Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), the prime architecture of Bible Student and Zion’s Watchtower Tract Society, to which was later renamed Jehovah’s Witnesses under Joseph F. Rutherford (1869-1942) in 1931’s Bible Student assembly in Columbus, Ohio, correctly contended:
“When one joins a sect, his mind is supposed to be given up entirely to that sect, and henceforth not his own. The sect undertakes to decide for him what is truth and what is error; and he, to be a true, staunch, faithful member, must accept the decisions of his sect, future as well as past, on all religious matters, ignoring his own individual thought, and avoiding personal investigation, lest he grow in knowledge, and be lost as a member of such sect. This slavery of conscience to a sect and creed is often stated in so many words, when such a one declares that he “belongs” to such a sect.”(Russell 1911: 185)
Sadly Russell did not see that his movement became what he explained of a sect above. In this article I showed how Watchtower Society has enslave the conscience of those who either join or are born in this movement, which if Russell observation is correct, could be tagged as a sect.
Sect: Ignoring Own Individual Thought And Personal Investigation
It was in Watchtower publication of September 15, 1910 where Russell erected walls to which his followers were chained in what he believed to be true. Praising his six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures as “practically the Bible itself”(Russell 1910: 298), Russell feared that a person will be lost, as a member of his movement, if he began his own personal investigation if he did not read his theological works. He expounded,
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 two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.(ibid)
Watchtower Society, followng most of Russell’s teachings, hold it’s members captive to present times with similar chains. Jehovah’s Witnesses, even though many do not even know, are discouraged to pursue their own individual thoughts. The Society decides for them what is true and what is error. Jehovah’s Witnesses accept without questions the Society’s decisions in all religious and personal matters.
The Society teaches that personal opinions are contrary to their movement. When a Jehovah Witnesses encounter a problem, he is not to go searching for the truth elsewhere but wait for Watchtower’s solution:
We should eat and digest and assimilate what is set before us, without shying away from parts of the food because it may not suit the fancy of our mental taste. The truths we are to publish are the ones provided through the discreet-slave organization, not some personal opinions contrary to what the slave has provided as timely food. Jehovah and Christ direct and correct the slave as needed, not we as individuals. If we do not see a point at first we should keep trying to grasp it, rather than opposing and rejecting it and presumptuously taking the position that we are more likely to be right than the discreet slave. We should meekly go along with the Lord’s theocratic organization and wait for further clarification, rather than balk at the first mention of a thought unpalatable to us and proceed to quibble and mouth our criticisms and opinions as though they were worth more than the slave’s provision of spiritual food. Theocratic ones will appreciate the Lord’s visible organization and not be so foolish as to pit against Jehovah’s channel their own human reasoning and sentiment and personal feelings. (Watchtower 1952: 79-80)
Jehovah’s witnesses minds are supposed to be given up entirely to the self-claimed channel of Jehovah, and henceforth have no opinion of their own.
Sect: No Individual Thinking: It Is Dangerous
A mark of a matured Jehovah’s witnesses is of the one who “must be in unity and full harmony with fellow believers as far as faith and knowledge are concerned. He does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbour private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding. Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Watchtower 2001: 14).
To be a student of Jehovah, one “must express himself as he understands the truth. (Gal. 6:6) He cannot have independent thinking.”(Watchtower 1962: 524)
Jehovah’s witnesses accept the “discreet slave” because the Society elevates itself to the revelatory position of Christ Jesus himself, as seen above. The claim that “a spirit of independent thinking does not prevail in God’s organization, and we have sound reasons for confidence in the men taking the lead among us.” (Watchtower 1989: 23, 13).
“Avoid independent thinking” (Watchtower 1983: 22) the Society requires of their followers as they contended,
“And just as in the first century there was only one true Christian organization, so today Jehovah is using only one organization. (Ephesians 4:4, 5; Matthew 24:45-47) Yet there are some who point out that the organization has had to make adjustments before, and so they argue: ‘This shows that we have to make up our own mind on what to believe.’ This is independent thinking. Why is it so dangerous? Such thinking is an evidence of pride. And the Bible says: ‘Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.’ (Proverbs 16:18) If we get to thinking that we know better than the organization, we should ask ourselves: ‘Where did we learn Bible truth in the first place? Would we know the way of the truth if it had not been for guidance from the organization? Really, can we get along without the direction of God’s organization?’ No, we cannot!.. Fight against independent thinking.” (Watchtower 1983: 27).
Sect: Apart From The Society, You Cannot Understand The Bible
Jehovah’s witnesses “face the fact that no matter how much Bible reading we have done, we would never have learned the truth on our own.” (Watchtower 1990: 19). Those who wish to understand Jehovah God word “should appreciate that the “greatly diversified wisdom of God” can become known only through Jehovah’s channel of communication, the faithful and discreet slave.”(Watchtower 1994: 8).
For them to properly understand and apply the word of Jehovah in their lives they need the self-claimed “Jehovah’s visible organization”. “Unless” the Society teach them, ” we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do”(Watchtower 1981: 27)
Those who believe that “it is sufficient to read the Bible exclusively, either alone or in small groups at home. But, strangely, through such ‘Bible reading,’ they have reverted right back to the apostate doctrines that commentaries by Christendom’s clergy were teaching 100 years ago[…].”(Watchtower 1981: 29) Jehovah’s witnesses, who need help to understand God’s word, “cannot find the scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization.'” (Watchtower 1981: 19). The Society assure its follower that,
“Heavy research is not necessary, the watchtower has done it all for you. The most beneficial study you can make is to read the Watchtower and Awake magazines or any new book by the organisation” (Watchtower 1967: 338).
“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind.” (ibid: 587)
All Jehovah’s witnesses know to be true, is what the Society say it is true. They cannot know if the Society is true since for them to checkout if it is true, would involve circular reasoning, viz., reading Society saying it is God’s channel, in Society’s interpretation and understanding of Scripture. The Society is true, because it says it is true and Jehovah’s witnesses faithfully and blindly must accept its decisions.
Sect: Watchtower Decide What To Read And How
Most Jehovah’s witnesses would not read any material you give them because it is considered as demonic propaganda and would cost them favor of Jehovah God. “How could one become guilty of partaking of the table of demons in our day?” The Society asked and answered, “By serving the interests of anything opposed to Jehovah. The table of demons includes all demonic propaganda, which is designed to mislead and to turn us away from Jehovah. Who would want to feed his heart and mind on such poison?” (Watchtower 1994: 9).
The only truth is that which the Society gives. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not to shy away from the publication provided by the organization. (Watchtower 1952:79). The Society expounded, “[s]ince The Watchtower assists in understanding the Bible, its study is imperative. Private study of the magazine is essential” then if Jehovah’s witnesses is to “have love for Jehovah and for the organization of his people, [they] shall not be suspicious, but shall, as the Bible says, ‘believe all things,’ all the things that The Watchtower brings out.”(Watchtower 1967: 156)
So What? Implication of Society’s Blindfolded Jehovah’s Witnesses
Sadly, it is nearly impossible to show doctrinal errors to a Jehovah’s witnesses because every time you pose questions or challenge their understanding of the Bible, majority of them will research within the Watchtower’s database to reaffirm their doubts. They believe the organization because the organization says so.
The Society is Jehovah God’s channel because the Society claims to be Jehovah God’s channel as it governs their Bible reading, interpretation, theology and their entire lives.
What we could do is to truly love them and try to understand their position. Welcome and dine with them as you read the Bible together. With great gentleness and patience offer them different possible understanding of Bible passages from that of the organization, and show how early Christians ca. 30-300 A.D. understood them to mean. Let them read the primary sources of early church fathers, scholars and articles to which the Society continually misquote and misrepresent. Pray that Jehovah “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth”(2 Tim. 2:5)
You and I cannot set them free from the bondage of the Society. The Spirit of Jehovah God can. We simply need to be there, not primary to debate but to love, listen, learn, and direct them to see for themselves how the Society have closed their mind.
Russell, Charles T. (1911) Studies in the Scriptures: The Kingdom Come Volume 3.
Watchtower Society (1967) Qualified To Be Ministers. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
The rest are standard Watchtower literature published at Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. I can send scanned copies at request.
Photocredite: Blindfolded People © 2012 Mass Ingenuity