“Questions from Readers” Are Rarely from Readers

One of the Watchtower’s worst kept secrets is that the long-running “Questions from Readers” section in the back of Watchtower magazines – not unlike most famous newspaper advice columns – has in recent years rarely used questions from anonymous subscribers.

Actually, if you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that many “questions” just happen to relate to other subjects covered in the same issue. Not only that, but the format and syntax of most questions indicate that they were not only edited – but likely prepared by volunteers in the Watchtower’s Writing Department. The very significant March 2015 “study edition” of the Watchtower magazine is an excellent example of this not so subtle misrepresentation about the sources of these so-called “Questions from Readers.”

A Major Change of Doctrine Buried in a “Question”

An amazing coincidence occurs in the March 2015 Watchtower magazine. In the study article with the rather awkward title, “This Is the Way You Have Approved,” the writers try to explain how the Watchtower has tried to use Biblical stories and examples to explain doctrines, principles, and critical details. Then they compare Jesus’ approach of using parables and examples to explain deeper truths and concepts. In a sense, they admit that, unlike Jesus, they have missed the mark at times when trying to repeat his successes.

Many Jehovah’s Witnesses – at least those who managed to stay awake during their weekly Watchtower Study meeting that covered this subject in early May 2015 – may have been shocked to discover that literally dozens of their long-held beliefs might be wiped away forever and end up in the closet with long forgotten books containing discredited teachings and predictions by “Pastor” Russell and “Judge” Rutherford.

Why? Because of their overuse and misapplication of so-called “types” and “antitypes” to try to explain complex or unsupportable Watchtower concepts and predictions. They’ve been doing this for decades – and now they indicate they were wrong to do so for most situations.

If the brothers and sisters were paying attention while studying the March 2015 Watchtower, they might have noticed that the framework for many beliefs promoted as “The Truth” for over 65 years may have been completely dismantled in what amounted to “a blink of the eye.”

Definitely Not a Reader’s Question

On the other hand, if they weren’t paying attention but passing the time by flipping pages, they may have incidentally happened across “Questions from Readers” in the middle of the magazine. The March issue contains a question that a rank and file Jehovah’s Witness would never dare ask local elders. Submit a question like that to Bethel Headquarters? Very unlikely; to do so could result in being branded “an apostate” and having to face a judicial committee.

Who wrote the question? The tone and subject matter would indicate it to be an insider job. As it turns out, that section actually provides an even clearer perspective to the new changes. Some may have been shocked to read:

In the past, our publications often mentioned types and antitypes, but in recent years they have seldom done so. Why is that?

The Watchtower of September 15, 1950, defined a “type” and an “antitype” this way: “A type is an image or representation of something that will come to pass at some future time. The antitype is the reality of the thing which the type represents. The type may properly be called a shadow; the antitype, the reality”…

Many years ago, our publications stated that such faithful men and women as Deborah, Elihu, Jephthah, Job, Rahab, and Rebekah, as well as many others, were really types, or shadows, of either the anointed or the “great crowd.” For example, Jephthah, Job, and Rebekah were thought to represent the anointed, while Deborah and Rahab were said to foreshadow the great crowd. However, in recent years we have not drawn such comparisons. Why not?…

Further down the article it continues:

However, even where the Bible indicates that someone is a type of someone else, we should not conclude that every detail or incident in the life of the type is a picture of something greater. For example, although Paul tells us that Melchizedek is a type of Jesus, Paul says nothing about the fact that on one occasion Melchizedek brought out bread and wine for Abraham to enjoy after he had defeated four kings. Hence, there is no Scriptural basis for finding a hidden meaning in that incident…

Then they describe their change in how these persons or events will be handled in the future:

If such interpretations seem far-fetched, you can understand the dilemma. Humans cannot know which Bible accounts are shadows of things to come and which are not. The clearest course is this: Where the Scriptures teach that an individual, an event, or an object is typical of something else, we accept it as such. Otherwise, we ought to be reluctant to assign an antitypical application to a certain person or account if there is no specific Scriptural basis for doing so…

The article finally admits their past errors in judgment:

So for these reasons our publications in recent years have emphasized the lessons we can learn from Bible accounts instead of trying to find typical and antitypical patterns and fulfillments…

For more on this subject, be sure to read this recent Watchtower Documents article: Watchtower: Fewer “Types and Antitypes”?


“Questions from Readers” Are Rarely from Readers — 10 Comments

  1. I never accepted the interpretations, that was annoying to me. Why go on and on down these trails of attempted reasoning? Why not just stick to the story that was told and meditate on that? So there were distinctions in my head during readings; I’d say to myself,”maybe, maybe, but who knows?” And that does get boring.

    • types v antitypes. I used to think they have nothing else to do. yes you can see similarities but to go on for hours on end..? I recall one watchtower that did so saying that we were not ministers then another that said we were.
      Then there is their obsession with ‘classes’ the jonadab class etc. they never said much about the ‘dragon class’ those gossiping elderettes who ran the cong as their own platoon….

  2. All the years I was an active kool-aid drinking witneses none of that ever made any sense to me. It was a huge stretch of the imagination to believe that the Song Of Solomon was a type of the anointed bride of Christ. But when you’re raised in the Org you just accept this stuff along with birthdays and such. As I look back from the perspective of 60 plus years in captivity and 4 years of freedom I am amazed at my level of gullibility and lack of critical thinking. Thankfully I was df’d for finally doing some critical thinking. That was my way to freedom. Thanks JW’s for setting me free.

  3. @Dave, You are NOT ALONE. I have wasted so much Time and Money inside that cult. They have no shame.
    All of the Lies, the Racism and the Child Molesters. It is good to be free of that garbage religion.

  4. I was one of the survivors of 1975. Now may I ask this.If I had raised my hand and was called on and I said” Brothers and sisters there is no end coming in 1975, because Jesus said that concerning that day or hour, no one knows, NOT EVEN THE SON OF MAN KNOWS, ONLY THE FATHER KNOWS. WOULD I HAVE BEEN DISFELLOWSHIPPED?????


  6. Figures the Q&A were of their own making. I guess HQ could not chance REAL questions, lol.

    And, Wow, they really are shaking things up. I specifically remember having a cognitive-fit about 7-8 years into JW-Life while trying to read some type/anti-type book or mag & finally revolted out loud (at home): “I’m SICK OF THIS! Everything means SOMETHING ELSE! This means THAT & that means THIS! Ugh, ugh ugh!”

    The only way to read Scripture is IN CONTEXT. Wow, what a beautifully simple & correct concept learned 15-years after my JW-exit. Thanks Myles Coverdale! 🙂

    And didn’t WT also used to (late 1970’s or 1980’s) refer to the Hegelian Dialectic > Thesis + Anti-Thesis = Synthesis? I could swear it was WT lit where I first heard of that.

  7. I talked to a guy who worked for years in the writing department. The very first ‘apostate’ I ever met. He is, as far as I know, still a JW due to family, but at the time we were still in touch, did not believe one single word of it. He was actually not even sure he believed in God any more, but certainly knew the JWs were a cult. His job involved this very Questions from the Readers column. He admitted that how it worked was they were given a heads up to watch for questions regarding a specific subject, and might have a deadline only a few hours away. So while not saying “make one up” the GB were totally aware that the questions were made up even sending back the ‘questions’ for editing to refine them to what they wanted.

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