The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society - Illusion, Confusion or Delusion?
In the Beginning
Since 1879, the Watchtower magazine has been claiming that God himself is using it's publishers to dispense his will to all of mankind. Today, most recognize the Watchtower magazine as the main evangelizing tool of Jehovah's Witnesses.Among those in the organization, the Watchtower is widely claimed to be the main teaching tool of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. These eight men currently claim to act as the 'faithful and discreet slave' and stand alone as a conduit of communication between man and The Almighty.
In the beginning, the Watchtower was known as Zion's Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence and starting in 1919, was accompanied by a companion magazine known as The Golden Age (later changed to Consolation and finally Awake! in 1946). The Watchtower and Awake magazines are considered the two most widely distributed magazines in the world; with the Watchtower averaging 46 million copies per printing.
It is nearly impossible to measure the impact of the printed page, but particularly so in matters of spirituality and a person's own relationship with God. However, there is little doubt that anyone considering the many topics, bold predictions and commentaries attributed to God himself by the Watchtower, would give rise to many questions. Particularly so with those words that proved false, completely inaccurate.... and having an overall deadly or detrimental affect on even ONE person.
"Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill." - Buddha
Indeed, words have a lasting impact on the human mind. Psychologists have proven results of speaking positive to someone... as well as the long term affects of verbal abuse, lying and fabrication.
If a person were to examine the Watchtower magazine, along with it's companion journal, the Awake!, what would they conclude? Has the Watchtower presented an honest look at the future... indeed, GOD'S view of the future? Or have they created an illusion? Are they just honest men giving it their 'best shot'... or drowning in confusion? How is it that they so easily pass off the million and millions of pages, doctrines and promises? Are they just delusional?
The Mouthpiece of God?
Today, the majority of Jehovah's Witnesses know little to nothing about the history of their organization. In recent years, they have been given several publications and DVD's that gave a watered down version of their history. All of these publications or aids are produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society themselves. In almost every case, articles, quotes and presented 'facts' have been altered or presented out of context to those exploring the history of the organization.
For example, without much doubt, a Jehovah's Witness today would vehemently disagree that the Watchtower is a 'prophet of God', and yet, from the very beginning, the publication has been laying claim to that very status:
"This was the test - the coming down of fire; and the fulfillment exactly on time has proved that Pastor Russell was one of God's great reformers and prophets." Watchtower 1919 Oct 1 p.297
Russell had openly claimed the following some years earlier:
"… the truths I present, as God's mouthpiece…"Zion's Watch Tower 1906 Jul 15 p.230
But even more importantly is the fact they continue to claim to be the only organization (read: eight men) in the universe, appointed by God himself, to provide instructions to all of mankind:
"...commissioned to serve as the mouthpiece and active agent of Jehovah … commission to speak as a prophet in the name of Jehovah…"The Nations Shall Know that I am Jehovah" - How? pp.58,62
For well over 100 years, the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has been claiming a special relationship with God. This 'illusion' was created and given life starting with Charles Taze Russell and continues to this day under the Governing Body arrangement.
However, before someone can consider this line of thinking to be nothing but an illusion, it is important to examine what this 'mouthpiece of God' has been feeding people for the better part of a century. One would expect to find that anyone that was identified and appointed to be God's line of communication to mankind, would have rare insights! One would expect them to be preaching and teaching the types of things that only the Creator would know! Much like Jesus Christ, God's son, and claimed leader of the Watchtower, a person could expect advice, predictions and instructions that would lead to a happier life!
Afterall, Jehovah's Witnesses boldly claim that it is impossible to understand the Bible or God Himself without their help!
"Consider, too, the fact that Jehovah's organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God's holy spirit or active force. (Zech. 4:6) Only this organization functions for Jehovah's purpose and to his praise. To it alone God's Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book." Watchtower July 1, 1973 pg. 402
Before we call it all an illusion, consider some examples of Watchtower Society teachings.
If You Can't Convince Them, Confuse Them
If you were to ask a Jehovah's Witness today what date has proved to be the most important in man's history, they would undoubtedly tell you 1914. Most middle aged members have been fed a lifetime of 1914 proofs, concepts and 'prophecies'... many from a very young age. They believe that 1914 is the year Jesus Christ took his thrown in heaven. All of this was done invisibly...of course. Then, just a few years later in 1919, he chose the Watchtower to be his one and only blessed organization on earth. They alone were qualified to represent Jesus from 1919 on.
Unfortunately, there are few, if any in their ranks, that know that Charles Russell openly preached that the end of this world was set to happen in 1914. Russell taught that the end of this wicked world had begun in 1878 and would climax in Armageddon in 1914. Not only was that bogus, the are few if ANY Jehovah's Witnesses who even know that fact. Without spending too much time on what transpired after (though I encourage each reader to research it), the organization began preaching 1915 as the end. When that failed, it wasn't until many years later in 1943 that the Watchtower began to put emphasis on 1914 as the beginning of the end.
In the 1980s, the Watchtower Society went on a full doctrinal blitz, writing and distributing literature stating that the generation that saw 1914 (complete with qualifying ages on what that meant) would 'not pass away.' As a Jehovah's Witness, you're not encourage to give any thought to the fact that it is 2013 and those poor folks are all dead.
"He was laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century." -- Watchtower 1989 Jan 1 p.12
Remember, all of mankind is listening and depending on this 'mouthpiece of god.' As if the predictions weren't already life altering enough, the entire doctrine is clouded under proposed Bible prophesies that are linked to other prophesies, that borrow from other verses, toss in some select world history and then thrown into a big bowl and mashed together. Your average Jehovah's Witness couldn't explain this 'doctrine' if their lives depended on it. The odd part? They think their lives DO depend on it!
How tragic that so many believe in this doctrine of confusion! As Albert Einstein said so simply:
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." - Albert Einstein
For those that have read the Gospel accounts of Jesus, it isn't difficult to see that any teaching that has been this confusing, changed over and over and NEVER proven accurate, could not have originated with God's Son. Confusion wasn't a world that he lived in.
But is such confusion by design? It is very difficult to question and measure another man's motive. It is even more difficult when it involves several men over one hundred years of an organization's history.
While there may be many reasons for the massive changes to doctrine, one thing that has consistently changed for the Watchtower's benefit may be to blame for the delusional state the leaders have chosen to live in.
The Watchtower and Money
Without question, many among Jehovah's Witnesses would argue that the motive behind Charles Taze Russell's efforts was a pure one. In fact, I encourage every reader to do research into the business practices, investments and personal decisions of Russell to arrive at their own conclusion. His Last Will & Testament, on public record, is indeed an interesting read. You will find that he never intended the modern day Watchtower to look anything like it currently looks.
When Russell died, Joseph Rutherford assumed command as the President and wiped out those that were loyal to Russell. Rutherford used his substantial influence, charisma and business savvy to turn the organization into what it is today: a multi-billion dollar publishing entity.
Rutherford's desire to for 'control' was seen in the doctrinal changes during his tenure as president. While he was assembling a worldwide preaching 'army'... one that was free of ANY labor costs to the Watchtower....it was evident he needed a sense of control. There was no better way to accomplish that then publishing doctrines that played on people's desire to know God. With a steady diet of books and magazines flooding those associated with the organization, as well as a weekly meeting schedule, Rutherford was able to assemble what may be the largest free labor force in recent history.
There is no greater motivator than a life in heaven or on a paradise earth, free from harm, sickness or death. Rutherford, along with Fred Franz built a program that would not only give them control over the masses, but bring substantial wealth to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. When Rutherford died and Nathan Knorr assumed the presidency, that control, as well as wealth, continued to grow. Followers were under command to abstain from everything from blood transfusions, to college, to television. Witnesses were even "strongly encouraged" to remain single and childless.
The result has been millions of people feeding a multi-billion dollar organization. Rutherford himself had oversight of the construction of mansions, secret bomb shelters... all while smuggling alcohol and driving luxurious Cadillacs. In modern times, public records show that the Watchtower Society has owned stock in everything from tobacco companies and weapon manufacturers, to video games.
Does this make the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, leaders of the Watchtower Society, greedy....or just delusional?
Living in Watchtowerland
While many can understand why a man could be intoxicated by a life where he lives in Brooklyn, NY for free, has all of his needs and those of his wife completely cared for, is adored by Jehovah's Witnesses around the world and the feeling of being one of eight men on earth that have a special relationship with God... the question remains: do they really believe the stuff they print?
There is no question that its difficult, if not impossible, for anyone outside the Governing Body to answer. However, one thing is certain: they have proven to be wrong on doctrines that they claim separate them from all other religions. Not only has the Watchtower's misguided beliefs changed the lives of several generations, they have also cost many others their lives.
Whether you look at a closer examination of the Holocaust or just the ever evolving "blood doctrine"... lives have been lost in large part due to loyalty to the Watchtower Society.
It is important to keep in mind that a person my never question the Governing Body or what is printed in the Watchtower magazine. To do so would mark someone as weak or worse.... as an apostate to be shunned and loathed by all other Witnesses. The privilege of living in "watchtowerland' is the promise that you're supporting God's only organization on earth. Why would anyone risk living in a spiritual paradise or even worse....forever in a paradise earth. To do so would cause others to question your sanity or love for God.
So, while the illusion was created well over a century ago, the confusion among millions worldwide continues to this day. Perhaps one day someone will be brave enough to leave the Watchtower and give us the one answer we all clamor for: are they really THIS delusional?
Darrin Hart, author of the eBook: Leaving Jehovah's Witnesses - Practical Thoughts to Help You Survive and Thrive.
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