Does the Jehovah Witness’ Watchtower speak for God like a prophet?

If you have talked with Jehovah Witness’ for any period of time you know that many of their doctrines come directly from a society called The Watchtower. The society publishes all of the substantial content of Jehovah Witness’, there is no independent Jehovah Witness publications. As the authority for Jehovah Witness’ it claims to speak for God much like the prophets that we see in the Bible. So should we trust it? Well, it seems the best way to know would be testing them by the Biblical standard.

In Deuteronomy 18 we are told that if someone is a true prophet of God they will not prophecy anything that doesn’t come to pass or speak in the name of any other God. As for the second part of that test, Watchtower is on track, it claims to speak only for the God we see in the Bible. In the second part we run into a slew of problems as many of the predictions of the Watchtower have never come to pass.

Here are some predictions that the Watchtower has made in the past:

  • Christ would come back in 1874
  • The world would end in 1914
  • Old Testament Saints would come to earth in 1925
  • The world will end and Christ would come back in 1975

The Watchtower itself admits this predictions were wrong.

So, does the Watchtower stand to the test in Deuteronomy 18? Obviously not, even according to the Watchtower itself.

In fact the Watchtower even tried ‘correcting’ some of these predictions moving dates further out when they were wrong initially only to be wrong even a second time. Perhaps getting something wrong once could be a mistake of some sort, though the Biblical test says otherwise, but once it was wrong a second time we should be completely abandoning such a source as a reliable mouthpiece of God. If they made a ‘mistake’ about something as important as when Christ comes back why should we believe that they are not leading us astray in other doctrines that they teach?

pyramid_russel_gravesiteEarly Watchtower beliefs under one of the Jehovah Witness’ church fathers Charles Taze Russel actually believed the Ancient Pyramid of Egypt to be a sort of ‘Stone Bible’. It was believed measurements in the Pyramid were prophetic to the beginning of ‘the years of trouble’. The doctrine was taught to Jehovah Witness’ for fifty years from 1879-1928, after Russel was buried under a pyramid marked grave.

Russel’s successor flipped from calling the pyramid a ‘stone Bible’ to a work of the Egyptians under the influence of the Devil. Quite a flip for a group that should be speaking for God.

The Watchtower Society is very unorthodox in many beliefs. The Watchtower doesn’t believe Jesus is God, they reject the Trinity, regard blood transfusions sinful, celebrating birthdays as sinful and have changed vital words or added words to the Bible in their New World Translation. But given the obvious unreliability of Society I think we can steer clear from accepting any of these doctrines.

“To say there is only one way to God is limiting God.”

This last weekend I was at an open house at the local Mosque here in Fort Collins. I was encouraged to see that there were many visitors who, like myself, clearly weren’t part of the Mosque ourselves. I think it is important that we are able to dialogue, communicate and fellowship with those who don’t believe in the same things that we do.

As the open house winded down I found that I was in a minority even among the visitors that day. They had a panel answering questions and dialoguing about interfaith relations when the Jewish leader that was a part of the panel dropped this bomb: “to say there is only one way to God is limiting to God.”

I was a little surprised by the comment. Not so much by the comment as much as I didn’t expect it to come from the Rabbi in the group. I more expected that the Universalist reverend on the panel to say a statement like that rather than the Rabbi. But it still had me thinking ‘Am I limiting God when I say that there is only one way to God?”

In short my answer to this as I think about is ‘no’. The fundamental thing that I think a statement like this is misunderstanding is that we decide the ways to God. When I say that I believe that there is only one way to God it isn’t because I’ve made it that way, it’s because God made it that way. I don’t say there is only one way to God because I want to limit God or that I believe God could only make one way, I say it because my understanding is that God has only made it that way.

When Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” it seems pretty clear that there is only one way. So am I limiting God? No. I am saying simply what God has said.

Could God have made it another way? My understanding of theology seems to say no, which is another subject entirely, but for the sake of argument let’s just say that God could have allowed more than one way to Him. If God could have made another way and yet as He says in John 14:6, he has only made one way to him, am I limiting God? No, I am not. God is limiting God. There is only one way to God. He has made that clear. It wasn’t my choice. I would even like to say that there is more than one way to God, but if that isn’t true I am not going to say it to make others feel better.

I often think that someone who says ‘we are limiting God by saying there is only one way to him’ are saying it because it doesn’t feel good. And they are right. I wish it was another way. But if a friend of mine wants to cross the highway where it isn’t safe and there is only one safe place to cross the highway do I let him cross where he wants to because he will feel good about it? Absolutely  not! I could care less what makes him feel good, I would rather have him alive than happy and then dead, because I didn’t speak the truth because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

 

Are all religions are true because they all teach the same thing. . . or do they?

When doing Apologetics it can all seem quite overwhelming at times. Frankly, none of us will really every grasp every aspect of apologetics in order to answer every question. In light of this it becomes easy to ask how can we know that Christianity is really the only truth and all of the other religions are wrong.

When I teach apologetics I start by teaching the reasons why we know Christianity is true, because, in the end, if we can show that Christianity is true than we have shown why all of the other religions are wrong.

Just like any part of life we know that two opposite propositions cannot both be true. This still plays out with religion, but for some reason people tend to forget that. If Christianity is true than Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Ba’hai, or anything else is wrong. This isn’t to say that those religions are wrong about everything, but in anything that they disagree with Christianity, they are wrong.

At this point, many of you may be thinking “well most religions basically say the same thing, so they could all really be true”. I’d challenge you to think that through a bit more. When you say all religions teach the same thing what do you mean? They teach the same moral values? Mostly. But even that really isn’t true, not every religion tells you to love your neighbor or care for the needy, Satanism doesn’t, and some groups of Islam don’t.

If we think about it this area of morality is really the only issue that most religions agree on. Outside of that they disagree on heaven, hell, creation, nature of God, nature of Man, Sin, Salvation and many other central truths. Even here some religions don’t just disagree on what these things look like, but disagree on whether these things even exist or not. Hinduism and Buddhism don’t believe in heaven, and Islam and Christianity differ greatly in what heaven is like.

Most importantly these religions vary greatly on how to achieve salvation, though they wouldn’t even all agree to the word salvation, or even the concept itself as well.

Saying that all religions teach the same thing is like saying that Republicans and Democrats are the same because they both believe we should do what is best for the United States, but we all know better than that.

Saying that all religions teach the same thing is like saying that Republicans and Democrats are the same because they both believe we should do what is best for the United States.

So do all religions teach the same thing? No, not even slightly. So how can we know that all the other religions are wrong? Well, if we know Christianity is true than all other religions would have to be false, at least in where they disagree with Christianity. So if you want to know what religions are false, the best place to start is finding what religion is true.

The Danger of Overemphasizing Theology

A friend of mine recently lead an apologetics small group in which he shared a piece of defense that he knew his pastor disagreed with. In hindsight, he questioned if he should have presented the material when his pastor was in disagreement about it. I believe that this outlines one of the most dangerous things that can result from a wrong approach in both apologetics and theology. Continue reading