Jehovah’s Witnesses are discouraged from doing extensive personal research into their modern-day history. Such action can cause a truth-seeking Witness to be labeled “apostate” and be shunned by family and friends.
Yet, scrutiny of ancient Biblical history is allowable and thought to be important. So why can’t the same standard apply to Witnesses’ modern-day history which reaches back approximately one hundred and thirty years at the very most? Based on the premise that these days are the last few gasps of a dying world, and salvation or eternal destruction depend upon Witnesses having all the information necessary to prove whether or not they really ARE the one and only true religion, one would think the more proof discovered, the better.
Witness leaders strive to give the impression that they are more than candid about their recent history, but their obstruction of truth-seeking can be seen in the Witnesses’ own history book, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, published in 1993, a book I was the key researcher for.
The work I did was absorbing and subsequent discoveries enlightening, but the completed book that contains my work is a researcher’s nightmare. The book is full of anecdotal testimony and quotes verbatim, without additional investigation, from old Witness literature where controversies within the group were discussed with bias. The maze-like way the book is laid out makes it extremely difficult to understand an entire subject without considerable effort. Some topics were modified to obfuscate the truth, but, for others, the pieces are there, although scattered all over the book without regard for continuity which certainly complicates the process of truth-seeking.
As an example, the 128-page booklet, Millions Now Living Will Never Die, published in 1920 by the Watch Tower, and the lecture by the same name extensively given by the Witnesses second president, J. F. Rutherford (Judge Rutherford), is in some measure discussed in five different chapters, on pages 78, 163, 259, 425-26, and 632. This startling subject matter was said to be “intriguing” and “exciting.” Attention was directed to the year 1925 when “the return [from the dead] of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob . . . to the condition of human perfection,” would take place and anointed Christians would go to heaven. Also, the message focused on “. . . the Bible-based hope of eternal life on a paradise earth,” and “the realization . . . that hope was very near.”
Proclaiming this message “From 1920 through 1925 . . . again and again around the world in public meetings . . . in upwards of 30 languages” was presented in the book as a positive success.
(Though not mentioned in the book, the Millions message was preached so extensively, to the displeasure of so many people, that in New Zealand, a sign was posted next to the main road entering a town where the lecture was scheduled to be given which read, “Millions now living would rather die than hear Judge Rutherford.”)
Fifty-three pages before the conclusion of this massive volume, casually thrown in on p. 632 are the following words regarding the group’s exciting expectations for 1925: “What a happy prospect!” After that exclamation, we read this statement about the message: “Though mistaken, they eagerly shared it with others.” This is the only place in the book where Witness leaders admit it was a mistake to call attention to 1925 as the year when the end of the world would take place. And how euphemistic they were when admitting they were wrong, why even commending followers for “eagerly” sharing with others information that was erroneous. By not discussing this topic in its entirety in one section of the book, and admitting the 1925 fiasco therein, a rapid, less than vigilant reader could not come away with the truth.
This writer once heard a Witness elder say in a lecture that “Jehovah used the angels in the heavens to make sure this important information found in Millions Now Living Will Never Die, was preached all over the world.” Afterwards, I asked him if he knew exactly what the Millions booklet publicized? “That millions of people would live forever on a paradise earth,” he replied. “Well, not entirely,” I said. “Actually, the Watch Tower Society positively predicted that in 1925 the end of the world would take place and then millions of the faithful would live forever.” I continued, “Since that didn’t happen, this is an example of a failed prediction and why would God involve the angels in this blunder?” He got the point and expressed annoyance with the way the Proclaimers book presented the topic and wished the Society had done a better job. He said he didn’t have time to do research and counted on them to give him correct information.
This is just one instance of the Witnesses not-so-candid look at a major episode within their religion. To read more examples of the incomplete picture presented of their modern-day religious history, see Notes on the Proclaimers Book by Alan Feuerbacher. http://corior.blogspot.com/2006/02/notes-on-proclaimers-book.html
Inasmuch as researching one’s personal history can be very significant, so also is researching the history of one’s religion. At one time, I came to believe that only the Witnesses were THE true historians of the Bible, studying it closely to learn of the sins and weaknesses of ancient people to avoid repeating the mistakes that led to God’s disapproval. Through careful research, I have come to a different conclusion. And through research I also have seen for myself why Witness leaders obstruct truth-seeking: To keep their members from discovering the truth about their modern-day history of failed predictions.
Rather than allow Witness leaders decide for its members what is truth and what is error, and tell them to ignore individual thought and investigation, each member should think carefully about what the founder of this group, C. T. Russell, said:
“When one joins a sect, his mind is supposed to be given up entirely to that sect, and henceforth not his own. The sect undertakes to decide for him what is truth and what is error; and he, to be a true, staunch, faithful member, must accept the decisions of his sect, future as well as past, on all religious matters, ignoring his own individual thought, and avoiding personal investigation, lest he grow in knowledge, and be lost as a member of such sect. This slavery of conscience to a sect and creed is often stated in so many words, when such a one declares that he ‘belongs’ to such a sect.” – Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 3, p. 185.
On this blog, I will endeavor to offer readers a truthful and candid look at the religion I was part of for forty-four years, the good along with the bad, not bits and pieces taken out of context, but honest information presented without an agenda and not designed to obstruct truth-seeking.