Closing Of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Minds

  Blindfolded People © 2012 Mass Ingenuity

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).

And concluded,

“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.

Bibliography:

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

Jehovah’s Witnesses And Proverbs 8:22

In the third and early fourth century Arius (ca. 250 – ca. 336 A.D.), a presbyter in one of churches in Alexandria Egypt, affirmed that Christ Jesus existed before taking on flesh. He argued that though Logos existed before embodiment, He was not of the same essence as the Father because He, unlike the Father, had a beginning.

Arian formula, as described by Athanasius of Alexandria(ca. 296–373) in Four Discourses against the Arians, records that Arius taught that Logos is,

a creature but not as one of the creatures; but each creature is unlike all other creatures; and no creature can create. The Word then differs from all creatures in that in which they, though otherwise differing, all agree together, as creatures; viz. in being an efficient cause; in being the one medium or instrumental agent in creation; moreover in being the revealer of the Father; and in being the object of worship. (Athanasius 1892: 357)

According to Arius there was a time when God was alone. He was not yet a Father because the Son did not exist. All things, but God, came into existence. Logos of God also came into existence. He also begun to exist. He was created as “the beginning of the Lord’s works” (Prov. 8:22).

Following Arian’s tradition, Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee translated Proverbs 8:22 “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. (NWT) and reassert Arius’ argument viz. Logos “was created by God before all other things. (Colossians 1:15)”. Jehovah’s Witnesses are then taught that,

For countless billions of years, before even the physical universe was created, Jesus lived as a spirit person in heave and enjoyed intimate fellowship with his Father, Jehovah God, the Grand Creator. – Proverbs 8:22, 27-31 (Watchtower 1991: 11)

Norman Geisler and Ron Rhodes unconvincingly response to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ understanding of Proverbs 8:22 by denying that “wisdom” is not Jesus but “ a personification of the virtue or character of wisdom for the purpose of emphasis and impact”(Geisler & Rhodes 1997: 72) Geisler and Rhodes noted that no New Testament author applied Proverbs 8:22 to Jesus, and that “wisdom is portrayed as a woman who cries out in the streets (1:20-21)” Michael Licona echoes Geisler and Rhodes counter argument and concluded, “Wisdom, therefore, is not referring to Jesus.”(Licona 1998: 32-33)

I believe Jehovah’s Witnesses could point to Revelation 3:14b, contra Geisler and Rhodes, to argued that in The Book of Revelations, John probably quoted Proverbs 8:22 when he wrote that Christ Jesus is “the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation”(Rev. 3:14b ESV) while Paul possibly had Proverbs 8:22 in mind, in 1 Corinthians 1:24, when he called Jesus the wisdom of God.

It is Possibly True That Logos is Wisdom in Proverbs 8:22

According to Second Temple Jews, wisdom was at the beginning of God’s creation (Proverbs 8:22-27) Living and teaching in Jerusalem, Yeshua Ben Sira explained that Wisdom, the beloved who was magnified, dwelt with God in heaven. God “εκτησαμην (‘I got possession’)”(Sirach 24:5-12 Charles 2004)

In Wisdom of Solomon, “wisdom is “the fashioner of all things” (Wis 7:22) and “an associate in all his [God’s] works” (Wis 8:4) who was present in the creation of the world (Wis 9:9).”(Hawthorne & Martin & Reid  1993: 744).

Early church fathers also applied Proverbs 8:22 to Christ Jesus. Pseudo-Ignatius of Antioch’s epistle to the Tarsians[1] and the North African Carthaginian Tertullian(ca. 160 – ca 240 A.D) quoted and applied Proverbs 8:22-25 and 27-30 to Logos. Example Tertullian contended,

He[God] first put forth the Word Himself, having within Him His own inseparable Reason and Wisdom, in order that all things might be made through Him through whom they had been planned and disposed, yea, and already made, so far forth as (they were) in the mind and intelligence of God.(Tertullian 1885: 601)

Athanasius, who dedicated his entire ministerial life to refute Arianism, also believed that Logos is Wisdom of Proverbs 8:22. He “read “constituted me as the head of creation.”(Ross 1991: 946)

 A Possibly Better Response To Proverbs 8:22

Allen P. Ross showed that “[t]he verb qānāh can mean either “possess” or “create.”” Possess makes much more sense “otherwise it[if we chose “created”] might sound as if God lacked wisdom and so created it before the world began.”(Ross 1991: 946)

If Jehovah’s Witnesses maintains that “created” is a more plausible reading of Proverbs 8:22, then I believe they undress Jehovah God wisdom prior to creation of wisdom . Using a similar style Athanasius’ argument, I would argues that:

  1. If God created wisdom, then there was a time God lacked wisdom.
  2. According to Jehovah’s Witnesses God created wisdom
  3. Therefore, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses there was a time God lacked wisdom(1&2)
  4. It is not the case that there was a time God lacked wisdom
  5. Therefore it is not the case that God created wisdom(1&4)

Premise (1) argues that if God created wisdom, then there was a time in which God did not have wisdom. Watchtower teaches its followers that God created wisdom (2), thus it follows from (1&2) that there was a time in which God did not have wisdom (3).

It is absurd to think of a time where God(referring to only the Father according to Arians and Jehovah’s Witnesses) was without wisdom and that He was without wisdom when He created wisdom. Jehovah’s Witnesses, I hope, believe that Jehovah God has eternally possessed wisdom. It follows, if granted that Jesus is wisdom, Jehovah God had eternally possessed Logos. Thus Logos, if Wisdom of Proverbs 8:22, was not created but eternally existed with God.

Consequently, borrowing Athanasius wording to so conclude that, in Proverbs 8:22 also Arians and Jehovah’s Witnesses “may be proved to have got no further than a fantasy”(ibid 358 ) in their attempt to show that Logos, preexisted Jesus, had a beginning.

Question To Jehovah’s Witnesses: If Wisdom was created, was there a time which God lacked wisdom?

Bibliography:

Athanasius of Alexandria. (1892). Four Discourses against the Arians J. H. Newman & A. T. Robertson, Trans.). In P. Schaff & H. Wace (Eds.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, Volume IV: St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters (P. Schaff & H. Wace, Ed.) New York: Christian Literature Company.

Charles, R. H. Ed.(2004) Apocrypha of the Old Testament (apparatuses) (Sir 24:5–12). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. (1997). When cultists ask: A popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G. (1993). Dictionary of Paul and his letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Licona, Michael (1998) Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock: What to say to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses when they knock on your door. TruthQuest Publishers. Alharetta

Ross, A. P. (1991). Proverbs. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Tertullian. (1885). Against Praxeas P. Holmes, Trans.). In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume III: Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

Watchtower (1991) The Greatest Man Who Ever Leaved. Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

Photo credit: Athanasius: The man who stood against the world. Christina History Project


[1] Pseudo-Ignatius of Antioch. (1885). The Epistle of Ignatius to the Tarsians. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (108). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

Tetragrammaton And Jehovah’s Witnesses

Unwarrantedly Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee added “Jehovah” in 237 places in New Testament. By doing so, New World Translation (NWT), Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible, blurs many passages that depicts Christ Jesus as Lord (Kyrios) of Old Testament.

In Journal of Biblical Literature, Kurt Aland showed that the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, does not appear in any of the 5,255 known New Testament Greek manuscripts (Aland 1968: 184). The Tetragrammaton is also absent in the writing of the early Christians. For example, Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians written ca. 100 A.D quoted Joshua 2 cf. Heb. 11:31(“I[Rahab] know assuredly that the Lord(“κύριος”) your God hath given you this city […](1 Clement 12), Ezekiel 33:11  “For as I live, said the Lord (Ky′ri·os), I do not desire the death of the sinner so much as his repentance”.(1 Clement 8). NWT’s  unwarrantedly added “Jehovah” in front of “Lord”.

In the same period,  the author of the epistle of Barnabas quoted Exodus 24:18, 31:18, 32:7; Deut. 9:12.  and Isa. 42:,6-7, 61:1- 2 in just chapter fourteen and in all times he used “κύριος”(Lord) .  While years later Irenaeus  quoted Matthew 1:20; 4:10, Romans 11:34, and Acts 2: 25 in Against Heresies using “Lord” and not “Jehovah”, contrary to Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee. Both Philo and Josephus, like New Testament writers and early Christians, probably used the complete  Septuagint (LXX ) which had “κύριος”(Lord). Some of older fragments of LXX do contain the tetragrammaton while others simply had blank spaces in place of the tetragrammation (e.g. Papyrus Rylands 458 )

Even though Watch Tower Society  do know as entailed by their own question , viz., “[w]hy, then, is the name absent from the extant manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures or so-called “New Testament”?”(Watchtower 1971: 887) that the tetragammaton does not appear in any known Greek manuscripts, they, without warrant, press forward and reject the use of Kyrios (Lord) in 5000+ Greek manuscripts dating from 2rd century and early Christians’ writings as corrupted. Watch Tower Society found their support, that New Testament must have had tetragammation, in 25 Hebrew J Versions of the Bible  and 2 non-version (J1 to J27),  the translations of New Testaments into Hebrew , which came to scene earliest  late 14th century onwards

New World Translation translators should be commend for restoring the tetragrammation in Hebrews Scriptures(Old Testament) but I think from their own reasoning which is in a form of a question and answer, namely:

How is a modern translator to know or determine when to render the Greek words κύριος and θεός into the divine name in his version? By determining where the inspired Christian writers have quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. Then he must refer back to the original to locate whether the divine name appears there.(Watchtower 1969: 18-19)

With the use of Lord and not YHWH (tetragrammaton) in all known copies of copies of originals (since historians have no surviving original or copies of originals) of New Testaments Greek manuscripts, contrary to Watch Tower’s Society, adding of the tetragrammaton in New Testament would not be restoration of God’s name but distorting and blurring the author’s meaning.

Blurring of 1 Corinthians 10:9: Who Is Put To The Test?

One of the passage which I believe Watchtower Society’s Translation Committee blurs with this maneuver  is 1 Corinthians 10:9: “Neither let us put Jehovah to the test, as some of them put [him] to the test, only to perish by the serpents.”(NWT). With this move  Jehovah’s Witnesses are led to believe that it is Jehovah the Father that the Israelites put to test and not Christ Jesus who is the rock to which Israelites drank a spiritual drink (v4).

Faithfully Watchtower Society’s traslators added a footnote in their translation of this verse. They explained that “Jehovah” appears in Hebrews J Versions of the Bible 18, 22 and 23, while Codex Sinaiticus(א), and Vatican ms 1209(B)  both of 4th century and Codex Ephraemi rescriptus(C) of 5th century have ton Ky′ri·on (Lord), Papyrus 46 of 3rd century and Bezae Codices(D) of 5th and 6th century have “the Christ” and last Codex Alexandrinus(A), of 5th century has “God.”

“On closer examination,” The NET Bible Bible First Edition Notes explained, “the variants appear to be intentional changed.”

Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.”(Biblical Studies Press 2006)

They argued that scribes were likely “to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages”.

The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather compelling in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen.(ibid)

If The NET Bible First Edition Notes is correct, which I believe it is, then Watch Tower Bible translators blurred 1 Cor. 10:9 that depicts Christ Jesus as the Yahweh of the Old Testament by selectively embracing a late 14th century J version of the Bible when convenient. Watch Tower Society ignored places in J versions, for example  J14’s reading of 1 Corinthians 12:3, “[…] no one can say “Jesus is Lord Jehovah, except by the Holy Spirit.” and  J7 and J8’s reading of Hebrew 1:10;  J13 , J14 and J20’s  reading of 1 Peter 2:3 which all applied the tetragrammaton to Jesus.

Question To Jehovah’s Witnesses: If the name “Jehovah” was changed to “Lord” in all 5000+ Greek manuscripts ranging from 2nd century, why don’t we have even a single early manuscripts with “Jehovah” nor do the early Christians make use of it?

Note: A free PDF for further study: The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scripture: A Comprehensive Study of the Divine Name In the Original Writings of the Christian Greek Scriptures. To know more about  NT Greek Manuscripts,  here is a table with a name of a manuscript, its branch, category, content and location arranged by date.

Bibliography:

Aland, Kurt (1968). Greek New Testament: its present and future editions. Journal of Biblical Literature 87.2: 179-186.

Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (1 Co 10:9). Biblical Studies Press.

Watchtower Society (1969) Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scripture. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

____________________ (1971) Aid To Bible Understanding. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

_____________________ (1984) New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures – With References. Rendered from the Original Languages by the New World Bible Translation Committee. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

______________________ (1989) Reasoning From the Scripture. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Brooklyn, New York.

Cover Photo Credit: Pre 1971 Board of Directors. Jehovahs-Witnesses.net