Has the Watchtower Ever Lied, Covered Up, or Changed Important Doctrines, Dates, and Biblical Interpretations?/Program 7

By: Lorrie MacGregor; ©1989
The Governing Body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. These men claim to be the “channel of God” to all of humanity on earth. What kind of decisions do they make?

Introduction

Ankerberg: Welcome! Tonight, we’re looking at excerpts from a documentary film on the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, commonly known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’d like for you to watch a portion that has to do with the Governing Body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. These men claim to be the “channel of God” to all of humanity on earth. What kind of decisions do they make? There was one fantastic decision that they made that is absolutely astounding because it was contradictory and it had vast ramifications for Jehovah’s Witnesses in two different countries of the world. I would like for you to watch this excerpt right now.

Excerpt from Witnesses of Jehovah

Billy Hite’s sister: The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to bring the families together. Through them, my brother killed himself, my mother tried to kill herself, my two sisters and my brother will not speak to me, my grandmother will not speak to me. She wouldn’t let me see my grandfather before he passed away. They didn’t bring our family close together, they nearly totally destroyed it.
Narrator: While the members of the Governing Body may escape blame for the death of one desperate boy, they can hardly escape responsibility for their policies in the African country of Malawi. Policies that left thousands of Witnesses raped, homeless, or dead.
L. Chretien: In the mid-1960’s in the African country of Malawi, all citizens were ordered by the government to purchase a 25-cent party identification card. Jehovah’s Witnesses were forbidden by the Watchtower Society branch office from complying with that law. As a result, Jehovah’s Witnesses suffered a terrible persecution. Homes and crops were burned, thousands of women were raped, and some 20,000 Witnesses were forced to flee Malawi into neighboring countries to live in refugee camps, their lives scarred forever.
R. Franz: Now, Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that it’s a sin to be involved in any way with politics. They’re also taught that it’s just as great a sin to have anything to do with the military. But we have two situations: one in a country in Africa, Malawi, and another in Mexico, where two opposite rulings were allowed to stay in effect at the same time and it’s almost unbelievable the results of this.
L. Chretien: When Jehovah’s Witnesses living in Mexico heard that their brothers had suffered this terrible persecution over a 25-cent party card, they were conscience-stricken.
R. Franz: Because in Mexico, every young man is expected to fulfill one year of military service. He receives what’s called a “Cartilla,” a certificate. The Witnesses customarily and regularly would bribe a military official to fill out this card stating that they had completed their military instruction, and that they were now in the first reserves of the Army. Why were they doing this? They gave me copies of letters from the Watchtower Society’s headquarters in New York stating that this was purely a matter for individual conscience. And that if the person felt that he could do this – pay a bribe to a military official, get this card saying he had completed his military training and was now a member of the first reserves – this was up to him.
L. Chretien: Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the men who make up the Governing Body are chosen and directed by God; yet out of apparent indifference or ignorance or worse, the Governing Body allowed Witnesses to illegally bribe officials, while at the same time holding others to a policy that resulted in their wholesale rape and slaughter. It’s difficult for me to believe these actions were inspired by God.

Ankerberg: Lorri, as we’ve watched that clip, we can’t help but ask the question, how can an organization that claims to be the only channel for God to humanity on this earth, how in the world could they hold on to a contradictory ruling and let Jehovah’s Witnesses die?
MacGregor: Well, in that case of Malawi and Mexico, it was because one country did not know what the other country was doing. The Watchtower made a big deal about Malawi, but the military service in Mexico was never mentioned. And in fact, had Ray Franz not written his book, it would not be known.
Ankerberg: Okay. We’re going to take some questions from the audience. We have our first question. What is your question?
Audience: My question is, why won’t the organization allow the people to get involved in the laws of the land and the political aspect of the country?
MacGregor: The scriptural reason they give is that their followers are no part of the world. The real reason is, they don’t want energy going to anything else other than their organization and the selling of their magazines.
Ankerberg: Question?
Audience: If it’s true that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not to associate with any kind of politics or governmental systems, why do they use funny little things like dollar bills which have symbols all over them?
MacGregor: Well, they like dollar bills well enough. It finances their buying up most of Brooklyn Heights in New York.
Ankerberg: Okay. Question?
Audience: Yes. In reply to the false prophecy, you would think the Jehovah’s Witnesses would come back and cite 1 Chronicles 17 where Nathan told David to go ahead and build the temple and do all that is in his heart because God is with him, and then after that, God did go ahead and use Nathan again. So, in playing the “devil’s advocate,” how would you comment on that?
MacGregor: Well, Nathan obviously, if you read the Scriptures, had a real heart for God, and I think that if you should make a public prophecy that is not right, you must repent publicly, and I have no doubt that Nathan probably did, although the Bible does not say. But we know his heart was right with God.
Audience: My question is, how did you come to know the knowledge that you have now? Were you a Jehovah’s Witness? If so, how did you become a Christian?
MacGregor: Alright. I went into the Watchtower Society when I was earnestly seeking for God at 18 years of age. I came out when I began reading the Bible alone and questioning their doctrine that Jesus Christ was Michael the archangel. I was not allowed to ask questions. When it became obvious that my honest-hearted questions would not be answered, I resigned.
Ankerberg: Before you go too much further, let’s talk about the question of Michael the archangel, because we said we would come back to that in another program and we haven’t done it yet. The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that actually Jesus started out as Michael the archangel, and then was re-created, came to earth, was just a man, died. His body was evaporated in gases and God re-created Michael again. Now, you believed that as a Jehovah’s Witness. What does the Scripture really say? How can you persuade a Jehovah’s Witness that’s not what the Bible says?
MacGregor: Well, Jehovah’s Witnesses may be interested to know that back in 1879 there were statements made in The Watchtower that Jesus could not be Michael and Michael could not be Jesus. This was said again in The Watchtower in 1883. By the time they got to 1917, they were teaching in The Finished Mystery that Michael was the Pope of Rome. Sometime after that date, Jesus was taught to be Michael the archangel.
Now, a couple of Scriptures will clear it up. Daniel 10:13 says that Michael is “one of the chief princes.” Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus Christ is unique; He’s not “one of” anything. So, come on, fellows! In Jude 9 we have Michael the archangel disputing with the devil and arguing about the body of Moses and it says there, “He did not dare rebuke Satan.” So, if Michael is Jesus, Jesus had no trouble at all rebuking Satan. We can read several accounts in the New Testament. Besides which Michael said, “The Lord [Kurios, a title of Christ] rebuke you.” And so Jesus is not Michael. Michael is not Jesus. And Jehovah’s Witnesses were right in the beginning, and I suggest they return to their “old light.” It was better than the “bright light” now.
Audience: If Jehovah’s Witnesses started with Russell, then where did the apostles that penned the Scriptures they used fit into the 144,000 elect?
MacGregor: Well, Jehovah’s Witnesses are kind enough to include the apostles in the number of the 144,000. They’re also very happy to include Arius in that number, who brought in the heresy that they teach, and he was corrected at the Council of Nicaea.
Audience: In the Jehovah’s Witness mind, if they die before Armageddon, does their soul have a destination?
MacGregor: Well, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that the soul dies or is annihilated. They have a soul-sleep teaching. The best they can hope for is a re-creation from God’s memory bank of their personality in the thousand-year reign.
Ankerberg: Don’t they use something about the spirit as just being “breath”?
MacGregor: Yes. They teach that the spirit the Bible talks about is just your breath. Can you feature Stephen at the moment of his death saying, “Lord into thy hands I commit my spirit” – my breath?
Ankerberg: Or Jesus Himself on the cross said the same thing.
MacGregor: Yes. Imagine committing your breath to anyone as you’re dying. Not likely.
Audience: Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus was tortured on a stake, what evidence in Scripture is there that Jesus died on a cross?
Ankerberg: Let’s take time and do it!
MacGregor: Okay. If we look in the back of their Kingdom Interlinear Translation, we find an illustration of a man, and he appears to be on an upright stake. And they make the statement, “This is the manner in which Christ died.” And they refer to a book called De Cruse Liber Primus by Justus Lipsius of the 16th century. We were able to locate this book in a library in Canada and we took some very interesting pictures. There are actually nine illustrations of different crosses. And the picture is a little bit unclear, but if you look at the one the Jehovah’s Witnesses chose, I could swear the guy’s sitting on a cross-beam; doesn’t even look like it’s really a stake.
Now, Jehovah’s Witnesses go to a lot of trouble to try and say that Jesus did not die on a cross; however, they use an interesting word throughout the appendix of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation, and that word is “beam.” They keep saying Jesus died on a beam, like they’re quoting Ezra 6:11 in the Greek Septuagint. That it was a “beam.” Now, I may not be a carpenter, but I’m smart enough to know that if you have a house that is “post and beam construction,” a post has to hold the cross-beam up, right? And so they say throughout here that Jesus hung on a beam. They quote another authority saying a simple beam was used. So, I think Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to look in a dictionary and find out what a beam is. It can’t be held up without a cross-post. They make the statement, “The evidence is completely lacking that Jesus Christ was crucified on two pieces of timber placed at a right angle.” And yet De Cruse Liber Primus shows the cross, just as Christians have shown it for centuries, and it says, “This is the manner in which our Lord was crucified.” But they ignored that, and picked out one that looked like a stake.
Now, interestingly enough, in the last few months, The Watchtower, although they made this statement here about the stake, they say, “This is a revolutionary translation, we admit, but it is the purest one” – that of saying “stake” instead of “cross” – the passing of time and further archaeological discoveries will be certain to prove its correctness.” Oh yeah? Another false prophecy. Because just recently in The Watchtower, because of all the information published, they now have to admit with egg on their face that they cannot really be certain of the manner in which Christ died. It could have even been a cross.
But you see, the important thing is not how Christ died. That’s just a red herring. The important thing is why Christ died. And by arguing over the cross and throwing up all this sand in people’s eyes, they never have to deal with why Christ died. He died for you, He died for me. Acts 20:28 that they have altered says that “God purchased the Church with His own blood.” Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. Let’s not argue about how He died. It’s not that important. I believe it was on a cross and I think the Watchtower’s going to have to admit it. Because after all, when He was crucified, it said He had one thief on His left – and “hand” is implied in the Greek – and the other on His right – and “hand” is implied. Now, if Jesus was on a stake like this, both thieves would be up in the air. Not too likely. Plus, the Bible says He showed to His believers the nail prints; the prints of the nails, plural, in His hands. Watchtower theology has one nail, the Bible has plural nails. And I prefer to believe the Word of God and understand the reason for His death.
Ankerberg: One of the questions that came up in a previous program, Lorri, is the one concerning John 8:58. And the Jehovah’s Witnesses have got a completely different translation in their New World Translation than any other Bible. They actually change the tenses. What’s going on in John 8:58? Read it for us, if you would, in the New World Translation and then tell us why they have changed it.
MacGregor: In the New World Translation, of course, they wish to rob Jesus Christ of His deity as they have done on so many other Scriptures. “Therefore, when the Jews approached Jesus and said, ‘How could you have seen Abraham? You’re not even 50 years old,’” when Jesus said Abraham was His father. In John 8:58, Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I Am.” Now, Jesus took the memorial name of God to all generations and applied it to Himself. Jehovah’s Witnesses couldn’t stand this, of course, so they changed it to, “I have been,” or “I existed before” – as Michael the archangel, no doubt.
Now, were they correct in doing this, or what? Well, most scholars agree that Jesus was quoting Exodus 3:14 where Moses was about to go in before Pharaoh on behalf of the people, the Israelites. And he said, “Who shall I say has sent me? And Jehovah God answered him and said, ‘Tell them I Am has sent me unto you.’” And so this was the spoken name of God. And so when Jesus said, “I Am.” It just really shocked the Jews. Look at the reaction: “they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” [John 8:59] So, if Jesus is just saying, “Look, I existed before,” He wouldn’t have been stoned. He was being stoned for blasphemy.
But Jehovah’s Witnesses said in their footnotes here, “Before Abraham was, I have been.” In 1950 in the footnote they said, “Properly rendered in the perfect indefinite tense.” It didn’t take too long, someone wrote to them and said, “Hey, folks, there is no perfect indefinite tense in Greek, and it’s been obsolete for years in English!” You know? So, hardly waiting to catch a breath or apologize or anything else, in 1961 they said it was properly rendered in the perfect tense indicative. Didn’t take too long; somebody pointed out that there is no perfect tense indicative for the verb “to be” on which “I Am” is based. So, in 1969 they tried again – and I say, “Three strikes and you’re out!” – “properly rendered in the perfect tense.” Any first-year Greek student can tell you that it is not in the perfect tense at all, it is in the present tense. “Ego Eimi” – “I Am.”
Now, how important is this? Someone says, “Oh, there you are, splitting hairs, you know. You shouldn’t do this.” How important is it? Well, I don’t want you to take my word for how important it is. And I’m speaking specifically to you, Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jesus is going to show you how important it is, because He said in John 8:24, right in the Greek text, “Therefore I said to you that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.” How important is it that we have a Bible that tells the truth about Jesus Christ? – that He is Deity; He is God; He is Almighty God; He is the Mighty God; He is the only God; He is the true God. And, yes, He is the I Am. And if you don’t believe it, you’re going to die in your sins. Jesus said so.
Ankerberg: Lorri, we’ve presented a lot of evidence over these programs, and there are many Jehovah’s Witnesses who may be just like you were one day: they were sitting, thinking about these very things, and they came to the point of realizing they had been fooled. And they realized that the Bible was saying something completely different than the Watchtower Society had taught them. And the blood transfusion, and the excommunication, and all of the other rules, and going door-to-door, this was not part of God’s salvation. It was completely different. But, they were facing the fact that if they leave the Watchtower Society, they could lose their family; they could lose their friends, and that’s very serious. What would you have those people do? What word of hope would you give to them tonight if they’re facing that decision, even if they want to leave the Watchtower Society?
MacGregor: Well, in my own case, John, I had never even read a single word written against the Watchtower Society. I had been reading in the Kingdom Interlinear under the Greek/English side, and I had lots of questions about the misrepresentation of Jesus Christ. I did not have anyone influencing me. I was honestly seeking in my heart in the pages of the Bible. And I knew, when I went with my questions, that I could very well lose my friends, my family. And in fact, I did lose it all. I didn’t have a single person who would speak to me. Two elders I had known for years spit on the street behind me when I walked by. I went through this. I know what people are facing. I’ve been there. I’ve lived it.
But all I can say is if you will turn your life and your heart over to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will trust in Him, I’ll tell you, you and Jesus Christ are a majority in any situation. The Lord says if you believe in Him and trust in Him, He will give you fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, homes, and all these things that you need. And God has been gracious to do it for me. And “the longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.” Trust Jesus no matter what the cost. I now have my parents who are Christians. Other people in our family have come to the Lord. God is faithful, as we are faithful to serve Him.
Ankerberg: Alright, would you say a prayer for all those Jehovah’s Witnesses who are right on the line and would like to cross over and they would like to accept God’s free gift of salvation which was provided when Christ died on the cross. And it’s available to them right now. They only need to ask the Lord to apply it to their life, and they can start a relationship with the Lord Jesus, not with an organization but with God Himself. Would you say that prayer, Lorri?
MacGregor: “Jesus, we come to you this night, because you did say in your Word that we could ask you anything, and we can come directly to you. You are our Mediator. And, Jesus, we ask that you would just come into our lives and come into our hearts and just give us your peace that passes all understanding. Jesus, you promised that the weary and the brokenhearted could come to you, and that’s what we feel like after we have been used by the Watchtower organization and have given our time and our effort and our money, our lives, even some of us have given families in death because of the blood transfusion issue. Jesus, help us. Come into our hearts and our lives and show us the truth of the matter and how rich life can be when we live it in your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

Appendix

Letter from Dr. Mantey to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

[Letter dated July 11, 1974]

Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
117 Adams St.
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Dear Sirs:

I have a copy of your letter addressed to CARIS in Santa Ana, California, and I am writing to express my disagreement with statements made in that letter; as well as in quotations you have made from the Dana-Mantey Greek Grammar.

1. Your statement: “their work allows for the rendering found in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures at John 1:1.” There is no statement in our grammar that was ever meant to imply that “a god” was a permissible translation in John 1:1.

  1. We had no “rule” to argue in support of the trinity.
  2. Neither did we state that we did have such intention. We were simply delineating the facts inherent in Biblical language.
  3. Your quotation from p. 148 (3) was in a paragraph under the heading:
    With the Subject in a Copulative sentence.” Two examples occur there to illustrate that “the article points out the subject in these examples.” But we made no statement in this paragraph about the predicate except that, “as it stands the other persons of the trinity may be implied in theos. And isn’t that the opposite of what your translation “a god” infers? You quoted me out of context. On pages 139 and 149 (VI) in our grammar we stated: “without the article theos signifies divine essence… theos en ho logos emphasizes Christ’s participation in the essence of the divine nature.” Our interpretation is in agreement with that in NEB and the TEV: “What God was, the Word was”; and with that of Barclay: “The nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God”, which you quoted in your letter to CARIS.

2. Since Colwell’s and Harner’s articles in JBL [Journal of Biblical Literature], especially that of Harner, it is neither scholarly nor reasonable to translate John 1:1 “The Word was a god.” Word order has made obsolete and incorrect such a rendering.

3. Your quotation of Colwell’s rule is inadequate because it quotes only a part of his findings. You did not quote this strong assertion: “A predicate nominative which precedes the verb cannot be translated as a indefinite or a ‘qualitative’ noun solely because of the absence of the article.”

4. Prof. Harner; vol. 92:1 (1973) in JBL, has gone beyond Colwell’s research and has discovered that anarthrous predicate nouns preceding the verb function primarily to express the nature or character of the subject. He found this true in 53 passages in the Gospel of John and 8 in the Gospel of Mark. Both scholars wrote that when indefiniteness was intended the gospel writers regularly placed the predicate noun after the verb, and both Colwell and Harner have stated that theos in John 1:1 is not indefinite and should not be translated “a god.” Watchtower writers appear to be the only ones advocating such a translation now. The evidence appears to be 99% against them.

5. Your statement in your letter that the sacred text itself should guide one and “not just someone’s rule book”. We agree with you. But our study proves that Jehovah’s Witnesses do the opposite of that whenever the “sacred text” differs with their heretical beliefs. For example the translation of kolasis as cutting off when punishment is the only meaning cited in the lexicons for it. The mistranslation of ego eimi as “I have been” in John 8:58. The addition of “for all time” in Heb. 9:27 when nothing in the Greek New Testament supports it. The attempt to belittle Christ by mistranslating arche tes ktiseos “beginning of the creation” when he is magnified as “the creator of all things” (John 1:2) and as “equal with God” (Phil. 2:6) before he humbled himself and lived in a human body here on earth. Your quotation of “The Father is greater than I am” (John 14:28) to prove that Jesus was not equal to God overlooks the fact stated in Phil. 2:6-8, when Jesus said that he was still in his voluntary state of humiliation. That state ended when he ascended to heaven. Why the attempt to deliberately deceive people by mispunctuation by placing a comma after “today” in Luke 23:43 when in the Greek, Latin, German and all English translations except yours, even in the Greek in your KIT, the comma occurs after lego (I say)—”Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Also 2 Cor. 5:8, “to be out of the body and at home with the Lord.” These passages teach that the redeemed go immediately to heaven after death, which does not agree with your teachings that death ends all life until the resurrection. Cf. Ps. 23:6 and Heb. 1:10.

The above are only a few examples of Watchtower mistranslations and perversions of God’s Word.

In view of the preceding facts, especially because you have been quoting me out of context, I herewith request you not to quote the Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament again, which you have been doing for 24 years. Also that you not quote it or me in any of your publications from this time on.

Also that you publicly and immediately apologize in the Watchtower magazine, since my words had no relevance to the absence of the article before theos in John 1:1. And please write to CARIS and state that you misused and misquoted my “rule.”

On the page before the Preface in the grammar are these words: ‘Alrights reserved—no part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher.”

If you have such permission, please send me a photocopy of it.

If you do not heed these requests you will suffer the consequences.

Regretfully yours,
Julius R. Mantey

(Note: A slight grammatical correction was made in this letter.)

 

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