That famous claim of the Watchtower Society is that after Christ Jesus began his supposed invisible reign in 1914, he examined all the religious organizations on earth, and in 1919, he chose the Watchtower Society (WTS) as his “faithful and wise servant” Matt 24:45-47). He selected the WTS to be his sole channel of communication to mankind, and the only organization through which a person could serve Jehovah God and gain eternal life. Jehovah’s Witnesses (JINs) are “the chosen ones.” Jesus rejected all other churches, all other denominations, in all of Christianity, in all the world, and chose them. That’s their story. That’s their claim. And they want us to believe it!
They say that in 1918 Jesus began inspecting all the religious organizations on earth, and in the spring of 1919, after cleansing all the members of the WTS from religious and worldly defilement, he appointed them to be the “faithful and discreet slave” and his “sole visible channel, through whom alone spiritual instruction was to come.”‘ They explain the basis for his selection:2
The serving of food, the right sort of food, at the proper time was the issue. It had to be according to this that a decision must be rendered by the returned master… Not only was the regularity in serving the spiritual food.. .but the quality of the food itself was to be considered. In this respect the body of hated, persecuted Christians, who always sought to be faithful slaves of Jesus Christ, met the test …On inspecting the remnant of his anointed disciples in the year 1919… Christ did find the appointed “slave” faithful and discreet in feeding his “domestics.”
This was the most important event in WT history. And while their Governing Body prefers to draw attention to what is presently being taught, and JWs, when asked why they believe the WTS is God’s organization, they’ll give a variety of answers which usually have to do with what the Society is teaching and doing today—but clearly, Jesus would not have made a decision in 1919 based upon what they teach today. He would have made his decision based upon what they were teaching then! He would check the “quality” of those teachings to make sure they were the right things to be teaching and the right time to be teaching them (“the right sort of food at the proper time”). What was Jesus’ decision? They simply assert—we “met the test.” This is the only official basis for this claim of being God’s “faithful and discreet slave organization” and “the only true religion” today. The only way to know if the WTS is “God’s organization” is to examine the same teachings they say Christ examined in 1918-1919. JWs have never done this!
The WTS teachings over the years are all laid out in volumes of literature. Their own writings reveal all the facts. This is not a guessing game! We know exactly what the wrs was teaching before, during, and after 1919. And we also know exactly how much of it they later rejected as erroneous!—interpretations of Scripture, prophecies, creature worship, idolatry, and “pagan” practices. They even refer to some of their teachings as deceptions of the Devil. Take an honest look at these things, and the answer to these questions should be clear—Is this God’s organization? Were they directed by “God’s holy spirit”? Would Jesus have set his stamp of approval upon them?
THE RIGHT FOOD AT THE RIGHT TIME?
In 1919, according to the WT, many things were being taught that did not qualify as “the right sort of food, at the proper time.” The following doctrines were current in 1919, but later changed by the WT. Charles Taze Russell (photo), the WT’s founder and first president, often claimed divine insight on the Bible. Some doctrines were changed during his presidency, but most during that of his successor, Joseph F. Rutherford.Others continued to be taught after Rutherford’s death (1942). The following examples are just a small sample of teachings that were taught in 1919 as truth that the WT later threw out as error.
PROPHECIES BELIEVED AND TAUGHT IN 1919—
1874: THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST—
Christ came in the character of a Bridegroom in 1874.3 Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874.4
1914: THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON—
The “battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:14), which will end in AD 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.5
1915: THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON—
The “battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:14), which will end in AD 1915 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.6 [The 1914 date was
changed to 1915
1918: ALL NON-WATCHTOWER CHURCHES DESTROYED—
In the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions.. .7
1918: MILLIONS NOW LIVING WILL NEVER DIE—
Based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die!
1925: THE BEGINNING OF CHRIST’S 1000-YEAR REIGN’—
Let no one be deceived by calculations as to just when the Lord will cease his work with the Church on earth.
The year 1925 is a year definitely and clearly marked in the Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914.9 The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during the year.”
1925: OLD TESTAMENT PATRIARCHS RESURRECTED—
We may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and faithful prophets of old.” Abraham should enter upon the actual possession of his promised inheritance in 1925.17
THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS— Today the WT teaches that Jesus returned in 1914. But this was not what they were teaching at the time of Jesus’ supposed inspection in 1919. As the prophecy above shows, 1874 was the date they were heralding as the Second Coming of Christ. This date was not officially changed and published as “1914” until the year after Rutherford’s death-1943!13
PRAYER FOR MILITARY VICTORY— During World War I, the Society called on the entire membership to join other Americans in a national day of prayer (30 May1918) for an Allied victory over Germany.” Today, such an act would mark a JW as an “apostate!”
THE PURCHASE OF LIBERTY BONDS— In 1918, Rutherford prepared a statement for the Brooklyn Eagle stating that the WTS was “not against the Liberty Loan” and that “many of its members have bought and hold Liberty Bonds.”‘ Bond purchase was viewed as a matter of individual conscience.’ Today, purchasing “liberty” or war bonds is highly condemned by the WTS.
DISPLAYING THE FLAG— This was the VVT’s position in 1919—”Suppose the city or state officials should issue an order requiring, or even requesting, that all persons display the American flag. What should we do? We answer, We think it would be right to display the flag… Everyone in America should take pleasure in displaying the American flag.”” But JWs expressing similar attitudes in more recent years have suffered chastisement and rejection. The flag came to be seen as an emblem of the Devil, and saluting the flag was “to salute the Devil as the invisible god of the nation.”‘
THE CROSS— Until 1936, JWs believed and taught that Jesus died on a cross, which was displayed on the front cover of Zion’s Watch Tower from January 1891 to October 1931 (more than 40 years). Russell chose the Masonic Knights Templar logo of the Cross & Crown. The WTS later identified the cross as a “pagan religious symbol” and condemned it as “a form of idolatry!”19
THE “FAITHFUL AND WISE SERVANT”— Russell taught, prior to 1896, that “the faithful and wise servant” Matt 24:45-47) was the members of “the 144,000” (“little flock,” “the whole body of Christ”) who were still alive.’ But in 1896, he published “new light” (new revelation) in his magazine, Zion’s Watch Tower, saying the “faithful andwise servant” was an individual.” This teaching was repeated in later issues, and readers often looked to Russell as that individual. In 1917, the year after his death, the WTS “unhesitatingly proclaimed Brother Russell as ‘that faithful and wise servant!”28 This important doctrine, firmly in place in 1919, was not rejected until 1926. Their book, Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, said, “The insistence that Russell had been ‘that servant’ led many to regard Russell in what amounted actually to creature worship.”29
THE GREAT PYRAMID— The WTS believed God had designed the Great Pyramid of Gizeh with symbolic teachings “in exact harmony with the Bible.” They even called it “the Bible in Stone.”22 Russell had this pyramid built to mark his own burial site (notice the Cross & Crown). In late 1928, though, Rutherford called the pyramid “Satan’s Bible, and not God’s stone witness,” and years later it was identified as “a monument of demonism.”23
CHRISTMAS, BIRTHDAYS, AND HOLIDAYS— The WTS celebrated Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays, such as Mother’s Day, right up through the 1920’s. At their Brooklyn Bethel headquarters, they had their last Christmas celebration in 1926.20 Such celebrations today are “disfellowshipping” offenses, and are equated with “pagan worship” (Christmas) and “creature worship” (birthdays and Mother’s Day).21
THE USE OF BLOOD— There was no prohibition against the use of blood or blood products in medicine during the JW’s early history, including vaccinations and blood transfusions, something (except for vaccinations) that is now condemned as being against “God’s law.” Members left such decisions to their doctors, a course of action that today would result in being disfellowshipped for “violating God’s law” and would supposedly cost them eternal life.24 This new position did not begin to be articulated until 1945, and blood transfusions would not become a disfellowshipping offense until 1961.28
THE WORSHIP OF JESUS— Both Russell and Rutherford encouraged the worship of Jesus Christ. Rutherford wrote, “Jehovah God commands all to worship Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus is the express image of his Father, Jehovah. ..(/leb 1:3-6).”” In 1944, Article II of the 1884 Watch Tower Charter was amended and states that one of the purposes of the Society was “for public Christian worship of Almighty God and Christ Jesus. “31 But in 1954 all that changed! “No distinct worship is to be rendered to Jesus Christ now glorified in heaven” (Watchtower, 1/1/1954,p31). “Reverent adoration should be expressed only to God. To render worship to anyone or anything else would be a form of idolatry” (Awake! 4/8/2000, p26).
THE RETURN OF THE JEWS TO PALESTINE— Both Russell and Rutherford were strong and frequent supporters of Zionism. Rutherford delivered a lecture on October 17, 1920, in Jerusalem where he stated, “Israel is absolutely certain to be fully established as a nation and the Jews again as a specially favored people of God… The zealous workers in Zionism today are fulfilling prophecy… Zionism is one of the steps in the great divine program.”32 In 1932, however, in his book Vindication (you ), we read, “Jehovah’s Witnesses came to see that such a ‘back to Palestine’ movement was by the spirit of Jehovah’s archfoe, Satan, who has deceived the entire inhabited earth.”
THE BOOK: THE FINISHED MYSTERY— The book The Finished Mystery (1917) is often mentioned in the two WT histories and is included among the “Noteworthy Events” in the history of JW5.33 Shortly after its publication, the Watchtower touted it as “the God-given interpretation of Revelation and Ezekiel,”34 promoted it as “the first and only book that makes clear every part of Revelation and Ezekiel,”38 and claimed that it was a fulfillment of prophecy.’ Raymond Franz, former WT Governing Body member, explains the importance of this book as it relates to the WT claim of being selected in 1919 as God’s sole channel: “Since it is steadfastly argued that the ‘light shines ever brighter,’ this noteworthy new publication logically should have been prime evidence of the ‘quality’ of food being served, something the recently installed King could use as a worthy example in his testing which channel could be counted on to serve quality food.”37
An examination of this book, however, reveals numerous teachings that have been contradicted, including: (11 It presents 88 “proofs” that Christ’s “Second Advent occurred in the Fall of 1874” (pp 68-71). This date was later thrown out and replaced with 1914.38 (2) The rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:2 is identified as “the Bishop of Rome, the embryo Pope, the personal representative of Satan” (p106). Rutherford’s commentary on the same verse identifies the rider as “the glorified Christ Jesus.””
(3) The book claims that Revelation 8:3 “shows that, though Pastor Russell has passed beyond the veil, he is still managing every feature of the Harvest work” (p144). Rutherford, however, attacked such a view: “No one of the temple company will be so foolish as to conclude that some brother (or brethren) at one time amongst them, and who has died and gone to heaven, is now instructing the saints on earth and directing them as to their work.””
(4) The angel of the abyss in Revelation 9:11 (Abaddon or Appolyon) is identified as “Satan, the Devil” (p159). Rutherford, on the other hand, discussed these same titles and explained, “Christ Jesus being the chief executive officer of Jehovah… the titles Abaddon and Apollyon therefore properly apply to him.’ When Rutherford published his own commentaries on Revelation and Ezekiel (1930-1932), he claimed that it was then “God’s due time” and that previous interpretations were not satisfactory.’ After reviewing The Finished Mystery, Raymond Franz concluded, “I sincerely doubt that the organization today would consider reprinting a single chapter, in fact any portion whatsoever of that book. It would prove painfully embarrassing.’
THE CHURCH AND THE NEW COVENANT— According to Russell, “The more closely we investigate the New Covenant, the more we must be convinced of this fact— that it belongs to Israel alone.”44 This was repeated in 1918: “The church of Christ is not under the New Covenant. Therefore it is not proper to speak of the church as being blessed by this covenant.”‘ But in 1934, Rutherford concluded that “the new covenant has nothing to do with the natural descendants of Israel and with mankind in general, but it’s limited to spiritual Israel [the churchl.”46
THE INAUGURATION OF THE NEW COVENANT— In 1919, WT doctrine was that the inauguration of the new covenant was a future event. Russell had taught, “Where is the mercy to the Jew and the forgiveness of his sins? We answer that the New Covenant is not yet in existence, and hence the Jew, who is first to be blessed under it, is not yet receiving his portion… shortly the inauguration of the New Covenant will take place.”‘” In 1932, Rutherford also saw it as future: “The closing hours of the ‘seventh day’ are now here and the purging or atoning work will soon end, and then the inauguration of the New Covenant shall take place… “48 But two years later, he declared that it had already begun: “…Christ came to the temple of God, to wit, in 1918, and there sits as a refiner and judge and begins the inauguration of the New Covenant.’ Later, other Watch Tower publications assigned another date for it: “So on the day of Pentecost, AD 33, Jehovah God inaugurated the New Covenant through Jesus Christ as his Mediator.’
CHRIST JESUS AS MEDIATOR— Russell informed his readers (Watch Tower, 9/15/1909, p4477), “In our issue of 1906, p.26 [Watch Tower Reprints, p3709], we said, ‘Our Lord Jesus.. .has been the Mediator between the Father and the “household of faith” during this Gospel age.’ This statement is incorrect. No Scripture so declares.” In 1934, however, Rutherford wrote, “Christ Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant toward his own brethren, that is to say, spiritual Israel… “51
THE CHURCH’S SHARE IN THE SIN OFFERING—
Russell’s doctrine was clear: “When we were accepted by Jesus as disciples, he… made us part of his own sacrifice. He was at the same time making us part of that which he is to give to God for the sins of the whole world.”‘ But in 1939, Rutherford taught the opposite: “It has been repeatedly said [in Watch Tower publications] that the church… the Body of Christ, by reason of their sacrifice, have a part in the sin offering… Neither the foregoing [Lev 16:15] nor any other Scripture sustains the conclusion that the body members of Christ have any part in the sin offering.”53
THE “CUSTOM OF THE FIRSTBORN” AND THE “GREAT COMPANY”— A 1918 Watchtower affirmed that the “church of the firstborn” Mg 12:23) included the “great company” (multitude, crowd): “…this term includes both the little flock and the great company… the church of the firstborn is a name used to include all the spirit-begotten of the Gospel age, whether of the priestly little flock or of the great company.”‘ In 1934, Rutherford changed WT doctrine: “The church of the firstborn.., does not include the ‘great company’ class.”‘
MEMBERS OF THE “GREAT COMPANY” ARE A SPIRIT CLASS— In the 1918 Watchtower article, “Two Classes in the Church,” “the great company class, born on the spirit plane… are to be the servants before the throne… No one could be either of the little flock or of the great company class unless he is spirit-begotten.” Rutherford said the same thing again in 1927: “Those who form the great multitude constitute a spirit class, born on the spirit plane.”‘ In 1932 he wrote that the great multitude “must be spirit creatures.”‘ But looking back, a 1995 Watchtower stated, “In 1935 a bright flash of light revealed that the great crowd mentioned at Revelation 7:9-17 was not a secondary heavenly class.’ That year “the Lord revealed to his people for the first time the meaning of ‘the great multitude’ as an earthly class and made known that he is gathering that part of his sheep.””
A SPIRIT-DIRECTED ORGANIZATION?
If the WTS’s current teachings are used as their standard of biblical truth, then their teachings current in 1919 did not qualify as “the right sort of food, at the proper time” that they claim as Christ’s reason for the selection of this organization. The WTS before and after 1919 (1) published numerous major false prophecies and erroneous interpretations of Scripture; (2) participated in, by its own definition, “considerable creature worship, idolatry, and customs and practices of pagan origin”; and (3) promoted doctrines later attributed to “Satan’s trickery and deception.” This record is not an example of a Spirit-directed organization according to the WTS’s own statement:
“Being the “spirit of truth,’ God’s holy spirit could
never be the source of error, but would protect
Christ’s followers from doctrinal falsehoods.” 61
Raymond Franz, a WTS veteran of 60 years, observes: “It would be an insult to Christ Jesus to say that he selected this organization on the basis of what it was teaching uniquely and distinctively as of 1919.” He asks, insightfully, “Why would Christ have picked out this admittedly error-plagued source of information as the example of faithfulness and discretion, as the only one passing the test, and chosen as the sole avenue of communication through which the enthroned King would now send all guidance to mankind?”63 The answer is—He didn’t.
The JWs Bible study program leads the student to believe that the Society is “God’s organization” for the wrong reasons. Those who do a history study sooner don’t ask for a Bible study later! It’s ridiculous to believe that any thinking person could imagine that the WTS could have ever passed an examination by Jesus in 1919! Once this is seen about the Society—what was going on in 1919!—then “God’s organization” becomes an illusion that exists only in the minds of JWs! The organization that does exist is “The Watchtower organization,” which is governed, not by the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, but by a few elderly men in Brooklyn, New York.
1919’s PROPHECIES, PRACTICES & BELIEFS
1874—The Second Coming of Christ…………….. declared false!
1915—The battle of Armageddon…………………. declared false!
1918—Churches destroyed wholesale……………. declared false!
1918—Millions now living will never die……….. declared false!
1925—Resurrection of Old Testament patriarchs declared false!
1925—Beginning of Christ’s “1000-year Reign”. declared false’
Praying for a military victory…………………… later condemned!
Purchasing “liberty” or war bonds…………… later condemned!
Displaying the American flag…………………… later condemned!
The use of the Cross as a religious symbol.. later condemned!
Celebrating Christmas, birthdays & holidays later condemned!
Vaccinations & blood transfusions…………… later condemned!
Worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ………….. later condemned!
The Great Pyramid was the Bible in stone”… later condemned!
Russell was that “faithful & wise servant”……… declared false!
Russell managed the INT’s affairs from heaven. declared false!
The Pope rides the “white horse” of Rev. 6:2….. declared false!
The New Covenant concerns only Israel………… declared false!
The inauguration of the New Covenant is future declared false!
Jesus is not the Mediator for believers………….. declared false!
Believers are part of Christ’s sin offering……….. declared false!
Church of the firstborn includes “great company” declared false!
“Great company” is born again spirits in heaven declared false!
Zionism……………………………………………………. declared false!
References: Watchtower magazine—WT Watchtower Reprints—WTR (1) WT Oct 1 1967 p.590 (2) God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached, 1973 p.350,355 (3) WT Oct 1879 p4 (4) WT Jan 1 1924 p5 (5) Studies in the Scriptures vol 2 1889 p.101 (6) Ibid. 1919 reprint of 1915 ed. p101 (7) Studies vol 7 1917 p.485 (8) Millions Now Living Will Never Die 1920 p97; Golden Age Jan 4 1922 p.217 (9) WT July 15 1924 p.211 (10) WT Jan 1 1925 p.3 (11) Millions p.89,90,97 (12) WT Oct 15 1917 p.6157 (13) JW’s: Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1993 p.133; The Truth Shall Make You Free 1943 p.299-301 (14) WTR June 1 1918 p.6271-72 (15) WTR May 15 1918 p.6257 (16) WTR March 1 1919 p.6395 (17) WTR May 15 1917 p.6086 (18) Salvation 1939 p260 (19) WT Aug 1 1937 p.232 (20) Proclaimers p200 (21) JW’s Yearbook 1975 p.147 (22) WTR Mar 15 1911 p4790 (23) WT Nov 15 1928 p.344; WT Nov 15 1955 p.697 (24) Blood, Medicine and the Law of God 1961 p.55 (25) WT Jan 15 1961 p.63,64 (26) WTR Oct/Nov 1881 p.291 (27) WTR Mar 1 1896 p.1946 (28) WTR Mar 1 1917 p.6049 (29) JW’s in the Divine Purpose 1959 p.69 (30) WT Nov 15 1939 p.339 (31) JW’s Yearbook 1945 p.32 (32) Golden Age Easter 1921 p.369,377,382 (33) Proclaimers p719 (34) WTR Dec 15 1917 p.6188 (35) WTR Oct 1 1917 p6150 (36) WTR Dec 15 1917 p.6182 (37) In Search of Christian Freedom 1991 p.136 (38) Proclaimers p.137 (39) Light I 1930 p73 (40) Jehovah 1934 p.191 (41) Light I p.146 (42) Light] p.5,6; Vindication I 1931 p5 (43) In Search p142 (44) WTR Jan 15 1909 p.4319 (45) WTR Sept 15 1918 p.6326 (46) WT May 1 1934 p.134 (47) WTR Jan 1 1907 p.3916-17 (48) Vindication 3 1932 p.257 (49) Jehovah p.196 (50) WT Nov 1 1955 p.658 (51) WT April 1 1934 p.104 (52) WTR April 1 1916 p.5881 (53) Salvation p197 (54) WTR Oct 15 1918 p.6348 (55) WT May 15 1934 p.148 (56) WTR Feb 15 1918 p.6211-12 (57) WT Jan 15 1927 p.19,20 (58) Vindication 3 p204 (59) WT May 15 1995 p.20 (60) WT March 15 1938 p.83 (61) Insight on the Scriptures vol 2 1988, p.1132 (62) In Search p145 (63) In Search p151