The Teachings Of “Jehovah's Witnesses”
While the teachings expounded above well represent a large percentage of those views the J.W.'s hold that we find agreeable, some of the teachings they put forward do not seem to sit securely on the foundation of God's Word. Therefore those teachings above mentioned are the very thing that have drawn many to this organization and for these truths the majority stand proudly in defense; and rightly so. But we all must always exercise care when we study God's Word, to be sure that the resultant teaching is of God, and not of men. We could not begin to compliment or condone serious errors on God's Word, beginning with the widely believed misconception that many of their teachings have been handed down to them by Pastor Russell and that he founded their movement. For decades their Watchtower magazines carried the slogan "The Watchtower Magazine Has Been Published by Jehovah's Witnesses Since 1879," when in fact the organization as "Jehovah's Witnesses" did not exist until July 26, 1931, when that name was taken; and many of their teachings had by that time evolved into something quite different from those which Pastor Russell had left behind. Yet, they gave the impression that they were still on the same page with him.
The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was founded by Pastor Russell as a financial channel through which donations could be used to spread the Gospel message, and though he served as President of that Society and Editor of The Watch Tower until his death, he did not begin the J.W. organization, nor partake of their extremism in doctrine and practice. The J.W. movement was founded by J. F. Rutherford in 1931. After Pastor Russell's death in 1916, Rutherford by deceptive methods and legal trickeries, dissolved the Board of Directors which was to have charge of the work as stipulated in Pastor Russell's Will, yet, as a lawyer, he was able to wrestle it from them. The 1993 Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (p. 66) states, "Brother Rutherford was inclined, not to change the direction of the organization, but to continue in the forward-moving pattern established by Russell." Those brethren who held to Pastor Russell's original position, although considered the opposition by Rutherford, knew exactly what was taking place. The book continues, "The fact that the work was moving ahead and that he [Rutherford] was making every effort to follow the arrangements that had been put in place by Russell did not seem to impress them. … Four members of the board of directors of the Society went so far as to endeavor to wrest administrative control from Rutherford's hands." [!] Actually, Pastor Russell's Will had placed the administrative control into the hands of this board. The office of President which Rutherford received on election was for a specific period of time, but he soon made another change of policy and granted it to himself for life. Upon announcing on July 17, 1917 that the four opposing directors had been removed, the great division within the group had its beginning.
J. F. Rutherford retained some of Pastor Russell's teachings, but gradually repudiated the great majority, substituting instead his own ideas, which in many cases are very unscriptural, radical and extreme. We have published a 750-page book (MERARIISM) and many issues of our magazines detailing his progressive, wrong course of teaching and practice and these show just how they supplanted those of Pastor Russell. So the many who charge Pastor Russell with Rutherford's errors are grossly (yet usually ignorantly) misrepresenting him. Pastor Russell was gone from the scene 15 years before the formation of the "Jehovah's Witnesses."
1925 CONTROVERSY AND WORLD RULERS
Closely related to this topic is the error that their organization is Jehovah's new government of earth, with their leaders as the visible rulers. This began with the controversy regarding 1925, wherein they published a booklet Millions Now Living Will Never Die, insinuating that by 1925 the kingdom would be visibly established and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the other Old Testament faithful would be resurrected back on the scene and would take over the earthly rulership of the world. This error was repeated later in the 1960's with similar results. Rutherford even went so far as to build a mansion in California and heralded to the world that he had provided it for the use of the patriarch David after his resurrection in 1925!! From 1919 to 1925 this was their slogan, and when it did not come to pass, Rutherford and his associates began inventing ways and means to divert attention from their failed prophecy by extolling their other works and perverting and misapplying everything good in Scripture to themselves, and everything evil to any who would oppose them.
A few examples will suffice. The robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10) was no longer to be understood to mean the righteousness of Christ (Rom. 3:24-26; 4:5-8; 10:4; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil. 3:9) which covers the human imperfections of His footstep followers throughout the Gospel Age; but rather God's approval since 1918 of the faithful course of those New Creatures who cooperated in Rutherford's public work, and their coming under the robe of protection and blessing and joy (The Watch Tower, 1925, p. 38).
In an article entitled, The Birth of a Nation (The Watch Tower, 1925, pp. 67-74), another very captivating error is set forth. Rev. 11:17-19 and Rev. 12 are perverted and misapplied to the time from 1914 onward. It has well been said, he who distinguishes clearly teaches clearly. Here we have a marked example of Rutherford's unclear teaching, for we find him confusing the woman (Zion) of Isa. 66:7, who brought forth before she travailed, and was delivered of a man child before her pain came, with the woman of Rev. 12:2, whose man child was not born before she travailed or before her pain came, but afterward. He claimed that the man child represents God's kingdom, not in the sense of the Christ, Head and Body, but in the sense of the governmental machinery whereby Satan's empire is to be overthrown and the world is to be ruled Millennially. As we have shown in THE BIBLE STANDARD #211 (a copy free on request), the man child of Isa. 66:7 is the Christ, Head and Body. The birth mentioned in vs. 7, 8 is a figurative one. It is the Little Flock and Great Multitude being delivered from nominal Zion, the former class before and the latter class after her travail (the Time of Trouble) came upon her.
So it is striking to note that in 1925, they claimed a new revelation from Jehovah, they claimed that Jehovah had revealed to them; "everyone belongs either to Jehovah's organization or to Satan's" (see Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 79). And so it was on a sunny Columbus, Ohio, day at a convention held there July 26, 1931, that Rutherford declared in his speech The Kingdom, the Hope of the World, which was broadcast over 300 radio stations, that he gave a "warning from Jehovah" to "the rulers and the people" that God's organization was now ruling. The impassioned crowd answered "aye!" to the message, and "aye!" again when he shouted "We desire to be known as and called by the name, Jehovah's Witnesses." So by claiming to be Jehovah's Organization on earth, and ruling in the place of the Old Testament Patriarchs, who failed to show up as predicted, they had come full circle to the place where Papacy had stood centuries before, claiming now that the J.W.'s were God's government on earth, as the Pope had claimed as the Vicar of Christ on earth in 539 A.D. — 1799 A.D.
ON THE JEWS
Diversion tactics were used in connection with yet another error; that of God's relationship with His people Israel.
The deliverance of the Jews from their dispersion among the nations and the promise of their return to their homeland and national polity is now a matter of fulfilled Bible Prophecy since 1948 (Jer. 30:18; 31:8-10; Amos 9:14, 15; Rom. 11:25, 26; Acts 15:16). In stark contrast to the Scriptures and historical fact we quote from the Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, p. 141—"Down till 1932, they understood these to apply specifically to the natural Jews." It continues, "But it gradually became evident that what was taking place in Palestine with regard to the Jews was not the fulfillment of Jehovah's grand restoration prophecies … its [the State of Israel] trust was not in Jehovah but in the political nations of the world … Jehovah's servants began to realize that it was spiritual Israel, 'the Israel of God,' [they no doubt mean their J. W. organization] composed of spirit-anointed Christians, who, in fulfillment of God's purpose, were enjoying peace with God through Jesus Christ."
Yet these prophecies clearly show not only Natural Israel's regathering to their former homeland, but after that their partial blindness (Rom. 11:25) would begin to be lifted (when the anointed class was completed) and their eventual conversion to their God through Jesus which is to precede the general resurrection would follow (Rom. 11:15). Indeed, the twisted argument from Rutherford's camp would have their "spirit-anointed Christians" fulfilled both in the grafted olive tree and the natural one!
"THE GREAT MULTITUDE"
The next diversionary tactic designed to turn away attention from the "millions … 1925" fiasco and that spawned yet another change in the original teachings set forth by Pastor Russell, was a new teaching on the Great Multitude class of Rev. 7:9-17; 19:1-9. It is customary of the J.W.'s administration that he would speak of himself as wanting "not to change the direction of the organization," and then take a complete 180 degree turn as to its past teachings. Rutherford found it convenient, playing on the similarity of the words millions and multitude (multitude was later changed to "crowd" in their New World Translation), to alter the teaching of the Great Multitude class from that of a spirit class to an earthly one, to prop up his failed "millions" teaching, continuing it without a date attached. Later they would attach the date 1975 and then again continue on without a date after its repeated failure. OVER 700,000 MEMBERS WERE DISFELLOWSHIPED OVER THE 1975 CHANGE; THIS FACT WAS STATED IN THE BOOK ENTITLED "CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE", written by a former Governing Body member.
However, the Scriptures clearly show the Great Multitude to be a spiritual class. The clear implication is found in Rev. 19:6, where their voice is distinguished from the voice of many waters, peoples (Rev. 17:15), who are those of the restitution class, the earthly class. More clearly yet is it implied in the family figure in vs. 7-9 by the fact that they are described as those who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In this picture the Bridegroom is Jesus, the Bride is the anointed Little Flock and the Guests at the Marriage Supper are the Great Multitude. The following order of events connected with a family proves that these guests could not be the restitution class: first, there is a marriage; second and afterward, the marriage supper; third and still later, the begetting of children; fourth and finally, their birth. The Great Multitude, the theme of Rev. 19:1-9, being the Guests at the Marriage Supper, cannot be the restitution class, because they are not the children of this marriage, who are conceived and born after the Marriage Supper.
NO INHERITANCE IN THE LAND
The figure of Levites and Noblemen used of the Great Multitude in Rev. 7:15 likewise proves them not to be of the restitution class. The expression, "serve Him day and night in His temple," proves them to be antitypical Levites. Here the figure is that of Priests, Levites and Israelites. The Priests are Jesus and the Church; the Israelites are the restitution class; and the prominent part of those typed by the Levites is the Great Multitude (Mal. 3:2, 3). The fact that the Levites had no inheritance in the land (Num. 3:40-51; Deut. 18:1-2; Josh. 13:14, 33; Heb. 12:23) proves that the Millennial Levites will all either be or become spiritual; hence, none of them will ultimately be of the restitution class.
To be before God's kingly throne (Rev. 7:15), means to be a nobleman and officer of the Kingdom. Here in the Kingdom figure The Christ is in the throne as the King, the Great Multitude are the officers, the nobles, before the throne; and the restitution class are the subjects of the King and the subordinates of His officers, the nobles; therefore, they are not represented in this scene, which implies a palace scene; for their place is outside of the palace. Psa. 45 introduces the same and additional distinctions: v. 1 introduces Jehovah; vs. 2-9 introduce Jesus; vs. 8-13 introduce the Church as Jesus' Bride; vs. 14, 15 introduce the Great Multitude or Great Company (Crowd) as the "virgins," the Bridesmaids; v. 16 introduces the Ancient Worthies as Christ's children and the princes of the restitution class; while v. 17 introduces the restitution class, separate and distinct from all other classes.
Psa. 107 also introduces the same and other distinctions: vs. 2-9 treat of the Little Flock; vs. 10-16 treat of the Great Company; vs. 17-22 treat of Fleshly Israel first cast off from, and later restored to God's favor; vs. 23-32 treat of mankind during and just after the Great Tribulation; vs. 33-38 treat of the restitution class during the Millennium; vs. 39-40 treat of the evil, vs. 41, 42 of the good of the Little Season.
What St. Paul says of the man that committed fornication with his father's wife (1 Cor. 5:5) proves that the Great Company will be spiritual; and hence will not be the restitution class. "Deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh [for the overcoming of his evil disposition, that he might learn not to fornicate any more, even as Hymenaeus and Alexander were delivered unto Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme any more, 1 Tim. 1:20] that the spirit [the New Creature] may be saved [by being awakened from the dead as a spirit] in the day of the Lord Jesus."
The Teachings of "Jehovah's Witnesses":
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