I would like to make a belated remark on the daily text published by the Watchtower Society for Thursday, August 12, 2010, which was based upon the following scripture: “Do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God.” —1 John 4:1.
The Watchtower went on to comment:
“In harmony with John’s counsel, we always encourage those we meet in the preaching work to test what they have been taught by comparing it with the Bible. That is a good rule for us too. If any statements come to our ears that are critical of the truth or that cast aspersions on the congregation, the elders, or any of our brothers, we do not accept them at face value. Rather, we ask: “Is the one spreading this story acting in harmony with what the Bible says? Do these stories or allegations further Jehovah’s purpose? Do they promote the peace of the congregation?” A sound rule is found in the words of the apostle Paul: “Do not go beyond the things that are written.” (1 Cor. 4:6) Yes, we should not go beyond the things that are written in the Bible or, by extension, beyond the Bible-based counsel written in the publications of the faithful and discreet slave.”
On face value the Society’s comments may have some value. Nobody wants to be misled by petty gossip or scandalmongers. Certainly, there is no question that there is much disinformation published against the Watchtower Society and Jehovah’s Witnesses and we do well not to give heed to such babblers. That is why the apostle Paul exhorted his dear friend Timothy not to pay attention to false stories.
The counsel of the apostle John, on the other hand, does not seem to pertain to that which originates with those on the outside; but rather, from those on the inside whose words may carry great weight, so as to appear to be “inspired expressions.”
The troubling aspect of this particular daily text is that its publishers have placed their writings on the equal footing with the very word of God. Honestly, who would argue against the fact that everything published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is received by Jehovah’s Witnesses as if “inspired expressions”?
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been trained as ministers to help people understand the Bible and get out from underneath the blinding influence of false religion. To that end the Watchtower Society exhorts everyone to examine his or her religious beliefs in comparison with what is found in the Bible. That is sound advice.
But when it comes to Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves, the Watchtower adroitly discourages them from questioning anything written in the publications of the self-proclaimed faithful and discreet slave.
No one would argue that what is written in the publications of the Watchtower is not based upon the Bible. That is not the issue. The question is: Is everything written accurate and true? Bible-based counsel is fine. Without question, most of what the Watchtower publishes in the way of counsel and exhortation is intended to help Jehovah’s Witnesses and those wishing to live by Christian principles to do so. No one can find fault with this aspect of their teaching. But what about prophecy? Or more accurately: What about the Watchtower’s interpretation of God’s prophetic word? Is it accurate? Is it reliable? Is it authentic? Can it hold up if put to the test? And is that not really what the grandfatherly apostle was exhorting all Christians to do – to not unquestioningly accept everything offered by God’s spokesmen as “inspired expression”?
Here is the commentary published in The Finished Mystery explaining the meaning of the 1,600 furlongs: (Scroll down to bottom of linked page)
“By the space of a thousand and[six] TWO hundred furlongs. — This cannot be interpreted to refer to the 2100 mile battle line of the world war. A furlong or stadium is not a mile and this is without the city whereas the battle line is within the city. See Rotherham’s translation. A stadium is 606¾ English ft; 1200 stadii are, mi., 137.9 The work on this volume was done in Scranton, Pa. As fast as it was completed it was sent to the Bethel. Half of the work was done at an average distance of 5 blocks from the Lackawanna station, and the other half at a distance of 25 blocks. Blocks in Scranton are 10 to the mile. Hence the average distance to the station is 15 blocks, or……….. 1.5 mi. Official Railway Guide time-table distance Scranton to Hoboken Terminal, 133.0 ft. New York City Engineer’s official distance Hoboken to the Bethel, via Barclay Street Ferry, Fulton Street and Fulton Ferry, 8,850, 4,950, 2,540 and 1,460 feet respectively, or a total of…………..3.4 ft. Shortest distance from place where the winepress was trodden by the Feet Members of the Lord, Whose guidance and help alone made this volume possible. (John 6:60, 61; Matt. 20:11.)………..mi., 137.9”
I will leave it to you, the reader, to try to make sense of the information presented above. But if one did not know better a person might conclude that someone at Bethel was experimenting with peyote or some other mind-altering hallucinogens back then.
But the point is, if you had been associated with the International Bible Students after 1917 – at least the Bible Students that remained associated with J.F. Rutherford after the big schism – you would have been expected to accept such gibberish as cited above as “food at the proper time.”
(If The Finished Mystery was genuine spiritual food it is a wonder that the Bible Students did not all perish from botulism!)
Then, just as now, everything presented by “the faithful and discreet slave” is touted as being divine truth and is not to be questioned. To question the authenticity of any of the Watchtower’s voluminous utterances on prophecy is considered going “beyond the things written” in God’s word.
Fortunately for the Bible Students, back then the Society did not disfellowship or brand as “apostates” those who may have put the Watchtower’s “inspired expressions” to the test and found them to be wanting. Unfortunately, that is not the case today. Any of Jehovah’s Witnesses who voice any reservations about their acceptance of the Watchtower’s every utterance is likely to find themselves marked as unfit for association, branded as a weak Christian, or in the worst case scenario – castigated as an apostate. Any who are thus branded as an apostate are considered by the high priests of Bethel to be spiritually dead. In fact, it could be said that the Society figuratively slays those whom it judges to be cursed.
Is the Society’s heavy-handed methods because the Watchtower’s “inspired expressions” are above scrutiny? No, not at all. Although the Society has edited out much of the nonsensical commentary of their predecessors, the basic error remains.
Why does the Governing Body slyly discourage Jehovah’s Witnesses from following the apostolic counsel to not unquestioningly believe everything presented as an “inspired expression”? It is because they know their 1914 doctrine does not hold up to scrutiny. To enforce their authority as the inspired slave of God the Organization has resorted to coercion and tyranny. The Society has become a dictatorial tyrant.
Jehovah’s remedy is, ironically, recorded in prophecy. The commencement of the genuine parousia and day of Jehovah will naturally present the dictators of Bethel with quite a dilemma. How will the would-be interpreters of prophecy react to the forthcoming judgments of Jehovah, expressed through his earthly executioner? The prophet, Isaiah, has the answer:
“The pronouncement of the valley of the vision: What is the matter with you, then, that you have gone up in your entirety to the roofs? With turmoil you were full, a boisterous city, an exultant town. Your slain ones are not those slain with the sword, nor those dead in battle. All your dictators themselves have fled at one time. Without need of a bow they have been taken prisoner. All those of you who have been found have been taken prisoner together. Far off they had run away.” – Isaiah 22:1-3