by a group of Freemasons. Was Russell actually a Freemason?
8. The Finished Mystery
The Finished Mystery is held up as something of a classic in Proclaimers. Revelation – Its Grand Climax at Hand, describes it as a powerful commentary on Revelation and Ezekiel – p.165.
In fact, much of what it teaches is just plain silly (such as Job 41 and Nahum 2:3-6 are prophecies of the steam locomotive – pages 84-6, 93). It is hard if not impossible to find a page, which is free from teachings which present-day Jehovah’s Witnesses would find laughably nonsensical.
How can this kind of writing be put forward as the literary product of God’s sole ‘Channel of Communication’ on earth today?
9. The Pyramid
Proclaimers, p.201 makes very brief reference to Russell’s interest in the Great Pyramid of Egypt. No mention is made of the fact that this played a significant part in the Society’s writings at that time, occupying a 63-page chapter in Thy Kingdom Come.
No mention is made of the way he used it to prophecy future events on the absurd basis of one inch corresponding to one year. Nor is mention made of the inexplicable way the pyramid grew somewhat between editions (See Thy Kingdom Come p.342 in the 1903 and 1923 editions), despite claims of using a civil engineer to obtain very accurate measurements (p.338).
10. Abandoned Teachings
No mention is made in the Proclaimers book of other embarrassing teachings now abandoned:
God lives on one of the stars of the Pleiades constellation (See Reconciliation, 1928, p.14)
Bans on vaccinations (See Golden Age, 4 February 1931, p.293) and organ transplants (See The Watchtower, 15 November 1967, pp.702-4).
Restrictions on sexual activity within marriage (See The Watchtower, 1 December 1972, pp.734-6).
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses seem completely unaware of these things, and might be highly disillusioned to find this information had been withheld from them.