Most Jehovah’s Witnesses are honest people that want to please God and follow truth, making a large commitment in terms of time and lifestyle. The question remains, are they in “The Truth?”
All religions say they teach truth, and many claim that belonging to their particular organization is essential for salvation. Likewise, the Watchtower Society says they alone teach truth and are the only organization by which a person can receive salvation. Strong emphasis on Bible doctrine is used to “prove” what they teach is correct. Jesus statement at John 13:35 – “By this all will know that YOU are my disciples, if YOU have love among yourselves” – is pointed to, and it can be shown that Jehovah’s Witnesses belong to a loving organisation.
But consider this; most other religions do the same. At least some of the members have an in-depth knowledge of the doctrine, are firmly convinced they have the truth and claim to have proof they are the most loving religion. Many grow at similar rates to the Watchtower Society and are filled with sincere and intelligent people. Therefore, it is not debatable doctrine or subjective measurements of love that prove the Witnesses are the true religion. Using doctrine to determine if the Watchtower teaches truth is tedious and ineffective, particularly if as a Witness you have spent many years subjected to constant indoctrination through repetitive meeting attendance and Watchtower study. As Stephen Hassan, former Moonie, writes in Releasing the Bonds p.145
“It is important to understand that in most Bible-based cults, although the member is aggressively taught doctrine, it is not the doctrine that holds him in the group. It is the sense that the group is God’s true people, a feeling cultivated by techniques of mind control. Thus, to engage the cult member in a Biblical argument or discussion is often futile.”
Though Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they are part of God’s only Spirit-directed Organization, the reality is that they follow what they are told to believe by a group of men, referred to as the Governing Body. Consider:
Up until the 1950’s, Witnesses worshipped Jesus. In 1954, the Watchtower said it was wrong to worship Jesus, so they all stopped worshipping him. Before 1954 a person could be disfellowshipped if they didn’t worship Jesus; after they were disfellowshipped if they did! Bible truth had not changed so either before or after 1954 Jehovah’s Witnesses were not following bible truth. It was not Gods Spirit that created this important discrepancy; it was the leaders of the organization. To be classified as a Jehovahs Witness following truth was not important, following the incorrect teachings of men was. God is a God of truth (Ex 34:6). If this organization was not teaching truth, either before or after the 1950s, then it was not Spirit directed. Its members were not following Gods truth, they were following the untruths of men.
The underlying premise to being a Jehovah’s Witness is that the Watchtower Society is God’s visible organization. Everything hinges around this concept. Prove that the Watchtower Society is God’s Organization and it does not matter if doctrines change or practices are wrong because it must be God’s will to reveal things in his own time. Prove that the Watchtower Society is not God’s Organization and it becomes irrelevant if the doctrines are correct or not. To know whether Jehovah’s Witnesses have the truth only requires being able to prove or disprove this premise. Once this is understood, it becomes easy to test the validity of such a claim.
There are a several things to consider when determining if the Watchtower Society, a corporation started in 1879 in the United States of America, is God’s Organization. To start, it is necessary to understand where the claim comes from.
The Watchtower Society uses the parable of the Faithful and Discreet Slave to justify that a new religion would become prominent in the Last Days. This is referred to at Matthew 24:45-47;
“Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings.
The Watchtower teaches that the Slave is represented by its leaders, its Governing Body.
“Christ thus leads the congregation by means of the spirit-anointed “faithful and discreet slave” and its Governing Body.” Examining the Scriptures Daily 2007 p.34
The parable of an appointed slave is the only Scriptural support the Watchtower Society has that following its Governing Body is a requirement of salvation in the Last Days. However, Matthew 24:45 is a vague parable that does not mention the word Organization, Watchtower, Governing Body or Jehovah’s Witness. In fact the word Organization and term Governing Body never appear in the Bible. For this reason the parable is applied differently by various religions.
The reason a Jehovah’s Witness is supposed to believe the Watchtower Society is God’s only true organization is because they were supplying the right sort of food, the truth, when Jesus inspected the organization in 1919.
“Anointed Christians who survived the testing period of 1914-19 were freed from the dominating influence of the world and from many Babylonish religious practices. The remnant went forward as a cleansed and refined people, willingly offering sacrifices of praise to God and having the assurance that they as a people were acceptable to him.” Watchtower 1998 May 15 p.17
“The serving of food, the right sort of food, at the proper time was the issue. It had to be according to this that a decision must be rendered by the returned master… On inspecting the remnant of his anointed disciples in the year 1919 C.E., the reigning King Jesus Christ did find the appointed slave faithful and discreet in the feeding of his domestics. Accordingly, he appointed this slave class over all his belongings.” Gods Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached pp.350,355
Is this really what Jesus found when he inspected the Watchtower Society in 1919? No, he found promotion of the following teachings:
- The “Last Days” started in 1799 and the 1800s were the worst time period of all history
- That Jesus had begun ruling in 1874
- Armageddon had occurred in 1914
- That the end was going to come in 1925
- That blood was acceptable as food for Christians
- That Jesus should be prayed to and worshipped
- That the Great Crowd were a heavenly class
- That birthdays and Christmas were acceptable celebrations
- The cross was on the cover of the Watchtower
- Many pagan teachings adapted from Freemasons, such as that pyramids and astrology supported 1914
- Strong Zionist support for a new nation of Israel in fulfilment of Bible prophecy
- That the Faithful and Discreet Slave was not the anointed, but rather Pastor Russell
The only significant doctrinal change introduced during this period – that the earthly resurrection would start in 1925 – was a false and embarrassing failure.
Are these teachings the “right sort of food at the proper time”? By current Watchtower truth, the food the Watchtower Society was providing in 1919 was filled with inaccurate prophecy, spiritism, paganism, polytheism, idolatry and political activism. Certainly anyone belonging to such a religion could not be considered one of the anointed. It brings into question if Russell, who had died in 1916, could be in heaven.
Did Jesus go about immediately cleansing his organization between 1914 and 1919? No! The reality is that virtually no teachings or Babylonish practices were changed during this period. All of the above teachings were still being promoted in 1925. In fact, the understanding of 1914 was not changed until 1943 in ”The Truth Shall Make You Free” and the (so called) idolatry of Jesus continued until after 1950. Can you imagine Jesus pronouncing the slave clean and then allowing them to worship the wrong God for the next 30 years?
There is still a religious group that follows Watchtower teachings as they were in 1919 – Bible Students. If Bible Students were found to be spiritually clean in 1919, then Bible Students today must still be considered acceptable to Jehovah. In fact, Bible Students are closer to the 1919 teachings than Jehovah’s Witnesses are. Between 1916 and 1932, with Rutherford’s dramatic and often incorrect overhaul of Russell’s doctrine, around three quarters of all Bible Students separated and formed their own organisations. Bible Students to this day reject the Trinity, immortal soul and hell-fire, and believe we are living in Christ’s presence.
The above information briefly shows that any claim about Jesus choosing the Watchtower Society as his organization in 1919 has no basis. The Watchtower Society carried many false teachings as part of the religion until Rutherford made significant changes in the late 1920s, and has continued changing teachings ever since.
Few people aware of the above information, prior to baptism, convert to being Jehovah’s Witnesses. After leaving, it becomes difficult in time to comprehend how you could ever have been convinced that the Watchtower teaches truth. A small amount of research will uncover that:
- there are other religions with almost identical doctrine to the Watchtower
- there are some that have a far sounder doctrinal foundation
- there are religious groups that display a stronger anti-war stance
- other groups are more effective in their preaching work
- many religions display charity to an extent unheard of amongst the Witnesses
Why is a Witness convinced that no one else worships God? This is due to the effects of constant indoctrination, as described at Mind Control.
When confronted with this information the mind of a Jehovah’s Witness will immediately raise the thought-stopping question “If it is not the truth where else will I go?” and of course they know of no other place. Such a dilemma causes the mind to suffer what is referred to as cognitive dissonance. It is safer mentally to refuse to consider the implications of such inconsistencies of belief than to confront them. If a person confronts these inconsistencies and realises what they believe is wrong, they are faced with accepting that many years of their life may have been spent in pointless pursuits and are left not knowing what to do next.
This is a common dilemma for members of many high control groups. To shut down clear thinking, four thought-stopping concepts, common amongst high control groups, are used. You need to overcome each of these false concepts to see through Watchtower dogma successfully.
Death at Armageddon
Shunning by family
Sadly, the last hurdle is most difficult of all. Fear is so ingrained that for years after leaving, former Witnesses may still suffer panic about dying at Armageddon. Even more real is the pain suffered by shunning from family and friends on leaving the Organization. There is no easy way to avoid this, which is why cognitive dissonance results. With the Watchtower Society no longer stipulating your beliefs in areas as disparate as theology, morals and your view of the historical past, present and future the mind grasps for a new reference point. It parallels very well with the philosophical question posed in the movie The Matrix written by Andy & Larry Wachowski.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. (long pause, sighs) Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.
(In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill.)
Morpheus: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. (a red pill is shown in his other hand) You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. (Long pause; Neo begins to reach for the red pill) Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
For many people it is easier to take the figurative blue pill and think no further as to whether what they believe is truth.
A second premise used by the Watchtower Society is that their light gets brighter. This enables Jehovah’s Witnesses put aside any doubts and allows them to feel that it is unnecessary to deal with any inconsistencies that occurred in the past or are still apparent now. Rather than accept that the many wrong dates and changed teachings indicate the organization is not directed by God, it is explained away as progressive enlightenment. This concept of provisional infallibility, that is; the Watchtower is to be considered the voice of God (w57 6/15 p.370) even though it has regularly been wrong, is illogical when examined but satisfies the minds need for stability.
Viewing the history of Watchtower doctrine, complete with all that was wrong and that has changed back and forth multiple times brings one to the understanding that Holy Spirit does not direct the Watchtower teachings. The same is true in regard to the appointment of brothers as well as the disfellowshipping of wrongdoers, which are also said to be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Since Witnesses are at times appointed to positions of authority whilst engaging in gross sin, it is readily apparent that Holy Spirit is not guiding the Watchtower Organisation in this area either.
Once a person is ready to accept that the Watchtower Society has made significant mistakes, that in 1919 it was not found to be dispensing the proper food and is not an Organisation directed by God’s holy spirit, the questions arise; ”How could I be so sure it was the truth? Aren’t the doctrines correct, or at least isn’t this religion the closest to truth?” To understand why you were so sure, it is interesting to review the article on fear and mind control.
After you realise what you believe about doctrine may not be correct, studying the Bible takes on new light. You will find doctrines you believed without question have quite different meaning. Much doctrine unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses centres around an application to the Watchtower Organization, so when this is seen to have no basis so does the interpretation. This includes a large portion of prophetic understanding and doctrine such as the Great Crowd. Studying objectively, you will quickly see many doctrine are incorrect and understand that;
- By dishonestly adding the word Jehovah to the New Testament, the Society gives false importance to this word.
- Watchtower blood doctrine is unchristian and members needlessly lost their lives for a standard that recently changed when the Society started to allow almost the entire volume of blood to be transfused in fractionated form
- 1914 has no basis as the start of the Last Days
- Disfellowshipping is misapplied and used as a form of manipulation
More damaging spiritually is to notice the number of times that the Organization is implicated in place of Jesus, including that Jesus is not Mediator for the “Other Sheep” of Jehovahs Witnesses, but just for the leaders.
“Likewise, the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, is not the Mediator between Jehovah God and all mankind. He is the Mediator between his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, and the nation of spiritual Israel, which is limited to only 144,000 members. This spiritual nation is like a little flock of Jehovah’s sheeplike ones.” Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace” pp.10-11
It generally takes what Raymond Franz termed a Crisis of Conscience to start seriously wondering whether the religion is really the truth. There are numerous different events that have prompted this first important moment for former Jehovah’s Witnesses. This includes:
- Disfellowshipping of a loved one
- Death of a loved one for refusing blood
- Lack of love in the congregation
- Treatment by a judicial committee
- Appointment of a sinner
- Specific incorrect doctrine or changes such as
- Changing generation teaching
- 607 BCE
- Scandal such as
- Handling of paedophiles
- Watchtower NGO membership to the United Nations
One word of caution. People that come out of one high control group are often attracted to similar groups and can quickly become ensnared in the same situation they have just left. You have plenty of time. There is no need to make a hasty decision in regards to leaving the Watchtower Society or joining another religion.