The new view that the eight members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave” was published in The Watchtower of 2013.
Chapter 2 in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, shows that Matthew 24:45-47 is completely misunderstood. There is no group during Christ’s presence that is scripturally authorized to function as an entity called “the faithful and discreet slave” who gives spiritual food to Jehovah’s servants. The words of Luke 12:35-44 show that Matthew 24:45-47 is not a prophecy but an illustration that asks which individual Christians will ultimately turn out to be “faithful and discreet” when Jesus comes in the great tribulation to judge the earth.
In short, Jesus’ illustrative question about the faithful and discreet slave can be summarized as follows: ‘Who ultimately is the faithful and discreet slave of God? Why, the one found to be so when Jesus comes during the great tribulation.’ Like all the other illustrations in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, the expression ‘faithful and discreet’ is not a title given to a small elite group, but will be Jesus’ final assessment of all faithful Christians when he comes at that future time. Any of such ones who turn out to be unfaithful when Jesus comes will be declared an “evil slave”. The Governing Body acknowledges that the “evil slave” is not a specific group. In keeping with that, I have presented compelling scriptural evidence in chapter 2 of my book that neither is the “faithful and discreet slave” a specific group.
The Watchtower of February 2017 presents evidence in favor of the new view. I will now study this evidence carefully. Three lines of evidence are used to prove that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave”: Reliance of God’s Word, Evidence of holy spirit, and Evidence of angelic assistance.
The following disclaimer was included in that article: “The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction.” Because the Witnesses, without evidence, believe that everything the members of the Governing Body say and write comes from God, the disclaimer has the opposite function of what it should have. It gives the members of the Governing Body an alibi to change their interpretation of a Bible subject whenever they deem it fit.
When a new interpretation is presented, most Witnesses accept it without question. When this interpretation is changed to a newer interpretation, most Witnesses will likewise accept it without question. How do the Witnesses account for this obvious incongruous pattern of thinking and action? Why, it is because of the mentioned alibi that has been firmly embedded in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses that the members of the Governing Body are not inspired, and the light becomes brighter over time. In keeping with this paradigm, the Witnesses have even coined an expression that designates the most current interpretations of the Governing Body as “present truth.” This unquestionably confirms that Jehovah’s Witnesses view all previous interpretations of the Governing Body, including the ones now proven to be wrong, as “truth” in some sense, i.e., ‘past truth’ (See Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!, page 8). Of course, in reality, these are ‘past wrongs,’ on the part of the Governing Body, that the mind of the average Witness does not register or has been conditioned not to acknowledge.
In the section discussing “reliance on God’s Word,” the argument is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only denomination that disfellowships persons who use tobacco. This is taken as evidence of the Governing Body’s reliance on God’s Word. But because tobacco is not mentioned in the Bible, this example shows the very opposite of reliance of God’s Word. I also show that the members of the Governing Body do not fully rely on God’s Word because they reject the full inspiration of the Bible, they use allegorical interpretations of the Bible text, and they do not believe that the nuances and subtleties of the original text have much importance. Because of this new view, the members of the Governing Body tend to interpret the Bible, not in terms of what Jehovah strictly meant the text to convey, but rather, in terms of what the Bible text happens to remind the members of the Governing Body of when they read it.
The claim of the Governing Body is that the list of “clarification of beliefs” in the Online Publication Index is evidence that the holy spirit is helping them come up with these clarifications. I show that the new viewpoints in this list are “a clouding of beliefs” rather than “a clarification of beliefs” because a great number of the so-called “clarifications” are wrong or questionable.
Four of the important “clarifications” are discussed. I show that the acceptance of civil service as an alternative to military service in 1996 is a compromise that in principle rejects the position of Christians as ambassadors for Christ. I show that the new law of 2000, that it is not scripturally allowed to store one’s own blood before an operation, has no Bible basis and can create great problems for sick Witnesses. I show that “the meaning of the name Jehovah” in the appendix of NWT13 is very misleading and that those who wrote the appendix had little knowledge of Classical Hebrew. Lastly, I show that the arguments from 2014 that the Jews in the days of Jesus most likely could not calculate the 70 weeks mentioned in Daniel chapter 9 are not tenable.
Regarding the “clarification” of prophecies, I argue that a great number of the new viewpoints are less convincing than the old views. There are good arguments in favor of the old view that the separation of the “sheep” and the “goats” occurs during Christ’s presence and does not relate to the great tribulation. The new view that Gog of Magog is not Satan but a coalition of nations is based on an intermingling of literal and symbolic language, which is a bad approach. There is no evidence that the prophecy about the man with the secretary’s inkhorn is fulfilled in the great tribulation. I show that the new view of the locust plague mentioned by the prophet Joel includes several wrong conclusions. The application of the prophecy of the king of the north in Daniel 11:26 is based on the wrong translation of this verse by NWT13. If the Governing Body’s current interpretation were applied to the correct translation of this verse, the German Empire would be the victor of World War II, and it would have been a false prophecy.
THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE WORDS ABOUT “THE FAITHFUL AND DISCREET SLAVE”
The new view that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave” was published in The Watchtower of 2013.
Chapter 2 in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, has a detailed discussion of what Matthew 24:45-47 and Luke 12:35-44 say about “the faithful and discreet slave/steward.” The context of Luke chapter 12 shows that the words about “the faithful and discreet slave/steward” represent an illustration and are not a prophecy with a particular fulfillment during Christ’s presence.
The duty of a slave, who was a householder, was to give literal food to his fellow slaves. Jesus uses such a situation as an illustration in connection with the great tribulation when he comes as the judge. The illustration both in Matthew 24 and Luke 12 points to the time when Jesus “comes” in the great tribulation and not to his presence.
When the great tribulation starts, which individuals will prove to be like a faithful and discreet slave who gives his fellow slaves food at the proper time? These individuals will survive the great tribulation. The point of Jesus’ illustration about “the faithful and discreet slave” is similar to that of his other illustrations about the anointed in Matthew chapter 25. A brief comparison of these parables can help us better understand Jesus’ intended meaning regarding “the faithful and discreet slave” illustration.
For example, in his parable about the “ten virgins,” Jesus said that five of them were foolish and five were “discreet” (Matthew 25:2). In so doing, was Jesus uttering a prophecy that there would be an elite group of anointed Christians called “the discreet five” and an evil slave group called “the foolish five”? Of course not. Even the Governing Body acknowledges that this is not a prophecy pointing to the existence of a specific group. The members of the Governing Body also believe that the details of the illustration relating to the lamps, the oil, the setting of a wedding, a virgin bridal party, and the implications of a bride are simply natural elements of the illustration. These details are merely a part of the context of the illustration itself but are not intended to be assigned concrete meanings or matched with specific counterparts in real life. So, the Governing Body rightly cautions Bible readers not to read too much into the details of the illustration. The point of Jesus’ parable, they say, was to remind anointed Christians that they have the 50/50 option, or equal opportunity, to choose to be either ‘discreet’ or ‘spiritually foolish.’ Lastly, the Governing Body has concluded that the timing of the illustration corresponds to Jesus’ coming to assess anointed Christians during the great tribulation. Therefore, the illustration of the “ten virgins” in effect asks, ‘Who will ultimately prove to be ‘faithful and discreet’ when Jesus comes during the great tribulation?’
Likewise with the parable of the “talents,” certain slaves who were in charge of the master’s finances are given talents to ‘do business’ with in order to increase the master’s belongings. Again, the Governing Body rightly cautions readers not to attempt to link the slave who was given the five talents with any particular group within the anointed collective. And what does it mean that the slaves ‘do business’ with the talents? While the implications are clear that they are to increase the master’s spiritual belongings, Jesus did not intend for readers to assign a concrete meaning to the expression ‘doing business’. The Governing Body agrees that the detailed elements of the illustration are beside the point—the takeaway of the parable, they say, is that “the anointed would need to be diligent in carrying out their Christian responsibilities.” I agree. The illustration concludes by saying that when the master returns during the great tribulation, he will assess all anointed Christians. And those who are found to be diligently fulfilling their responsibilities at that time will be pronounced “good and faithful” slaves (Matt. 25:19, 21, 23).
What do we discern when we compare these three illustrations in Matthew chapters 24 and 25? That they are all related and follow a similar pattern and meaning. First, it is important to keep in mind that none of these illustrations are prophecies foretelling what individual Christians, or groups of Christians, will be doing during Christ’s presence. All three illustrations imply an open-ended question about the ‘faithfulness’ of anointed Christians at the time Jesus comes during the great tribulation, and it is up to each individual Christian to provide the answer to that question by his or her chosen course of action at that future time. We also note that in each illustration, the detailed occupations of the slaves, as well as other elements, do not have concrete applications. These include the “discreet virgins,” the lamps, the oil, the bridal procession, the talents, doing business, the bankers, and the potential interest the bankers could provide. The point of the illustrations, says the Governing Body, is not to focus on matching these details to concrete realities; they are simply elements inherent in the illustrations. For example, the virgin companions of a bride, in Bible times, carried literal lamps and oil for their lamps and carried on in the manner Jesus described in the parable. Similarly, financial stewards, or slaves, were given actual talents to care for the financial property of their masters, and they did business on their master’s behalf.
Likewise, in the illustration of “the faithful and discreet slave,” a household steward, or manager, was assigned to provide ‘food to other slaves at the proper time,’ i.e., the time predetermined by the master. However, the steward’s job to apportion literal food to the other slaves was not the focus of Jesus’ illustration. That the steward faithfully carried out his assigned responsibility was Jesus’ point. Jesus did not intend for us to fixate on trying to find a correspondence to the steward’s job of ‘providing food,’ any more than we would try to assign a concrete meaning to the financial steward’s job of ‘doing business’ with the talents—their specific jobs are beside the point. Therefore, we should not try to assign prophetic meaning to these details. The point of all three of Jesus’ illustrations, including the one about “the faithful and discreet slave,” boils down to this: Who will be found faithfully carrying out their Christian responsibilities when Jesus returns at the time of the great tribulation? Whoever does will be rewarded at that time. (For a more detailed explanation, please see chapter 2 of my book referenced above).
So, the expression “the faithful and discreet slave” does not point to one particular person or persons. There is no predetermined person or group that fulfills this role as if it were an actual prophecy, and so there is no spiritual food that such a person or group is distributing.
The focus of this study is to analyze the arguments that the nine members of the Governing Body use to prove that they are “the faithful and discreet slave.” Below are the three basic arguments quoted from The Watchtower of February (study edition) 2017, page 26:
“WHO REALLY IS THE FAITHFUL AND DISCREET SLAVE?”
12 The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction. In fact, the Watch Tower Publications Index includes the heading “Beliefs Clarified,” which lists adjustments in our Scriptural understanding since 1870. Of course, Jesus did not tell us that his faithful slave would produce perfect spiritual food. So how can we answer Jesus’ question: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave?” (Matt. 24:45) What evidence is there that the Governing Body is filling that role? Let us consider the same three factors that directed the governing body in the first century.
13 Evidence of holy spirit. The holy spirit has helped the Governing Body to grasp Scriptural truths not previously understood. For example, reflect on the list of beliefs clarified that was referred to in the preceding paragraph. Surely, no human deserves credit for discovering and explaining these “deep things of God”! (Read 1 Corinthians 2:10.) The Governing Body echoes the apostle Paul, who wrote: “These things we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:13) After centuries of apostasy and spiritual darkness, can anything other than holy spirit explain the rapid increase in spiritual understanding since 1919?
14 Evidence of angelic assistance. The Governing Body today has the colossal task of overseeing an international preaching work involving over eight million evangelizers. Why has that work been so successful? For one, angels are involved. (Read Revelation 14:6, 7.)In many cases, publishers have called on individuals who had just been praying for help! The overall growth of the preaching and disciple-making work despite fierce opposition in some lands has likewise been possible only with superhuman assistance.
15 Reliance on God’s Word. (Read John 17:17) Consider what occurred in 1973. The June 1 issue of The Watchtower asked the question: “Do . . . persons who have not broken their addiction to tobacco qualify for baptism?” The answer was: “The Scriptural evidence points to the conclusion that they do not.” After citing several relevant scriptures, The Watchtower explained why an unrepentant smoker should be disfellowshipped. (1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Cor. 7:1) It said: “This represents no effort to act in an arbitrary, dictatorial manner. The strictness really proceeds from God, who expresses himself through his written Word.” Has any other religious organization been willing to rely fully on God’s Word, even when doing so presents a real challenge to some of its members? A recent book on religion in the United States notes: “Christian leaders have regularly revised their teachings to match the beliefs and opinions gaining support among their members and in the larger society.” If those of the Governing Body allow God’s Word rather than popular opinion to guide their decisions, who is really leading God’s people today?
THE MEANING OF THE DISCLAIMER
Paragraph 12 above says that the Governing Body is not inspired or infallible and can err both in doctrinal and organizational matters. What does this disclaimer mean? The paragraph refers to the entry “Beliefs clarified” in the Watchtower Publication Index. During the 119 years between 1870 and 1989, I count 107 examples of clarified beliefs, and during the 30 years from 1990 to 2020, I count 96 examples of “clarified beliefs.” This shows that the members of the Governing Body have been much busier in their search for new understandings in the last 30 years compared with the previous 119 years.
The disclaimer serves an important purpose for the Governing Body because it gives them the right to change their interpretation of a biblical scripture or an organizational procedure when they deem it fit. What would be the answer of different Witnesses if I showed them the 96 examples of changed beliefs during the last 30 years and asked if they agreed with the changes? I am quite certain that at least 999 out of 1,000 would say that they agreed. But as I will show below, a great number of these 96 “clarified beliefs” are in reality “clouded beliefs” because they do not really have biblical backing.
In connection with the extreme loyalty of individual Witnesses to the Governing Body, we can see the real meaning of the disclaimer. When the Governing Body makes an interpretation and publishes this interpretation in the Watchtower literature, every Witness believes that this is the truth; this is spiritual food served at the right time; this is something the spirit of God has led the Governing Body to discover. And if the members of the Governing Body change their minds and present a new interpretation, this is now the new light, the new food at the proper time that comes from Jehovah.
This means that in spite of the words of the disclaimer that ostensibly cautions the Witnesses to ‘carefully scrutinize’ the interpretations of the Governing Body and ask for evidence that these interpretations are correct, the very opposite has resulted (Acts 17:11). That a new Governing Body interpretation could possibly be in error is out of the question. It is first when this new interpretation is replaced by a newer interpretation that the Witnesses recognize that the previous interpretation was erroneous, or rather “old truth.” So, for all practical purposes, the members of the Governing Body function as inspired prophets, and everything they say, write, and do, is led by Jehovah. This is what we could call “pseudo-inspiration,” and strangely enough, the words of the disclaimer paradoxically serve to support, instead of qualify, their position as prophets.
. Examples of pseudo-inspiration are discussed in my article, “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”
In the days when C.T. Russell, J, F. Rutherford, and N.H. Knorr were presidents of the Watchtower Society, the same disclaimer was used. It was important to stress that no Witness was inspired by God. And when I consider the time when Knorr was the president, when I have firsthand experience, there were two differences compared with the present view of the disclaimer.
At that time, the readers of The Watchtower were admonished to do as the people of Beroea, as we read in Acts 17:11:
Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica. for they accepted the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
The Witnesses were admonished to accept the conclusions of the magazine “with the greatest eagerness of mind.” But the readers were also admonished “to carefully examine the Scriptures daily to see whether the things were so.” Some articles pointed out that the Witnesses had learned the truth with the help of The Watchtower literature, so it was only natural and right to expect that this literature would continue to contain the truth also in the future. But the readers had to accept everything with the Bible.
One difference compared with the present situation is that there were a lot of articles with deep biblical arguments that proved the conclusions that were drawn. And we, as Witnesses, were educated to do interactive Bible study. Today, most articles are superficial, with almost no articles with deep biblical analyses, and interactive Bible study. So, when the Governing Body presents “new light,” every Witness is given no other option but to accept it on the basis of the authority of the Governing Body and not on the basis of deep biblical analyses.
The other difference is that “the faithful and discreet slave” was viewed as all the anointed brothers and sisters on the earth. No names were included, and no particular persons were focused upon as famous personalities. The brothers who took the lead in the organization, including N.H. Knorr and F.W. Franz, had a low profile and kept themselves in the background. Today the members of the Governing Body are regularly seen on TV at JW Broadcasting and there is a great focus on these as members of “the faithful and discreet slave.” And the names of these men who are supposedly appointed by God to “give food at the proper time” are regularly on the lips of millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide.
|After World War II, the brothers were educated in interactive Bible study, and The Watchtower presented solid evidence that could be checked for its conclusions. In the 21st century, interactive Bible study is no longer encouraged, and the new viewpoints of the members of the Governing Body must be accepted solely on the basis of their authority, and not because of solid scriptural evidence.
After World War II, “the faithful and discreet slave” was viewed as all the anointed brothers and sisters. The leaders of the organization kept a low profile in the background. In the 21st century, the nine members of the Governing Body are believed to be “the faithful and discreet slave.” They keep a high profile in the foreground, and for all practical purposes, they function as inspired prophets.
. A discussion of how the brothers and sisters were educated to do interactive Bible study is found in my book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 320-329.
EXCURSUS ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INSPIRATION AND DIRECTION
The Watchtower of October 1, 1994, page 8, comments on how sincere persons can learn the truth about God:
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians discusses God’s sacred secret, which refers to Jesus Christ and the purpose of God that was connected with Jesus. Included in the sacred secret was:
The Watchtower of September 15, 1971, page 569, commented on the sacred secret, and we read:
How God would solve all the problems Satan had created was a sacred secret for four thousand years. In the first century CE the sacred secret was revealed: Jesus came to the earth and he formed a congregation of anointed Christians. By this, God’s “greatly diversified wisdom” was revealed.
Thus, the words in Ephesians 3:10, 11, that are quoted to show that the truth can only be “known through Jehovah’s channel of communication,” do not mean that the anointed members of the congregation were the oracles of such truths, channeling it out to the world by their preaching. But they show that God’s wisdom was seen, or revealed, through his dealings with the congregation of anointed Christians in the first century CE.
Because the congregation of anointed Christians still exists, Paul’s words also imply that God’s wisdom will be made known through his continued dealings with this congregation today. Therefore, when The Watchtower of 1994 says that the understanding of the Bible can only be achieved through “Jehovah’s channel of communication,” this has a clear basis in the Bible.
In 1994, the understanding was that “the faithful and discreet slave” consisted of all the anointed Christians on the earth, men and women. And Jehovah’s channel was identical to the slave. In chapter 2 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, I show that the words about “the slave” are misunderstood. The words are not a designation or title bestowed upon a small elite group during Christ’s presence but refer to all Christians who are like faithful slaves when Jesus comes as the judge in the great tribulation. The expression “the faithful and discreet slave” as a title should therefore be deleted from the Witnesses’ spiritual vocabulary, and “Jehovah’s channel of communication” should be indirectly connected with the entire congregation of Christians today without mentioning any “slave.”
An important concept to grasp at this point is that “Jehovah’s channel of communication” is not a small group of men, nor is it the anointed congregation by itself. As shown in the Watchtower references quoted above, this channel of communication involves Jehovah’s “administration” or managerial procedure in advancing his purpose—his ways of going about it. We can think of Jehovah’s channel of communication, not as a human conduit per se, but as his method for communicating his truths. In other words, Jehovah himself is the primary part of this channel inasmuch as truths are only revealed by means of “his dealings . . . with the Christian congregation”. Therefore, we should not think of God’s channel of communication as a group of humans who, acting as a conduit, receive inspired messages from God and then ‘channel’ these messages to others. Jehovah’s channel, or method, of communication, includes himself and involves the various ways in which he interacts with the Christian congregation to facilitate the uncovering of certain truths—that “apparatus” is the channel. Since the inception of the Christian congregation in the first century CE, God has done this in two basic ways, through inspiration and direction.
. A detailed analysis of the concept of “channel of communication” is found in the article, “God’s administration — his channel of communication,” in the category, “The Governing Body.”
The important issue now is how God’s channel of communication communicates the truth. And to understand that, we must see the difference between inspiration and direction. My book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, pages 108 -110 has a discussion of this issue, and I present this discussion below.
. Regarding the district assembly in 1974, The Watchtower of October 15, 1974, page 636, says: “This year the striking subject was “Human Plans Failing as God’s Purpose Succeeds.” It focused attention on the Bible passage at Ephesians 1:10, which speaks of God’s “administration at the full limit of the appointed times” for the blessing of mankind. What is this “administration”? “The term ‘administration’ does not mean the Messianic kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ,” the speaker emphasized. No, rather, it refers to God’s way of administering or managing things, his procedure in handling matters with a view to producing unity. The instrument God uses in his “administration” or management of things, it was shown, is the kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ.” (the author’s italics) His “channel of communication” is his “administration,” his way of administering the truth about his purpose. See also “The Watchtower of October 15, 1974, pages 611-631.
Inspiration and direction in the first century CE
“In the book of Acts, we see how the spirit both used inspiration and direction. The word “inspiration” means that the spirit directly gave information to a servant of God, whereas “direction” means that the spirit maneuvered a situation in a particular direction, where a spiritually-minded servant of God had to draw a particular conclusion. Very good examples of inspiration and direction are seen in Acts chapter 10. Until this time, only Jews and Samaritans had become a part of God’s people. But now, it was Jehovah’s time for people of the nations to also become a part. Peter was the one who should introduce this new procedure. Let us now study Acts chapter 10 and learn how Jehovah used his channel of communication to reveal truths and move forward his purpose in connection with the people of the nations.
An angel spoke to the army officer in a vision and told him to send some men to Joppa to Simon Peter (vv. 1–6). This was an example of divine inspiration—direct and specific information from God. The next day Peter fell into a trance, and three times he saw a vessel with unclean animals coming down to the earth. Peter was asked to eat the “unclean” animals. But he refused because this was against the law of Moses (vv. 9–16). This vision was also by means of divine inspiration.
While Peter was contemplating the meaning of the vision, three men of the nations approached him. This was a strange situation for Peter because no person of the nations had yet become a part of the Christian community. There was no cooperation between the Jews and the nations, so naturally, Peter would have refused to have anything to do with these men. However, the spirit, which could refer to an angel, told Peter to go with the men (vv. 19, 20). This again was a case of inspiration, and inspiration was necessary in this case because Peter would never have had anything to do with people of the nations (v. 28). Only because he was directly told to go with these men did he do so. Then he came to the house of Cornelius, and because of the vision of the vessel with the “unclean” animals, Peter drew the only conclusion a spiritually-minded Christian could draw: Apparently God wanted him to enter the house of these people of the nations (vv. 23–28). However, this was not a case of inspiration directly telling Peter what to do; this was direction because the spirit had maneuvered the situation in a way to help Peter draw the right conclusion.
But now an embarrassing situation arose. Cornelius told Peter about the angel and his vision, and then he said: “And now all of us are in front of God who is present, to hear all the things you have been instructed by Jehovah to say” (v. 33). And yet, Peter had not received any instructions from Jehovah as to what he should say when this moment arrived. But because of the whole situation, the visions that both he and Cornelius had seen, and the angels who had spoken to both of them, he drew the only conclusion a spiritually-minded servant of God could draw: ‘Jehovah has directed me to preach the good news about the Kingdom to these people of the nations,’ and so he did (vv. 34–43). This was direction because the spirit had maneuvered the situation in a way that would help Peter draw the right conclusion. We must remember that what Peter did—entering the house of persons of the nations and preaching to them—was unprecedented because it had never been done before. Then, while Peter was speaking, the holy spirit fell upon those hearing Peter’s speech, and they were speaking in tongues (vv. 44–46). This was inspiration. And how did Peter react? He drew the only conclusion a spiritually-minded servant of God could draw: Because these people had received the holy spirit, they should be baptized (vv. 47, 48). This was direction, and the baptism of people of the nations was also unprecedented.
We see in this account that the spirit, by four examples of inspiration, maneuvered the situation, so Peter three times was directed to draw particular conclusions. By this, people of the nations for the first time became members of “the people of God.”
Direction from God in our time
The Bible students and Jehovah’s Witnesses have never claimed to be inspired by God and receive messages from him. Such a claim would have been a rejection of the Bible as the only authority for the Christian faith because we would then have to believe that the humans who claimed to receive messages from God told the truth.
This means that the communication of the truth today must solely be based on direction and no longer on inspiration. In connection with Peter, God used different kinds of inspiration to help Peter to draw the right conclusions and by this be directed by God. But what does God use today instead of inspiration in order to direct his people? Today, Jehovah uses direction from his word the Bible, and by maneuvering situations as he deems fit to move his purpose forward. The important point is that God can maneuver matters in harmony with his will by directly making something happen, or by indirectly allowing something to happen. Then, when his servants on earth catch sight of what has happened, the spiritually-minded servants of God use “insight” to draw the right conclusion from what they see (Daniel 11:33, 35). Let us look at the practical side of this.
The truth about God’s purpose started to be understood in the 1870s. But what was the basis for this?
In the 1870s, God had caused the Bible to be available in the English language and other languages. C.T. Russell had for a long time tried to find the truth about God, and he realized that only a systematic study of the Bible could lead to this truth. Just by reading the Bible, Russel and his friends learned some basic principles: The Bible is inspired by God, every account is included with a particular purpose, and all the nuances and subtleties are important. They also learned that every doctrine must accord with God’s attributes, his love, his righteousness and justice, his power, and his wisdom. Closely adhering to these tenets is the basis for having clear direction by God. Deviate from any of these, and the direction becomes cloudy and unclear, and more a matter of guesswork or fiction.
Russell and several friends started a systematic study of the whole Bible based on this basic foundation, and so this group was granted to gradually understand the basic Christian doctrines. The different Christian religions at that time had creeds with human traditions and wrong doctrines, and these were ignored by Russel’s group. They only followed the aforementioned principles in their study, and therefore they were able to understand many of the basic Christian doctrines that the members of other denominations did not grasp.
In Matthew 11:25, Jesus says:
And Daniel 12:9 says:
The meaning of the text of the Bible was purposely hidden by God, and it should first be understood in the time of the end. This shows that even the group around Russell, who were sincere truth-seekers, and who studied the Bible based on the aforementioned principles, could not just read the Bible and understand everything in it. A systematic Bible study would help them to understand some of the basic Christian doctrines. But in order to understand the details of God’s purpose, they would also need God’s direction.
So, the question is how did God direct this small group of Bible students. As I have shown in connection with Peter, God maneuvered things and made certain things visible for Peter so he could draw the right conclusion. God can also make visible to his servants things that others have done, such as events in world history, and on this basis, they are directed to draw the right conclusions.
One example of direction is the Bible translation The Emphatic Diaglott that was translated by Benjamin Wilson in 1864. In Matthew 24:3, this translation uses the English word “presence” for the Greek word parousia. The attention of Russell and the other Bible students was directed toward this translation. This led to a detailed study of the word parousia, which in turn led to the conclusion that Jesus would have an invisible “presence” and not a visible coming.
Did God use direction in connection with Wilson? We cannot know the answer to that question. But in any case, the Bible students somehow caught sight of this new translation, and this led them to discover something profound, the very important doctrine of Christ’s presence.
When the Bible students spoke with others about their faith, the focus was on the hope of reigning with Jesus in heaven. However, they also realized that the Bible promised that the earthly paradise would be restored. But precisely who would live in this paradise was unclear.
Revelation 7:9-17 mentions a great crowd standing before the throne. For a long time, God’s anointed servants had asked the question that we find in Revelation 7:13 (NWT13): “These who are dressed in white robes, who are they, and where did they come from?” The view at that time was that the great crowd was a secondary heavenly class.
In 1923, The Watchtower discussed the illustration of the “sheep” and the “goats” in Matthew 25:31-46, and it was argued that the “sheep” were separated from the goats at present and that the “sheep” would live in the paradise earth. While the heavenly calling was still the focus, several articles in The Watchtower spoke about the earthly hope as well. And in the 12 years after 1923, more and more servants of God spoke about the coming paradise on this earth.
And in 1935, at the assembly in Washington D.C., a great number expressed that they looked forward to life in the paradise earth; 840 persons were baptized at this assembly, most of whom expressed these earthly sentiments. This means that Jehovah had answered the question of the anointed servants of God. He had directed the attention of his anointed servants toward these persons with an earthly hope. And when all these with an earthly hope appeared, the anointed servants drew the only possible conclusion they could: Here is the great crowd! This was a clear example of God’s direction.
Around the beginning of the 20th century, several new Greek non-biblical manuscripts were discovered. On the basis of these manuscripts, several new meanings and references of Greek words appeared. In the day of Russell, the Bible Students read the words of John 5:28 (King James Version) that “all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.” The Bible Students took these words at face value and believed that all humans who have lived on earth would get a resurrection.
However, the attention of God’s anointed servants was now directed toward the Greek word mnemeion, which was translated by the English word “graves” at John 5:28 in KJV. They understood now that “all that are in the graves” does not refer to all the graves in the whole world. The Greek word for “graves” (mnemeion) has an inherent qualifier; it refers to a particular kind of grave or tomb, to the memorial tombs. This led to the understanding that only those in the memorial tombs will get a resurrection, and those who are in Gehenna will be gone forever. Here we again can see Jehovah’s direction.
God’s direction can also be that he fulfills his prophecies, and his spiritually-minded servants observe and recognize that fact. One example is the prophecy of Revelation 17:3, 7-11. Seven kings or world powers are mentioned. God’s direction is seen in two areas. Daniel chapters 7 and 8 describe different world powers. By studying these chapters, the identity of the seven kings can be understood. So, one aspect of God’s direction here is that one part of the Bible interprets another part.
When John wrote Revelation, the five world powers, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Greece, had fallen. John says that “one is [in existence],” which was the Roman Empire in John’s day. One king “has not yet arrived,” and this would be the Anglo-American Empire. After these, the wild beast, which is an eight king that “springs from the seven,” will arrive.
After World War I, the Bible students identified The League of Nations as the eighth-king wild beast. This wild beast “was and is not, yet it is about to ascend out of the abyss.” How would that occur? During World War II, the League of Nations “wild beast” was in the abyss because it no longer functioned. But after the war, it ascended out of the abyss as The United Nations.
When this happened, the prophecy had been fulfilled, and this represented the second aspect of God’s direction in this matter. By seeing the fulfillment of the prophecy, God’s spiritually-minded servants were directed by God to understand the prophecy.
It is also interesting to see that, because the prophecy of the seven kings and the eighth one was clearly understood, God’s servants had anticipated this fulfillment. In the lecture “Peace can it Last” at the New World Theocratic Assembly in 1942, N.H. Knorr pointed out that the war, then in progress, would end with a period of peace following, and the League of Nations would come to life again. True to that prediction, it descended from the abyss as The United Nations. When Knorr spoke correctly about the future, he was not inspired. But he followed Jehovah’s direction about the fulfillment of his prophecies.
In 1965, a new milestone in the understanding of the resurrection was reached, evidently under the direction of God. There may have been many questions about the resurrection that were sent to headquarters, or another reason why the leading brothers saw the need for a thorough study of all the passages in the Bible that directly or indirectly related to the resurrection.
The result of this study was 12 articles in The Watchtower that discussed all the different sides of the resurrection. These articles stressed the love and wisdom of Jehovah because the thrilling understanding was that most of the persons who had lived on the earth would get a resurrection, including inhabitants of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida, who had rejected the preaching of Jesus, as well as inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Watchtower March 15, 1965, page 178, 179, says:
God’s direction was that the leading brothers were in some way persuaded of the need to embark on a thorough study of the resurrection. And the spiritual-minded anointed servants drew the only possible conclusion from what they found in God’s word regarding the resurrection. There are also a great number of other examples of God’s direction in our time.
Supposed direction from God in our time
I have mentioned several situations where God’s direction was clearly seen. However, there have also been situations where anointed brothers believed that Jehovah’s direction was there, but where they were wrong. Disfellowshipping Witnesses for the use of tobacco, which started in 1973, is one such situation, and I use this example below. Together with the prohibition of tobacco was the prohibition of the medicine methadone that could help abusers of hard drugs that wanted to quit theis habit. It started in 1973 and it was in force for 40 years.
To make a disfellowshipping offense that is not directly mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures is to go against Jehovah’s direction. When the Governing Body creates directions on matters where the Scriptures are silent, this is, by definition, creating your own direction.
Another example where the Governing Body went their own way without Jehovah’s direction was their new definition of the word porneia (wrong sexual intercourse), and its application inside marriage. This started in 1974, and the error was admitted and changed in 1978. Apart from the three mentioned errors, I have found no other example where the Governing Body has gone against Jehovah’s direction before the last part of the 1980s.
As proof that the eight members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave,” they claim that the new understandings of Bible subjects that they have presented are led by holy spirit, and in these, they have been directed by God.
In what follows, I discuss ten examples of the new understandings from the last part of the 20th century and the 21st that are wrong. God’s direction is claimed, but God cannot direct his servants to draw wrong conclusions, which are done in these ten examples and many other examples as well. In these examples, I cannot find any direction from God.
At the beginning of this discussion, I showed that the reason why the Bible Students in the 1870s were directed by God to find the truth, was that they based their study on the belief that every word in the Bible is inspired by God, that all accounts are included with a particular purpose, and that all the nuances and subtleties in the text are important.
However, the members of the present Governing Body have rejected the full inspiration of the Bible. And so, as one would expect, the basis for new explanations in the last part of the 20th century and the 21 century reflect this new view of the Bible.
Two of my examples of God’s direction relate to the resurrection, that all those who are in the memorial tombs will be resurrected, and that this means that billions—most of those who have lived on the earth—will come to life on Judgment Day.
However, in The Watchtower of June 1, 1988, a new view was presented. Fewer persons than previously believed will get a resurrection. Could this be God’s direction? I have shown that God’s direction means that he causes the attention of his servants to be focused on something, and his spiritually-minded servants will, because of what they see, draw the right conclusion.
The previous view was that the inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Sodom and Gomorrah, would get a resurrection. But The Watchtower of June 1, 1988, rejected this understanding. What was the reason for this change of view? Had Jehovah directed his servants to discover something new in the Bible that required a change of view? Not at all! The argument was that the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:21-24 were hyperboles, i.e., the words were exaggerations. But this argument that the text does not mean what it actually says is, in reality, a rejection of the text of the Bible.
One other clear example of the rejection of the full inspiration of the Bible was expressed in The Watchtower of March 15, 2015, with the rejection of most of the types and antitypes in the Hebrew Scriptures. This view means that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures do not have any meaning for us today.
Has God directed the members of the Governing Body to discover something that required this enormous change of view? There is nothing in the Watchtower literature indicating that. On the contrary, most of the 96 “clarified beliefs” that are listed between 1990 and 2021, in my view, simply represent a change of mind of the members of the Governing Body and not direction from God. And very few of the arguments in favor of the new understandings have a sound biblical basis. I have looked carefully to see if I could find some evidence of Jehovah’s direction. But I have found none.
. See Revelation Its Grand Climax At Hand!, pages 246-248.
. The Watchtower of 1965: “Worship the God of Resurrection”;“Death and Hades to Give Up the Dead,” “Part II”; “The Dead Who Are in Line for Resurrection,” Part II”; “For Whom There Are Resurrection Hopes,” Part II”; “Who Will be Resurrected from the Dead?”, “Part II”; “Who Will be Resurrected—Why?”; “Our Own Twentieth-Century Generation and the Resurrection”; Earthly Opportunity Opened Up by Resurrection.” in The Watchtower of January 1, January 15, February 1, February 15, March 1, and March 15, 1965.
“RELIANCE ON GOD’S WORD”
The Watchtower of February 2017 uses three kinds of evidence to prove that the eight members of the Governing Body must be identified as “the faithful and discreet slave”, 1) Evidence of holy spirit, 2) Evidence of angelic guidance, and 3) Reliance on God’s Word. Point 3) is the most important point, and it is put in quotation marks in the heading because the claim that the Governing Body relies on God’s Word is patently false. To a great extent, the Governing Body uses the Bible, and the Watchtower literature from the 21st century is full of quotations from the Bible. At the mid-week meeting, the whole Bible is read over a couple of years, and comments on parts of the text of the Bible are made at each meeting.
However, while the congregation members are encouraged to read the Bible, there is no interactive Bible study arranged by the Governing Body in which they can participate. But regarding the members of the Governing Body themselves, there are two tenets that they have practiced that show that they do not fully rely on the Word of God. First, they read their own viewpoints into the Bible and claim that this proves that they rely on the Bible. This is exemplified by their claim discussed in the Excursus below that their law of disfellowshipping Witnesses who use tobacco proves that they rely on the Bible. This is a false claim! Second, they have rejected the full inspiration of the Bible, and they claim that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today. They also reject what Jesus said about who will get a resurrection. The first point is discussed in the Excursus, and the second point is discussed after that.
I will now discuss the claim in The Watchtower of February 2017 that the Governing Body’s “reliance on God’s Word” shows that they are “the faithful and discreet slave.”
“THEIR GLORY IS IN THEIR SHAME” PHILIPPIANS 3:19
Paul refers to some who are “enemies of the torture stake of the Christ” (3:18). What they view as their glory is, in reality, their shame. One piece of evidence presented in The Watchtower of February 2017, page 23, that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave” is as follows:
But we read in The Watchtower of 1969, page 129:
When the present members of the Governing Body argue that they are the only denomination who follow the Bible, which is proven by their disfellowshipping of persons who use tobacco even as The Watchtower admits that the Bible does not, in fact, say anything about the use of tobacco—then the members of the Governing Body have placed their glory in their shame. The first and second quotations below are from The Watchtower of 2017 and the third quotation is from The Watchtower of 1969:
But we read in The Watchtower of 1969, page 129:
When we look more closely at the issue, we realize that the shame of the Governing Body is even greater than it appears to be at first glance:
The Watchtower of 1942, page 205, said that even though the use of tobacco was an extremely filthy habit, the Watchtower Society had no right to ask persons to stop using tobacco. We read:
The book Questions in Connection With the Service of the Kingdom of 1961 showed that there was one exception from the rule that men who used tobacco could not be appointed as servants. We read:
The Watchtower of 1969, page 129, strongly discourages the use of tobacco. But Witnesses who use tobacco will not be disfellowshipped. We read:
The Watchtower of June 1, 1973, page 340, shows that persons who use tobacco should be disfellowshipped if they do not quit within six months:
Can we now see how misleading the argument is that their reliance on God’s Word—exemplified by disfellowshipping Witnesses who use tobacco—proves that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave”? All the Watchtower literature published during the 30 years from 1942 to 1972 show that the use of tobacco is not mentioned in the Bible, and therefore, no sanctions can be placed against those who use it. But then, in 1973, the minds of the members of the Governing Body—not the Bible—decided that those who used tobacco should be disfellowshipped. And then, in 2017, the members of the Governing Body use this shameful, unscriptural decision from 1973, of disfellowshipping persons who use tobacco as proof, ironically, of their reliance on God’s word — and this is evidence of “their glory” that they have been appointed by God as “the faithful and discreet slave.”
The members of the Governing Body certainly “have their glory in their shame”!
The rejection of the full inspiration of the Bible
How would we view a person who says that he believes that the whole Bible is the word of God, but also says that the creation account in Genesis chapter 1 is not a literal historical account? It is only an illustration of the fact that God is the creator of all things. Or, how would we view a person who says that he believes that everything in the Bible is true; but when we show him the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam in Luke 3:23-38, he says that the first part is mythological because Adam and Eve stand for the human family and do not refer to two persons who were the ancestors of the whole human family?
Those who believe that every word in the Bible is inspired by God would say that both viewpoints presented above are false teachings. Yet, the present Governing Body are guilty of several similar false teachings.
Large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us, according to the Governing Body
For 120 years, the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that every word in the Bible is inspired by God, that all the nuances and subtleties in the original text are important, and that every account in the Bible is included by holy spirit with a particular purpose. If you ask each of them, the present members of the Governing Body will say that they believe that the whole Bible is inspired by God. However, their writings and actions say something different.
The present view of the Governing Body is that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today. We can only gather some moral principles or general lessons from these accounts. We can illustrate this situation with the Song of Solomon. The only purpose of this book, according to the Governing Body, is to teach some moral principles regarding marriage faithfulness and dating. This means that the dramatic account with the Shulamite, the shepherd, and Solomon and with all the persons speaking and acting have no meaning—the account is not included with a particular purpose. This simply is a false teaching! A great number of other accounts are viewed in a similar way. A detailed discussion of this situation is found in the article “The Governing Body rejects the full inspiration of the Bible” on this website, and in “The Governing Body’s new view of the Bible” (chapter 6) in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition.
The members of the Governing Body do not accept what the words of Jesus regarding the resurrection really says
This situation is discussed in detail in my article, “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible.” Here I will only present the study note of Luke 10:12:
It will be more endurable: Evidently used as a form of hyperbole that Jesus may not have intended to be taken literally. (Compare other graphic hyperboles that Jesus used, such as those at Mt 5:18; Lu 16:17; 21:33.) When Jesus said that it would be “more endurable for Sodom in that day,” that is, on Judgment Day (Mt 10:15; 11:22, 24; Lu 10:14), he was not saying that the inhabitants of Sodom must be present on that day. (Compare Jude 7.) He could simply have been emphasizing how unresponsive and culpable most people were in such cities as Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. (Lu 10:13-15) It is worth noting that what happened to ancient Sodom had become proverbial and was often mentioned in connection with God’s anger and judgment.—De 29:23; Isa 1:9: La 4:6. (the author’s bold font)
The 12 articles about the resurrection in The Watchtower of January 1 to March 15 in 1965 points out that according to the Bible “the vast majority of mankind” will get a resurrection. The words of Jesus were taken literally, and the conclusion was that the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Sodom, and Gomorrah would get a resurrection. The present members of the Governing Body have, without any biblical support, reduced the number of those who will get a resurrection substantially. It is important to note that when the present members of the Governing Body say that Jesus meant the very opposite of what he said, there are no biblical argument used to support this new viewpoint. The reason for the new view is “a reexamination… of the text.” In other words, the readers must accept the new conclusion on the basis of the authority of the members of the Governing Body. The real situation is that the text of the Bible is rejected.
The new and unbiblical explanation of prophecies by the Governing Body
All the books discussing prophecies published by the Watchtower Society between 1870 and 2018 have followed the same method of explanation. The Hebrew text has been analyzed, and the fulfillment of what this text says has been explained. The method of explanation in the book Pure Worship of Jehovah — Restored At Last! (2018), discussing the prophecy of Ezekiel is very different from the method that was previously used.
The Hebrew text of Ezekiel, for the most part, is not analyzed and its meaning presented. But what the text of Ezekiel reminds the members of the Governing Body of is presented. A part of these reminders are allegorical, and other parts simply are trivialities. This new method is based on the Governing Body’s new view of the Bible—the literal meaning of the text of the Bible is not always important. “The Governing Body’s new view of the Bible” (Chapter 6) in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, has a detailed discussion of this situation.
The details and subtleties of the Bible text are not important, according to the Governing Body
One of the basic features of the original NWT is that the translators did their utmost to convey all the details and nuances of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts to the readers. The members of the present Governing Body do not agree that this is important, and therefore, this principle was not followed by the translators of the revised NWT13.
The consequence of this is that this revised translation is not an accurate rendering of the original text. A great number of nuances of the original text are not conveyed to the readers, and nuances not in the original text are often added. In addition to the rejection of important translation principles used by the original translators of the NWT, the members of the Governing Body and the translators also show that they lack an understanding of the grammar of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek verbs. A discussion of the many problems with the NWT13 is found in my book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 404-326.
The view that details and nuances are not important in a Bible translation is also seen in the Watchtower literature for the past twenty or more years. There is an enormous difference between this literature and the Watchtower literature that was published in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The characteristics of this old literature are detailed analyses of the original text of the Bible. The recent literature has a superficial approach to the original text of the Bible.
In this section, the claim in The Watchtower of February 2017 that their reliance on the Bible proves that the eight members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave” has been shown to be false.
|The members of the Governing Body falsely claim that particular actions they have taken, but that are not mentioned in the Bible, somehow prove that they rely on the Bible. They do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible and they do not view the nuances and subtleties of the original text as important. So, contrary to their claim, the conclusion is that the members of the Governing Body do not fully rely on the Bible!|
. A detailed discussion of the whole issue of tobacco is found in the article, “The use of tobacco— a disfellowshipping offense not based on the Bible” in the category “Gross uncleanness with greediness.”
“EVIDENCE OF HOLY SPIRIT”
The claim of the Governing Body in The Watchtower of February 2017 that I will discuss below is the following:
13 Evidence of holy spirit. The holy spirit has helped the Governing Body to grasp Scriptural truths not previously understood. For example, reflect on the list of beliefs clarified that was referred to in the preceding paragraph. Surely, no human deserves credit for discovering and explaining these “deep things of God”! (Read 1 Corinthians 2:10.)
“Clouding beliefs” rather than “clarifying beliefs”
The list referred to is “Beliefs clarified” in The Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY. I will now test the claim that holy spirit has helped the members of the Governing Body to understand “Scriptural truths not previously understood.”
The list shows that during the 30 years from 1990 to 2020, 94 different beliefs were “clarified,” while 107 different beliefs were “clarified” during the 119 years from 1870 to 1989. The Governing Body has been particularly busy during the eight years from 2013 to 2020 because I count 46 “clarified” beliefs during these years. In order to test the claim, we need not discuss every belief that has been “clarified,” but first, we need to differentiate what kinds of truths that have been “clarified” during the last 30 years.
I have divided the “clarified beliefs” into three groups:
- Trivial matters: 22
- Important matters: 15
- Prophecies: 57
The members of the Governing Body use all these “clarified beliefs” as evidence that holy spirit helped them to get an understanding of truths not previously understood. However, there are problems with all three groups that cannot have been caused by holy spirit. And the truth is that a great number of beliefs have been clouded rather than clarified. I will give a few examples.
1) One entry of 2009 is: “head covering for female interpreters for the deaf at meetings.” The Watchtower of November 2009, pages 12, 13, gave a new view of head covering. It describes situations when a sister who interprets Bible talks into sign language must wear a head covering and when she does not need to do that. This is a trivial matter that is based on human reasoning rather than on the holy spirit.
2) One entry of 2015 is: “head covering for sister conducting Bible study.” The Watchtower of February 15, 2015, page 30, had instructions regarding when a sister who conducts a Bible study in the presence of a man should use a head covering and when it is not necessary. This is again a trivial matter.
3) One entry of 2016 is: “congregational expression of joy over the reinstatement of someone.” The Watchtower of May 2016, page 32, says that spontaneous, dignified applause in connection with an announcement of reinstatement was appropriate. This was forbidden previously. I cannot believe that the holy spirit for several decades prevented the congregation from giving applause when someone was reinstated. But in 2016 the holy spirit helped the Governing Body to discover this truth that was not previously understood, that applause was appropriate in such a situation. This new view is simply a manmade decision.
4) One entry of 2017 is: “vindication of Jehovah’s name.” the comments of The Watchtower of June 2017, page 31, are:
On occasion our publications have taught that Jehovah’s name does not need to be vindicated because no one has called into question his right to bear that name. However, a clarified understanding was presented at the 2017 annual meeting. The chairman stated: “Simply put, it’s not wrong to say that we pray for the vindication of Jehovah’s name because his reputation certainly needs to be exonerated.”—See the January 2018 program on jw.org®. Look under LIBRARY > JW BROADCASTING®.
This is not a spiritual issue but rather a linguistic issue because the “clarified belief” simply is a new definition of the word “vindicate.” All four examples are based on decisions made by the Governing Body, and I cannot imagine that holy spirit helped them to make any of these adjustments to previous practices.
Important beliefs that are clouded instead of being clarified
1) One entry in 1996 is: “Civilian service in lieu of military service.” After World War II, Jehovah’s Witnesses rightly claimed to be ambassadors for God’s Kingdom. Because of this, when they were called to do military service, they refused to do that. Then they were offered to do civil service as an alternative to military service. But they also refused this service because, as ambassadors, they did not accept that the state had the right to demand any kind of compulsory service from them. Because of this standpoint, many young Witnesses had to serve jail sentences of 18 months, two years, or more.
For 46 years, the Watchtower literature had shown that Jehovah’s Witnesses are ambassadors and, therefore, could not accept civil service. But now, there was a complete reversal, and the Governong Body had decided that civil service instead of military service was acceptable if the conscience of each young brother accepted that. But we must ask: Where is the evidence of the help of holy spirit? The new view was a compromise, which meant that Jehovah’s Witnesses could no longer rightly claim to be ambassadors for God’s Kingdom—they now accepted that the state had the right to demand compulsory service from them.
A natural question would be: Why did the holy spirit not help the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses to realize that their original standpoint regarding civil service was wrong? And if this original view to refuse civil service was wrong, why did the holy spirit allow all the suffering of thousands of young Witnesses who got long jail sentences because they followed the biblical view of compulsory service? And if the holy spirit helped the Governing Body arrive at these clarifications, why did it allow the previous Governing Body to make this “wrong” decision in the first place? And even more important: 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NWT13) says that Christians “are ambassadors substituting for Christ.” How could the holy spirit be behind the current Governing Body’s decision to go against these words and, in fact, to annul them? My answer is that the recent “clarification” of the view on civil service is no clarification at all. It seems to be a “political compromise” that was made to avoid problems with some governments. But it is a clouding of the issue that prior to this change had a clear scriptural basis. The Governing Body’s recent clarification on this matter is merely a human standpoint that goes against the words of Paul, which were inspired by holy spirit.
2) One entry in 2000 is: “the use of one’s own blood.” The Watchtower of October 15, 2000, pages 30, 31, forbids the storing of one’s own blood before an operation, so it can be transfused back into its owner if necessary during an operation. This is another human commandment that is made up by the Governing Body, and it has no basis in the Bible.
This law may have consequences. The Watchtower of September 15, 2006. page 30, discussed whether a Witness who killed another person with his car had bloodguilt. The following examples were given:
To illustrate: If weather conditions were bad at the time of the accident, the driver should have exercised greater care. If he was drowsy, he should have stopped and rested until he was no longer sleepy, or he should have had someone else drive.
Suppose the driver was speeding. If any Christian exceeds the speed limit, this is a failure to render “Caesar’s things to Caesar.” It also betrays a disregard for the sacredness of life, for there is the possibility of fatal consequences.
The issue in the discussion is whether the driver had any responsibility for the death of the person. This also illustrates the fact that when the members of the Governing Body make a human law that is not based on the Bible, they have a responsibility for the consequences of that law, just like a careless car driver.
As a member of the Hospital Liaison Committee for almost 30 years, I know that the death of a surgical patient because of his refusal of blood is extremely rare. But it can happen. And if it happens in a situation of a major surgery where the Witness was asked to deposit some of his own blood before the operation, the members of the Governing Body have blood on their hands; they have bloodguilt.
There are other situations where this law of the Governing Body may shorten the life of a Witness. My experience is that most doctors respect that the Witnesses refuse a blood transfusion. At the same time, they want to be faithful to their promise of saving lives and to practice medicine in a correct way. This means that in many situations—and I mean “many”— patients who refuse blood will not get as good medical treatment as those who accept the storage of one’s own blood.
For example, a Witness has a large cancerous tumor. The surgeon wants to give the patient the best possible treatment. But already before the operation, the surgeon realizes that he may not be able to remove all the outgrowths of the tumor without the use of a blood transfusion. Therefore, the doctor asks the Witness to deposit some of his own blood before the operation. When the Witness refuses to do that, the doctor will not be able to remove all the cancerous tissue, and so the doctor decides to modify the surgery by leaving some of the cancerous tissue in the patient to ensure the patient survives the surgery without the required blood. Consequently, the remaining cancerous tissue inside the Witness may start to grow again. Because of this, the life of the Witness will be shortened.
There is no question that this unbiblical law against storing one’s own blood may have serious consequences for some Witnesses. And each member of the Governing Body has a great responsibility for the severe situations that may arise. It is impossible to believe that the holy spirit can be behind this law, that has no support in the Bible, and that can shorten the lives of many Witnesses.
3) One entry in 2013 is: “meaning of name Jehovah.” The reference is to the Appendix of NWT13. The way this appendix is written shows that those who have written it had limited knowledge of Hebrew. Several main points of the Appendix have no linguistic basis, including that the meaning of yhwh is “He Causes to Become.” My book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 435-437, has a detailed analysis of the Appendix.
4) One entry in 2014 is: “The basis first-century Jews had for being ‘in expectation’ of Messiah.” The conclusion is that the Jews in the first century probably could not calculate the 69 weeks mentioned by Daniel, and such a calculation was not the reason why some persons waited for Messiah in the first part of the first century. The arguments in this article are weak indeed.
Believing that the Bible is inspired by God means that we also believe that every account is included with a particular purpose. If the exact time for the Messiah to arrive, according to Daniel 9:25, 26, could not be calculated in the first century CE, there would be no purpose of having this prophecy in the Bible. But Daniel writes in 9:25, “You should know and understand.” This new view of the Governing Body is, in reality, an attack on Bible inspiration—all accounts are not included with a purpose. And when a prophecy says that a prophecy should be known and understood, the Governing Body does not take this at face value and accept that this prophecy had to be known and understood at the time this prophecy was fulfilled in the first century CE.
A detailed analysis of Daniel’s text, concluding that ordinary Jews in the first century CE could calculate the 70 weeks, is found in my book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, pages 70-73.
In this section, I have discussed four important beliefs that have been clouded by the supposed new insights of the Governing Body, and I cannot believe that the holy spirit is behind these so-called “clarified beliefs.” The acceptance of civil service is a compromise that rejects the Christian position of being ambassadors for Christ. The unbiblical commandment against storing one’s own blood may create serious and unnecessary life crises for Jehovah’s Witnesses. The explanation of the “meaning of the name Jehovah” is amateurish and betrays a lack of knowledge of Classical Hebrew, and the arguments that Daniel’s 70 weeks probably could not be understood in the days of Jesus is an attack on the belief of the full inspiration of the Bible. These points are not the work of the holy spirit; they are the work of imperfect humans who are neither inspired nor infallible! And these wrong “clarifications” refute the claim that the “clarifications” prove that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave.”
Prophecies that are clouded instead of being clarified
About 60% of all “clarified beliefs” are prophecies, and in most of these cases, there are almost no hard data that are used to support the new views. Some arguments are used in connection with a new view. But in many or most cases, I find the arguments for the old views to be more convincing than the arguments for the new views. I will give a few examples.
1) One entry for 1995 is: “‘sheep’ and ‘goats’ (Mt 25).” The new view is that the separation of the “sheep” and the “goats” does not occur during Christ’s presence but refers to the judgment of the persons who live when the great tribulation starts.
Understanding the illustrations of Jesus, including when they are fulfilled, is not an easy task. The book Jehovah’s Witnesses —Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, page 111, says:
A truly significant step in understanding Jehovah’s purpose centered around Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats, at Matthew 25:31-46. In that parable Jesus said: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” As the parable goes on to show, the “sheep” are those who help Christ’s “brothers,” even seeking to bring them relief when they are persecuted and in prison.
It had long been thought that this parable applied during the millennial era, in the time of restitution, and that the final judgment referred to in the parable was the one that would take place at the end of the Millennium. But in 1923, reasons for another view of matters were set forth by J. F. Rutherford, the president of the Watch Tower Society, in an enlightening discourse in Los Angeles, California. This was published later that year in the October 15 issue of The Watch Tower.
For 72 years, the understanding was that the separation of persons who are like sheep and goats would occur during Christ’s presence. But now, it was applied to the great tribulation. I remember that when the new explanation was published in 1995, I felt uncomfortable, and I did not think that the reasons given for the new view were convincing. Matthew 25:31-33 (NWT13) says:
31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right: ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.
The new view of the parable is expressed in The Watchtower of October 15, 1995, pages 18-24. The basis for the new view is that the words “he will sit down on his glorious throne” are supposed to refer to his sitting as judge and not as king, and therefore, the parable will be fulfilled in the great tribulation. But the article does not give any evidence for this; so it is just a claim.
|The basis for the new view is that the words “he will sit down on his glorious throne” refer to Jesus as judge and not as king. No evidence for this view is given in the article.|
Regarding the illustration in Matthew 25:31-46, Insight I, page 1183 says:
This illustration is part of Jesus’ reply to his disciples’ question concerning ‘the sign of his presence and the conclusion of the system of things.’—Mt 24:3.
I use the fact that the illustration is a part of the sign of Christ’s presence to argue in favor of the old understanding of the illustration.
The Greek word “come” (erkhomai) can refer to different comings. Acts 1:11 (NWT13) says that Jesus “will come (erkhomai) in the same manner as you have seen him going into the sky.” His coming will be invisible, just as “a cloud caught him up from their sight,” (verse 9) and this “coming” refers to the beginning of his invisible presence. The word “coming” can also refer to the great tribulation. But Acts 1:9 shows that it can also refer to the beginning of his invisible presence.
The prophecy in Psalm 110:1, 2 shows that Jesus Christ should sit at God’s right hand until he started to reign in the middle of this enemies. Hebrews 10:13 shows that this had not happened when this book was written. Revelation 12:7-9 tells that Satan and his angels were thrown out of heaven. Verse 10, 12 (NWT13) says:
10 I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!
12 On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing that he has a short period of time.”
These words show that Jesus Christ became king, “a short period of time” before the Devil was thrown into the abyss. As I show in chapter 1 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, this “short period of time” started in the year 1914. The purpose of his presence was that Jesus should exercise his power as king for a short time while this wicked world still existed.
I will now compare two of Jesus’ illustrations, the one dealing with the sowing of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 and the one about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46.
The setting of the illustration of the wheat and the weeds is “the harvest” (therismos) which is “the conclusion of the system of things” (synteleia tou aiōnos), according to 13:40. The words “the conclusion of the system of things” (synteleia tou aiōnos) are used in Matthew 24.3, and they parallel the word “presence” (parousia).
We have now three Greek expressions that refer to the same time period:
“the harvest” (therismos) — “the conclusion of the system of things” (synteleia tou aiōnos) — “presence” (parousia).
One interesting point here is that the presence of Jesus when he reigns as king is a harvest time:
The reapers are the angels.
Another interesting point here is that the presence of Jesus when he reigns as king is a time of judgment:
The positive judgment: The righteous ones will shine in the Kingdom of the Father.
The negative judgment, step one: The angels will collect out of the Kingdom those who practice lawlessness. Step two: They will be pitched into the fiery furnace.
I will now discuss the illustration in Matthew 25:31-46. The setting is Christ’s presence, and the point of time when Jesus comes and sits down on his glorious throne is, according to the prophecies mentioned above, at the beginning of his presence. This corroborates verse 34, where it is stated that he is king. I am not aware of any prophecy that correlates his sitting down on his glorious throne with the great tribulation.
The angels come with him when Jesus comes in his glory. The angels play an important part in the revelation of Jesus in the great tribulation. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10) But the angels also play an important part in the harvest of the heirs of the Kingdom of the Father; according to Matthew chapter 13—the angels are those who collect the wheat.
There is one important reason why the illustration in Matthew 25:31-46 is an illustration of the harvest and the judgment of the harvest during Christ’s presence rather than the final judgment in the great tribulation. This reason is the Greek preposition apo (“from, since”) in verse 34.
The sheep are invited to inherit the kingdom “prepared for you from (apo) the founding of the world.” As for the heirs of the Kingdom of the Father, they were chosen as a group of 144,000 “before (pro) the founding of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). The founding of the world is connected with Abel when Adam and Eve produced their first child that could be ransomed—the aforementioned Abel. (Luke 11:50, 51) The Kingdom of the Father, the heavenly one, that is mentioned in Matthew 13:43, was prepared “before” (pro) the founding of the world, but the kingdom that the “sheep” should inherit was prepared “from” (apo) the founding of the world.
The two prepositions pro and apo are mutually exclusive. Therefore, the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:34 must refer to a kingdom that is different from the heavenly one. The only alternative to the heavenly kingdom is the earthly kingdom when the earth is made a paradise. The heavenly kingdom was prepared in connection with the first prophecy in Genesis 3:15 because its fulfillment relates to Jesus and the heirs of that heavenly kingdom. This prophecy was uttered before Abel was born, that is, “before the founding of the world” occurred. Abel was the first human who could be redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus to inhabit the paradisiac earthly kingdom, and therefore was the earthly kingdom prepared “from the founding of the world”—from the time of Abel.
On the background of the discussion above, we see a grand purpose with the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46. Verse 34 in this account is the only place in the Christian Greek Scriptures where the word “kingdom” (basileia) is applied to the earthly kingdom that will exist when the earth becomes a paradise. Because of this, the account of the “sheep” and the “goats” will fill a place in Christ’s presence that no other account can fill.
. See The Watchtower of 15 October 1974, pages 611-631, where Ephesians 1:10 is discussed and the unity of those with a heavenly hope and those with an earthly hope is stressed.
The account in Matthew chapter 13 about the “wheat” and the “weeds” tells about the harvest of the heirs of the heavenly kingdom during Christ’s presence, and the account of the “sheep” and the “goats” tells about the harvest of those who will inherit the earthly kingdom during Christ’s presence. I make the following comparison:
Table 1.1 A comparison between the illustrations about the wheat and the weeds and the sheep and the goats
|Chapter 13||Christ’s presence, which is the harvest time.|
|Chapter 25||Christ’s presence, which is the harvest time.|
|Chapter 13||The reapers are the angels.|
|Chapter 25||The reapers are the angels.|
|Chapter 13||The angels gather the heirs of the heavenly kingdom.|
|Chapter 25||The angels gather the heirs of the earthly kingdom.|
|The adverse judgment, step one|
|Chapter 13||The angels will collect from God’s kingdom all who practice lawlessness.|
|Chapter 25||The king will put the “goats” on his left side.|
|The adverse judgment, step two|
|Chapter 13||The angels will pitch those who practice lawlessness into the fiery furnace.|
|Chapter 25||The goats will depart into everlasting cutting-off.|
There is nothing in the context of Matthew chapters 24 and 25 that contradicts the comparison in table 1.1. But if we apply the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 in this way, we see a grand purpose with the illustration of Jesus — as a part of the sign of his presence.
The reason why the “sheep” will get their reward supports the view that the separation occurs during Christ’s presence. The Watchtower of October 15, 1995, page 28, says:
11 Over the centuries, many such as Abraham have enjoyed a righteous standing. (James 2:21-23) Noah, Abraham, and other faithful ones count among the “other sheep” who will inherit life in Paradise under God’s Kingdom. In recent times millions more have taken up true worship as other sheep and have become “one flock” with the anointed. (John 10:16; Revelation 7:9) These with earthly hopes recognize Jesus’ brothers as ambassadors of the Kingdom and have therefore aided them—literally and spiritually. Jesus counts as done to him what the other sheep do for his brothers on earth. Such ones who are alive when he comes to judge the nations will be judged as sheep.
It is true that millions have taken up true worship since 1935 when the gathering of persons with an earthly hope started. The anointed brothers of Jesus have taken the lead in this gathering by their preaching work, and those with an earthly hope have supported the brothers of Jesus in different ways. If the new understanding is correct, it means that just a small fraction of all these with a hope to live in the paradise earth are among the “sheep” mentioned by Jesus.
As the last sentence in the quotation above shows, only those, who are alive when the great tribulation starts are included among the “sheep.” When the gathering of persons with an earthly hope started 88 years ago, the brothers of Jesus took the lead, and they were relatively numerous. Because of this, it is meaningful to say that those who were gathered since 1935 were literally on hand to support the numerous “brothers” of Jesus who took the lead over the past 88 years, to give food and drink to them, to receive them hospitably, and to visit them when they were jailed. But today and until the great tribulation, when the brothers of Jesus are few in number, it is hardly meaningful to see the fulfillment of the support mentioned by Jesus.
The support mentioned that is the reason why the “sheep” inherit their kingdom is, of course, not literal, with the distribution of food and visiting jails. But the focus is nevertheless on the brothers of Jesus, which would require that they be relatively numerous. Historically speaking, persons with an earthly hope have given the support mentioned by Jesus to his brothers from 1935 on. And therefore, it is logical that the separation of “sheep” and “goats” is a result of the preaching work during Christ’s presence, rather than an instant twelfth hour separation at the great tribulation when the brothers of Jesus are very few.
There is nothing in the context of Matthew chapters 24 and 25 that directly supports the application of the illustration to the great tribulation. God’s principle is that a thing is proven by two or three witnesses. There are several verses in Matthew 24:37-51 that discuss the final judgment in the great tribulation. So from a human point of view, there are enough witnesses.
Since the “clarified belief” in 1995, there have been a number of articles that have applied different accounts to the great tribulation. The readers do not learn much from these applications apart from two things: In the great tribulation, those who serve God will survive, and the claim of the Governing Body that those who do not want to serve God will be annihilated forever.
That a great number of accounts are included in the Bible with the purpose of teaching only these two matters is not logical at all. Moreover, by applying Matthew 25:31-46 to the great tribulation, the purpose of Christ’s presence is put in the background.
EXCURSUS ON THE TWO DIFFERENT KINGDOMS
From the 1870s, the Bible students and Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that the nuances and subtleties in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible are important and should be studied. One example is found in The Watchtower of May 1, 1974, page 287, where the use of two different prepositions underlines the important doctrine that there are two different groups that will be saved, one group will live in heaven, and the other group will live in the paradise earth:
The important point is that a kingdom that is prepared from the founding of the world must be different from a kingdom that is prepared before the founding of the world. This is so because the two prepositions are mutually exclusive. This distinction supports the view that Matthew 25:31-46 is an account of the work during Christ’s presence of collecting persons who will inherit the earthly kingdom.
It seems to me that the members of the present Governing Body do not accept the distinction between the two kingdoms. The comments to Matthew 25:34 in the NWT13 Study Edition suggest that:
All the definitions given are correct. But the quotation’s application of the Greek word basileia (“kingdom”) in Matthew 25:34 contradicts the view of two different kingdoms. Two of the definitions are concrete (“the region or country governed by a king” and “a realm”), and two are abstract (“kingly power” and “being ruled by a king.”
Because the preposition “from” (apo) is connected with the kingdom (basileia) that is mentioned in Matthew 25:34, the two abstract definitions must be excluded: It is not meaningful to say: “Inherit the kingly power prepared for you from the founding of the world.” or “Inherit being ruled by a king that is prepared for you from the founding of the world.”
What can we say regarding the definition of the Greek word basileia in Matthew 25:34 that is given in the quotation above? Please consider the following rendering? “Inherit the benefits of being ruled by God’s kingdom and enjoying life within its realm, that is prepared for you from the founding of the world.” The clauses are meaningful, but when we make an analysis, we see there are problems in the light of the words in Matthew 25:34.
In the phrase “Inherit the kingdom (basileia),” the imperative “inherit” is the predicate, the implied subject is “you (plural, = the sheep), and the object is “kingdom”. In the phrase “Inherit the benefits and blessings of being ruled by God’s kingdom,” the imperative “inherit” is the predicate, the implied subject is “you (plural, = the sheep), and the object is “benefits of being ruled by God’s kingdom (basileia).”
The phrase “being ruled by God’s kingdom” is the only part of the object that can correspond to basileia (“kingdom”) in Matthew 25:34. But this abstract phrase alone cannot be combined with the words “prepared from the founding of the world.” Therefore, the writer has modified “of being ruled by God’s kingdom” with the words “benefits of.” But this is an interpretation that has no linguistic basis because “benefits” or “blessings” are never used as a reference for basileia.
Moreover, “benefits and blessings” are per se abstract and non-referential because they have no inherent concrete meaning. First, when we point to things that we say are benefits and blessings, these words get a meaning. This is also a reason why “benefits” or “blessings” cannot be the meaning or reference of basileia (“kingdom”).
In contrast with this superficial definition of basileia, we need one of the concrete meanings or references of the word in Matthew 25:34, i.e., “a region or country reigned by a king” or “realm.” Because the preposition “from” (apo) shows that the basileia mentioned is not the heavenly kingdom but must be the only other alternative, the earthly kingdom, I will add a new concrete meaning to basileia. This meaning is “the coming earthly realm of God”.
2) One entry for 2014 is: “Marriage and resurrection” (Lu 20:34-36). In the Category “Bible study” there is a detailed study entitled “Resurrection and marriage — Luke 20:34-38.”
The conclusions of this study are that the two arguments used in favor of an application of Jesus’ words to a heavenly resurrection have little or no basis. According to Jesus, the resurrection will occur in “the coming system of things” and this expression is only applied to the paradise earth and not to heaven. The reference to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also supports an earthly resurrection because this is the kind of resurrection they will get.
The heavenly resurrection was not known at the time when the Sadducees asked about the resurrection and marriage. Therefore, if the listeners understood Jesus’ words as not referring to an earthly resurrection, they would probably think that Jesus referred to one of the mythical views of life after death that were extant.
3) One entry for 2015 is: “Gog of Magog (Eze 38, 39).” The old view was that Gog was Satan the Devil. The following arguments against this view are presented in The Watchtower of May 15, 2015, page 29:
However, that explanation raised some important questions. Why so? Consider this: When referring to the time that Gog is defeated, Jehovah says regarding Gog: “I will give you as food to all kinds of birds of prey and the wild beasts of the field.” (Ezek. 39:4) Then Jehovah adds: “On that day I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel . . . That is where they will bury Gog and all his hordes.” (Ezek. 39:11) But how could a spirit creature be eaten by “birds of prey and the wild beasts of the field”? How could Satan be given “a burial place” on earth? The Bible clearly shows that Satan will be abyssed for 1,000 years, not eaten or buried.—Rev. 20:1, 2…
When we compare all these Scriptural references about the final attack on God’s people, it becomes evident that the name Gog of Magog refers, not to Satan, but to a coalition of nations.
When I read these arguments for the first time, I raised my eyebrows because this is an intermingling of literal and symbolic language. The whole setting in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 is symbolic. Gog is portrayed as a commander for many nations who will attack the symbolic land of Israel. And from the illustrative point of view of a commander of an army, he will be given as food for birds and beasts, and he will be given a burial place. It is wrong to take one part of the symbolic tableau as symbols and then arbitrarily claim that another part is strictly literal.
It is true that a spirit creature cannot be eaten by animals and be given a burial place. But neither can a spirit creature be thrown out of heaven and down to the earth, and a spirit creature cannot be chained and at last be thrown into a lake of fire. In my view, the old explanation is much better than the “clarified belief.”
4) One entry for 2015 is: “Types and antitypes.” The new view is expressed in The Watchtower of March 15, 2015, pages 9-11, 17-18, and June 15, 2015, page 32. For 120 years, the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses held the view that every word in the Bible is inspired by God and that every account in the Bible is included with a particular purpose.
The new view of types and antitypes is, in reality, a rejection of the full inspiration of the Bible, and that every account is included with a particular purpose. This means that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today; we can only gather some moral principles or general lessons from these accounts. Chapter 7 in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, is entitled “The Governing Body’s New View of the Bible,” and it gives a detailed analysis of this erroneous viewpoint.
The article “The Governing Body Rejects the full inspiration of the Bible” in the category, “The Governing Body” also contains a detailed discussion of this new view. It lists 38 books published by the Watchtower Society that in whole or in part are pure fiction if the new view is correct. Hundreds of articles in The Watchtower must also be branded as bogus if this new view is correct. The brothers who wrote the mentioned books and articles had a solid biblical basis for their view on types and antitypes. But the present Governing Body lacks such a solid basis for their new view.
It is a bold step to claim that all the previous leaders of God’s people, who also prayed to be guided by God’s spirit and were also considered bona fide members of “the faithful and discreet slave,” were wrong in connection with their view of the Bible, and then boldly claim in the next breath that we can nevertheless be confident that the current members of the Governing Body are unquestionably correct. Or rather, I would say it is a brazen step because the members of the present Governing Body cannot point to any biblical reason for their new view. In effect, they assert: “We say so, and because we are the faithful and discreet slave, you have to accept it.”
5) One entry for 2016 is: “man with a secretary’s inkhorn (Eze 9).” The new understanding was presented in The Watchtower of June 2016, pages 16, 17:
In the past, we have explained that in the modern-day fulfillment of this vision, the man with the secretary’s inkhorn represented the anointed remnant. It was thought that those who respond favorably to the message being preached are now marked for survival. In recent years, however, it has become clear that an adjustment needs to be made to this explanation. According to what is stated at Matthew 25:31-33, Jesus is the one who judges people. He makes his final judgment during the time of the great tribulation, separating the sheeplike ones, who will survive, from the goatlike ones, who will be destroyed.
In the modern-day fulfillment, the man with the secretary’s inkhorn represents Jesus Christ, the one behind the scenes who marks those who will survive. The great crowd will receive their mark when they are judged as sheep during the great tribulation. This will put them in line to receive everlasting life here on earth.—Matt. 25:34, 46.
The old view was that “the man with the secretary’s inkhorn” was a picture of the anointed Christians who preach the good news of the Kingdom during Christ’s presence, and those who accept the message during this time got a symbolic mark on their forehead. The new view is that the man represents Jesus, and in the great tribulation, he marks those who will survive.
We note the words: “In recent years, however, it has become clear that an adjustment needs to be made to this explanation.” How this “has become clear” is not stated. And the five points used as evidence for the new view do not present any of such evidence at all. We have the typical situation that we see in so many of the “clarified beliefs”: It has become clear to the members of the Governing Body that a change of view is necessary. We say so, and because we are the faithful and discreet slave, every Witness must believe it. This new view is presented in The Watchtower, and the readers must accept this new view because the Governing Body is the “faithful and discreet slave,” and what they write is “food at the proper time” from Jehovah. To be sure, no clear reason is given showing that “the man” is Jesus Christ and the setting for the marking is the great tribulation.
In the past 38 years, there has been a shift of view regarding many prophecies that previously were applied to Christ’s presence but now are applied to the great tribulation. It started with the article “How Will You Stand Before the Judgment Seat” in The Watchtower of October 15, 1995, pages 18-28. This article argued that the separation of the sheep and the goats did not occur during Christ’s presence but will occur in the great tribulation, as I have discussed above. A number of other prophecies, including the prophecy about “the man with a secretary’s inkhorn” have also been applied to the great tribulation instead of being fulfilled during Christ’s presence.
Since 1995, I have been uncomfortable with all these “clarified beliefs,” and honestly speaking, I cannot see any good reason to apply all these prophecies to the great tribulation. The consequence of these changes is that the focus has wrongly been moved away from Christ’s presence and onto more dubious out-of-reach applications during the future great tribulation.
We should, however, note that with one account, the reverse is true. The illustration of the “faithful and discreet slave” clearly refers to the great tribulation, as I demonstrate in chapter 2 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition. But this illustration is erroneously applied to Christ’s presence.
6) One entry for 2020 is: “locust plague (Joel 1, 2).” The Watchtower of April 2020, pages 2-7, discusses the prophecy of Joel. This article is an example of the new view of types and antitypes—the prophetic element in the book of Joel is to a great extent removed. For example, the words in Joel 2:30, 31 about the outpouring of the holy spirit were finally fulfilled in the year 33 CE. But there is no fulfillment of this in the time of the end, even though God’s people at that time also are led by the holy spirit. The article abounds with questionable conclusions. A detailed analysis of this article is found in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 379-384.
7) One entry for 2020 is: “kings of north and south” (Dan 11, 12).” The Watchtower of May 2020 discusses prophecies in the book of Daniel. But sad to say, I find several errors in this article, and I will discuss one of the serious errors that is found on page 13:
10 Daniel then points forward to what would happen to the German Empire and the military force that it had built. The prophecy states that the king of the north “will not stand.” Why not? “Because they will plot schemes against him. And those eating his delicacies will bring his downfall.” (Dan. 11:25b, 26a) Back in Daniel’s day, those eating “the king’s delicacies” included royal officials in “the king’s service.” (Dan. 1:5) To whom does the prophecy here refer? It refers to high-ranking officials of the German Empire—including the emperor’s generals and military advisers—who eventually helped bring down the monarchy. The prophecy not only foretold the fall of the empire but also mentioned the outcome of the war with the king of the south. Speaking of the king of the north, it states: “As for his army, it will be swept away, and many will fall down slain.” (Dan. 11:26b) In the first world war, just as foretold, the German army was “swept away” and many did “fall down slain.” That war proved to be the deadliest in human history up until that time.
Verse 11:26 speaks about “the king of the north,” which is applied to the German Empire in World War I. The quotation says that as a fulfillment of 11:26 “the German army was “swept away”— the German Empire was defeated in World war I.
The problem, however, is that the prophecy in 11:26 says the very opposite of what the members of the Governing Body claim that it says. The conclusion of the Governing Body that is stated in the article is based on a wrong translation of the verse. But because the members of the Governing Body do not understand Hebrew and so cannot base their interpretation on an analysis of the Hebrew text, they have made this grave error.
Here is a literal translation of Daniel 11:26 above and the translation of NWT13 below:
Those eating his delicate food will bring his downfall, and his army will overflow and many will fall down slain.
Those eating his delicacies will crush him. “As for his army, it will be swept away, and many will fall down slain.
The important differences in the translations relate to the destiny of the army of the king of the north. My translation shows that this army will be victorious, while NWT13 shows that this army will be defeated. Why do I say that the rendering of NWT13 is wrong? This is because the Hebrew verb shatap (“overflow”) is Qal imperfect 3rd person singular masculine. The Qal stem is active and not passive, and this is the crucial point. To translate this active verb with an English passive verb is indisputably wrong! I will illustrate that.
A clause can be analyzed in two ways, either grammatically as predicate, subject, object, and adverbial, or semantically as agent (the actor) and patient (the one who is acted upon). I will apply this to the two clauses below:
Napoleon defeated the British-led coalition at Waterloo.
Napoleon was defeated by the British-led coalition at Waterloo.
In the active clause above, “defeated” is the predicate, “Napoleon” is the subject, and “the British-led coalition” is the object. The subject is the agent and the object is that patient.
In the clause below, the passive expression “was defeated” is the predicate and “Napoleon” is the subject. There is no object but “the British-led coalition” is the adverbial. The adverbial is the agent, and the subject is the patient.
We cannot translate an active clause with a passive clause because the agent and patient change their positions in an active and passive clause. In other words, the one who is acted upon is different in an active and a passive clause.
In the rendering in NWT13 of Daniel 11:26, the king of the north (supposed to be the German Empire) is acted upon and is defeated. In my translation, the king of the north (supposed to be the German Empire) acts upon someone who is not identified and is defeating this unidentified patient.
But why does the NIV and other translations have a passive rendering like NWT13 in 11:26, if such a rendering is wrong? As for the NIV, the reason for the passive rendering evidently is the belief that Daniel contains history in prophetic disguise and that a large portion of Daniel chapter 11 describes the history of the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. According to this view, 11:26 refers to the Egyptian king Ptolemy VI Philometor. His army was defeated, and a passive translation was needed to express this defeat.
The members of the Governing Body, who oversaw the translation of NWT13, and the translators believe that the book of Daniel contains real prophecies. So, this could not be the reason for their translation. Whether the Governing Body chose the passive rendering to fit their new interpretation of Daniel 11:26, I do not know. But in any case, their translation is erroneous.
The members of the Governing Body have expanded this error by applying the king of the north in 11:26 to the German Empire in World war I. If this application is correct, this is a false prophecy because correctly translated, verse 26 would mean that the German Empire would be the victor of World war I.
The Governing Body claims that “evidence of holy spirit” is proof that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave.” “The holy spirit has helped the Governing Body to grasp “Scriptural truths not previously understood.” All the “clarified beliefs” that are listed in the Publications Index prove this.
I have now discussed 15 of the “clarified beliefs,” and my conclusion is that most of these “clarified beliefs” definitely are “clouded beliefs”; they are wrong or at least questionable. So, it is quite ironic that the list of “clarified beliefs” proves the very opposite of what the Governing Body claims it does. This list shows that in many, or even in most cases, the members of the Governing Body have been led by their imperfect human reasoning and not by the spirit of God.
. A detailed discussion of this issue is found in the article “We cannot trust the views and the decisions of the Governing Body” in the category “The Governing Body.”
. A detailed discussion of this issue is found in the article “Willingly and unrepentantly accepting blood” in the Category “Disassociation.”
. A detailed discussion of the illustration of the wheat and the weeds is found in The Watchtower of March 15, 2010, pages 19-23.
. A discussion of how the NIV manipulated the text of Daniel 11:26 is found in my book When Was the Book of Daniel Written? A Philological, Linguistic, and Historical Approach, pages 214-216.
EVIDENCE OF “ANGELIC ASSISTANCE”
In this study, the question is not whether “the faithful and discreet slave” exists among Jehovah’s Witnesses. But the question is, “What evidence is there that the Governing Body is filling this role, of being this ‘slave’?” The third line used as evidence is the assistance of angels:
14 Evidence of angelic assistance. The Governing Body today has the colossal task of overseeing an international preaching work involving over eight million evangelizers. Why has that work been so successful? For one, angels are involved. (Read Revelation 14:6, 7.) In many cases, publishers have called on individuals who had just been praying for help! The overall growth of the preaching and disciple-making work despite fierce opposition in some lands has likewise been possible only with superhuman assistance.
According to Revelation 14:6.7, the angels play an important role in the preaching work, and Jesus said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” (John 6:44). So both the spirit of God and angels are supporting the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom worldwide. As a result of this, thousands of persons who seek God have dedicated their lives to Jehovah every year.
Different religions and denominations in the world send missionaries to other countries, and they get new members. However, there is no other organization than Jehovah’s Witnesses where all members are preachers, and where all the basic doctrines are solely based on the Bible. Each year, persons from different countries all over the world become Jehovah’s Witnesses. But what does the Governing Body take this to be evidence of?
That some persons have prayed to God to learn the truth before some Witnesses have visited them, and the growth in numbers in spite of opposition are taken as proofs that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave.” This argument is strange and completely untenable. I will compare Jehovah’s Witnesses with the Latter-Day Saints. This organization has 67,000 full-time missionaries, and table 1.1 compares the growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses with the growth of the LDS.
Table 1.1 Latter Day Saints compared with Jehovah’s Witnesses
The table shows that in 2019, 55,000 more new members were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses compared with those who were baptized as LDS. But the increase of new members to Jehovah’s Witnesses was less than half of the increase in the LDS. However, the percentage of increase of 1.54% among the LDS includes small children, while the increase of 1.3% among Jehovah’s Witnesses only includes persons who start out to be preachers. The only figure that shows a real comparison is the number of newly baptized ones, where the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ number is higher than the LDS number. But the number of newly baptized LDS is also quite high.
The Covid 19 pandemic started in December 2019, and because of this pandemic, I do not consider the years 2020 and 2021. However, I have made a comparison for the year 2022. The number of new converts is about the same, but the number of baptisms is 64.000 higher among the LDS compart with Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the basis of these numbers, how can we know that the number increase among Jehovah’s Witnesses is evidence of superhuman assistance, whereas the LDS numbers are not an indication of such assistance? Looking at these figures alone, it is impossible to draw any conclusion.
What really is important with the numbers is that the number of baptisms among Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2022 is less than half the number of baptisms in 2019. The number of baptisms around 250.000 to 300.000 is what has occurred in the years before 2019. But the number of 145.000 for 2022 is very much lower than the usual number. Why is the number of newly baptized Witnesses so low? The Watchtower of November 15, 1952, page 701, says:
To keep practicing the truth is the best antidote to any tendency to indulge in the world’s spirit of apathy and indifference, with a consequent withholding of Jehovah’s blessing and a lack of increase.
The elders have often been reminded that if there is something wrong in a congregation, and the elders do not act and remove what is wrong, Jehovah can withhold his blessing with the result that there is no increase in new members of the congregation. As I have shown above, while the Witnesses in the congregations practice the true religion, the members of the Governing Body have tampered with several biblical doctrines, such as the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, and they have introduced false teachings. They have also introduced practices that have no basis in the Bible, such as 37 manmade disfellowshipping offenses. That may be one reason why the increase of new members has slowed down.
In order to be able to distinguish between the two denominations, we need to take a close look at them. The following two quotes illustrate the governing structure of the LDS Church:
Under the doctrine of continuing revelation, Latter-day Saints believe that the church president is a modern-day “prophet, seer, and revelator” and that Jesus Christ, under the direction of God the Father, leads the church by revealing his will to its president. Individual members of the church believe that they can also receive personal revelation from God in conducting their lives. The president heads a hierarchical structure with various levels reaching down to local congregations, known as wards. Bishops, drawn from the laity, lead the wards. Male members, beginning in January of the year they reach age 12, may be ordained to the priesthood, provided they are living the standards of the church. Women are not ordained to the priesthood, but occupy leadership roles in some church organizations.
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is the second-highest governing body in the Church (the First Presidency being the highest). Apostles are special witnesses of Jesus Christ, called to teach and testify of Him throughout the world. They travel frequently, addressing and encouraging large congregations of members and interested nonmembers, as well as meeting with local leaders.
When they are not traveling, members of the Quorum of the Twelve counsel together and with other general Church leaders on matters affecting the worldwide Church, such as missionary work, temple building, spiritual and temporal welfare, and much more.
In addition to having one president, who is a prophet who receives messages from God, and 12 apostles as the second-highest Governing Body, the LDS church also has a scriptural canon of four books: the Bible (King James Version), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. My experience with the LDS missionaries is that when it comes to the Bible, they accept its text, with the proviso disclaimer when it is ‘correctly translated’. And only the LDS leadership can decide when its translation is correct. Because the Bible plays a limited role in the faith of the LDS, I cannot believe that the increase of new converts is guided by the angels.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe only in the Bible, and all its basic doctrines are based on the Bible. Because of the worldwide preaching of the Kingdom of God by more than 8 million preachers, I believe that the angels of God and his holy spirit direct this enormous preaching work. However, in the last part of the 20th century and in the 21st century, the development inside Jehovah’s Witnesses has proceeded in a direction against the angels of God and his holy spirit.
This is particularly seen in the change in the power structure. The organization has become autocratic similar to the power structure of the LDS. There is no prophet and 12 apostles among Jehovah’s Witnesses. But there are nine “apostles” who have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money. These nine persons claim to have been appointed by God as “the faithful and discreet slave,” and everything they say or write is “food at the proper time” that all the Witnesses have to accept or else be disfellowshipped.
The difference between these men and the LDS leadership is that these nine men do not claim to receive messages directly from God or be inspired by him. But because everything that they communicate is believed to come from God, for all practical purposes, they function as if they were inspired by God. This new power structure clearly contradicts the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:8-10.
8 But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your Teacher, and all of you are brothers.9 Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. 10 Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ. 11 But the greatest one among you must be your minister. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
A new view of the Bible that takes a part of its authority away from it, has also been introduced, as I have shown above. The Governing Body claims that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today, and this means that the full inspiration of the Bible is rejected. They also reject the words of Jesus about who will get a resurrection. Moreover, the book Pure Worship of Jehovah — Restored At Last! (2018) is not based on an analysis of the original text of the Bible with the meaning of this text exposed and applied. But it is based on what the text of the Bible reminds each member of the Governing Body of, and this is presented as “food at the proper time.”
I will now return to the claim that angelic assistance is evidence that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave.” This new view was presented in 2013. But what about the preaching work for more than 60 years since World War II? Was there no angelic assistance behind the increase in new Witnesses during these years when the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses did not claim to be “the faithful and discreet slave”? For example, the increase in baptized Witnesses in Norway in the early 1950s was around 20% each year. And a similar increase was seen in other countries.
The conclusion to this section is that the three lines of evidence claimed to prove that the nine members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave” do not prove this at all. The members of the Governing Body do not fully rely on the Bible. Much of what is claimed to be evidence of the support of the spirit of God indicates the very opposite. A significant number of what is called “clarified beliefs” is instead “clouded beliefs,” and they are wrong. The increase in new members of Jehovah’s Witnesses is evidence of angelic support. But this was also the case for many years before the Governing Body decided that they were “the faithful and discreet slave.”
So, none of the three lines of “evidence” can be taken as evidence for anything. And this study has shown this without any doubt.
In chapter 2 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, I show that the view that there should be an elite group called “the faithful and discreet slave” during Christ’s presence is pure fiction.
However, the Governing Body has strongly advocated the belief that such a slave exists, and in 2013, the nine members of the Governing Body decided that they were “the faithful and discreet slave.” This is their very power base. An article in The Watchtower in 2017 presented three lines of supposed evidence that the nine members of the Governing Body are this slave.
At the beginning of this 2017 article, there is a disclaimer saying that the members of the Governing Body are imperfect and can make errors. The purpose of this disclaimer is the opposite of what we might expect. Because most Jehovah’s Witnesses blindly believe everything the Governing Body says and writes, the disclaimer does not lead to reasonable, constructive questions seeking evidence of the conclusions the Governing Body has reached. But the disclaimer serves as an alibi for the Governing Body. When they introduce a new view, everyone believes it to be true. When this view is changed into another view, everyone believes this new view to be true. Because the members of the Governing Body may commit errors, this new and corrected view must be true.
The first line of evidence that the Governing Body is “the faithful and discreet slave” is said to be “reliance on God’s Word.” As evidence for this reliance, disfellowshipping of Witnesses who use tobacco is referred to. However, The Watchtower says correctly that the Bible does not say anything about tobacco. So the reader is misled when this disfellowshipping is used as evidence for reliance on God’s Word. It is also shown that the members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible. Therefore, they cannot claim reliance on the Bible as evidence.
The second line is “evidence of holy spirit.” The supposed evidence consists of a long list of “clarified beliefs.” The Governing Body could not have corrected these beliefs, without the support of the holy spirit is the argument. There is a detailed discussion of 15 of these “clarified beliefs,” which are shown to be “clouded beliefs” instead. In addition to these 15 examples, a significant number of the other “clarified beliefs” are wrong as well. The conclusion is that all these wrong beliefs cannot be the product of the holy spirit’s direction and support. Rather, they are based on human reasonings of persons who do not know the original languages of the Bible and who have created systems of Bible interpretation that are different from the systems used by the Bible Students and Jehovah’s witnesses for the last 120 years.
The third line of evidence is “angelic assistance,” and the evidence for this is the increase of new witnesses all over the world. This increase alone is not evidence of the work of the angels because the Church of the Latter-Day Saints has similar increases as well.
But when we take into consideration that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only denomination that builds its doctrines solely on the Bible, the increase in Witnesses can be taken as evidence of angelic assistance. However, the increase in Witnesses had occurred since World War II, long before 2013, when the members of the Governing Bpdy decided that they were “the faithful and discreet slave”. This means that the increase since 2013 cannot be taken as evidence that the eight members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave.”
The conclusion is that there is absolutely no evidence showing that the eight members of the Governing Body are “the faithful and discreet slave.” This is just a claim that they have made.
ADDENDUM: HOW CAN A RELIGION WITH FALSE TEACHINGS BE THE TRUE RELIGION?
I start this discussion with a quotation from the last section above, which may seem to be self-contradictory:
On the one hand, I say that Jehovah1s Witnesses only believe in the Bible, and their worldwide preaching is supported by angels. On the other hand, I say that in the last part of the 20th and in the 21st century, the development inside Jehovah’s Witnesses has proceeded in the wrong sectarian direction, against the angels of God and his holy spirit. I have also shown in the article that the Governing Body has introduced many human commandments and that most of the new understandings of Bible subjects the Governing Body has presented over the last 33 years have been wrong. In view of all this, how can I at the same time still believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only true religion?
A part of the answer is found in the three first chapters of Revelation, where we find the messages from Jesus Christ to the seven congregations in Asia. These messages are discussed in the article “Introduction to Articles dealing with the Governing Body” in the category “The Governing Body.” I bring the following quotation from this article:
When things that violated God’s laws could happen in the true Christian congregations at the end of the first century CE, things that violate God’s law can also happen in the true Christian congregations today.
Some actions that occurred in five of the seven congregations were against the angels of God and the holy spirit. Nevertheless, these congregations were still a part of the only true religion at the end of the first century CE. Today, sects, idolatry, and sexual immorality are not tolerated among Jehovah’s Witnesses, as was the case in some of the congregations in Asia. But there are false teachings, and an autocratic organization where nine men function as a government with unlimited power has been formed. And Christian freedom is to a great extent restricted because, more and more, the Governing Body makes decisions over the heads of the individual members.
So, the question still remains: How can all the mentioned bad things exist inside the true religion? The short answer is that the 12 million ordinary Witnesses practice the only true religion, while the members of the Governing Body of the 21st century in some areas work against the true religion.
Unchristian actions and teachings inside the true religion in the first century CE
The book of Acts tells about a great preaching work by Paul and many other Christians, and we read about different Christian congregations that were established. These congregations were a part of the only true religion, and the spirit of God was given to members of these congregations. (1 Corinthians chapter 12) The congregations had bodies of elders who worked hard to teach the congregation members the laws and principles of God and to help them to live in accordance with the will of God.
While there was a good spiritual climate in the Christian congregations from the middle of the first century CE, the Christian Greek Scriptures show that there also were some problems. The first letter to the Corinthians was written around the year 55 CE, and at this time, there were some divisions in this congregation (1 Corinthians 1:10), and some elders had elevated themselves and were dubbed “superfine apostles” by Paul. (2 Corinthians 11:5, 13, 14)
Paul wrote that after his death, “aggressive wolves will enter among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness” (Acts 20:29). The second letter to the Thessalonians was written around 51 CE. Paul says in 2:3 that apostasy will come, and the man of lawlessness will be revealed. The second letter of Peter was written about 64 CE, and Peter says in 2:1-2 that there will be false teachers among the Christians.
The letter of Jude was written about 65 CE, and in verse 4, he says that certain men who are violating God’s laws “have slipped in among you.” The first letter of John was written around 98 CE, and in 2:18-22 he says that many antichrists, who denied the Father and the Son, have already arrived.
The corrupting influences that Paul, Peter, Jude, and John writes about occurred gradually from the middle of the first century and until the end of that century. Some of these bad influences were seen in one congregation, and others were seen in another congregation. The mentioned writers warn about these negative influences, and we have no reason to believe that these actions and teachings contrary to God’s truth were accepted by the elders in the Christian congregations.
However, by the time the book of Revelation was written around 96 CE, some bodies of elders had begun allowing these bad influences to infiltrate their congregations. For example, the first three chapters of the book of Revelation show that the bodies of elders in five of the seven congregations written to had accepted violations of God’s laws and false teachings without doing anything to get rid of these. But the point in the context of this discussion is that these congregations, despite the bad things taking place within them, were still part of the one true religion. Indeed, the purpose of the letters was to admonish the elders to rid the congregations of everything that was against God’s truth.
Unchristian actions and teachings inside the true religion in the time of the end
As I have shown in the discussion of the differences between inspiration and direction, C.T Russell and his friends started their search for Bible truth in the 1870s. When Russell died in 1916, most of the basic Christian doctrines were understood, and the only true religion was established.
I have described some examples of God’s direction during the years when C.T. Russell, J.F Rutherford, and N.H. Knorr were the presidents of the Watchtower Society. In 1972, about one hundred years after Russell and his friends started their Bible studies, the elder arrangement was introduced in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was really a milestone.
What was the status of the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses when the elder arrangement was introduced? The true religion that existed in the first century CE was now fully reestablished. Chapter 1 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, is entitled “The Religion of the Bible.” This chapter describes the four basic criteria for being the true religion, 1) The belief in the full inspiration of the Bible, 2) Doctrines completely in harmony with the Bible, 3) A clear separation from the world, and 3) The preaching of the good news of the Kingdom worldwide.
In 1972, the only religion that filled these criteria was Jehovah’s Witnesses. In chapter 1, I describe in detail how the basic doctrines that are unique for Jehovah’s Witnesses have a clear basis in the Bible. There can be no doubt that Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only true religion and this true religion was practiced by all the 1,658,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, including the members of the Governing Body in 1972.
Today, 51 years have passed since the elder arrangement was introduced, and what is the status of the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses now? The four basic criteria are still fulfilled by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all the unique doctrines that I have described are still valid. This means that Jehovah’s Witnesses still is the true religion. If we view this from an academic point of view, Jehovah’s Witnesses of today get an A. However, there is a big minus behind this A. Why is this?
The Governing Body was formed in 1971. While the Governing Body directed the organization worldwide, each group of elders had great freedom to make decisions inside their congregations. In the 1980s, some changes were made, and some power was taken away from the elders and transferred to the Governing Body. But it was first at the beginning of the 21st century that the Governing Body started to function as an autocratic government for Jehovah’s Witnesses in the full sense of the words.
The article “The power struggle inside the Governing Body in the 1980s and 1990s” in the category “The Governing Body” describes the power struggle between Theodore Jaracz and William Lloyd Barry. Jaracz was a hardliner who wanted to make many laws and regulations, while Barry was a champion for Christian freedom. In the year 1999, Barry suddenly died, and for all intents and purposes, Jaracz now became the leader of the Governing Body. When new members were added to the Governing Body, Jaracz had the final say. And he chose hardliners like himself. Jaracz died in 2010.
The influence of Jaracz can be seen in several areas. During the ten years from 2000 to 2010, when he was the leader of the Governing Body, the number of disfellowshipping offenses doubled. The book for elders, “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) lists 46 disfellowshipping offenses. Of these, only 11 are based on the Bible, and the 35 are made up and invented by the Governing Body.
. Two other disfellowshipping are not found in the book for elders.
. During one year, about 80,000 Witnesses were disfellowshipped, but if the Bible had been followed, I assess that 90% of these should not have been disfellowshipped. A detailed discussion of the wrong disfellowshipping procedures is found in chapters 5 and 6 in My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition.
Jaracz had a very negative view of higher education and intellectual persons, and in 2006, a crusade against higher education started. A detailed discussion of this crusade is found in chapter 4 in the mentioned book, and it is entitled “The extreme view of higher education.” This crusade is still going on, and it shows that the present members of the Governing Body are hardliners, just like Jaracz. Because of this crusade, tens of thousands of young Witnesses have been pressured not to pursue higher education, and this has restricted their possibilities to find decent jobs to care for their families.
The most serious error of the members of the present Governing Body is their new view of the Bible—they have rejected its full inspiration, as I have discussed above. A detailed discussion of this is found in chapter 7 of My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, and it is entitled “The Governing Body’s new view of the Bible.” This amounts to a major false teaching on the part of the Governing Body. I have also shown in the discussion above that the Governing Body, without a good Scriptural basis, has changed the understanding of a great number of prophecies.
The true religion is still existing in the time of the end
In 2 Timothy 4:3, 4 (NIV), the apostle Paul shows that there is only one true religion.
There is only one right thing, “the truth,” “the sound (or, ‘healthful’) doctrine.” This truth would not suit the desires of many people. Therefore, they would listen to teachers who said what they liked to hear. The result would be that they would believe in myths rather than the sound or healthful doctrines. That there is only one true church or congregation is also shown by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:15 (NIV):
The word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklēsia, which most often is translated by “congregation.” There is only one “congregation of the living God,” and it is “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” If we believe that the Bible is inspired by God, there is only one possible conclusion to draw: Of all the churches or congregations with different doctrines and different practices, only one can be the true congregation of the living God.
The same doctrine is found in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the book of Daniel, we find the expression, “the people of the holy ones of the Most High.” (Daniel 7:27, NJB) In the last chapter of Daniel, we read that his prophecies dealing with the time of the conclusion (end) should be sealed until this time. (Daniel 12:10–12) The angel who spoke with Daniel also showed that God would have a people. We read:
It is obvious that if the power of the holy people was to be crushed, the holy people must be a tight-knit group that could be distinguished from all other groups, and who could be so identified and targeted.
When we look at Jehovah’s Witnesses in the year 2023, we see that the members still fulfill the four criteria of the only true religion. They believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word, they have doctrines completely in accord with the Bible, they are separated from the world, and they preach the good news of the kingdom worldwide. No other group of religious people fulfills these criteria.
However, the true religion is under attack from the inside, because of the new philosophy and actions of the nine members of the Governing Body. However, most Witnesses do not understand this. Why not? Because what the Witnesses once considered to be the sole source of “the truth,” namely, God’s Word the Bible, has been subtly commandeered by the members of the Governing Body (John 17:17). In the minds of most Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Governing Body is an alternative source of inspired truth in addition to the Bible itself. The transference of this authority from the Bible onto the members of the Governing Body is well underway and is reflected in an oft-repeated expression in the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, the book How to Remain in God’s Love p. 71, par 22 says:
Someone will say that such statements were not meant to convey that the faithful and discreet slave has the authority to decide what is truth apart from the Bible. Nevertheless, the potential connotation that the Governing Body is an additional source of inspired truth is inherent in the wording of the above sentence and many others just like it. The intentions of the Governing Body notwithstanding, the potential meaning is there, nonetheless, like a subliminal message to the mind. And this juxtaposition of the “faithful and discreet slave” on par with the Bible, as an alternative source of truth, continues to appear in the Witness literature with more and more frequency. And there can be no question that Jehovah’s Witnesses have fully absorbed that message—the truth is determined by the Bible and the faithful and discreet slave.
For example, all individual Witnesses believe that every word in the Bible is inspired by God. But they also believe that everything the members of the Governing Body say and write is the truth and nothing but the truth. Because this mental conditioning has occurred gradually, most Jehovah’s Witnesses have not noticed that the Governing Body has a new philosophical view of the Bible—huge portions of the Hebrew Scriptures now have no prophetic meaning whatsoever. Apparently, much of what Jehovah caused to be recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures is just filler material that the Governing Body is authorized to filter out and repackage into a few succinct simple lessons or moral principles, as if our Grand Instructor, Jehovah God, could not have done that himself if he so desired. Therefore, this new view of the Bible on the part of the members of the Governing Body amounts to a rejection of its full inspiration.
Moreover, most of the present members of Jehovah’s Witnesses have not been witnesses for many years, and they do not know what the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses was like some decades ago. I have been a witness since 1961, and because I have had different elder positions, I know the organization from the inside. I see that the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses today is very different from what it was some decades ago. The human commandments of the present Governing Body have ruined the lives of tens of thousands of my brothers and sisters. This is something I cannot ignore or simply look the other way without speaking up. That is the basic reason why I have written my book and all the articles on my website.
In the second century CE, some elders wanted more power for themselves, and they elevated themselves to become bishops. And later, some elders became priests, and thereby, a religious clergy was formed. In the 21st century, the members of the Governing Body are on a parallel course with those second-century elders. They have elevated themselves to a position where they have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money of the organization. Everything they say and do must be accepted, and criticism of the leaders leads to disfellowshipping. The typical characteristic of a sect is that one or more leaders have all power and they require total obedience. Because this is the case with Jehovah’s witnesses today, the Governing Body has led the organization in a sectarian direction.
Despite their intentions to use such power for good, “power corrupts,” as the saying goes, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This is why Jehovah never intended for such power to be wielded by human beings, not even those with good motives (Jeremiah 10:23). And the absolute power that now resides in the hands of the members of the Governing Body will inevitably have a corrupting effect over time. And as I have been pointing out in my book and in these articles, such abuses of power are already underway. For example, everything the Governing Body says and does must be accepted without question, and any criticism of the leaders will ultimately lead to disfellowshipping. Herein lies the most basic example of the corrupting influence of power that has already gained a foothold among the members of the Governing Body, namely, their view that ‘because we have the power, we cannot be questioned by our fellow brothers and sisters’. And the fundamental reason for this stance is that the members of the Governing Body apparently do not really see themselves as “fellow slaves” or “fellow brothers,” but rather, as the government of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so they act accordingly.
Not only did the elders in the second century who elevated themselves to bishops govern their congregations in a dictatorial way. But they also introduced procedures and doctrines in the congregations that contradicted God’s will, as it is expressed in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The situations in five of the seven congregations in Asia that are mentioned in the first three chapters of Revelation are examples of this.
In the 21st century, the members of the Governing Body have also introduced procedures and doctrines in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses that contradict God’s will, as it is expressed in the Christian Greek Scriptures—as I already have described in detail. And it is because of this that I say that the only true religion is under attack. However, the 12 million ordinary members practice the true religion to the full, and the A that they get from this has no minus attached.
Just as the five congregations in Asia were a part of the only true religion, even though procedures and doctrines contrary to God’s Word existed in these congregations, I will say that Jehovah’s Witnesses today is the only true religion, despite the fact that the present Governing Body has led the organization in a sectarian direction, and some procedures and doctrines contrary to God’s Word exist within it.
The conclusion of this discussion is: The ordinary Jehovah’s Witnesses practice the true religion to the full; the Governing body in many ways has undermined the true religion by making procedures and doctrines that are against the will of God. The Governing Body has subtly commandeered the very concept of what “the truth” is in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have done this by gradually transferring the authority of the Scriptures, as the source of truth, to the minds and will of the members of the Governing Body. Because of this, Jehovah’s Witnesses have come to view the Governing Body as an alternative source of “truth” to the written word of God (John 17:17).
THE ARTICLE “GOD’S ADMINISTRATION — HIS CHANNEL OF COMMUNICATION” IS A SEQUEL TO THE PRESENT ARTICLE.