reprint of the Nov/Dec 1989 Bethel Ministries Newsletter
"Consider, too, the fact that Jehovah's organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God's holy spirit or active force. (Zech. 4:6) Only this organization functions for Jehovah's purpose and to his praise. To it alone God's Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book... How very much true Christians appreciate associating with the only organization on earth that understands the `deep things of God'!" The Watchtower, July 1, 1973, p. 402
The Active Force Behind the Watchtower
by Randall Watters
HOLY SPIRIT--The Force Behind the Coming New Order! was the title of a Watchtower publication released in 1976. After tracing the work of the "holy spirit"1 from Pentecost on through the book of Acts, the book attempts to prove that this "holy spirit" energized the eight ruling members of the Watchtower organization who were in jail in 1919, to begin a work of preaching "the good news of God's established kingdom." The book states:
It was for such worldwide Kingdom preaching that `spirit of life from God' had entered into the suppressed witnesses in 1919 C.E. p. 146.
According to the Watchtower, this "holy spirit" became operative solely upon the "remnant" of anointed ones in the organization, while all those outside of the organization were being deceived by the devil. This "holy spirit" is still said to be the force behind the modern-day organization of Jehovah's Witnesses:
The holy spirit, which Jehovah prophesied that he would pour out in the last days, has not ceased to operate, for the remnant are still baptizing disciples of Christ in the name of that spirit....The announced purpose behind God's pouring out of his spirit upon all sorts of flesh was that the recipients thereof might prophesy. The facts substantiate that the remnant of Christ's anointed disciples have been doing that prophesying to all the nations for a witness in favor of God's kingdom. Logically, then, they must be the ones upon whom God's spirit has actually been poured out. That spirit is behind their worldwide preaching. Why argue about it? Holy Spirit, p. 148.
Why argue about it? is an appropriate question. The Watchtower has been in existence for 110 years, which is ample time to review the works of this "holy spirit" that purportedly energizes this growing organization. What does the record show?
Looking back to the very beginning, Charles Russell, the founder of Zion's Watch Tower, claimed that 1799 was the beginning of the time of the end, that world events in the late 1800's were directly fulfilling the "signs" of Matthew 24:3-14, that Christ had come back invisibly in 1874, and that 1914 would bring the definite end of the world. They participated in the military, celebrated birthdays and other holidays, could smoke, vote, and all were going to heaven. Yet none of these earlier beliefs are now considered as "truth." Voting, military service, smoking, and celebrating holidays are now grounds for excommunication. The prophecies regarding 1799 and 1874 have been discarded, and 1914 and the "signs of the times" have been reinterpreted. Either the "holy spirit" was not telling the truth, or they weren't reading this "spirit" correctly.
Spirits rather than the spirit
Joseph Rutherford, second president of the Watchtower, actually claimed that this holy spirit was no longer needed as a Helper to the church, since Christ was now invisibly present and would direct the organization in person through his angels! Note:
By his spirit, the holy spirit, Jehovah God guides or leads his people up to a certain point of time, and thus he did until the time when "the comforter" was taken away, which would necessarily occur when Jesus, the Head of his organization, came to the temple and gathered unto himself those whom he found faithful when he, as the great Judge, began his judgment, in 1918. Preservation, Rutherford, 1932, p.193-194.
With the coming of the Lord to his temple and the gathering together unto himself of the chosen ones (2 Thess. 2:1) the holy spirit would there cease to function as a paraclete or advocate for the church. -ibid., p. 46.
Rather than an inanimate "holy spirit" directing things from afar, Rutherford taught that the angels, or ministering spirits, were now communicating directly with the organization:
Jehovah has made the necessary arrangements within his organization to instruct his people, and all recognize that for some years The Watchtower has been the means of communicating information to God's people. That does not mean that those who prepare the manuscript for The Watchtower are inspired, but rather it means that the Lord through his angels sees to it that the information is given to his people in due time, and he brings to pass the events in fulfillment of his prophecy and then invites those devoted to him to see the same. Riches, Rutherford, 1936, p. 316.
Note the denial that either Rutherford or The Watchtower were inspired. The claim, as clarified in the following quote, is that Jehovah and Christ Jesus do all the interpreting of the Bible, and this interpretation is passed on by angels to the Society through those who prepare The Watchtower: 2
This does not signify that the faithful remnant or society of Jehovah's anointed witnesses are an earthly tribunal of interpretation, delegated to interpret the Scriptures and its prophecies. No; Christ Jesus the King has not entrusted that office to them. THE SUPREME COURT STILL INTERPRETS, thank God; and Christ Jesus, the Court's official mouthpiece of interpretation, reserves to himself that office as Head of Jehovah's "faithful and wise servant" class. He merely uses the "servant" class to publish the interpretation after the Supreme Court by Christ Jesus reveals it. The Watchtower, July 1, 1943 p. 203.
How did these angelic spirits communicate this "interpretation" to Rutherford, so he could publish it?
These angels are invisible to human eyes and are there to carry out the orders of the Lord. No doubt they first hear the instruction which the Lord issues to his remnant and then these invisible messengers pass such instruction on to the remnant. The facts show that the angels of the Lord with him at his temple have been thus rendering service unto the remnant since 1919. Vindication, Rutherford, 1932, Vol. 3, p. 250.
Certain duties and kingdom interests have been committed by the Lord to his angels, which include the transmission of information to God's anointed people on the earth for their aid and comfort. Even though we cannot understand how the angels transmit this information, we know that they do it; and the Scriptures and the facts show that it is done. Preparation, Rutherford, 1933, p. 36, 37.
The remnant do not hear audible sounds, because such is not necessary. Jehovah has provided his own good way to convey thought to the minds of his anointed ones. To all on the outside of the organization of Jehovah his is a secret organization. ibid., p. 64
Original spirit still in charge
With the passing of Rutherford, the emphasis on angels was dropped, and the one "holy spirit" was reemphasized. It apparently was in charge all along. Accordingly, the emphasis on secrecy and exclusivity remains, as this quote from The Watchtower of 7/1/73 reveals:
Consider, too, the fact that Jehovah's organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God's holy spirit or active force. (Zech. 4:6) Only this organization functions for Jehovah's purpose and to his praise. To it alone God's Sacred Word, the Bible, is not a sealed book.... How very much true Christians appreciate associating with the only organization on earth that understands the "deep things of God"! p. 402.
This mysterious "holy spirit," appears to operate in a somewhat erratic course. Admitting to this inconsistency, the picture of the sail boat (below) is taken from the December 1, 1981 Watchtower, p. 27, where they note:
However, it may have seemed to some as though that path has not always gone straight forward. At times explanations given by Jehovah's visible organization have shown adjustments, seemingly to previous points of view. But this has not actually been the case. This might be compared to what is known in navigational circles as "tacking." By maneuvering the sails the sailors can cause a ship to go from right to left, back and forth, but all the time making progress toward their destination in spite of contrary winds.
A close investigation reveals that they have at times gone back to previous views, 3 and even if they were honest in this matter, one cannot but question why this "holy spirit" would not tell them right out what is doctrinally correct. After all, they claim this "spirit" has anointed them to be prophets to the world in these last days. Note the following claim:
Who is this prophet?... Today they are known as Jehovah's Witnesses.... Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a "prophet" of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show? The Watchtower, 4/1/72, p. 197.
As we begin to review their record, an ominous undercurrent will emerge. The "holy spirit" behind their changes in doctrine may suddenly appear to be much more intelligent than expected. As the reader will discover, this "spirit" has full knowledge of its past errors, yet enforces blind obedience to whatever it wishes to teach at present, under pain of disfellowshiping. Under the article on page 5, "Holy Spirit or Deceptive Spirits?" it will become even more obvious that this "spirit" is intent on deception and mind control of the unwary. Take heed to Deuteronomy 18:20-22:
However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak... 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. New World Translation, italics mine.
1. The WT will not capitalize these words due to their belief that the Holy Spirit is a force, rather than a Person.
2. Though Rutherford developed the doctrine that the collective "Society" was God's channel of communication by 1917, he apparently never believed it, as he wrote virtually all of the Watchtower articles and books during his presidency, and inside sources indicate that the rest of the "remnant" was not even consulted.
3. See Thus Saith the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, Randall Watters, 1982, p. 51-54.
Examining the Record
1894 "For instance, as we look back and note that the Scriptures marked 1873 as the end of six thousand years from Adam to the beginning of the seventh thousand, and the fall of 1874 as the beginning of the forty-year harvest of the Gospel age and day of wrath for the overthrow of all the institutions of `this present evil world [or order of affairs],' we can see that facts have well borne out those predictions of Scripture." WT REPRINTS, July 15, 1894, p. 1675.
1891 "With the end of A.D. 1914, what God calls Babylon, and what men call Christendom, will have passed away, as already shown from prophecy." Thy Kingdom Come, p. 153.
1917 "Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of Christianity." The Finished Mystery, p. 485.
1920 "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." Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89,90.
1922 Rutherford: "Fulfilled prophecy shows beyond a doubt that (Christ) did appear in 1874. Fulfilled prophecy is otherwise designated the physical facts; and these facts are indisputable." WT Nov. 1, 1922, p. 346.
1923 "Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge." WT April 1, 1923, p. 106.
1940 "The witness work for the Theocracy appears to be about done in most of the countries of `Christendom'...(we are) anxiously and watchfully waiting for the appearance of the sign for the battle (Armageddon) to begin." WT Sept. 1, 1940, p. 265.
1966 "According to this trustworthy Bible chronology, 6000 years from man's creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of 1000 years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975." Life Everlasting, p. 29.
1984 [Though we had false expectations in times past, who can blame us for being over-anxious?] "It is easy for the established churches of Christendom and other people to criticize Jehovah's Witnesses because their publications have, at times, stated that certain things could take place on certain dates. But is not such line of action in harmony with Christ's injunction to `keep on the watch'?" ..."But is it not far preferable to make some mistakes because of overeagerness to see God's purposes accomplished...?" WT 12/1/84, p. 17,18.
Holy Spirits or Deceptive Spirits?
Perhaps at this point you are saying, "The Watchtower is made up of imperfect men who seem to love God, but they make mistakes. Why get so disturbed about it? At least they admit most of their mistakes."
Let me give you an alternate scenario. Let's suppose that I, Randall Watters, claim that "God reveals the TRUTH to me directly, and I am God's sole channel of communication to the Christian church today. To be in the TRUTH, you must accept and believe whatever you find written in my literature. Yet, I am not inspired, so you must realize I am going to make mistakes at times! So don't get upset with me and call me a false prophet if my teachings and my prophecies don't come true! Don't push ahead of God's chosen channel of truth. Look what happened to Korah when he rebelled against Moses!"
In the above scenario, there would be those close to me who believed in me as a friend, and who would think my critics were being unfair. They would see me as a "nice person" with good motives. However, such persons would have lost their objectivity over time, so as to be able to see the real picture of what is happening.
On the other hand, street-wise persons would be appalled at my claims. I would be denounced as a cult leader and a false prophet by society! Yet, there is an organization in Brooklyn that has predicted the end of the world several times, has set dates for events to happen over and over that were not fulfilled, has changed their teachings quite often, and yet claims that they are God's chosen channel. Furthermore, you must accept whatever they say, even though they are not inspired, for "ministering spirits" communicate the truth to the organization directly for their publications!
At this point, one might say that the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses are sincere but misguided men, who, though not having God's direction, mean well for their followers. This is undoubtedly true to some extent. When I was at Watchtower headquarters, I saw the Governing Body as basically honest men who played political games.
What begins to surface in our investigation, however, is the evidence that the leaders have consistently been anxious to cover over their past, and to engender fear among those who would question their authority. On the surface, the Watchtower gives the impression of fairness about their doctrines and their past history, even inviting examination. Note their attack on the early Catholic Church for criticizing and censuring those who disagreed from within:
[quote from H.G. Wells:]
"From [Constantine] the Church acquired the disposition to be authoritative and unquestioned, to develop a centralized organization and run parallel to the empire."
Charges of heresy proved to be a ruthless scheme to eliminate opponents who dared to defy Christendom's church councils. Any who expressed differing opinions or even attempted to present Scriptural proof refuting the dogmas and canons (church laws) of the councils were branded as heretics. ....................................
It is true that all genuine Christians "speak in agreement." But this is not due to unyielding ecclesiastical pressure. Rather, it is because their beliefs and practices are soundly based on God's inspired Word. The Watchtower, 5/15/86, p. 25.
Note the tone of fairness in their voice. However, when one begins to express doubts about certain understandings or prophecies in The Watchtower, the "nice" mask is removed, and a vicious spirit is displayed, attacking the motives of any and all who even dare to question their authority:
From time to time, there have arisen from among the ranks of Jehovah's people those who, like the original Satan, have adopted an indepen-dent, faultfinding attitude. They do not want to serve "shoulder to shoulder" with the worldwide brotherhood. Rather, they present a "stubborn shoulder" to Jehovah's words. (Zech. 7:11, 12) Reviling the pattern of the "pure language" that Jehovah has so graciously taught his people over the past century, these haughty ones try to draw the "sheep" away from the one international "flock" that Jesus has gathered in the earth. (John 10:7-10, 16) They try to sow doubts and to separate unsuspecting ones from the bounteous "table" of spiritual food spread at the Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses, where truly there is `nothing lacking.' (Ps. 23:1-6) They say 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... The Watchtower, 8/15/81, p. 28-29.
No allowance is made for dissent, no other motives are acknowledged among those who question but wicked, evil motives:
Consider some of the other "twisted things" used to mislead God's people today. On occasion opposers will question the various teachings that Jehovah's people hold in common. Often this becomes a debate about words, just as it was in the first century. (1 Timothy 6:3,4) They may also question the need for an organization to direct the minds of God's people. Their view is, God's spirit can direct individuals without some central, organized body of men giving direction. They will declare that all one needs to do is to read the Bible. The Watchtower, 3/1/83, p. 25.
To look outside the Watchtower for direction is to eat poison:
It is good to remember there is only one table of the Lord. Ample supply of excellent food is prepared and served there, and, if you know such to be the case, then why go nibbling at the table of those who are opposed to this wise steward of the Master's provisions? You might get spiritual poison, for their food has not been Theocratically tested. Why be concerned with the meager dishes of those outside of God's faithful household when there is so much to digest in the Lord's house? Those who are without are not cooperating with the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society and therefore cannot help you, for they do not have the Lord's blessing, and you will be dishonoring God the Provider. The Watchtower, 8/1/50, p. 231.
Those who even question why things are done a certain way in the organization are accused of being prideful:
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. The Watchtower, 2/1/52, p.80.
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 organiza-tion?" No, we cannot! The Watchtower, 1/15/83, p. 27.
Those who may disagree with their stand on blood transfusions or their treatment of disfellowshiped ones are quickly silenced by accusations of laziness or unfaithfulness to God, as in the following series of statements:
A person may go further and claim that the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses or other responsible brothers interfere with freedom of conscience and the individual's "right" to interpret the Scriptures. But remember Joseph's humble words: "Do not interpretations belong to God?" (Genesis 40:8) And did not Jesus foretell that in these final days an organization of anointed ones, "the faithful and discreet slave," would be entrusted with providing spiritual food at the proper time? (Matthew 24:45-47) Beware of those who try to put forward their own contrary opinions....
...Occasionally you may hear someone question whether the Scriptural prohibition against eating blood really applies to transfusions. But what is behind that reasoning? Is it fear - fear of possibly losing one's present life or the life of a loved one? Is hope in the resurrection fading? Faithful Christians do not compromise on God's law or look for ways to water it down....
Some who have a critical attitude claim that Jehovah's organization is too strict about cutting off social contacts with disfellowshiped persons. (2 John 10,11) But why do such critics feel that way? Do they have a close family tie or mistaken loyalty to a friend that they are putting ahead of loyalty to Jehovah and his standards and requirements?...
Finally, we might consider what the Society has published in the past on chronology. Some opposers claim that Jehovah's Witnesses are false prophets. These opponents say that dates have been set, but nothing has happened. Again we ask, What is the motive of these critics? Are they encouraging wakefulness on the part of God's people, or are they, rather, trying to justify themselves for falling back into sleepy inactivity?... -The Watchtower, 3/15/86, p. 17-19.
In most cases, as with the quotes in this article, no attempt is made to answer the questions raised against Watchtower teaching. The Witness is to accept it without further clarification, which the organization may decide to provide later. One thing for sure, the doctrines of the Watchtower will always be changing. The "spirit" behind the Watchtower will see to that. Could it be that this "spirit" is more than just an "active force"? The real Holy Spirit warns against deceptive spirits teaching false doctrine and leaders who treat the flock with harshness:
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. --1 Tim. 4:1.
The Bible points us to Christ and Christ alone as all we need:
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form. Col. 2:8,9.
While Christians should fellowship with other believers (Heb. 10:24,25), they do not need an organization to teach them the Bible:
And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. - 1 John 2:27.
May seasons of refreshing come to those who seek our Lord, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
back to Watchtower History
back to Psychological Issues