Category Archives: Governing Body

The Watchtower Society: The Channel of God?

make-you-free“The truth will set you free!” John 8:32

JESUS MADE a true statement in John 8:32 when he said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus said those words to the Jews who believed on him, but also in the hearing of the Scribes and Pharisees who wanted to kill him. The question then arises, how were those Jews who believed on him to be made free? Free from what? As they said, they were not in bondage to anyone. But we ask, were they really free?

It seems quite clear that Jesus was referring to the traditions and teachings of the Pharisees. As he pointed out in the 23rd chapter of Matthew, though they claimed to sit in Moses’ seat, they did not follow the teachings of Moses, but bound up heavy loads on men. Claiming to sit in Moses’ seat, and that Abraham was their father, they took the position that they were the successors of Moses and Abraham by Jehovah’s arrangement. Therefore, whatever interpretation they put upon the law was to be accepted as though from God.

That position and attitude has prevailed these many years even to this day. It was shortly after the Apostles passed from the scene that the Catholic Church came into existence. They took that same position: that now they were the channel by which the great God Jehovah was dealing with his people. They claimed that Peter was the first Pope, that from that time all Popes were successors to Peter, and whatever the Catholic Church was to bind on earth was to be bound in heaven. If one were to sin against or disagree with them on spiritual matters, that one was considered sinning against God Many Protestant churches have made similar claims.

A Channel of God?

Today we have yet another organization making the same claim, i.e., that they are the channel by which Jehovah God is now dealing with his people. That channel is what this organization likes to call “the faithful and discrete slave class” who in turn use the Watchtower Bible & Tract  Society to publish what it likes to call “the truth” or “newly revealed truth from Jehovah God.”

That the Watchtower Society takes the position that it is used by Jehovah by and through this “faithful and discrete slave class” is well documented in its publications. It says this class is in fulfillment of Matt. 24:45-47, and that Jehovah God is now using them to disseminate Bible truths by and through the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society and by the use of the Watchtower magazine. (See The Watchtower, 1963, page 338, par. 17).

The Watchtower, 1958, pages 485-488, under the heading “The Watchtower Society in God’s Purpose,” endeavors to relate the “Society” with Jehovah’s channel of communication, starting with Abel down through the Apostles and then to our day culminating with the “Society.” Even stronger words are used in The Watchtower, 1952, page 79, par. 10, in which it states “… God interprets and teaches, through Christ the chief servant, who in turn uses the discrete slave as the visible channel…” meaning of course the “Society.” On that same page in par. 11, it further states “. . . The truths we publish are the ones provided through the discrete slave class or organization …”

Stronger yet, is a statement made in The Watchtower, 1965, page 351, in answer to a “Question from readers” which asks the question, “How can it be said that God’s visible organization was made strictly Theocratic in structure by 1938?…” In summary, their answer is that by 1932 The Watchtower Society began to be controlled by God or was God ruled and by 1938 was fully God ruled or fully Theocratic.

By their own claim, all scriptural explanation comes from Jehovah God and is published in The Watchtower. Now if this be true, then there will be no contradiction or changing of explanation from one Watchtower to another. Stated another way, what was published as truth since 1938 must still be truth today. (Mal. 3:6)

An Unchanging Organization?

With this thought in mind, let us go on to see if the facts support their contention. Is the Watchtower Society (Channel) indeed as unchanging as the God it claims to represent? In the book entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose,” written in dialogue fashion, on page 14, mention is made that for the first time, in 1929, the Watchtower made known to their people the true meaning of Rom. 13:1-7; namely that Paul in this scripture was not referring to the governments of this world, but was referring to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus.

And in the book “Let God Be Tine” written in 1952, published by the Watch Tower Society, we read on page 248, referring to Rom. 13:1-7: “The higher powers there mentioned are the principal ruling factors of God’s congregation, namely, the invisible governing body of God’s kingdom …”

Again, in The Watchtower, 1952, page 375, par. 6, we read: “The Superior authorities Paul is speaking of could not refer to the political powers of Caesar governments. In the scriptures at Rev. 13:2. NW, the Bible specifically states that Satan is the one who has empowered and authorized the old world Caesars. Hence the superior authorities in Rom. 13 which God commissions include only the theocratic ruling authorities and exclude Caesar’s authorities. . .”

But now note what was written in The Watchtower, 1962, page 683, par. 7, discussing this same subject. “…Paul is telling God’s holy ones how to conduct themselves among men outside ‘the Christian congregation, ‘all men’ including even an enemy who does evil to Christians, hence an individual found outside the congregation, not inside, then, right afterwards, Paul passes on to his discussion of the ‘Superior Authorities’ and thus has his sights focused on, not what is inside the congregation, but what is outside it. So the ‘Superior Authorities’ have their setting logically in the world outside the congregation … *”

 Not Founded By Pastor C. T. Russell

Note the asterisk at the end of the quote, which refers to a footnote at the bottom of the page. That footnote refers to “The Divine Plan of the Ages” a book written in 1886 by the founder of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, Charles Taze Russell. The reference is to page 266 which gives in effect the same explanation now given by The Watchtower of 1962 on Rom. 13:1-7.

We note here, that the claim is absolutely untrue Jehovah’s Witnesses were founded by C. T. Russell. He died in 1916. Jehovah’s Witnesses, per se, were founded in 1931 by none other than J. F. Rutherford who radically changed name and doctrine beyond recognition and substituted instead his own theology. That theology has become the very basis of the Witnesses’ teaching today. A greater detail as to the many doctrinal changes will follow in our Part Two – A Refutation of Selected Doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

For decades Charles Taze Russell’s legacy has been associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses in published accounts that inaccurately list him as their founder. In 1997, Professor David S. Doran corrected the matter by writing the editor of The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia and delivering a more accurate account of Brother Charles Taze Russell’s life. Through Professor Doran’s efforts, the second edition presenting the truth was published in 1998 and reflects these changes. We quote as follows:

“Russell, Charles Taze , known as Pastor Russell (1852-1916). Religious leader, founder of what is commonly called the “Bible Student Movement,” born in Pittsburgh, PA. As a Congregationalist, he struggled with the concept of eternal torment, his subsequent studies leading him to conclude that the Biblical hell is oblivion, that the millennium began in 1874, and that a period of social and political upheaval would lead to a peaceable kingdom on earth. After his death, many followers abandoned his Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (1879), which under the leadership of Joseph Rutherford moved in other directions and ultimately — became known as Jehovah’s Witnesses (1931).” — Bible Students Newsletter, p. 7, Spring, 1999

 Watchtower Structure Changes

“A press release issued Tuesday (October 14, 2000) by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania Inc., as the Witnesses are officially called, talked about “revisions” in legal structure and said that they were dictated by the need to keep pace with growth.” “Some ‘revisions.’ The president resigned, the ruling Governing Body was stripped of its legal power, and three new corporations were set up to run the society’s U.S. operations. Milton Henschel, 80, the fifth president, stepped down after eight years, along with six other directors of the Watchtower Society. He remains a member of the Governing Body, which had run the 5.9- million member society with an absolutist hand.”

“The Governing Body was not abolished, but under the new setup, it will oversee only religious affairs, among them Bible doctrine, evangelization and pastoral care. Henschel’s successor as chief legal officer is Don Adams, 75, a longtime insider who has spent 54 years at the world headquarters in Brooklyn Heights.”

“But, even more significant than the change at the top was the corporate realignment, with three new not-for-profits formed to assume control of U.S. legal and administrative operations. One will oversee construction of houses of worship and technical assistance. Another will supervise personnel. A third will direct a wide range of congregational services. “I don’t believe Witnesses look to any one person now as their leader,” Pellechia said.”  From: News and Views | City Beat | Saturday, October 14, 2000

What would one suppose the reason for this momentous change might be? Could it be that they are being accused of having a central head and that they don’t wish to be identified in this way? After all, the accusation was made by the Society in the past that Bible Students were following after a man, Charles Taze Russell who dressed in haberdasher’s fashions and presented out-of-date teachings from the Bible, whereas they continued to progress in “New light?” They have restructured with multitudinous corporations and have continued their “Governing Body,” that makes all the rulings in matters of faith directly under Christ and by His Spirit. How Can this be? As you will see in the succeeding pages, there have been many changes backward and forward on the doctrines of the Watchtower as published in its pages.

The above changes were not subject to the vote of the congregations. They were just told that this is the way it is now going to be. There will be no central head. There will only be the governing body who will make all decisions in religious matters. The Watchtower organization rules with absolutist power – “an absolutist hand” – and this has not changed. You knew where things were coming from with one at the top; but with this change you are left in the dark as to who made the ruling or changes. This is not God’s way. His way is clearly outlined in His Word – it is the rule of the congregation – Laodicea. (Rev. 3:14-22)

The Elders, and not autocrats, are chosen by the Congregations after a democratic fashion according to their recognized Spirituality and submission to righteous requirements. (1Timothy 3:1-13) They are not “appointed in every place” except to begin the ecclesia arrangement which was new at that time and the Apostles were specially guided by the Holy Spirit. They were the ones upon whom the tongues of fire appeared. In our modern day, it becomes an excuse for the Society’s “flock” to render absolute control and obedience to an arranged program adopted by the leadership. You will not have any dissenters; for if they would dare to differ a trial would be called for, they would be disfelowshipped and would be looking in from the outside. This is very wrong and represents powerful control or domination. It is the same method as that adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.

If the “Channel” became cleansed in and after 1919, and was completely cleansed by 1938, and as stated in the Watchtower 1959, page 601, the elective Elders before that time were not mature or theocratic. Why does that channel now go back to the explanation given in 1886? What happened to that “Channel,” or its “governing body” from 1919 or 1938 to 1962? Had it or they been tuned to the wrong station?