the Spirit Watch
"Journals Of Truth": The Bible Or "The Watchtower"?
By Rafael Martinez, Director, Spiritwatch Ministries
The Watchtower magazine is relentlessly promoted by the Watchtower Society as a publication of enormous importance. In the January 1, 1994 issue on page 21, you will read a classic assertion of this when it wrote
For the past 114 years, The Watchtower, like a skillful lawyer has established itself as a defender of Bible truth and doctrine .. it continues to be the principal instrument of 'the faithful and discreet slave' and its Governing Body for announcing Jehovah's established Kingdom and dispensing spiritual food 'at the proper time.'
This is why you will find millions of Jehovah's Witnesses being heartily compelled by the Society to study the magazine every week faithfully to receive it's guidance or "new light" as it likes to characterize it's latest teachings. It is also why Jehovah's Witnesses will distribute them as they go calling door to door, pointing individuals into it's colorful pages for what they sincerely feel is "accurate Bible knowledge of God, his Kingdom and his wonderful purpose for mankind."
The clear implication of this quote and many others like it in past Watchtower articles is that the Society has often indirectly (and not so indirectly) claimed to have direct inspiration from God in the preparation of it's publications. The late Fred Franz, former President of the Society, said under oath in a 1943 court case that it is Jehovah himself that edits the magazine, while Nathan Knorr, int he same case testified that it's content is set forth directly as God's Word without any qualification whatsoever (1). Joseph Rutherford, the second Watchtower Society president wrote in the book Vindication on page 250 that angels deliver Jehovah's instructions invisibly to the anointed remnant class who then publish these instructions through the Watchtower, and the December 1933 issue bluntly informed inquisitive Bible students wanting more details "how this is done is not necessary for us to understand."
The "Organizational" Book: Watchtower Claims Of Exclusive Bible Interpretation
Where does the Bible fit in all of this? The Watchtower of September, 1954 on page 528 points out that "the Bible is organizational-minded and it cannot be fully understood without our having the theocratic organization in mind" and page 9 of the August 15, 1984 issue states that "to understand the Bible today, you also need to receive guidance from representatives of God's true congregation." What all of this means is quite simple: to understand the Bible, you must accept the Watchtower's interpretion of the Bible since it is supposedly not meant to be understood by individuals on their own! The book Organized To Accomplish Our Ministry makes this abundantly clear when it states "through the columns of The Watchtower comes increased light on Bible doctrine and the discussion of fulfillment of prophecy as Jehovah makes this known." From another publication entitled Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook on page 21, the most recent Watchtower of May 15, 1994 on page 5 cites this quote: "Your personal schedule should include time for reading the Bible itself. There is great value in reading it right through." This issue seems to be presenting to the public a seemingly positive encouragement to read the Bible.
However, those who read this issue and accept it's admonitions are totally unaware of what the Guidebook emphasized first on page 20: "The Christian's main reading material", it says, "is the Bible and those publications that offer genuine help in understanding the Bible." From this brief survey of Watchtower publications, we must conclude that the "Bible study," so-called, for the Jehovah's Witness and those studying with them is little more than indoctrination in Society dogma found in it's publications. The Word of God is obscured by a flurry of clever arguments and seemingly logical conclusions concocted by the Watchtower Society, cited only when it appears to support their position. No matter where you go in the world, where you find Witnesses conducting "Bible Studies", you will find a Watchtower publication or two at hand to provide this "genuine help." From their "Insight In The Scriptures" Bible encyclopedias, to the search functions of the Watchtower Library CD-ROM, the ever present shadow of Watchtower interpretion is always there, assuring that Witnesses never stray from the accepted Society orthodoxy, never "running ahead" it.
What happens if you study the Bible without the watchful guidance of the Watchtower? Listen to this quote from the August 15, 1981 Watchtower: "(It is said) that it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But strangely, through such 'Bible reading,' they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom's clergy were teaching 100 years ago." Some of those "apostate doctrines" rejected by Jehovah's Witnesses are referred to by them with scorn as belief in the deity of Jesus Christ, salvation through faith in Christ alone, the physical resurrection and return of Christ, eternal punishment in hell for the wicked, eternal life in heaven and then upon the earth, immortality of the soul, and the spiritual unity of diverse Christian assemblies as the Body of Christ. These are the very doctrines that the Watchtower despises more than anything else. Perhaps they are so despised because so many various Christian fellowships and denominations hold them in common and agree on them more than the Jehovah's Witness Pioneer calling at your door cares to admit.
The Bible: The True Source For Spiritual Guidance & Authority
In sharp contrast to the Watchtower's teaching that you must unquestioningly accept it's guidance to understand the Bible, Scripture itself teaches in no uncertain terms in 1 John 4:27 that "the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." This anointing is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian, giving him the power to understand the deep things of the Word of God, without any human indoctrination. Jesus identified this "anointing" in John 14:17, 26 and 16:13 as the Holy Spirit who would be sent by the Father to his Christian children on earth.
The language of both 1 John and John are identical, giving us clear proof that the Bible teaches that it is the work of the Spirit of God that illuminates human minds to understand divine truth. The Bible even explains how vital it and it alone is for true Christian faith and practice. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God," 2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares, "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." We see no mention or even a suggestion of the necessity for a "theocratic organization" or a "faithful and discreet slave" dispensing "spiritual food at the proper time" to Christians anywhere in this verse.
In closing, we would urge you to turn to the Bible and the Bible alone for God's truth, and that you would reject the vain propaganda contained in so-called "journals of truth" prepared by a man-made religious society. Ask the Lord for the divine guidance of His Spirit in prayer before you study and be ready for some eye-opening encounters with His Word. As you do this, remember the promise of Christ when he said in Luke 11:13 "if you, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
(1) Olin Moyle vs WTBTS, section 2596, 1943. This transcript records Nathan Knorr's answers to the following questions in section 4421:
Q: In fact it is set forth directly as God's word, isn't it?
A: Yes, as His word.
Q: Without any qualification whatsoever?
A: That is right.
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