How Jehovah’s Witnesses Use the Bible to Prove the Bible

How Jehovah’s Witnesses Use the Bible to Prove the Bible

Recruiting from the Scriptures: How Jehovah’s Witnesses Use the Bible to Prove the Bible

In 1704, Sir Isaac Newton used the book of Daniel to “calculate” the second coming of Christ (and the coinciding end of the world); it will be in 2060 CE. 

Christians are proud of claiming Newton as one of their own, but let’s face it; during Newton’s time, it was illegal under pain of death not to be a Christian. The Enlightenment had started but the Inquisition had not yet ended, so the oppressive piety still reigned supreme. 

I doubt that most believers are aware of Newton’s prediction. We can at least thank him for his theories of motion and calculus. 

In 1879, Reverend Charles Taze Russell1 boasted that he occupied the position of “The Lord’s Special Servant.”2 

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Russell wrote six volumes of Studies in the Scriptures granted “by the Lord’s grace” no less. A seventh in the series, mostly ghost-written, was published after his death. Russell was the pious huckster who started Jehovah’s Witnesses ( JWs). 

And, like Newton before him, Russell used the Bible to predict the mythical “End Times.” He was not as optimistic as Newton, prognosticating that all will eventually end for us . . . in 1914.

The JWs, who to this day maintain in all sincerity that we are currently in End Times, clock over a billion man-hours in door-to-door proselytizing every year. 3 

Of course, many non-JW Christians also believe this end-of-the-world nonsense because of Jesus’ “prophecy” of, “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matthew 24:34). 

These “things” involve Jesus’ ultimate return and the end of the world as we know it. Efforts of the brainwashed to similarly cleanse the gray matter of others have had quite a payoff for JWs—see Figure 1. Membership was a mere 58,000 in 1940, and today they have well over a million “peak” (active, baptized) members.4

As of this writing, the JW website claims a total of almost eight and a half million members, and over 19 million attend their annual “Memorial of Christ’s Death.”5

Active Jehovah’s Witnesses
Figure 1. Active Jehovah’s Witnesses (Source Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses) 

Secrets Revealed

I once worked with a very pleasant fellow named Etienne. He was raised Catholic but was converted by some JWs who came knocking on his door. 

He never once tried to recruit me, but upon his last day of work, he handed me some JW reading material (trying to “save” me, no doubt). 

I don’t know if he realized it, but one of the texts, Reasoning from the Scriptures, is a secret JW book designed to teach fellow initiates how to sell their cult. In the Introductions section, they state the purpose of the book: “For Use in the Field Ministry.” 

It thus instructs members how to present themselves to victims of their neighborhood canvassing. This manual was designed to arm JWs with some sort of oxymoronic scriptural logic to argue their interpretation of the Bible, including the relatively sane notion that Jesus is not the same entity as Yahweh, along with the ludicrous concept that the Holy Spirit is god’s “helper” and “active force,” being neither a person nor a god yet having godlike powers.

They get this idea from Matthew 1:18: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” 

While the 1914 prediction is perhaps their most famous failure, the JWs had first calculated that the universe would end in 1874. 

Upon sad realization that more years were in store for corporeal humankind, they came up with 1914. Diligent and undaunted, they tried again, time after time, and came up with 1918 then 1920.6 

After those failures, they were certain about 1925. In 1923, their Watchtower magazine stated, “The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914.” Then, in 1926, they offered this apology: “Some anticipated that the world would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so,” claiming they had miscalculated. Again.7

Their next predicted end of the world was 1941. Then 1975, then 1994. Unfortunately for JWs, but fortuitously for the planet, reality and the heady flow of space-time remained immune to religious superstitions. 

Their secret book has a solution to those repeated errors: “As foretold in Revelation 6:4, ‘peace was taken away from the earth.’ 

Thus the world has continued to be in a state of upheaval ever since 1914.”8 Allow me to present other “evidence” they bring to bear to frighten people into an eschatological way of thinking: “There are tens of thousands of nuclear weapons deployed for immediate use.” 

Then they quote the Book of Matthew: “There will be food shortages . . . in one place after another”—this being Matthew 24:7 from the JW’s New World Translation, just one of the hundreds of versions of the Bible. 9 

To attempt to prove this prophecy, they write, “. . . some 40 million a year actually die—in some years as many as 50 million— because of the shortage of food.” Here’s an idea: Disperse your vast army to help feed those starving people. 

JWs apparently think it more important to devote a billion man-hours per year recruiting and spreading their doomy gloom than to actually help humanity. 

The JW strategy works—not to solve world hunger, of course—but to gather more sheep to donate to their church and add to the numbers of neighborhood evangelists. 

The JWs continue at length in their secret book, describing things “predicted” by the Bible, like wars, famines, and earthquakes, as if these were events that did not happen in the good old biblical days of miracle loaves and fishes and water and wine. And zombie armies: 

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many (Matthew 27:51-53).

Their book is full of helpful hints on how to respond to someone who has reasonable things to say. For example: 

If someone says, “Conditions are no worse today; there have always been wars, famines, earthquakes, crime.” You might reply: I can understand why you feel that way. We were born into a world where these things are everyday news. Historians explain that there is something drastically different about the 20th century. Or you could say: It is not merely the fact that there have been wars, famines, earthquakes, and crime that is significant. Did you realize that the sign Jesus gave was a composite one? Then perhaps add: He did not say that anyone event by itself would prove that we were in “the last days.” But when the entire sign is in evidence—that is significant and especially when it appears on a global scale and beginning with a year that is fixed by Bible chronology.10

They constantly and cleverly anticipate how any sane person might reply to their paranoia. “What if someone says, ‘How do you know that some future generation won’t fit the prophecy even better than this one?’

Their recommended reply is: “That’s an interesting question, and the answer highlights the fact that we really are living in ‘the last days.’“ (Note the logical fallacy.) 

They continue: How? Well, part of the sign given by Jesus involves war between nations and kingdoms. But what would happen today if fulfillment of the sign required that we wait until another all-out war were to break out between the superpowers? 

Such a war would leave few if any survivors. So you see, God’s purpose that there be survivors indicates that we are now very close to the end of this old system. 11 Forget all the thousands of wars between “nations and kingdoms” over millennia passed. 

The wars fought since 1914 are the ones that “prove” the world is about to end. Thus, you should join their cult. 

Like a Virgin


“Was Mary the Mother of God?” the Witnesses ask. The answer to their own question is: “The angel who informed her of the coming miraculous birth did not say that her son would be God. He said: ‘You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.’” 12 They are referring to Matthew 1:19-21: 

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 

It is interesting that Christians claim this was prophesied in the Old Testament, but the Hebrew word almah means “young woman,” not a virgin: “A young woman is with child, and bears a son naming him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). 

Clearly, there are at least three things wrong with this being a prophecy: It is not in the future tense, but present participle; she is not a virgin, but ha-almah, a young woman; and Mary did not name her son Immanuel. 

I’ve read the Bible, and Jesus’ name is apparently Jesus. These translation flaws, whether intentional or not, occurred around 300 BCE, the time that Jews in Alexandria created a Greek version of their Hebrew Tanakh, dubbed the Septuagint. 

The author of the Book of Matthew, reading and writing in Greek 400 years after that—and at least 80 years after the supposed birth of Jesus—used the erroneous Septuagint translation, and thus propagated the errors.13 Scholars agree this is, in fact, a collection of translational errors.14 The JWs anticipate the answer any sober human might offer. They propose: 

If Someone Says—Do you believe in the Virgin Mary? You might reply: “The Holy Scriptures clearly say that the mother of Jesus Christ was a virgin, and we believe that. God was his father. The child that was born was truly the son of God, just as the angel told Mary” (Luke 1:35). Then perhaps add: But have you ever wondered why it was so important that Jesus be born in that way? Only in that way could a suitable ransom be provided that would make a possible release from sin and death for us.15 

Thus their book claims that the “messiah” must be born of a virgin so that a “suitable ransom” would save us from “sin and death.” 

My head spins trying to decode this logic. Here we have Reason Number 13,287 for why I am not a Christian (in deference to Bertrand Russell). Though JWs seem unaware of the Septuagint faux pas, their publication provides the robo-priests with another option: 

Or you could say: Yes we do. We believe everything the Sacred Scriptures say about her, and they definitely say that it was a virgin that gave birth to Jesus. I also find very heartwarming other things they tell us about Mary and the lessons that we can learn from her.

Jehovah, you magnificent bastard, I READ YOUR BOOK! Thus we discover the Jehovah’s Witnesses: logical fallacy upon a logical fallacy, blind faith upon blind faith, mindless sheep instructed by mindless shepherds using the Bible to prove the Bible. 

And some say JWs aren’t “real” Christians.

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By Michael Paulkovich

Michael B. Paulkovich is a columnist for American Atheist, an aerospace engineer and freelance writer who also contributes to Free Inquiry and Humanist Perspective. He is a contributing editor for The American Rationalist and the author of No Meek Messiah. His next book, Beyond the Crusades, was published in 2015 by American Atheist Press.

More from the author:

References 

  1. Chryssides, George D., Historical Dictionary of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2008. Rhodes, Ron, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eugene: Harvest House, 1993.
  2. Russell, Charles Taze, Studies in the Scriptures, Series VII. London: International Bible Student’s Association, 1918. 
  3. Vitcavich, Michael, Deciduous Belief. Bloomington: CrossBooks, 2011. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Reasoning from the Scriptures. Brooklyn: International Bible Students Association,1985. 
  4. Wheless, Joseph, Forgery in Christianity. Moscow, Minneapolis: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC, 2007. 
  5. Zindler, Frank, The Jesus the Jews Never Knew. Cranford, New Jersey: American Atheist Press, 2003.

Endnotes

  1. No relation to the inventor of the taser.
  2. Russell, 4.
  3. Rhodes, 9
  4. Rhodes, 10
  5. JW.org/En/Jehovahs-Witnesses
  6. Watch Tower, 380-382
  7. Chryssides, 1-3
  8. Vitcavich, 267
  9. Watch Tower, 235
  10. Watch Tower, 241
  11. Watch Tower, 242
  12. Watch Tower, 256
  13. Another viable theory posits that Matthew was later interpolated, possibly by Saint Jerome (see for example Wheless, 126-127 and Zindler, 331.)
  14. Wheless, 125-129 and Zindler, 175
  15. Watch Tower, 260-261

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