Greetings!!! In what has been almost a month of not being able to meet is finally over. After my plumbing issues and last week I was on travel for work, I sent a text message to the custodian’s husband this week saying I’m good to meet. Meeting scheduled and they showed like clockwork, just a few minutes past our established meeting time of 10 AM.
The custodian was first through the door and I said, “it’s been like forever and a day since I saw you.” He laughed and the elder did as well. The custodian feels comfortable enough to “pop in” outside of our established meeting times cause he said, “I tried to stop over twice, once the week we cancelled (start of my plumbing problems) and the following Sunday.” The elder was sitting at the table and saying “hello” to my two youngest kids.
I explained how my neighbor across the street allows me to use his tractor/backhoe whenever I may need it. I also talked about my other plumbing project and the custodian’s husband was able to relate. I had an odd size pipe and he told me how he went to the machinist shop and fabricated a new one. It was very nice to connect with him as the elder and I tend to connect over technology. The elder had a glazed look as I talked about digging, plumbing, and almost having to use a ditch witch. The custodian was also able to relate that he recently had a flea infestation due to family members bringing fleas into his residence.
As we were moving into the material, the custodian’s husband relayed to me that he went ahead and read the appendix pertaining to this section in the back of What Does the Bible Really Teach? Towards the bottom of page 215 starts the section, 1914-A Significant Year in Bible Prophecy. This is how the organization tries to explain how 1914 came to be the year Jesus came into power. Slight rabbit trail here, dates are a common trait amongst those who are in the Seventh-Day Adventist branch. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society essentially takes these completely unrelated verses:
Ezekiel 4:6, 17:22-24, 31:2-5
Revelation 12:6, 14
Mixes them all together and comes to 1914. The foundational date they use now is 607 B.C. It was at one point 606 B.C. Best guess is the original date was adopted by C.T. Russell by Nelson Barbour. Here’s an interesting article on 606/607.
Regardless, the fall of Jerusalem is 587/586 and there is historical, archeological, along with astronomical evidence to solidify this. One resource that’s worth looking at by Carl O. Jonsson, former Jehovah’s Witness is: The Gentile Times Reconsidered. It’s a weighty read but you learn very much. Also, you can get a slight overview in this video from 24:40-25:58 by Carl.
Getting back to it, the custodian’s husband gave me The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom No. 3 2017. He said it was “timely” (with a slight laugh) considering what we were talking about. He also said how he’s retiring from work soon. “My wife can keep working and support me” he said to which we all laughed.
Retirement will consist of working at a nearby auto garage two days a week and he’ll be going around to help local kingdom halls with various projects. I heard him say some smaller kingdom halls have trouble supporting themselves and get broken up to nearby halls. Question-how does Jehovah abundantly bless if these halls are closing down?
The elder had his turn and was speaking of his grandson that’s to be born soon. His son is having his first with this lady and there is one other he has. With that in mind, we moved into the chapter. We started at paragraph 21 where the book is describing what is going to happen after Armageddon.
The elder had asked after Armageddon if it’s fair that Jehovah would allow the people to die. He went on by talking about it being “fair” if people didn’t know about Jehovah and some other criteria. My response was “yes” based on what Romans 1 says. I didn’t know the exact verse off hand so the elder actually helped me out on that one. He relayed it was verse 18 and I took it down to verse 21. It says in the New World Translation:
18. For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who are suppressing the truth in an unrighteous way,
19 because what may be known about God is clearly evident among them, for God made it clear to them.
20 For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable. 21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their senseless hearts became darkened.
What I find to be interesting (I didn’t bring this up to them) is that their “second chance theology” is easily “shot in the foot” considering this verse is one that is “known” yet they selectively apply it as seen fit.
So the elder commented that those during the 1000 year reign had plenty of time to figure out and they have no chance at all. He then commented, “we’re on the same track.” He then continued by talking again how the paragraph mentions the “one government.”
He then took over by talking about Jesus mentioning the prayer, “let your kingdom come.” He talked about what the Society’s view of the kingdom actually was. This led to them using Ps. 110:1 where it mentions “sitting at the right hand.” I let him roll with this as I wanted to focus more so on what was to come.
I allowed them to focus on their view of the kingdom. Never mind Matthew 28:18-20 where Jesus said he had all authority. FWIW-if he has all authority, what was there to wait for? This is a question that I didn’t ask.
They wanted me to read the paragraph and I did. The heart of our conversation centered on the following words on page 84 of What Does the Bible Really Teach?: “During the 19th and 20th centuries, sincere Bible students progressively discerned that the waiting period would end in 1914.”
I allowed them to go through paragraph 23 then I prefaced what I said with the following, “we openly discuss a lot of things” to which they agreed. I told them (and they know), I know more then the average person about the Society.
Upon reading this, I asked them if they knew what “historical revisionism” is. The custodian’s husband replied he does not to which I replied, “I’m not trying to offend you.” He said with a chuckle, “you think you’re going to offend me?” So we all laughed at that. The elder said he knows it in part. I asked for him to explain what he does know. He said, “well it’s historical, so it pertains to history basically revise writings from the past. I took it one step further from my history courses back in college-rewriting the past. I told him "to substantially change the past." They both were curious and I proceeded carefully. I got my web browser on my computer to show them exactly where I drew the information from so there would be no “apostate” accusation (Google and the Internet Archive). The elder said it was fine and I present the document you see below. It’s nothing but a mere extract of some statements.
I asked them to bear with me and I presented this material to them. I asked them “if they don’t mind” taking a look at this information. The elder tried to take the lead with the question, “you know why their not in publication anymore (he was going for the immediate deflection)? So I answered, that the Society has had “new light” and adjustments” which allowed me to proceed.
I told them the way the Society is presenting this, they are making a very strong inference that the Bible Students from Russell to present day believe the exact same thing about 1914.
Let’s just look a little closer at the statements I presented to them by examining the first one (the elder without me even asking started reading this aloud): The year A.D. 1878, being the parallel of his assuming power and authority in the type, clearly marks the time for the actual assuming of power as King of Kings, by our present, spiritual, invisible Lord-the time of his taking to himself his great power to reign, which in the prophecy is closely associated with the resurrection of his faithful, and the beginning of the trouble and wrath upon the nations. (Rev. 11:17, 18)
Studies in the Scriptures-Volume II: The Time is At Hand. 1889. p. 239
Now as you can see from the preceding paragraph that Jesus “came to kingdom power” NOT in 1914 BUT in 1878. Remember, according to present day theology, Jesus came to power in 1914. We have a difference of 36 years.
The second quote says the following: In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished near the end of A.D. 1915.
Studies in the Scriptures-Volume II: The Time is At Hand. 1889, 1911 ed. p. 99
So what we have is the final destruction of kingdoms occurring in 1915. I wish to emphasize the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society said “strong Bible evidence.”
The last quotes I wish here to discuss is from Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. July 15, 1894 p. 226:
“The old is quickly passing and the new is coming in”: Here we are as I write this May 13, 2017 nearly a full 123 years have passed. The new is taking a long time to come in.
“We see no reason for changing the figures-nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.” Essentially what we have the society saying is something catastrophic is supposed to happen. The only thing that happened was World War I.
However, this “system of things” is still going on.
I spoke to my Witness friends of the implication behind this. I told them the Society threw me off and although I didn’t have the exact quote, I said that Armageddon was supposed to occur in 1914 (they didn’t refute this).
The elder openly said, “you are right. There are many adjustments and I wasn’t born at this time. There were many who alive at that time thought that Armageddon was supposed to occur and they thought one day they were going to go to bed and wake up in heaven the next day.” The elder said, “it’s a change” I immediately retorted back that the Society in its presentation "is misleading." I said with how the chapter flowed, we are building up to 1914. The Bible Students had a totally different…. (I had trouble choosing the word so the the custodian’s husband chimed in “understanding”) as to what was going to happen. The paragraph in how it’s written makes it sound like the belief has not been changed at all. Russell’s day to present day all believe the same thing from then to now.
I had to explain this a few more times as they weren’t fully grasping what I was saying.
Summed up this way:
Russell’s Day-1914 would have Armageddon
Today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses: 1914 saw Jesus start his invisible presence.
The Society makes basically “white washes” Russell’s day.
The elder asked if I would feel better if the above was included (he’s trying to deflect this away at this point). He however, explained it that I felt the Watchtower Bible and Society was misleading based on how it was written. He received an affirmative from me. The custodian’s husband was slightly lost at this point. He tried to deflect by talking about the appendix and how 1914 is a significant year and how the kingdom was established. I allowed him to roll with this with this for a few minutes and said the elder understood what I was going for. I drew out a simple word picture for the custodian’s husband so he could understand what I was saying. He seemed to get it after I explained it to him.
Here’s the summary if you’re confused:
Russell’s Day-1914 would have Armageddon occurring. The kingdom established in 1878.
Today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses: 1914 saw Jesus start his invisible presence. Armageddon is going to happen but the timing is “unknown” right now.
The Society makes basically “white washes” Russell’s day.
The elder fully realized the damage was done. He had to chime in.
He said that this booklet is a teaching tool. It is not inspired. Only one thing is inspired (he pointed to my Bible at this point in part due to him and his friend using their iPads). He further stated the “Governing Body will tell you that they’re not infallible (as of right now even though the Society has claimed inspiration in the Watchtower magazines and that’s jumped back and forth).” He further went on to say, “they can be called on the carpet at any time because they can be wrong. For those who are religious leaders how many have actually said that they are wrong. Has the Pope ever said he’s wrong?” I started laughing and sarcastically said, “he’s infallible.” I immediately started laughing and said, “I’m joking” and we all started laughing some. The elder said, that’s why he appreciates being able to research and study for myself what the conclusion is as to determine how these brothers are helping us to understand our study of the scriptures.
He went on to say that the Society didn’t have the “full understanding” and they didn’t hide it. You can find it anywhere and they’ll tell you that they were wrong back at that time (Side notes-if nothing is “hidden,” why must one go to non-JW approved sources for information and when has the Society OPENLY admitted to being wrong?). We’ve had publications were it shows they were wrong at that time. The brothers had to get readjusted with their thinking. They had to “hit the Scriptures again to see exactly where they got something wrong and readjust their thinking and that’s what they did.” The publication is just a tool to get you to find out what you did and not only that but to see that they are now in agreement with what’s in the scriptures.
From here he went to Acts 1:6 out of the New World Translation: So when they had assembled, they asked him: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time? He tried to trap me by asking, “what is their line of thinking?” I responded, “they were asking a question.” This is obviously different compared to the Society making statements. He then said that holy spirit is need to truly understand the Scriptures (if the Society had the Holy Spirit, would they have to adjust pretty much everything from the beginning?)
The elder said it’s a timing thing referring to when they are to understand. Humility is key to understand. I responded to him, “bear with me here, the early believers are asking a question and let’s shut the bible for a moment,” elder said, “we can’t,” to which I agreed, and he said, “we live by it” and I said, let me continue. The publication is making it sound like what was taught and believed now has been taught from day one. He asked a question to again deflect and I responded by using the paragraph alone. I had to go back and state “what was going to happen in 1914-that’s the heart of the question.”
He didn’t want to budge and he tried to compare this to doctors changing their practice regarding medicine. So he bought up Doctor Spock. I was asked if I remember him. To help diffuse things, I said, “to make you feel better somewhat” (a play on my youth compared to them). The custodian’s husband thought of Spock from Star Trek and we all started laughing.
I recapped everything again regarding what was stated. I then asked based on their words earlier if they can show me where the Society openly admitted they are wrong in print in a publication. The elder then spoke that they can’t hide anything because those responsible for writing answer to the true God. The custodian’s husband spoke of the newest revised history book, God’s Kingdom Rules, published in 2014. I told them I got a copy when I visited Bethel two years back.
He spoke about circumcision and said it was presented to the governing body (you’ll not see this term in the pages of scripture at all). That lead into abstaining from blood and a few other things (they didn’t apply this to blood transfusions-yet).
He said the governing body hasn’t changed anything. They pray over things and consult the scriptures. Let’s see what Ray Franz who is a deceased former Watchtower Bible and Tract Society Governing body had to say. Pertinent material is 13:05-14:45 and 23:30-24:20 in the video below:
So my question is merely this, who would you believe? One who sat in Brooklyn or just a local elder?
So I simply asked if they are wrong with X, Y, or Z, would they get on the TV and simply broadcast it on the Society’s internet television station and say we are were wrong? The elder replied, “they will most likely put it into the Watchtower for a change or adjustment.
Here’s one example where they decided to change the teaching of the “generation”:
This article explains the generation changes over time: https://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/generation.php
He went on to say how they would find more evidence in the Scriptures and list verses to base this change off of. He then said that he’s always been a researcher and the more he digs, the more his head spins. They really do a lot of research so when it goes to print you can see exactly how they came up with a particular answer.
He then went to speak negatively about the Catholic church and how they hide information when the Society is completely open with what they present. He said, they don’t want you to open the bible (the Society wants people to open the bible to verses of their choosing).
So I went down this route….. I spoke how they meet to select a new Pope and the elder talked about the smoke that emanates from the building when one is selected. They hold their meetings in secret. Does the governing body hold their meetings in secret or out in the open like they held the meeting in Acts for the average, for lack of better words, Jehovah’s Witness to see?”
Cue the “D’oh!” moment from the custodian’s husband but I’ll give the elder credit, he deflected pretty well. His response was they do meet in a room that we know of. He said the only way they know who the governing body is due to the technology since they don’t go around proudly proclaiming who they are. I took it further by saying that there are a lot of groups that you don’t know who their leadership is.
He said they don’t dress saying their different. The question I didn’t ask is “why the expensive watches as this video shows:
He continued by circling back to the original point I presented and commended me for “digging deep” and said that’s what they want and they don’t hide anything (well except the “secret” elders’ book) and encouraged me to dig and said I won’t convince myself if that’s the case.
The custodian’s husband talked about reading the appendix in the back to get his thought out.
So we finished up the chapter with some chit chat and set our next meeting. Here’s some observations and I’ll be done:
- A Jehovah’s Witness will only really read what the Society tells them. There has been tons of research done on every particular topic in the bible. I’ve already discussed Nave’s Topical Bible and I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but here is Treasury of Scripture Knowledge containing more than 500,000 Biblical cross references. If the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was serious, they’d consult something like this. Independent study is to “run ahead” of the organization.
- History-Today was a clear case of how the elder was not able to “spin” it. He essentially conceded in some respects and came to agree with me at the end of our session.
- Connecting the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in practice to the Catholic Church for secrecy after it was openly denied isn’t going to sit super well.
- One person left my little handout on the table-the elder. The custodian’s husband took his and placed it into his briefcase. A very small gesture but Lord willing, today’s session helped to open up his eyes a little more. I had highlighted the word Google on the bottom corner. Hopefully he’ll look at something other than eBay and a car website to start digging some more.
- The Society is obviously not open for everything. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society takes time to be painstaking and silence its past. It has a knack of going after websites (they are losing this battle) and here’s some examples:
- Will the elder or any Jehovah’s Witness actually call the governing body “on the carpet” for something said that’s wrong?
I ask that you continue to pray for all parties involved and they are due to come out on May 27.