the Spirit Watch
The Gospel According To Jehovah's Witnesses
" .. each year thousands gratefully respond to the Kingdom message and take their stand as true Christians, that is, as Witnesses of Jehovah .."
Knowledge That Leads To Everlasting Life, pp.105-106
by Mike Spencer and Rafael Martinez, Spiritwatch Ministries
This article will address the following topics:
- What is the Jehovah's Witness "gospel" and what does it teach?
- What must a person do to be saved according to the Watchtower?
- What did Jehovah's Witness founder Charles T. Russell (1852-1916) teach about the year 1914 (and other key end-time dates "taught in the Bible")?
- How did the Jehovah's Witnesses current teaching about the 1914 gospel evolve from Russell's original teaching? Is the Jehovah's Witness gospel the same as the gospel message preached by the early Christians?
- Did Jesus really begin to reign invisibly over his Kingdom in the year 1914?
What Is The "Gospel" According To The Jehovah's Witnesses?
In one of the last conversations he had with his disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus said "this gospel (good news) of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come." (Matthew 24:14) But what exactly is this "good news" or "gospel" according to the Jehovah's Witness religious sect? Perhaps it would be best to let them speak for themselves from their own publications:
"Let the honest-hearted person compare the kind of preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom done by the religious systems of Christendom during all the centuries with that done by Jehovah's Witnesses since the end of World War I in 1918. They are not one and the same kind. That of Jehovah's Witnesses is really "gospel," or "good news," as of God's heavenly kingdom that was established by the enthronement of his Son Jesus Christ at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914." (1)
According to Jehovah's Witnesses, then, the "gospel" is the message of the invisible enthronement (sometimes called the "invisible presence") of Christ in the year 1914. The Watchtower asserts that Jesus began to reign over his Kingdom that year and cast Satan and his angels down into the Earth. Satan, in a rage, caused the outbreak of World War I. The outbreak of World War I (along with the increased frequency of wars, diseases, and earthquakes that have occurred in the world since the year 1914) is, according to the Jehovah's Witnesses, infallible proof that the year 1914 marks the beginning of Christ's invisible reign. (Luke 21:28.)
One day soon, the battle of Armageddon will take place. All who refuse to embrace the doctrines of the Jehovah's Witness sect will be utterly annihilated, and the Kingdom of God will be fully established on a restored Paradise Earth. Jesus, as Jehovah's authorized representative, will continue to reign invisibly from heaven over this restored Earthly Paradise throughout all eternity. He will reign through his Visible Organization, the worldwide organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. All who wish to serve God and his son Jesus Christ must submit to the authority of God's chosen earthly representatives, the leaders of the Jehovah's Witness sect (an elite group of men known as "the Governing Body"). This is "Jehovah's Arrangement" for all mankind.
Salvation Through The Watchtower
To the Witness, salvation is conditional and comes through acquiring "an accurate knowledge of the truth." This is the most essential principle of "Jehovah's arrangement." The "Truth" as the Society defines it involves an intensive period of daily study and frequent interaction with "brothers and sisters" who reinforce their grasp of it. Witnesses are taught to believe that God's personal Name is Jehovah, and that the sanctification of that name is God's chief concern. Jesus Christ was actually Michael the Archangel who became a man and who died to save man from his sinful nature, not his own committed sins. Being a created being, he could never be mistakenly attributed as actually being the great Jehovah God Himself, who is the only true God. Jesus was never bodily and literally resurrected; instead, there was a spiritual resurrection. Jesus spiritually rose from the dead and now lives and reigns at Jehovah's right hand and will never return to earth bodily, having "invisibly" returned in 1914.
In these last days, Jehovah, the One true God, has devised only one channel through the people of earth may learn of Him, this being the Watchtower Society (through which Witnesses are kept in fellowship through active participation in the work of the local Kingdom Hall). They base this need for "accurate knowledge" on John 17:3 which the Society's Bible versions - the New World Translation and Kingdom Interlinear Translation - utterly mistranslate, as we shall see. Prospective converts are taught that to prove their loyalty to Jehovah, they must be loyal and obedient to the "truth" as they receive it through the Watchtower Society organization. Several months of study and the lifestyle changes (which also involve rejection of "pagan" holidays such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas, refusal to salute flags, change of attitude toward friends and family, etc.) must first ensue before the new convert can be said to have gained the "accurate knowledge" and are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit-Directed Organization (this is the literal baptismal formula). Aggressive and vigorous door-to-door, street, and personal witnessing hawking this "Gospel of the Kingdom" as well as Watchtower publications is seen as the major measuring stick for one's level of faithfulness.
Ultimate salvation, therefore, can come only to the Witness as he "endures to the end" (Mt. 24:13). Through a lifetime of suffering, sacrifice, and service, the Jehovah's Witness will prove his loyalty by enduring all that a scornful and apostate world heaps upon them. They must also strive to survive an impending Tribulation and Armageddon which they will have to experience. Those who endure will live on into the Millennium and help build " the Kingdom" on the rubble of a planet devastated by judgment and needing to be restored. This is why Witnesses emphasize the prophetic views of Scripture concerning the paradise conditions of the Biblical Millennium so often. The "escape" from divine wrath through a pre-Tribulation "rapture" (as most Evangelical Christians believe) is absent from their hope; instead, they are going to have to endure to the bitter end. And only after all of this, at the final judgment in which a general resurrection of the dead occurs, will the Witnesses on earth ever know if their faithful work and loyal devotion has merited them worthy of receiving everlasting life. A Witness will live out his life in this world never knowing if he will ever receive it!
The Watchtower Society fielded just over 5.5 million "publishers" (all baptized Jehovah's Witnesses in good standing with the organization) into virtually every known country of the world last year, spreading this "gospel of the Kingdom", along with thousands of "Pioneers," a zealous corps of Witnesses who have made their preaching work a full time occupation. Billions upon billions of pieces of literature, books, Bibles, tapes, records and other publications translated into 130 languages now proclaim this gospel throughout the world, an amazing accomplishment Witnesses cite as the prophetic fulfillment of Jesus' command for the proclamation of "the Gospel of the Kingdom" and point to their work as fulfillment of it. It becomes evident that the Watchtower's view of the Gospel is completely associated with active Witness proclamation. As one studies their teachings, it becomes immediately apparent that the date of 1914 comes up again and again. What did Jehovah's Witness founder Charles T. Russell teach about the year 1914? Why was this so important to their view of the Gospel?
Russell's "Bible Teachings" About 1914 And Other "End-Time" Dates
Charles T. Russell, creator of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and founder of the Jehovah's Witness religious sect, was a prolific writer whose religious speculations extended to a fascination with Bible prophecy. This attention he gave to Bible prophecy was drawn directly from his initial involvement with Second Adventist preachers (2). In keeping with this Adventist influence, Russell's writings began to focuse extensively on his views of Bible prophecy and how it related to the gospel. He believed the following things about 1914 and other important prophetic dates (note: all references in this section, unless otherwise noted, are from the Jehovah's Witnesses own literature, published by the Watchtower Society):
- The "invisible presence" of Jesus Christ began in the year 1874.
- The year 1874 marks the end of 6000 years of man's existence on earth.
- In 1878 (three and one half years after 1874) Jesus began to reign over his kingdom.
- The year 1881 marks the last opportunity to be part of the "elect class" of 144,000 "anointed" Christians. (this "class" of 144,000 is also called the "faithful and discreet slave class" in Watchtower literature.)
- All who become Christians after that date will be part of the "great crowd" of believers. (Note: in the Jehovah's Witness sect, the "great crowd" is an inferior class of Christian, subordinate to the elect class of "anointed" believers.)
- A great time of trouble in the world will begin around the year 1910, culminating in the battle of Armageddon in the year 1914. According to Russell, it was "an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished at the end of A. D. 1914." (3)
Russell arrived at the 1914 date for Armageddon by the following chain of reasoning: In Daniel 4:16 the times of the gentiles is "seven times." In Revelation 12:6,14 a "time, times and half a time" means three and a half times, or half of seven times. Three and a half times equals 1260 days; therefore seven times equals 2520 days. In Bible prophecy one day is usually equal to one year (see, for example Ezekiel 4:6); therefore 2520 days is really 2520 years. In 606 B. C. Jerusalem was sacked and King Zedekiah was captured by the Babylonians, thus beginning the "times of the gentiles". 606 B. C. plus 2520 years equals A. D. 1914; therefore 1914 will be date for the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God.
A little known bit of information most Witnesses do not know (and would not tell you even if they did) is that "Pastor" Russell's prophetic beliefs came to be heavily influenced by his fascination with Egyptian pyramidology. Pyramidology is a study of the physical structures of the Great Pyramids in the belief that ancient wisdom could be learned from it. There were many mystics and religious mavericks who advanced this arcane belief during Russell's day, and he became enamored with the pseudoscience behind it which brought forth "hidden truths." Russell would come to believe that the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt was a vast storehouse of prophetic truth, built by Melchizedek under the direction of Almighty God. He made it abundantly clear that the measurements of the internal passageways of the Great Pyramid should be carefully studied by all advanced students of Bible prophecy (4).
In the same way other occultic pyramidologist groups sought the "hidden truths" in it, Russell claimed that by measuring the passageways of the Great Pyramid from a variety of different angles and then converting inches into years (one inch = one prophetic year), we are able (according to Russell) to confirm the absolute accuracy of what the Bible teaches about 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, and 1914. (see volume 3 in Russell's Studies in the Scriptures referenced in the above note, p. 313 and following) This is an important point: few Jehovah's Witnesses today are aware that their founder, Charles Taze Russell, used his Watchtower books and magazines to actively promote the practice of pyramidology, a form of occult divination, and that their interpretation of the 1914 gospel actually was founded upon it!
The 1914 "Gospel's" Focus Changes: From Pyramids To Visible Organizations
How did the Jehovah's Witness sect's current teaching about the 1914 "gospel" evolve from Russell's original teaching? It came about as the need for the Society to respond to the unexpected events ocurring all around it in the real world which challenged its' original conclusions. 1914 came and went, and Armageddon failed to come as predicted. So new copies of Russell's Studies in the Scriptures were printed up by the Watchtower Society with the key date 1914 changed to read "1915" in key places in the text (compare, for example, page 81 of the 1908 edition and page 81of the 1915 edition of volume 2 in Studies in the Scriptures). But in 1916 Charles T. Russell died suddenly, and Joseph F. Rutherford became the new president of the Watchtower Society and the new leader of the Jehovah's Witness sect. In an attempt to keep the small band of "Bible students" within the fold, in 1917 Rutherford published volume 7 in Studies in the Scriptures, "The Finished Mystery". The book was an effort to reconcile Russell's prophetic emphasis, and the "Bible students" attention to it, to a new chronology that would really show when Armageddon would occur: on page 485 the date for Armageddon is moved from 1915 to 1918.
However, Rutherford and those "Bible Students" who remained faithful to his leadership (many left after Rutherford's assumption of power) got another rude shock. 1918 came and Armageddon again failed to materialize as predicted. Instead, World War I - seen as the pivotal conflict that would precipitate Armageddon - ended with the Treaty of Versailles. Rutherford was now faced with another prophetic snafu, and in 1920 a massive new door-to-door preaching campaign was launched by the Watchtower leadership centering around their new book Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Ever willing to base their lives upon their group's changing prophetic views, hundreds of the "Bible students" became itinerant heralds of the book. It taught that 1925 would witness the full establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth and the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to the "condition of human perfection." (5)
Yet 1925 came and went without incident. Still more disillusioned followers of the Watchtower finally left the group. Watchtower president Joseph Rutherford privately admitted "I made an ass of myself." (6) Realizing the dire need to stem the exodus of members from the Society, Rutherford's teachings through Society publications began to emphasize early in the year a "flash" of "enlightened understanding" that was to have long reaching consequences for its future teachings on the Gospel. In the March 1 issue of The Watchtower, his exposition of Revelation 12 "clearly explained for the first time" the now central position of the Society: "There are two distinct organizations - Jehovah's and Satan's .. Everyone belongs to either Jehovah's organization or to Satan's." (7) This was a bold maneuver to consolidate the claims of the Society by taking a much more rigid stand on who was saved, and who wasn't.
The Rutherford-led Society then finally stopped using the Great Pyramid as a "corroborating witness" for their chronological calculations. Although for some four decades the Great Pyramid of Gizeh was boldly proclaimed as "God's Stone Witness" and a "storehouse of prophetic truth," Rutherford's leadership began to vigorously denounce it as "Satan's Bible." (8) The same Watchtower article also declares (on page 341) that to follow the Great Pyramid's teachings "is being led by vain philosophy and false science and not following after Christ." Since the Watchtower was undoubtedly "Jehovah's organization", it rendered itself and its teachings - above question. It holds to this uncompromising position to this day (9). Elsewhere in our site, a thorough Bible study into the question of God's need for a visible organization is available.
In 1930, the Watchtower, still under Rutherford's authoritarian direction, continued to harden its position and attempt to rewrite its history. It switched the date for Christ's "invisible presence" from 1874 to 1914. The date 1874, long touted as "correct beyond the possibility of a doubt" and "based squarely on inspired prophecy" (10) was quietly dropped. And in 1935, the Society presented even more "new light" and taught that 1935 (not 1881, as Russell had taught) marked the final year one could become part of the elect class of "anointed" Christians (who had a heavenly hope). From that point on, all who became Christians - that is, of course, a baptized member of the Witnesses - after 1935 automatically become part of the "Great Crowd," (an inferior class of believers subordinate to the "anointed" or "elect class"). After that date these "Jonadabs" who "realized that the spirit of God had not engendered in them the hope of heavenly life" (11) could only now hope only for preservation through Armageddon and the prospect of eternal life on the earth itself. This establishment of two classes of the righteous, one with assurance and the other with conditional salvation based upon their loyalty to the Society, placed an even greater demand upon Witnesses to conform to the dictates of their leaders, thus further strenthening the autocratic control they would come to exert over them in the decades to come.
LET'S SUMMARIZE WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED:
Beginning in the late 1870s the Watchtower taught that 1874 was the beginning of Christ's INVISIBLE presence, 1878 was the date he began his invisible reign, 1881 was the last chance to be part of the "anointed" Class, and 1914 was the date of Armageddon and the FULL ESTABLISHMENT of God's Kingdom on earth. This the first of the Society's ever-changing position on the "gospel" and hence, their belief on how to gain salvation. When 1914 failed, the Watchtower pushed the date for Armageddon ahead to 1915, and when that date failed, too, it began predicting that Armageddon would occur in 1918. When 1918 failed, the date was pushed forward to 1925. 1925, of course, failed as well, and the Society's exclusive claims to access to God's saving grace began to emerge by its' self-appointment as "Jehovah's Organization."
To consolidate its teaching authority, around 1930 the Watchtower quietly dropped all mention of Christ's invisible presence in 1874 and invisible enthronement in 1878 and began to teach that 1914 was the date of Christ's invisible presence AND enthronement. In 1928 the Watchtower had found it necessary to abandon its practice of pyramidology, since the Great Pyramid's chronology supported the dates 1874 and 1878 (dates it was preparing to abandon). In 1935 the Watchtower's president, Joseph Rutherford, began teaching that he had received "new light" from God and that 1935 marked the last chance to be part of the elect "anointed" class of Christianity. This two-class system was used therafter to determine which of the Society's faithful would have a "heavenly" hope and who would remain upon earth, forever earthbound and subject to the rule of the "elect". No biblical evidence was advanced to support this 1935 "new light", and the power of the Society over the destinies of the rank and file was further strengthened. (The date 1881, formerly proclaimed by the Watchtower as the last chance to be part of the "anointed" class, was quietly dropped.)
Time fails to allow us to discuss the Watchtower's 1975 predictions of Armageddon and its never ending efforts to establish its claims to spiritual supremacy over the years. But we feel that this brief review of Society efforts to define its belief system on the crumbling sands of failed prophecy and organizational turmoil shows just how uncertain a foundation it stands upon when it speaks about "the gospel."
The "Gospel Of The Kingdom" And The Biblical Gospel
As we have seen, the Watchtower's grasp of what it calls "the Truth" and hence, "the Gospel" has been most uncertain over the years. Now the most important question we can ask is this: is the Jehovah's Witness "Gospel of the Kingdom" the same as the Gospel preached by the early Christians? To put the matter simply, imagine a wheel with spokes radiating outward from the center. Imagine that the wheel represents the totality of Christian preaching. At the center (at the hub of the wheel) is the gospel. The gospel is the central theme of the Church's worldwide message. It is the key doctrine from which all other doctrines flow. But picture the same wheel with the words "1914 INVISIBLE ENTHRONEMENT" at its center and you will have a clear picture of the doctrinal system preached around the world by the Jehovah's Witness sect.
Is this record of false prophecy and doctrinal flip-flopsthe same picture we see when we look at the preaching of the Apostles and the early church? When we consider the question "what is the gospel" we cannot do better than to examine the preaching of Paul, the man who said, "woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16). What was the central theme of Paul's preaching? What was Paul's gospel? Paul told the Corinthian Christians very plainly what his gospel was when he wrote to them "we preach Christ crucified" (1 Cor. 1:23). A few verses later in the same epistle he repeats the same idea, saying "I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." The meaning here is not that Paul did not address other topics or doctrinal issues as the occasion arose, but rather that the doctrine of Christ's sacrificial atoning death on the cross was the central theme of his preaching. In other words it was his Gospel. Paul even goes so far as to refer to his message as "the word of the cross" (1 Cor. 1:18).
The gospel message (the "good news") preached by Paul was the wonderful message that the penalty for man's sins had been paid for by Christ's death, and that man could now, through simple faith in Christ and his atoning sacrifice, stand spotless and pure before the bar of God's justice. Paul refers to this as "being justified" in Romans 5:9 and in many other places. In Second Corinthians 5:18 Paul refers to the entire Christian ministry as "the ministry of reconciliation" because it has at its core a message (the message of Christ's atoning death) that is able to reconcile man to God. For the Apostle Paul, the Gospel is synonymous with "the word of the cross" or "the word of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:19). If one were to imagine the total body of Paul's preaching as a wheel, it is quite clear that the "message of the cross" (i. e. the atoning death of Christ) would be at the hub of the wheel.
Now is this the same picture we see when we examine the preaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses? Paul's gospel was "the word of the cross." The Jehovah's Witness gospel is "the Kingdom message of the invisible enthronement of Christ in the year 1914." Do the members of the Jehovah's Witness religion preach the same "gospel" that Paul preached? This question assumes great importance when we consider what Paul wrote to the Galatians:
"I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; Which is not another: but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. BUT THOUGH WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL UNTO YOU THAN THAT WHICH WE HAVE PREACHED UNTO YOU, LET HIM BE ACCURSED. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, LET HIM BE ACCURSED (Galatians 1:6-9, emphasis mine).
Based on the above Scriptures, we are compelled to reveal the sad and undeniable truth that all members of the Jehovah's Witness religious sect, in spite of their admitted sincerity and zeal in the distribution of Watchtower literature and propagation of Watchtower doctrine, are nevertheless guilty of preaching a false gospel, and are therefore under the curse of Jehovah. We take no pleasure in this awful situation. Our heartfelt desire is that someday they might come to place their full and complete trust in the real gospel of Jesus Christ, the only message that can truly bring them "peace with God" (Romans 5:1).
The Watchtower's Lip-Service To The Atonement
Jehovah's Witnesses may argue that they do believe in the atoning death of Christ (which they call the "ransom sacrifice"). But the Jehovah's Witnesses professed faith in "the ransom sacrifice" is fatally flawed, in two significant ways. First, by denying that the ransom sacrifice is "the gospel," they effectively subordinate the atoning death of Jesus Christ to the more important "gospel" message of the 1914 invisible enthronement. This is inexcusable. Second, it should be pointed out that the Judaizers (i. e. the false teachers condemned by Paul in his letter to the Galatians, see Gal. 1:8,9) most likely did not altogether reject the atoning death of Christ. In all likelihood, they only sought to load additional "baggage" on top of Paul's gospel. (In other words, these false teachers were saying, "you must believe in Christ and be circumcised in order to be saved").
Jehovah's Witnesses, like their spiritual forefathers (the Judaizers), also seek to impose an additional, unnecessary requirement on top of the simple Gospel mesage of Christ's atoning sacrifice. Members of the Jehovah's Witness sect (also known as "kingdom publishers") preach, for all practical purposes, "except you believe in Christ's sacrificial death and the invisible 1914 enthronement of Christ (as currently taught in the pages of The Watchtower magazine) you cannot be saved." This, too, is inexcusable and would certainly have been condemned by Paul.
An "Invisible" Reign?
Did Jesus really begin to reign invisibly over his kingdom in 1914? This is the foundation upon the Watchtower's preaching and teaching is based. Yet after having carefully investigated the historical and scriptural "proofs" advanced by the Jehovah's Witness sect we must conclude that it is impossible to believe that Jesus Christ embarked on an invisible Heavenly reign over the world in the year 1914. Why? Consider the following:
- If Jesus did not begin to reign over his kingdom until 1914, how could the Apostle Paul write to the Colossians that the Father had transferred them (past tense) "into the kingdom of his beloved son (Col. 1:13)?" How could the Colossian Christians already be in a kingdom (Christ's Kingdom) that, according to the Jehovah's Witness leadership, did not even exist until the year 1914?
- Didn't Jesus begin to reign invisibly over his Kingdom (the Christian community) in A. D. 33? How can the Second Advent of Christ be an "invisible presence" known only to a select group of his followers (the elite "anointed" elect class of Jehovah's Witnesses) when the Bible teaches that when Christ returns "every eye shall see him, even they that pierced him (i. e. even his enemies)?" See Revelation 1:7.
- Does this sound like an invisible presence of Christ to you? Is it any great feat to accurately forecast an invisible event sixteen years after it is alleged to have occurred? (It is a historical fact that the Jehovah's Witnesses did not begin preaching the doctrine of Christ's 1914 "invisible enthronement" till 1930.)
- The "seven times" of Daniel 14:6 are expressly interpreted by Daniel himself (Daniel 4:24-25) as prophetically referring to a seven year period of madness that would befall Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian King. How then can any person or group interpret the "seven times" of Daniel 4:16 as referring to a 2520 year captivity of Israel? Where is this erroneous concept to be found in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Daniel? Why has the Jehovah's Witness leadership chosen to completely ignore the Bible's own clearly stated interpretation of Daniel's "seven times" given in Daniel 4:24-25?
- In the early 1940s, the Watchtower leadership quietly "adjusted" the beginning date for their calculation from 606 B. C. to 607 B. C. Russell's math error was then corrected and - SURPRISE! - the calculation still ends in the year 1914. Was this "tinkering" with history really necessary? Was it honest?
- The actual date for the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians is not 606 or 607 B.C. (as the Jehovah's Witnesses claim), but 586 B. C. The fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians is one of the best-attested dates in all of antiquity. Looking in any reputable Bible dictionary or secular encyclopedia under the heading "Nebuchadnezzar" or "Jerusalem" can verify the 586 B. C. date. CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF AND SEE!
As far as we have been able to determine, all the standard reference books that were being produced during Russell's lifetime routinely gave 586 B. C. as the date for the fall of Jerusalem and the capture of King Zedekiah (see, for example, the 1910 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 19, p. 332). Did Russell even bother to check his data against the basic reference works in his own library? Or did he simply ignore the historical facts because he couldn't make history agree with what the Great Pyramid was telling him?
If at some future date the Jehovah's Witness leadership should quietly drop the 1914 date that has completely dominated their prophetic speculation for over a century and replace it with yet another date (perhaps 1975), does this mean that "the gospel of the Kingdom" will change yet again? The unchanging Jehovah is made to appear that his people change their understanding of the Bible every time the Governing Body of the Jehovah's Witness sect changes its mind, which almost always has an impact on their teaching of the "gospel." The Society's pointing to certain elements of our world order involved in their prophetic equations has proven to be a dubious undertaking that they continue to this day. Does the outbreak of World War I in 1914 really constitute adequate proof that Jesus began to "invisibly reign" in that year? We think not, since the real political causes of World War I are well known to historians. The First World War was really caused by the pride of an Austrian Emperor, the bellicose arrogance of a German Kaiser, and the violent murder of an Austrian Archduke. Subsequent human history has overwhelmingly proven that Watchtower claims of a present day establishment of God's Kingdom on the earth can hardly be said to be believable. The times since 1914, if anything, have gotten more savage, antichristian and pagan than any other time in the past.
If the Jehovah's Witnesses were wrong about 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1925, and 1975, why should we trust what they are now telling us about 1914? Does their track record for interpreting Bible prophecy inspire great confidence? Now that you have learned where the key Jehovah's Witness doctrine (the "invisible 1914 enthronement") came from, do you believe it is really a true BIBLICAL doctrine? Can you accept this as the "Gospel"? Read the Bible for yourself. Make up your own mind.
Click here for a select bibliography of books used to prepare this report
(1) The Watchtower 5/1/81, p.17
(2) Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers Of God's Kingdom, Brooklyn, NY.:The Watchtower Bible and tract Society, 1993, p. 43. Russell would later write " ..though Adventism helped me to no single truth, it did help me greatly in the unlearning of errors, and thus prepared me for the Truth." (p. 44). This Watchtower publication goes on to note that "Russell referred quite openly to the assistance he had received from others. Not only did he acknowledge his indebtedness to Second Adventist Jonas Wendell but he also spoke with affection about two other individuals .." These men, George Stetson (an Adventist pastor) and George Storrs had great impact on Russell as did the work of Adventist writer Nelson Barbour, who he would eventually work with in the publication of the Herald Of The Morning, a monthly journal that would evolve into The Watchtower.
(3) "The Time is at Hand," volume 2 in Studies in the Scriptures by Charles T. Russell, Brooklyn, N. Y.: The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1889, p. 99, 1908 edition.
(4) "Thy Kingdom Come," volume 3 in Studies in the Scriptures by Charles T. Russell, Brooklyn, N. Y.: The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1891, p. 313ff, 1903 edition).
(5) Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Brooklyn, N. Y., The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1920, pp. 89, 90
(6) The Watchtower, October 1, 1984, p. 24
(7) The Watchtower, March 1, 1925. It is impossible to overemphasize how profound an impact was made by this new teaching by Rutherford. The last remnants of Charles T. Russell's legacy of simple, almost egalitarian informality in relationships within the "Bible Students" were in an instant swept away. Replacing them was the tough and uncompromising stance of black and white dogma concerning the Society as "Jehovah's Organization." This authoritarian whip cracking over their heads was too much for many of those in the Society who remembered the "kinder and gentler" Russell administration and many others left it for the many splinter groups that clung to Russell's teachings. Several of them survived to this day and are still actively proclaim his "Studies In The Scriptures"pyramidology and prophetic doctrine.
(8) The Watchtower, November 15, 1928, p. 344
(9) Proclaimers, pp. 78-79. The curt remark of a Society loyalist on how this teaching upset many of the Bible students was most revealing: "Unquestionably this interpretation may prove a sifting medium, but the really earnest and sincere ones of the faith will stand firm and rejoice." (p. 79). It showed how Rutherford's influence had successfully rallied many to follow his lead, and how the Watchtower - "Jehovah's organization" - would handle objections in the flock: it would demonize and castigate all who dared question it.
(10) The Watchtower, June 15, 1922, p. 187
(11) Proclaimers, p. 166
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