On the following pages will be found an outline of key claims and beliefs of the Watchtower Society. Under each topic heading appears certain questions and explanations that will lead the student into examining that issue for himself. The outline format has been selected in order to save time and provide a rapid reference system.
1. Is the Society* a true prophet of God?
1A. How does the Society define“true prophet?”The three essentials given through Moses were:
1) …Speak in Jehovah’s name…
2) The things foretold would come to pass…
3) His prophesying must promote true worship being in harmony with God’s Word and the prophets.”
1B. How does the Society test the true prophet’s message?”The best method of proof is to put a prophecy to the test of time and circumstance. The Bible invites such a test…the Bible…establishes the rules for testing a prophecy at Deuteronomy 18:20-22.”
1C. Does the Society believe that a true prophet exists today?Yes. In fact, the Society says, “It is of importance to every individual on earth to identify the group that Jehovah has commissioned as His servant’ or messenger.”
1D. Does the Society believe that a true modern prophet would have the same authority as the Old Testament prophets?Yes. Society members are told that there existed such a group and then they were asked to look for it-“…any group on whom Jehovah would be willing to bestow the commission to speak as a ‘prophet’ in His name, as was done toward Ezekiel…”
1E. Does the Society claim to be thepresent day true prophet?Yes. “Who is this prophet? …not one man, but a body of men and women…known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses.”
1F. Where does the Society/Prophet claim to get its direction?”Jehovah’s Witnesses today make their declaration of the good news of the kingdom under angelic direction and support.” In other words, angels tell the Society what to say and do.
1G. Does the Society desire and expect Christendom to treat the Society as a prophet of God?Yes. The Society fully anticipates this: “…regardless of how Christendom views or regards this group of anointed witnesses of Jehovah, the time must come, and that shortly, when those making up Christendom will know that really a ‘prophet’ of Jehovah was among them.”
1I. Does the Society claim that it has been prophesying for God today?Yes. “The facts substantiate that the remnant of Christ’s anointed disciples (the Society [see context]) have been doing that prophesying to all nations.” They claim God’s Spiritis “poured out” on them. They ask: “Why argue about it?”
1J. Does the Society claim that prophesying and preaching are the sameministry?No. The Society claims that their members have been “preaching and prophesying from house to house and city to city…”, thus clearly distinguishing between the two ministries. Both preaching and prophesying are regularactivities of the Society.
1K. Does the Society/Prophet claim any special knowledge concerning the Bible?Yes. The Society published a six-volume work entitled Scripture Studies which it described as “the Bible in an arranged form.” It amounted to a running commentary on the Bible. The Society claims that if someone were to “ignore” the Scripture Studies “and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years…within two years he goes into darkness.” The Society further claims that if a student “had merely read Scripture Studieswith their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.”
1L. Does the Society believe that it is the only organization that has God’s Spirit or can understand the Bible?Yes. It has made this clear when it said, “…Jehovah’s organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God’s holy spirit or active force … To it alone God’s sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book.” Furthermore, it claims that “God by his holy spirit” has directly “revealed” things to its “early Bible students…far in advance.”
1M. Has the Society ever prophesied concerning the future and had that prophecy fail the test of “Time and circumstance” (see 1B. above)?Yes. In fact there are many such “failed” prophecies (see False Prophecy Fact Sheet). Keep in mind, as you study these prophecies that the Society…
1) Claims to be God’s one and only prophet today
2) Claims to have revelations from God
3) Claims to be the only group that understands the Bible
4) Claims to be the only Spirit-empowered organization on earth today.
2A. Does the Society claim to be a true prophet of God, and does it ask that we examine its prophecy record?Yes. The Society states this explicitly when it says: “So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help…and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? …This ‘prophet’ was not one man, but was a body of men and women…known…as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses…” It should be noted that even from its earliest beginnings the Society considered itself to be a true prophet of God. The Society does not expect others to just trust that it is a true prophet: “Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a ‘prophet’ of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?”
2B. Has the Society predicted that 1914 A.D. would mark the end of earthly rulership?Yes. The Society made such a prediction in 1908: ” ..the ‘Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty’ (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced” (i.e., it began before 1908).
2D. Has the Society declared that the Millennium—the 1,000-year reign of Christ—began in 1873?Yes. “The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great thousand-year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that great Seventh Day, the thousand years of Christ’s reign, began in 1873.”
2E. Has the Society predicted that the visible, physical return to earth of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would take place in 1925?Yes. “…Since other Scriptures definitely fix the fact there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and other faithful ones of old…we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth.”
2G. When 1925 arrived did the Society begin to back down on its prophecies about the significance of that year?Yes. “The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during the year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time, God will accomplish his purposes concerning his own people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire during this year that they would fail to joyfully do what the Lord would have them to do.”
2H. As the year 1925 progressed, did the Society indicate even more doubt about 1925 being the resurrection year—the year the new order begins?Yes. Rather than suggest that a mistake was made or that God changed His mind, the Society subtly began to back down even further: Typical of this erosion process is the following:
“It is to be expected that Satan will try to inject into the minds of the consecrated the thought that 1925 should see an end of the work, and that therefore it would be needless for them to do more.”
2I. Was there disappointment among the Society members because of the failures concerning the predicted dates?Yes. Most definitely and so much so that public admissions were printed: “There was a measure of disappointment on the part of Jehovah’s faithful ones on earth concerning the years 1914, 1918 and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time.”
2J. Did the Society attempt to deflect criticism by clinging to the dates even though the prophecies concerning them went unfulfilled?Yes. Basically the Society clung to the position that the dates were valid in spite of the lack of fulfillment: “Later the faithful learned that those dates were definitely fixed in the Scriptures . . . “
2K. Did the Society indicate that as a result of disappointments it had decided to quit setting dates?Yes. They seemed ready to give up the practice of fixing dates: “…they also learned to quit fixing dates for the future and predicting what would come to pass on a certain date, but to rely (and they do rely) upon the Word of God as to the events that must come to pass.”
2L. Did the Society, nevertheless, continue to imply that certain times and years were scheduled for Armageddon?Yes. This was done with great care but the implication was always clear: Armageddon was only “months away,” that is, less than a year. A typical example of the subtlety of these suggestions is seen in the following report: “Receiving the sift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord’s provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon.”
2M. Does the Society admit that such prior date setting activities amounted to false prophesying?Yes. In its own literature it reveals its attitude toward such activities: “True, there have been those in times past who predicted an ‘end to the world,’ even announcing a specific date. Some have gathered groups of people with them and fled to the hills or withdrawn into their houses waiting for the end. Yet, nothing happened. The ‘end’ did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing?
“Missing was the full measure of evidence required in fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Missing from such people were God’s truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them.”
2N. Has the Society concluded its date-setting activities or has it prophesied other dates such as 1975?It continues submitting new dates. A classic example is an entire article devoted to a prophecy concerning the year, 1975. This was calculated to be the year of the end of this present age. Its title: “Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975?”
2O. Has the Society confirmed the 1975 date as accurate?Yes. “According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E.”
2P. What did the Society members believe about the 1975 date? Would it be the end of the present system of things?Yes. According to Erroll Burton, spokesman for the Paradise Valley Unit of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Arizona, the 1975 date would mean “‘A change in the political system of things,’ when ‘all presently existing influences must be eliminated. After 6,000 years of the deterioration of mankind, there will be 1,000 years of refining mankind…’ ‘At the end of that period, man will be perfect, as Adam and Eve were before the fall.'”
The Society clearly has instructed its followers that 1975 represents “…the end of the world as we have known it,” and it predicts that the “…thousand-year reign of Christ will begin.”
2Q. Did the Society members begin to get rid of their possessions and make special sacrifices in order to prepare for 1975? Did the Society condone this activity?Yes. In various ways this information was reported and evaluated. The Society’s attitude is revealed in the following: “Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end.”
3. Has the Society admitted to and covered up false prophecies?
3A. First, does the Society believe that a false prophet could. exist today, and, does it believe that such a prophet coud be an organization rather than just an individual?Yes. It has gone into some detail in describing the false prophet’s activities and purpose: “Similarly, the ‘false prophet’ is not a person, but is a system or an organization. A ‘prophet’ claims to have inspired information for the direction of others. A ‘false prophet’ would mislead others, to turn them away from God and toward false worship.”
3B. Does the Society believe that God will revealfalse prophets? If so, how will he do this?Yes. The Society expects God to uncover the true character of false prophets. He “will put all false prophets to shame either by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self assuming prophets or by having His own prophecies fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets.”
3C. How does the Society anticipate false prophets to react to exposure?”False prophets will try to hide their reason for feeling shame by denying who they really are. They will try to avoid…being pronounced spiritually dead by Jehovah’s loyal worshipers.”
3D. Has the Society admitted to making false prophecies?Yes. They admitted to looking “forward to 1914 with joyful expectation. When that time came and passed there was much disappointment.” In other words, their predicted date concerning the end of the age had come and gone without fulfillment (see II.B. above). They became the subject of criticism “because they had said so much about 1914, and what would come to pass, and their ‘prophecies‘ had not been fulfilled.”
Here we have an example of the Society stating categorically that it had delivered a prophecy that time and circumstance demonstrated to be false.
3E. Is the admission of making false prophecies an isolated item, or has a Society leader—under oath in court—ever admitted that the Society made such prophecies?H.C. Covington, the then Vice President of the Society was on the witness stand in Scotland in 1954. When asked if the Society had “promulgated (i.e., set forth or taught publically) a false prophecy,” Covington said “I agree to that.” He was then asked if this false prophecy “had to be accepted by Jehovah’s Witnesses,” to which he replied, “That is correct.”
3F. Has the Society tried to reverse itself(on its well-established claim to be a true prophet) since its 1975 prophecy failure?Yes. The Society now teaches that “Jehovah’s Witnesses as modern-day Christians are working hard to get this good news preached to every individual. They do not claim infallibility or perfection. Neither are they inspired prophets.”
This is an amazing reversal! For almost 100 years the Society has claimed to be a “true prophet of God” and now they reveal that they are not inspired-leaving us to conclude that their many prophecies have not come from God.
4. Has the Society altered any of its chronological calculations over the years?
[Note: We must realize that the society has placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on chronology during the century of its existence. Precise calculations of the dates of certain events—especially of those related to the beginnings of mankind—have been the basis for many of the Society’s predictions. The creation date of Adam and the creation date of Eve have been the subject of particular attention because they relate—according to past Society literature—to the calculation of the beginning of the Millennium, or 1,000-year reign of Christ.]
4A. According to the Society, is the creation date of Eve important for calculating the date of the Millennium?Yes. The exact date of Eve’s creation was the beginning of God’s “rest day” because (logically) Eve was God’s last creation.
4B. Does the Society know when Eve was created?No. According to the Society, the biblical record “shows a time lapse between the creation of Adam and that of his wife, Eve.” Why was there a time lapse? What, for example, was going on? “During that time, God had Adam name the animals? Whether that period amounted to weeks or months or years we do not know?” No date can be established—even approximately—for Eve’s creation date?
4D. Has the Society been able to predict a date for Eve’s creation in spite of the reports of Adam’s activities before her creation? On what basis do they do this?Yes. The Society reasoned that “. . .it is logical that He (God) would create Eve soon after Adam, perhaps just a few weeks or months later in the same year, 4026 B.C.E.”
4E. Has the Society tried to explain the obvious contradiction between an unknown creation date and a 4026 B.C.E. creation date for Eve in its authoritative Bible study aid?No. The study aid only confirms the impossible: it says that Society knows Eve’s creation date!
[Note: Before the 1975 prediction date of Christ’s return, the society authoritatively supports a specific creation date for Eve. Afterwords they conveniently back down on their calculation.]
5. Has the society distorted the record of any of its past activities?
[Note: Beth-Sarim, which means “House of Princes” in the Hebrew language, was a handsome estate built in San Diego in 1930 by the Watchtower Society. Its history is variously represented by the Society.]
5A. What was the purposeof the construction of Beth-Sarim?Beth-Sarim was, according to a recent Society yearbook, built as a home for one of the Society’s presidents: “…a direct contribution was made for the purpose of constructing a house in San Diego for Brother Rutherford’s use.”
5B. Did the Society, at an earlier date, give an entirely different purposefor constructing Beth-Sarim?Yes. “…the purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there might be some tangible proof that there are those on earth today…who believe that faithful men of old will soon be resurrected by the Lord, be back on earth, and take charge of the visible affairs of earth.”
5C. Did the Society actually believe that certain resurrected Old Testament saints would come back and live in Beth-Sarim?Yes. “…those faithful men of old may be expected back from the dead any day now…in this expectation the house was built…it is now held in trust for the occupancy of those princes on their return.”
5D. Does the deed to the Beth-Sarim property reveal the Society’s original purpose for the estate?Yes. While it is true that Rutherford was to have “exclusive possession” of the house during his lifetime, it was also true that that possession was to be relinquished upon the soon anticipated arrival of “David,” “Joseph,” “Samuel,” etc. to the earth “for the express purpose of being used by those who are servants of Jehovah God.”
Page iii of the deed indicates other Society members could equally make use of the property “until the same be taken possession of by David or some of the other men herein named [from Hebrews chapter eleven] and this property and premises being dedicated to Jehovah and the use of his kingdom it shall be used as such forever.”
It is interesting to note that the Society later sold the house.
6. Has the Society distorted or misquoted various reference sources in an attempt to support its position on the Trinity?
6A. Did the Society misquote and misrepresent well-known Greek scholars H. E. Dana and J. R. Mantey?Yes. The Society quotes Dana and Mantey out of context by asserting that their grammar (A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament) supports the translation “the word was a god” at John 1:1.
In a letter to the Society authored by Mantey himself we read: “…Because you have been quoting me out of context, I…request you not to quote the Manual Grammar…again, which you have been quoting for 24 years.” He also asked them to “publicly and immediately apologize” for their misrepresentation.
Why was Mantey so disturbed? His conclusion (found both in his Grammar and his letter) is that John 1:1should be translated either “the word was deity” or “the word was God,” not “the word was a god.” Mantey estimates the evidence “to be 99% against” the Society’s translation.
[Note: A word about John 1:1 is appropriate here. In this passage an important principle of Greek grammar is evident which has been a source of confusion for English readers.
Note first the order of the Greek words as seen in the Greek text (consult The Emphatic Diaglott or The Kingdom Interlinear, both Society publications):
KAI THEOS ÊN HO LOGOS
And God Was The Word
In Greek there is no written indefinite article (“A” or “AN”)—just the definite article (“the”). The indefinite article is often implied before a noun even though nothing is actually written down to tell the reader it is there. But this is not always the case. The word theos standing alone without the definite article might be translated “a god” if it were not for another principle of grammar. That principle is discussed in Mantey’s letter to the Society.
And what does that principle mean? E. C. Colwell discovered that when a predicate noun (in this case theos) is in the nominative case (that is, in the same case as the subject of the sentence—the subject being logos) and is placed before the verb (instead of after the verb as is usually the case), it has no article—even when it is needed. In fact, Colwell also discovered that it is indefinite (i.e., with “a” or “an”) only when the context demands it. (see Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. LII (1933) pp. 12-21 from which Mantey quotes.)
Harner (see Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. XCII (1973)) went on to discover that in 53 passages in John’s Gospel, the Apostle John used this type of word arrangement to “express the nature of [the] character of the subject.” Thus Mantey is right when he suggests the translation “the word was diety” or “the word was God” which stresses nature.
The translation “a god” inserts an indefinite article that is unwarranted by either grammar or context. The translation “a god” makes Jesus another God, makes John the Apostle a polytheist, and makes a mockery of Deuteronomy 32:39 which reads “there is no other god with me”—that would make Jesus a god against the Father!”]
6B. Did the Society quote the famous Bible translator Westcott out of context?Yes. The Society gives the impression that Westcott supports the concept that John 1:1should be translated “the Word was a god” (note the small “g”).
But as can be seen, Westcott holds to an entirely different view based on the grammar:The Word was God “…simply affirms the true deity of the Word.” He held to the triunity of God, not the polytheism of “the word was a god.”
[Note: A consultation with virtually any commentary on John 1:1 or any Koine Greek grammar on the use of the article in the New Testament will lead to the same conclusion reached by Westcott: The statement “simply affirms the true deity of the Word.”]
6C. Did the Society misrepresent the New Catholic Encyclopediaon its position concerning the trinity?Yes. The Society suggests that the New Catholic Encylopediadenies the historic trinity: It teaches that…this doctrine was unknown to the Hebrew prophets and Christian apostles…it also admits that the doctrine must be dated as from about three hundred and fifty years after the death of Jesus Christ.”
A simple reading of page 306 of the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIV, will demonstrate that both conclusions by the Society were erroneous. Clearly, Paul and the Gospels taught the triunity of God and the Catholics hold to this belief.
6D. Does the Bible actually teach the doctrine of the trinity—a doctrine the Society strongly denies?Yes. The trinity is the only explanation for the relationship given in Scripture between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
8. Is the name “Jehovah” actually the name of God?
8A. Does the Society believe that “Jehovah” is the name of God?Yes. They have used it for more than 50 years and state categorically that it is “a translation of God’s name, in Hebrew YHWH.”
“‘Jehovah’ is a mispronunciation…almost entirely disregarded by the Jews…of the Hebrew ‘YHWH’ the…name of God…this pronunciation is grammatically impossible; it arose through pronouncing the vowels…of ‘Adonay’ (the Lord)…with the consonants of ‘ YHWH. “
8D. Is there any basis for the Society using “Jehovah” as the name for God?No. “The pronunciation Jehovah has no authority at all and appeared only in late medieval times; it is an attempt to vocalize the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) usinq the vowels written under it by the scribes, which vowels however were never intended to be combined with the four consonants of this word.”
8E. If “Jehovah” is incorrect and not the name of God, what is the correct name?It is Yahweh. “That the pronunciation in ancient times was Yahweh is concluded from transcriptions in the early Christian fathers.”
9B. To what can we attribute the mistranslations by the Society?In court and under oath F. W. Franz, current president of the Society and one of the admitted translators of the New World Translation, lied about his ability to translate Scripture. He admitted he could not translate “a Bible verse.” Lack of integrity and preparation, along with a marked theological bias has led to a number of outrageous errors in translation.
10C. What does Justus Lipsius say is the method of Christ’s death?While it is true the Lipsius pictures the death of a man on a tree, he points out rather emphatically and in considerable detail that this was not the way Jesus died. In fact, he even includes a picture of Christ’s death on the cross a few pages later. Reading from his text we find: “In the Lord’s cross there were four pieces of wood, the upright beam, the cross-bar, a tree trunk (piece of wood) placed below, and the title (inscription) placed above.” The Society has completely misrepresented Lipsius’ drawing and findings.
11. Has the Society ever altered its publications without notice to suit its changing prophecies?
Yes. Quietly the Society shifts its position when an embarrassing prophecy is made and then remains unfulfilled. For example, a crucial change was made in the 1923 version of Studies in Scriptures in order to bring it into line with the Society’s changing prophecies. The earlier version has:”…the deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914 is manifest…”
The 1923 version has:”…must take place very soon after1914 is manifest…”
12. Given the strange twists and contradictions of the Society over the years, is there any relationship between the Society and mental illness?
Yes, unfortunately. Members of the Society, according to an Australian study are “three times more likely to be diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia and nearly four times more likely from paranoid schizophrenia than the rest of the population at risk.”
Why? Either the Society “tends to attract an excess of pre-psychotic individuals who may then break down, or else being a Jehovah’s Witness is itself a stress which may precipitate a psychosis. Possibly both of these factors may operate together.”John Spencer, The Mental Health of Jehovah’s Witnesses
13. If Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the truth, then what is?
The truth is found in the Bible and not in the Watchtower Society (as has already been demonstrated.) Two steps must be taken: