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Helping Christians Reach Jehovah's Witnesses
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The Watchtower and Spiritual Authority

The Watch Tower Society and Spiritual Authority

By Ronald Frye

The Doctrine of the "Faithful and Discreet Slave"
in the Light of Bible Student-Jehovah's Witness History

The fierce loyalty that Jehovah's Witnesses world-wide feel towards the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is based on the conviction that it represents "God's channel." What that means is that the Almighty God, Jehovah, speaks to men only through this organization. Only those directing it possess his Holy Spirit, and it is therefore only they who can convey his thoughts to men on earth. Thus, any Jehovah's Witness who has difficulty accepting everything the Society teaches or in any way shows a critical attitude toward any of its teachings is branded as "lacking appreciation and gratitude" for all the things God is providing spiritually through his "channel." Illustrating this point, the article "Do We Need Help to Understand the Bible?" as found in The Watchtower of 15 February 1981 (p. 18) says:

How shall we view the spiritual food provided by this "faithful and discreet slave"? Should it be viewed critically-'Oh, well, it might be true but then again it might not be and so we have to scrutinize it very carefully'? Some apparently have felt that way about it. To support their way of thinking they have quoted Acts 17:11 which says of newly interested persons at Beroea, "Now the latter were more nobleminded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the scriptures daily as to whether these things were so."

But does this mean that those Beroeans were looking for flaws in the message they were hearing, or that their attitude was one of doubting? Does this set a precedent for regarding critically the publications brought forth by the "faithful and discreet slave," with a view to finding fault? Not at all!

The next several paragraphs in the same article explain that the Beroeans were eager to believe what was being taught them. They wanted to believe it. On page 19, under the subtitle "Our View of the Slave," The Watchtower states further:

We can benefit from this consideration. If we have once established what instrument God is using as his "slave" to dispense spiritual food to his people, surely Jehovah is not pleased if we receive that food as though it might contain something harmful. We should have confidence in the channel God is using. At the Brooklyn headquarters from which the Bible publications of Jehovah's Witnesses emanate there are more mature Christian elders, both of the "remnant" and of the "other sheep," than anywhere else upon the earth.
True, the brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18) However, this has resulted in a continual refining of the body of Bible-based truth to which Jehovah's Witnesses subscribe. Over the years, as adjustments have been made to that body of truth, it has become ever more wonderful and applicable to our lives in these "last days."


This presentation of "scriptural" matters is very intimidating to those who, among Jehovah's Witnesses, begin to have serious doubts or even questions about Watch Tower Society teachings. If they are in any way critical, the Society describes them as having "a bad attitude." Through its literature and spokesmen it constantly asserts that those directing it are representatives of his "faithful and discreet slave" which is God's "channel" of communication with his people. So every utterance that appears in Watch Tower publications is held to come indirectly from God. Thus it seems appropriate to examine the basis for the claim that those directing the Society represent the so-called "faithful and discreet slave."

The text used to buttress this claim is found at Matthew 24:45-47 NWT). It reads: "Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings." The Watchtower magazine of 1 March 1981 (p. 24) gives the Society's official interpretation of Jesus' statement as contained in these verses. It reads:

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that this parable pertains to the one true congregation of Jesus Christ's anointed followers. Beginning with Pentecost, 33 C.E. and continuing through the 19 centuries since then, this slavelike congregation has been feeding its members spiritually, doing so faithfully and discreetly. Especially as the identity of this "slave" becomes clear at the time of Christ's return or presence. The "slave" is identifiable by its watchfulness and by the fact that it is faithfully and discreetly providing spiritual food as needed by all in the Christian congregation. Indeed, this "slave," or spirit anointed congregation, is the one approved channel representing God's Kingdom on earth in the "time of the end." (Da. 12:4) Witnesses of Jehovah understand that the "slave" is comprised of all anointed Christians as a group on earth at any given time during the 19 centuries since Pentecost. Accordingly, the "domestics" are these followers of Christ as individuals.

Supposedly, then, since this composite "slave" has had a continuous, uninterrupted existence from its beginning in 33 C.E., it is held that there would always be genuine Christians on earth from the first century until the end of the world. This is said to be clearly shown in Jesus' parable or illustration of the wheat and the weeds as found in Matthew 13. The wheat-representing the true sons of God-was sown in a field which is the world. The weeds-imitation or false Christians-were later sown in among the wheat by the Evil One. Jesus explained that these two "crops" were to grow together until the end of the world and, then, in the "harvest period," the angels would go forth and separate the weeds from the wheat. The weeds would be put into piles and burned; the wheat, in turn, would be harvested and stored. So imitation Christians began to make their appearance soon after the Christian congregation came into being. But according to Watch Tower teaching, never have they been able to get control of the "faithful and discreet slave" class-the wheat, that is God's true congregation on earth.
Addressing this matter in its 15 February 1975 issue (p. 110), The Watchtower says:

"We note that Jesus did not say that the 'faithful and discreet slave' would turn disloyal. But, as to the individual members of that 'slave' class, Jesus merely indicated the possibility that not all would be loyal, just as one of the twelve, Judas, after a right start, had turned out bad."

And on the same page in another paragraph, talking about such "apostates," it adds:

"Christ would not let any such disloyal ones have domination over or break up his congregation and stop the work it is doing."

Then on page 26, in its 1 March 1981 issue, The Watchtower says:

"Though the 'weeds' dominated the world's religious scene through the centuries, some 'wheat' was active and spiritual food was provided for the 'domestics.'"

Note, then, according to the Watch Tower Society's interpretation, the wheat means the "faithful and discreet slave" as an ongoing group-the Christian congregation, that is, all the faithful anointed Christians on earth at any one time throughout the Christian era.

The article "How Are Christians Spiritually Fed?" which appears in The Watchtower of 15 January 1975 (p. 46), states:

"Jesus had said, 'Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.' (Matt. 28:20) Jesus Christ is the Head of the Christian congregation, his slave, and his words show that he would strengthen them to feed his 'domestics' right down through the centuries. Apparently one generation of the 'slave' class fed the succeeding generation thereof, as well as continuing to feed themselves."

Again it is argued that these Christians were not fed as isolated, independent persons but as a collective body or group-a congregation. Summing up the argument, the same article (p. 47) says:

"We see, then, that Jesus Christ himself called attention to this method of feeding his people-not as isolated, independent individuals, but as a close-knit body of Christians having real love and care for one another."

The Watchtower of 15 July 1960 (p. 435) adds the following:

"Down through the years the slavelike congregation has been feeding its true members faithfully and discreetly. From Pentecost A.D. 33, up to this present hour this has been lovingly and carefully performed. Yes, and these 'domestics' have been fed on progressive, spiritual food that keeps them abreast of the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established."

According to this last quotation, the slave has always been nourished by progressive, spiritual food. It has not regressed, not remained static, but has always moved forward spiritually with the increasing light of truth. This, then, is the carefully laid premise behind the Watch Tower Society's teaching on Jesus' illustration of the "faithful and discreet slave" as recounted at Matthew 24:45-47. That slave class therefore came into existence on Pentecost of 33 C.E. and was to have a continuous, uninterrupted history down throughout the centuries, up to and including the end of the world. Throughout the centuries it has been progressively feeding its members on spiritual food, becoming increasingly enlightened as time has gone by.

The question to be answered, then, is how does this teaching or doctrine, square with the history of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society? If we examine the consequences of the Society's interpretation of Matthew 24:45-47, what will we find? Remember, this interpretation must fit its actual history to be demonstrated to be true. So if the Society's "faithful and discreet slave" doctrine does not square with its own history, then it must be demonstrably false as far as Jehovah's Witnesses are concerned. With these thoughts in mind, let us examine the Society's history as explained in its own publications.


The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society was incorporated in 1884 by Charles Taze Russell, known for many years as "Pastor" Russell. Russell was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1852. Although raised as a Christian, by the time he was sixteen his faith was almost destroyed. The Watch Tower's official history, Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, makes the following observations in Russell's own words: "Brought up a Presbyterian, indoctrinated from the Catechism and being naturally of an inquiring mind, I fell a ready prey to the logic of infidelity, as soon as I began to think for myself. But that which at first threatened to be the utter shipwreck of faith in God and the Bible was, under God's providence, overruled for good and merely wrecked my confidence in human creeds and systems of Bible misinterpretations."1 It then adds: "During the next few months Russell continued to reflect over the subject of religion, unable to accept it, and yet unwilling to let it go."2 Finally, it quotes him as saying:

Seemingly by accident, one evening I dropped into a dusty, dingy hall in Allegheny, Pa., where I heard that religious services were held, to see if the handful who met there had anything more sensible to offer than the creeds of the great churches. There, for the first time, I heard something of the View of Second Adventism by Jonas Wendell . . . .
Though his scripture exposition was not entirely clear and though it was very far from what we now rejoice in, it was sufficient, under God, to reestablish my wavering faith in the Divine inspiration of the Bible, and to show that the records of the Apostles and the prophets are indissolubly linked.

A.H. Macmillan, a Canadian who spent many years serving at the Watch Tower headquarters as a senior official of that organization, says regarding Russell:

A renewed determination to continue his search for the truth opened a new chapter in this young man's life. Taking down his already well-worn Bible, he began a careful and systematic study of the Bible itself. As he read he thought, and the more he pondered the more convinced he became that the time was drawing near for the wise watching ones of the Lord's children to get a clear picture of God's purposes.
Fired now with real enthusiasm, he approached several young men with whom he had been associating, some in a business way and others socially. He told them of his rekindled interest, of his purpose to continue his direct study of the Bible without any consideration of established creeds. Immediately recognizing the possibilities, they said, "Well, suppose we get together and study in a systematic way during certain hours each week."
So it started. This young man who at eighteen years of age organized this little Bible class, was to become one of the best-known Bible students of his generation. He was to become one of the best-loved and the most hated-one of the most praised and most maligned men in modern religious history.


According to the record provided by Watch Tower sources, in 1870 Charles Taze Russell turned away from all existing Christian fellowships and just with the Bible began a systematic study on his own. Commenting on the fruitage of this independent study, Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose quotes an earlier Watch Tower source which says:

"He was not the founder of a new religion and never made such a claim. He revived the great truths taught by Jesus and the apostles, and turned the light of the twentieth century upon these teachings. He made no claim of a special revelation from God, but held that is was God's due time for the Bible to be understood; and that, being fully consecrated to the Lord and to his service, he was permitted to understand it."5

This, then, was the origin of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society as explained in the words of two persons closely associated with its early history. Both completely repudiate the carefully laid doctrine regarding the so-called "faithful and discreet slave" class. For by the year 1870, when the young Charles Russell began his independent study of the Bible, the "faithful and discreet slave" would have been more than 1800 years old!

The following questions have to be asked:

  1. Where was this "faithful and discreet slave" congregation?
  2. How could Russell revive the great teachings of Christ and the apostles independently of the "channel" of communication, Jehovah's earthly organization?
  3. Moreover, if, as the Watch Tower Society insists, the faithful slave congregation had been feeding itself progressively down through the centuries, one generation feeding the succeeding generation thereof, why would the great teachings of Jesus and the apostles need to be revived?

They would not if the teaching regarding the "faithful and discreet slave" class were true. Clearly, the facts concerning the modern origins of Jehovah's Witnesses flatly contradict the teaching of the Watch Tower Society with respect to the so-called "faithful and discreet slave" class. It is clear that in order to justify their authoritarian, hierarchical system, they must argue that Jehovah is using an organization-an earthly "channel"-to which all must submit and which all must accept. But to insist upon it today, they must also argue consistently that this has been the case since the beginning of the Christian church in 33 C.E. The fact remains, however, that Russell did not turn to any earthly organization. He acted independently, on his own.

Today, more than a hundred years after the start of Russell's activities, Jehovah's Witnesses are outstandingly organization minded. Their organization always comes first. In The Watchtower of 1 March 1979, in the article "Faith in Jehovah's Victorious Organization," the expression "theocratic organization," appears fifteen times in the first eleven paragraphs. This kind of mesmerizing repetition is constantly used by the Watch Tower Society to condition Jehovah's Witnesses to think that it is wrong for them to question anything the Society ever publishes as "Truth." In contrast to this attitude towards the organization, Russell and his early associates were actually against earthly organization. Zion's Watch Tower of February 1884 (p. 2) said on behalf of Russell and his associates:

"We belong to no earthly organization; hence, if you should name the entire list of sects, we should answer, No, to each and to all. We adhere only to that heavenly organization-'whose names are written in heaven.' (Heb. 12:23; Luke 10:20) All the saints now living or that have lived during this age belong to our church organization: such are all one Church and there is no other recognized by the Lord. Hence any earthly organization which in the least interferes with this union of saints is contrary to the teachings of Scripture and opposed to the Lord's will-'that they may be one.'"

Surprisingly, this quotation was reprinted in the 1 March 1979 issue of The Watchtower (p. 16).

Russell believed in an invisible church. He did not believe in an ongoing, continuous earthly church or organization. In fact, he was hostile to organized religion, and the antagonism which he felt towards the churches is understandable. After all, he was a religious maverick. His small group of followers were without any organizational history. They sought to minimize that lack by arguing that God did not have an ongoing earthly organization-a monolithic, Christian congregation. In this way, Russell's followers, or Bible Students as they came to be called, could denigrate those religions that did have a long earthly history and could explain away their own lack of one. It is abundantly clear that Russell did not believe that God had an 1800 year-old "faithful and discreet slave" organization-God's channel of communication on earth in his day. He did not find it, nor did it find him. He and his associates had no fellowship with any existing organization and were in fact disdainful of all other organized religious associations. They stoutly repudiated the idea that there was a visible, earthly organization existing from Pentecost onward with which one would have to associate in order to serve God.

But today, 100 years later, the Jehovah's Witness descendants of the early Bible Students argue a position which is the direct opposite of that held by their immediate spiritual forebears. They assert that it is necessary to look to a visible, earthly organization which operates through the medium of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Over the years, Russell's followers who remained in association with the Society changed their stance. They once argued just as strongly against earthly, religious organization as they now argue for it. Just as their predecessors' perception of it was far different a hundred years ago from what theirs is today, their view of Russell is also far different from what it was among Bible Students during his lifetime. Apart from brief and occasional references to him in Watch Tower publications, Russell is largely unknown to modern-day Jehovah's Witnesses. His writings are not recommended reading, nor are his books published by the very publishing house that he established and endowed with his own money.


Jehovah's Witnesses still argue that Russell was a man whom God used to revive the great teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Why, then, do they not study his books today in their congregations, if no more than from a historical standpoint? Because much of what he wrote would be considered heresy today! Russell was a remarkable man and a prolific writer. He drew up the charter of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. He was the editor of The Watch Tower magazine from its beginning. From 1879 until his death in 1916, he composed hundreds of articles, booklets and tracts as well as producing the six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures which were known originally as the Millennial Dawn Series. But more than that, his teachings came to hold special authority among his followers. In effect, they became "the Truth," and he began to be viewed as the "channel" of that Truth.

In this connection, it is interesting to note how Russell and the Bible Students viewed his Studies in the Scriptures. The 15 September 1910 issue of The Watch Tower (p. 298) has this to say:

If the six volumes of scripture studies are practically the Bible topically arranged, with Bible proof-texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes-the Bible in an arranged form. That is to say, they are not merely comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself, since there is no desire to build any doctrine or thought on any individual preference or on any individual wisdom, but to present the entire matter on the lines of the Word of God. We therefore think it safe to follow this kind of reading, this kind of instruction, this kind of Bible study.
Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the scripture studies aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years-if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the scripture studies with 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.

What this means, of course, is that Russell had changed his viewpoint dramatically over the years. Because he was not inspired originally, he could not understand the Bible. But now, after the printing of the six volumes, no one else could go to the Bible alone and learn "the Truth." Now "the Truth" could only be found in his volumes which explained the Bible. In fact, they were "the Truth." If one failed to agree with that, then he was considered to be in spiritual darkness. Today, however, most of what was taught in those volumes is rejected by Jehovah's Witnesses. But in Russell's day they were "the Truth" and one had to believe them in order to be "in the Truth."

So the attitude displayed by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society today is not new. It has been a characteristic from the latter days of its first president. Russell and the Bible Students were no doubt sincere, God-fearing men and women who really did believe that they were being enlightened by God and used in a special way. But the facts as given below show that this conviction was primarily based on self-delusion, and this self-delusion motivated them to speak in an authoritarian manner to condemn all who did not agree with them. Assuming that they were special, they became presumptuous in their presentation of Scriptural matters.
Much, if not all, of this religious presumptuousness resulted from the Bible Students' attitude toward Russell and his writings. It is acknowledged by the Watch Tower Society today that many Bible Students or Russellites, as they were often called, were guilty of carrying on what amounted to "creature worship" of their pastor. This creature worship was a natural consequence of what they had been taught about him. He came to be identified with the faithful slave or "sevant" of Matthew 24: 45-47 AV. A.H. Macmillan says: "Often when he was asked, Who is that faithful and wise servant? Russell would reply: 'Some say I am; while others say the Society is.' Both statements were true; Russell was in fact the Society (in a most absolute sense), in that he directed the policy and the course of the Society. He sometimes sought advice of others in connection with the Society, listened to their suggestions, and then decided according to his best judgement what he believed the Lord would have him do."6 Consequently, Russell came to be revered almost to the point of worship, as is acknowledged in Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose. That book indicates what Bible Student attitudes towards him were immediately following his death. It says: "The insistence that Russell had been 'that servant' led many to regard Russell in what amounted actually to creature worship. They believed that all the truth God had seen fit to reveal to his people had been revealed to Russell, and now nothing more could be brought forth because 'that servant' was dead."

It is important to keep in mind at this point that this attitude was not something privately arrived at by a few people; it had been taught by the Watch Tower Society. Note this quotation from Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose: "There was some resistance from those who were not progressive and who did not have a vision of the work that lay ahead. Some insisted on living in the past, in the time of Pastor Russell, when the brothers in general had viewed him as the sole channel of Scriptural enlightenment. It was the published and accepted thought down till 1927 that he was 'that servant' of Matthew 24: 45."8 Thus virtually all Bible Students believed that he was "that servant" until 1927-eleven years after his death.9 But in addition to being viewed as the faithful and wise servant of Matthew 24:45-47, he was also identified with "the man with the writer's inkhorn" of Ezekiel 9 and the "seventh messenger" of Revelation 1:20. In that last mentioned verse, the glorified Jesus Christ is pictured as having seven stars in his right hand which represented seven "angels" or "messengers." Russell was viewed as being one of those stars, the seventh. Hence he became known as the "seventh messenger."
10 The lead article in The Watch Tower of 15 November 1917, published a year after Russell's death, was entitled "A Tribute to the Seventh Messenger." It argues that the entire gospel age was divided into seven periods or epoches, for each of which God provided a special messenger to the earthly church of Jesus Christ. On page 324, it says: "The great drama of the Gospel age opened with the Apostle Paul as the chief messenger, or angel to the church. It closes with Pastor Russell as the seventh, and last, messenger of the church militant. For the other five epoches of the church the Lord provided messengers in the order named: St. John, Arius, Waldo, Wycliffe and Luther. Each in his turn bore the message due to be understood during the epoch he represented. The two most prominent messengers, however, are the first and the last-St. Paul and Pastor Russell." So, according to The Watch Tower, Pastor Russell outshone the John the Revelator, one whom it recognizes as one of Christ's twelve original apostles.

Clearly this view of Russell and his writings was cultish. Furthermore, the adulation heaped on him was hardly of the sort that was traditionally given to a "servant" or "slave." Yet this view of him was taught by the Watch Tower Society and it spokesmen for over thirty years. Although repudiated by Jehovah's Witnesses today, it was long held to be "the Truth," and if any Bible Student questioned it, he was held to have gone into "spiritual darkness." He was regarded as not having the "right attitude" toward God's "channel." Curiously, even today the Watch Tower Society would have its followers believe that in some way God was reponsible for all of this.


Following Russell's death, the Watch Tower organization fell into disarray. God's "faithful and wise servant" was gone. The "seventh" and last "messenger" to the church was dead. It should be noted, too, that two years earlier, in 1914, the end of the world had failed to take place as Russell had long prophesied, and Bible Students were still somewhat discomfited from this prophetic failure. Some had even fallen away from the movement in disappointment. But if this were not enough, a bitter power struggle occurred at Watch Tower headquarters over control of the Society.

During the spring and early summer of 1917, Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford, Russell's successor as Watch Tower president, tried to exercise virtually the same absolute control over the Society's activities that Russell had. However, Russell had not intended that to happen. In his last will and testament he had provided for a collective leadership to succeed him. Thus four members of the Society's Board of Directors, a majority of the Board, took strong exception to what they regarded as Rutherford's high-handed behavior and opposed him strongly. Eventually tension between the Judge and the directors came to a head on 17 July 1917. Rutherford simply announced at the Bethel family (Brooklyn, New York headquarter's staff) meal table that he had replaced the four with his own appointees, using the legal fiction that the directors who had opposed him did not hold their positions legally under Pennsylvania law.

Later Rutherford and the Society claimed that a heated, five hour debate that followed his announcement was caused by the deposed directors' opposition to the publication of The Finished Mystery, a book released to the Bethel family immediately before the Judge's dramatic coup. That book was styled the "seventh volume" of Pastor Russell's Studies in the Scriptures and advertised as his posthumous work. So it was possible for Rutherford to claim-quite falsely, as his own later testimony under oath made clear
12-that the four and others with them were refusing spiritual food from the "faithful and wise servant." Hence Jehovah's Witnesses are told even today that the four men who were forced from office and later expelled from Watch Tower headquarters were wicked and self-serving individuals, "evil slaves."13

It is of course true that the four directors and many other Bible Students soon did reject The Finished Mystery because they did not regard it as Russell's work. And by so doing they were only reacting in a manner consistent with their convictions. Although the "seventh volume" did contain much from Russell's writings, it was really the work of two or Rutherford's supporters, Clayton Woodworth and George Fisher. Furthermore, it was palmed off on loyal Bible Students as the "penny" in Jesus' parable of the penny at Matthew 20:1-16 and Luke 12:42-48, while Woodworth described Rutherford as the "steward of the penny" to a Bible Student convention at Boston in the fall of 1917.

So, with their view that the last "messenger" to the church was dead, many of Rutherford's Bible Student critics could not accept The Finished Mystery as "new light," nor could they regard Rutherford's violation of Russell's will and his single-handed publication of the "seventh volume" as anything but an unwarranted usurpation of power.

From the viewpoint of Bible Students in 1917, the "faithful and wise servant" of Matthew 24 was dead. The "seventh messenger"-the last messenger to the church was gone. So how could they be faulted for reacting as they did to Rutherford's actions in publishing The Finished Mystery-an action that appeared extremely presumptuous to them? How could any man add to the message that had already been delivered by the "seventh messenger"? Their anger was generated by their loyalty to God's "faithful and wise servant," Charles Taze Russell-a loyalty much like that which Jehovah's Witnesses display today towards a legal corporation, the Watch Tower Bible Tract Society. Those men were only reacting to the situation in a manner consistent with their convictions. To have acted differently under the circumstances would have been inconsistent and, from their viewpoint, unfaithful. Either Russell was used as they had been taught or he was not so used. Either he was the true channel or he was a fraud. They believed that he was no fraud-that he really was God's chosen servant. So they chose to leave the Brooklyn Bethel headquarters of the Watch Tower Society rather than accept Rutherford's offer to appoint them as travelling "pilgrims," positions that corresponded roughly to those of the present-day circuit overseers of Jehovah's Witnesses.

All of this internal organizational strife was carried on against the backdrop of the First World War. It was an extremely difficult time for the Bible Students. Not only was Russell dead, but his prophecies regarding the end of the world in 1914 had gone unfulfilled. Both the Watch Tower Society and the Bible Student community were split into divisions over the Society's management. In addition, Bible Students were ridiculed as false prophets, and some of their leaders-including Rutherford-were to be imprisoned under the terms of the U.S. Espionage Act for opposing American's military effort during the war.
16 It was at this time, however, that something remarkable was supposed to have happened to those Bible Students faithful to the Society.

According to present-day Watch Tower teachings, Jesus Christ was supposed to have "come" invisibly in 1914, and after his coming to have entered into the the judgment of his earthly servants. The Society interprets Jesus' words at Matthew 24:46, 47-"Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, he will appoint him over all his belongings."-as having been fulfilled at that time on the loyal Bible Student community. According to Watch Tower calculation, this appointment went into effect in the spring of 1919. At that time the Bible Students were entrusted with all the earthly interests of God's newly established heavenly kingdom. These teachings are discussed in full in The Watchtower of 1 January 1977 in the article "Serving with the Faithful Slave."
It is therefore of interest to consider how the Witnesses describe their spiritual condition during the period of 1914-1918, the period when, according to them, they were being evaluated for enlarged privileges of services on earth by the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. Here is what they have to say about themselves according to The Watchtower of 15 November 1980 (pp. 26-7):

"Like the Israelites of Isaiah's day, the spiritual Israelites sold themselves because of wrong practices and came into bondage to the world empire of false religion, that is to say, to Babylon the Great and to her worldly paramours . . . . An outstanding instance of this occurred during World War I of 1914-1918." Another statement regarding their condition from The Watchtower of 15 July 1960, (pp. 435, 436) reads: "But the Scriptures describe them as having unclean garments because of their long association with Christian apostasy. (Zech. 3: 3,4) They had many practices, characteristics and beliefs similar to the weed-like sects of Christendom. So from 1914 to 1918 a period of fiery testing came upon them, not unlike the ancient period of Babylonish captivity of the Jews back in 607-537 B.C."

On page 436, that issue of The Watchtower adds:

All this came to pass in connection with transgression on their part in having the fear of man, not conducting themselves in a strictly neutral way during the war years and being tainted with many religiously unclean practices. Jehovah and Jesus Christ permitted these witnesses to be reproached, persecuted, banned and their officers imprisoned by the nations of this old world. By the summer of 1918 the strong, organized voice of the Watch Tower witness had been silenced, killed collectively as prophesied in Rev. 11:7,8. Notice, however, that this watchman's voice was not stilled until they had completed their pre-1914 phenomenal work of warning the peoples of the nations.

Note how The Watchtower describes members of the Bible Student community of that day in these references. They had unclean garments, were contaminated by apostasy, were guilty of wrong practices, displayed characteristics that were weed-like, manifested fear of man, sold themselves because of wrong practices. It even compares their experience to the Jews' captivity in Babylon. They had sold themselves because of wrong practices. So, since the Israelites were apostate when they were deported to Babylon, Jehovah's Witnesses are saying that the members of their organization who were adults during World War I were also apostate.


On another matter, Jehovah's Witnesses boast today that for nearly forty years prior to 1914 they carried on an outstanding preaching work to warn mankind of what was to occur in that year. But if one looks at history, he will note that in fact they were preaching a false message. For what they proclaimed was that Christ had actually come invisibly in 1874 and that the period between 1874 and 1914 was a harvest period which would end in the latter year with the total destruction of all the nations of mankind. Concerning that fact, Charles Taze Russell himself wrote:

"We consider it an established fact that the final end of the kingdoms of this world and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914."17

Hence in 1930, the Watch Tower's second president, admitted:

"All of the Lord's people looked forward to 1914 with joyful expectation. When that time came and passed there was much disappointment, chagrin and mourning and the Lord's people were greatly in reproach. They were ridiculed by the clergy and their allies in particular and pointed to with scorn because they had said so much about 1914 and what would come to pass and their prophecies had not been fulfilled."18

How can one argue that during World War I the Bible Students were acting as a "faithful and discreet slave"? By their own statements, they describe themselves as having been "unfaithful" and "disapproved" by God. In fact, this was so much the case that, from their own viewpoint, they had to be spiritually abandoned, just as ancient Israel had had to be abandoned to Babylon. In what way, then, had they been "discreet" in preaching the false message regarding 1914? Again, from this fact, there is clearly no rational possibility of regarding them as the so-called "faithful and discreet slave" class.

Of course it must be acknowledged that the Bible Students in Russell's day did recognize certain important biblical teachings. But much of what they taught was outlandish. They were guilty of setting many wrong, end-time dates, they foolishly-and falsely-prophesied that the world would end in 1914, and they maintained a cultish attitude towards Charles Taze Russell and his writings. Additionally, they were antagonistic and judgmental towards others who refused to accept their apocalyptic schedule and their spiritual arrogance. Thus, because of these unattractive characteristics, they ruined much of the spiritual effectiveness that they might otherwise have had. And their spiritual descendants, Jehovah's Witnesses, have followed in their footsteps. While they, too, have some healthy, biblical teachings, their novel private interpretations of the Scriptures and their false prophecies also prove them much less than they claim to be.

Going back to the period from 1914 to 1918 and the Bible Students' claim to being approved in 1919 for supposedly "enlarged Kingdom privileges,"The Watchtower of July 15, 1960 (p. 436) says:

"A faithful remnant of some thousands of the 'domestics' of the 'faithful and discreet slave' class survived this time of testing. From the spring of 1919 forward they began to rise from the dust of inactivity to their new lofty service as watchmen to the world .... The Scriptures also describe them as being clothed with new garments of clean identification to represent Jehovah's interests in the earth."

This is truly incredible! They admit to having prophesied falsely for nearly forty years, using time-feature calculations that were completely wrong. They admit that they were unclean and so apostate that God had to abandon them to what they call "Babylon the Great." Then they ask others to believe that they were glorified with a new, lofty privilege of service, handling all of the enlarged interests of their Master, Jesus Christ.

Such a doctrine is quite unreasonable. It is like having a businessman who, through his own foolishness, has got himself into financial difficulty and has lost a good deal of another's money and, after he has declared bankruptcy, having that other person say to him: "Well done! You have already lost a good deal of my wealth, so now I will entrust all my earthly fortune to you." Yet that, essentially, is what the Watch Tower Society teaches that God did with respect to those directing it; and most Jehovah's Witnesses believe it. Of course they are conditioned to believe virtually anything the Society says.

Incredible as the explanation just given is, it is at least equalled by another one. At the end of the First World War the Bible Students could trace their history back no further than to 1870, the year that Russell began his little Bible-study class. So in 1919, their total existence as a movement covered a period of less than fifty years. Yet this is how they describe themselves in The Watchtower of 15 July 1960 (p. 436):

Now that the long-expected Kingdom had become an established reality in heaven, surely its growing interests in the earth after 1919 would not be left in the hands of a novice organization of spiritual babes. And that proved to be true. It was the 1900-year-old "faithful and discreet slave," the old Christian congregation, that was entrusted with this precious Kingdom service. Rich in its loyalty and integrity, long in its patient suffering of persecution, strong in its ancient faith in Jehovah's precious promises, confident in the leadership of its invisible Lord, Jesus Christ, obedient in its centuries-old commission to be witnesses in the earth, finally cleansed by a fiery test in 1918, the matured "slave" as represented by a remnant now stood ready for new assignments of service.

On page 438, of the same issue, The Watchtower adds:

Yes, beyond doubt the old awake "faithful and discreet slave" stands today as a wonder watchman to the peoples of the nations. Just as their master, Jesus Christ, stood for the rise and fall of many in Israel in the first century of the Christian era, so now before the whole world the anointed witnesses stand as a guide to survival for a minority of mankind but prove to be an occasion for stumbling into Armageddon destruction for the rest.

To argue that this novice religious organization, less than fifty years old, admittedly preaching a false gospel, and thereby becoming spiritually unclean, was the 1900-year-old "faithful and discreet slave," rich in its loyalty and its faithfulness, obedient to its centuries-old commission, is simply ludicrous. Yet that is what the Watch Tower Society must have it followers believe in order to maintain the myth that its leaders represent the "faithful and discreet slave."
Did the shattering experience of 1914 teach the Watch Tower Society a lesson, causing its spiritual overseers to avoid private interpretations of the Scriptures regarding prophetic time features and the making of dogmatic predictions? No, it did not! Immediately after the disappointment of 1914, they got themselves trapped in the same sort of thing again. In 1920, a year after the beginning of their so-called new, lofty service appointment, the Watch Tower Society published a book entitled Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Newspaper advertisements were used to herald the lecture series that accompanied this book.19 The campaign lasted until 1925. The book, along with the seven volumes of Studies in the Scriptures and other Watch Tower literature constituted "the Truth" being preached. Of course this "Truth" included Russell's "biblical chronology" which was still accepted by Bible Students at that time.
What, then, was the message contained in Millions Now Living Will Never Die? It deals with the work of reconstruction to be accomplished by the kingdom of God. The restoration of natural Israel to God's favor is taught therein, just as Russell had taught it.
20 In addition, an elaborate system of time-period calculations is employed in it to prove that God's favor began to return to the Jews in 1878. Additional calculations regarding the Israelite jubilee year system are used to establish that 1925 would be an apocalyptic year. Commenting on this concept, the book's author, Judge Rutherford, asserts:

A simple calculation of these jubilees brings us to this important fact: Seventy jubilees of fifty years each would be a total of 3500 years. That period of time beginning 1575 before A.D. 1 of necessity would end in the fall of the year 1925, at which time the type ends and the great antitype must begin. What, then, should we expect to take place? In the type there must be a full restoration; therefore the great antitype must mark the beginning of restoration of all things. The chief thing to be restored is the human race to life; and since other Scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful ones of old, and that these will have the first favor, 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. 21

Then Rutherford also adds:

As we have heretofore stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925. At that the time earthly phase of the kingdom shall be recognized. The Apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews names a long list of faithful men who died before the crucifixion of the Lord and before the beginning of the selection of the church. These can never be a part of the heavenly class; they had no heavenly hopes; but God has in store something good for them. They are to be resurrected as perfect men and constitute the princes or rulers in the earth, according to his promise .... Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews chapter eleven, to the condition of human perfection.22

Finally, the second Watch Tower president remarks dogmatically:

Based upon the argument heretofore set forth then, that the old order of things, the old world, is ending and is therefore passing away, and that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old and the beginning of the reconstruction, it is reasonable to conclude that millions of people now on the earth will still be on the earth in 1925. Then, based upon the promise set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die.23This, then, was the "grand message" that the Bible Students started to proclaim immediately following their "appointment" by God to their "new, lofty privilege of service" in 1919. Of course, this was supposedly under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this last concept is what the Watch Tower Society teaches today! So all loyal Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that they must accept what amount to the grossest falsehoods because they have been taught them by God's "slave," through his "channel." If they do not, they are charged with not showing "proper respect" to the "one organization" that Jehovah God is using in the earth today.

Of course, history has given the lie to Judge Rutherford's 1925 prophecy, a prophecy which was treated as "the Truth" at the time and which the Watch Tower Society teaches was provided for and served up by the 1900-year-old "faithful and discreet slave." In addition, before its failure, any Bible Student who doubted it was classed by the Society has having gone into spiritual darkness. To be in "the Truth," one had to believe what proved to be false.

The book Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose makes much of the success of the "Millions campaign," as it calls it. It describes the numbers of lectures given, the books distributed, the increase in numbers among the Bible Students, but it says nothing about the contents of Millions Now Living Will Never Die. That would be embarrassing. What happened in the ranks of the Bible Students when 1925 came, the resurrection of the ancient worthies did not occur, and the earthly phase of reconstruction by Christ did not begin? Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose comments on the growth of Bible Student numbers:

From 1922 through 1925 Jehovah God helped his people to wait or endure, carrying on his Kingdom preaching on a widening scale. This resulted in bringing into the sanctuary many more to be members of this remnant consecrated by Jehovah. This was evident from the increasing attendance at the annual celebration of the Lord's evening meal, 32,661 participating in 1922; 42,000 in 1923; 62,694 in 1924; and 90,434 in 1925.

Evidently, however, there were some who did not "wait" with the Lord's faithful remnant. In 1926 there was a reported decrease in the attendance on March 27 at the Lord's evening meal to 89,278. The year 1925 especially proved to be a year of great trail to many of Jehovah's people. Some stopped waiting and went with the world.

No mention is made in Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose as to why the year 1925 was such a trial for some Bible Students. So by distorting facts, writing half-truths and coloring history to suit their own preconceived perception of things, the Society's leaders have always managed to exonerate themselves from the charge of having made wrong predictions by stating that they were teaching "present truth," even when they were actually proclaiming what were false prophecies. Dishonestly, they have had the audacity to proclaim that those whom they stumbled spiritually by such doctrinal gymnastics were "unfaithful," "wicked ones," and "evil slaves" who failed to "wait on Jehovah." Yet it is they-the Society's leaders-who, by their own standards, failed to "wait on the Lord Jehovah" and who would test "his people" with lies.


Despite all this, in order to remain a faithful Jehovah's Witness one must accept the Society's perception of its history and place in the divine scheme of things. To do so, however, after examining the above-described prophetic failures and resulting disappointments requires a spirit of real naïveté. Those who have lived through such disappointments with their confidence in the Watch Tower Society unshaken must be described as more credulous than faithful.
The Society does not claim to be inspired, but it speaks with the same degree of authority as though it were. It demands that it be taken at face value as though its leaders were inspired-not even permitting ordinary Jehovah's Witnesses the right to question or have reservations or doubts about anything they teach. Then those leaders beg off from responsibility when some doctrine has to be changed or corrected, or when some prophecy goes unfulfilled. Note how strongly they present their position in this typical Watchtower of 15 June 1964 (p. 365):

As Jehovah revealed his truths by means of the first-century Christian congregation so he does today by means of the present-day Christian congregation. Through this agency he is having carried out prophesying on an intensified and unparalleled scale. All this activity is not an accident. Jehovah is the one behind all of it. The abundance of spiritual food and the amazing details of Jehovah's purposes that have been revealed to Jehovah's anointed witnesses are clear evidence that they are the ones mentioned by Jesus when he foretold a "faithful and discreet slave" class that would be used to dispense God's progressive revelations in these last days. Of this class Jesus said: "Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belonging."

In effect, then, the Watch Tower Society is claiming divine inspiration. To "reveal," according to the dictionary, means "to communicate or impart by supernatural means or agency." In other words, something "revealed" is not something learned through ordinary channels or processes; it is inspired or "God-breathed" like the Bible itself. In addition, the dictionary definition of inspiration is very similar to the one used for "revelation" and the meaning of the verb "to reveal." It is "a supernatural influence which qualifies men to receive and communicate divine truth."

That is the essence of the Watch Tower Society's claim. So the use of "revealed" as opposed to claiming inspiration is merely a matter of semantics-a distinction that represents no difference-which is only called upon to explain away changes, contradictions, and disappointments. If one takes the position that Watch Tower leaders are merely a group of religious men, sincere but not especially divinely guided, then their experiences make sense, because it illustrates the human factor-even including their miscalculations and cultishness. But, on the other hand, to argue that Jehovah God is behind all of this does not make sense. The confusion, contradictory messages, the cult-like sectarian allegiance of the Bible Student-Jehovah's Witnesses, first to Russell and now to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society itself, do not reflect the divine mind as described in the Bible. It is as simple as that!

From a Christian standpoint, Almighty God has demonstrated over and over again in the Scriptures that he can take an imperfect man and have this man preach a clear, accurate message when it is his will to have such a message preached. It does not have to be updated, changed, re-argued or explained away. True prophets were never wrong. Ask yourself, why should anyone acquainted with the Watch Tower Society's history take that organization seriously when it comes to Bible prophecy? Since 1975 it has undergone another disappointment over a date. But its leaders like to avoid talking about it, and if the past practices of the Society are any indication, that organization will gloss over it, too.


The fact remains that Watch Tower leaders speculated about 1975, implying that the world would end in that year. Many Jehovah's Witnesses fully expected that to happen, and when it did not, some were disillusioned. While it is true that the Society's leaders did not specifically state that 1975 would mark the end of the world, they did lay the groundwork for that belief and used so-called "time features"25 along with other specious arguments to support the suggestion that it could very well be a "marked year."26 Of course, when that year came and went without anything major having happened, there was a great deal of consternation among Jehovah's Witnesses. Addressing itself to that consternation in an article entitled "Keeping a Balanced View of Time," The Watchtower of 15 July 1976 (p. 441), had this to say:

"It may be that some who had been serving God had planned their lives according to a mistaken view of just what was to happen on a certain date or in a certain year."

Significantly, this Watchtower avoided any reference to the year 1975 in this remark, but everyone who read and studied it in the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses, knew what date the article was alluding to.

But both the Watch Tower Society and most Jehovah's Witnesses have missed the point of the Bible's warning concerning the end of the world or this "system of things," thinking that "Bible chronology" helps reveal specific dates. Consequently it was not the divine prophecy that failed them and brought disappointment: it was their own understanding based on wrong premises. Nowhere in their discussion do the publishers of the 15 July 1976 Watchtower acknowledge any responsibility for those wrong expectations. It was not until several years later that Watch Tower Society spokesmen got around to acknowledging that its officers had promoted false ideas concerning 1975. In the summer of 1979 statements were delivered to assembled Witnesses at Watch Tower "district conventions." These were published in the 15 March 1980 issue of The Watchtower (page 17) and read:

In its issue of July 15, 1976, The Watchtower, commenting on the inadvisability of setting our sights on a certain date stated:

"If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the Word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises."

In saying "anyone," The Watchtower included all disappointed ones of Jehovah's Witnesses, hence including persons having to do with the publication of the information that contributed to the buildup of hopes centered on that date


In other words, Watch Tower leaders not only deceived and disappointed the readers of The Watchtower, but they deceived and disappointed themselves as well. They took themselves so seriously as the "repository of all divine enlightenment" that they were even bold enough to preach their speculations concerning 1975 worldwide-something which they did between 1966 and 1975. Yet now the Society claims that it was not guilty of acting as a false prophet organization. But the fact remains that it and its leaders prophesied falsely. They prophesied falsely for nearly forty years prior to and including 1914. They prophesied falsely from 1920 to 1925 regarding what was to happen in that latter year. And even if one overlooks their speculation regarding 1975 as something that was only a "possibility" (though eventually a "probability"), would it be accurate to say that it was discreet to publish such speculations worldwide-speculations that created false hopes leading again to disappointment on the part of millions?

The Scriptures, which Jehovah's Witnesses regard as "the Word of God," are very plain in pointing out the difference between a prophet of God and a false prophet. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (NWT) says:

"However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: 'How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?' When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him."

Despite their past failures, the Society's leaders continue to preach dogmatically that the world is living on the brink of destruction-the battle of Armageddon. They still teach that the end of the world must come shortly, that the generation which was old enough to be aware of what was happening on the world stage in 1914 will still be alive when the end comes. In fact, in the very issue of The Watchtower in which the Society's leaders censured Jehovah's Witnesses for looking to a specific date (1975) for the time of their deliverance form this world-that is, the 15 July 1976 issue-they went on to state with absolute certainty that the end must come within the generation that was alive in 1914. On page 435 of that journal, they state:

This "revelation by Jesus Christ" therefore demonstrates that Jesus' prophecy, as recorded at Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, about the "great tribulation" was not limited to the first century. It shows that the tribulation that Jerusalem experienced was but a miniature fulfillment of that prophecy and that its major fulfillment on a global scale will make Jerusalem's tribulation seem small indeed by comparison. Just as surely as the generation living and hearing Jesus' warning in the first century was the generation that experienced a fulfillment of his words, just as sure will this generation-the generation seeing the major fulfillment of his "sign" identifying the last days of this system of things-be the generation to experience the global tribulation due to come.

By making such an assertion, The Watchtower, speaking on behalf of those now controlling the Society, continues to take a most definite stand on when the end of the world must take place, even though by now we are living some seventy-five years after 1914. By being so certain, so dogmatic, they are still in effect saying that their word, their interpretation of God's Word found in the Bible, their reading of what they call the "signs of the times," is just as sure, just as certain, just as valid as the inspired teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. And yet, paradoxically, they say that they are not inspired.
Concerning this matter, the 1 March 1981 issue of The Watchtower (page 29) says:

The "slave" is not divinely inspired but continues to search the Scriptures and carefully scrutinize world events, as well as the situation of God's people, so as to understand the ongoing fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Because of human limitations, at times there may be an incomplete or incorrect understanding of some matter that may require correction later.
But this does not mean that the "slave" should avoid publishing a possible explanation until the final, complete understanding is available.


This kind of reasoning is nothing but a smoke screen to becloud the fact that Watch Tower leaders preach dogmatism that often proves misleading or untrue. When they make pronouncements concerning future events, almost never do they set forth their position with caution saying, "this is our present understanding" or "this appears to be the case." No! They speak with certainty just as Rutherford did and just as Russell did. They insist that their followers take them just as seriously as they take direct statements from the Scriptures. Then, when they are proven wrong, they excuse themselves by claiming that they do not claim to be inspired. In other words, they would have one believe that they are empowered by Jehovah God to preach whatever they think is the "Truth" to their followers and that those poor "sheep" are obligated to accept it. They are not to question it; they are to preach it, too. And even if it is wrong, that is still alright, because their mistakes are apparently sanctified by God. So according to Watch Tower leaders, Jehovah's Witnesses cannot go wrong preaching from door to door or from the housetops anything that is printed in the Society's publications. Even if it should prove to be wrong, it will not hurt either the preachers or the ones preached to. But that is false, for many have suffered terrible spiritual and psychological disalusionment through the failure of Watch Tower society prophecies.

The "illustration" of the "faithful and wise servant" or "faithful and discreet slave" of Matthew 24:45-51 is just that, a simple illustration calling on each Christian to be faithful. The context surrounding those verses shows that Christ's return was to be sudden, unannounced, like a thief coming in the middle of the night-hence the need for Christians to be spiritually watchful and awake. The interpretation placed upon this text by the Watch Tower Society fits neither the history of the Christian church in the world nor their own history since the 1870s. The Society privately interprets this passage to gain control over the minds and the lives of Jehovah's Witnesses. According to the Scriptures, the final separating of the wheat and the weeds must await Christ's return, and at that time angels, not men, will do the separating. Bible Students used the Scriptures wrongly to identify Russell as the "faithful and wise servant" and the "seventh messenger." They used them wrongly to establish the time features pointing to 1914 as the year that the world would end. Rutherford used them wrongly to prophesey the world's end in 1925. The modern Watch Tower Society used them wrongly to speculate about 1975. And the last instance illustrates just how easy it is to manipulated people when they come to rely so completely on the thoughts of individuals whom they have exalted to roles of spiritual dominance.

Russell's followers wanted to believe that he was "that servant." They wanted to believe that the world was going to end in 1914 and that they were God's appointed representatives, his special messengers. They wanted to believe that Rutherford was right when they distributed Millions Now Living Will Never Die between 1920 and 1925. Jehovah's Witnesses wanted to believe that The Watchtower's assertions prior to 1975 were correct about that year. But in every one of these instances, Bible Students and Jehovah's Witnesses were demonstrated to be wrong. Their wanting to be right did not make them right. Their eagerness to believe Watch Tower doctrine to be true did not make it true. In every instance the expectations of Jehovah's Witnesses involving a date have led to disappointments. Thus the faithful and discreet slave doctrine stands throughly discredited from the standpoint of history.

After the fact in each case, they have rationalized why things did not happen the way they prophesied.

It is foolish to argue that because the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has taught certain things right that one is obliged to accept everything that it teaches. Its own history demonstrates that it is more apt to be wrong in certain areas than to be correct. This is certainly true with respect to its efforts to read time-feature prophecies into what it considers to be "the last days." Recall the text from Deuteronomy 18 regarding the presumptuous prophet who might make predictions that failed to come true. Recall that we were told that we ought not to be frightened by him. So we ought not to be intimidated by the Watch Tower Society, regardless of how dogmatically and threateningly it speaks.
That Society teaches that in order to be saved one must believe it and regard it as God's channel. The Bible says in order to be saved one must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told that we must accept a human organization in order to be saved. But the Society, by its teachings today, in effect says that if one does not cooperate with it, if one does not preach exactly what it tells its followers to preach, if one does not accept it as the channel of God's holy spirit, then he cannot be saved! When Armageddon comes he is going to be destroyed. So the Society's leaders have made themselves indispensable to the salvation of humankind. But in the Bible the only person who is presented as indispensable to the salvation of mankind is the Lord Jesus Christ-the only name given under heaven whereby men can be saved. (Acts 4:12)


QUOTES: 1 P. 14

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid. These direct quotations from Russell as found in Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose are taken from The Watch Tower, 1916, pp. 170, 171.

4 A.H. Macmillan, Faith on the March (Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1957), pp. 19, 20.

5 P. 17. This statement may be found on page 18 of a biography of Russell in the Foreword to the 1926 edition of his Divine Plan of the Ages. That book was originally published in 1886.

6 A. H. Macmillan, Faith on the March (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1957), pp. 126-7.

7 P. 69

8 P. 95

9 In The Watch Tower of February 15, 1927, in an article entitled "Servant-Good and Evil," the Society's second president began to teach that the entire church, the "body of Christ," and, hence, the entire Bible Student community in communion with the Society was the "slave," not Russell.

10 For a discussion of these titles, see The Memoirs of Pastor Russell: The Laodicean Messenger: His Life, Works and Character (Chicago: The Bible Students Bookstore, 1923).

11 M. James Penton, Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985), pp. 50-5

12 Transcript of record in the case of United States v. Rutherford et al., pp.981-2.

13 For a clear example of this false history, see Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, pp. 69-73

14 C.J. Woodworth, The Parable of the Penny (New York: printed privately, 1917).

15 Divine Purpose, p. 71.

16 Ibid., pp. 79-81.

17 Ibid., pp. 55.

18 J.F. Rutherford, Light (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1930), Book I, p. 194.

19 Divine Purpose, p. 98.

20 For an overview of Bible Student-Jehovah's Witness attitudes towards the Jews, see Penton, pp. 21,46,65,127,133,148-9,187-8,242,284-6.

21 P. 88

22 Pp. 89,90

23 P. 97

24 P. 110

25 Based on the idea that 1975 marked 6,000 years from Adam and Eve's creation, they held that that year should have witnessed the beginning of the Millennium. The belief that the Millennium is to come after 6,000 years of human history is taken originally from the biblical pseudepigrapha.

26 For further details, see Penton, pp. 91-6.

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