some highlights; http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/15-minute-guide-to-truth.php
please refer to link for full article and awesome graphic organisers
Up until the 1950s, Witnesses worshipped Jesus. In 1954, the Watchtower said it was wrong to worship Jesus, so all Witnesses stopped worshipping him. Before 1954, a person could be disfellowshipped if they did not worship Jesus; afterwards they were disfellowshipped if they did! Bible truth had not changed so either before or after 1954 Jehovah's Witnesses were not following Bible truth. It was not God's Spirit that created this important discrepancy; it was the leaders of the organisation. To be classified as a Jehovah's Witness following truth was not important, following the incorrect teachings of men was. God is a God of truth (Ex 34:6). If this organisation was not teaching truth, either before or after the 1950s, then it was not Spirit directed. Its members were not following God's truth, they were following the untruths of men.
The Watchtower Society uses Jesus' parable of the "faithful and discreet slave" to justify that a new religious organisation would appear to represent God in the twentieth century. The parable referred to is from Matthew 24:45-47;
"Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings."
The parable of an appointed slave is the primary Scriptural support the Watchtower Society has that following Watchtower leaders, the Governing Body, is a requirement of salvation in the Last Days. However, Matthew 24:45 is a vague story, open to various interpretations, that does not mention the word organisation, Watchtower or Jehovah's Witness. In fact, the word organisation and term Governing Body never appear in the Bible. For this reason, this parable of a faithful & discreet slave is applied differently by various religions. (See also discussion around the validity of the claims that Jehovah has always used an Organisation and that the Watchtower Society and its Governing Body is structured around the first century congregation.)
The Watchtower makes the claim that there have always been Jehovah's Witnesses.
"Jehovah's witnesses have a history almost 6,000 years long ..." Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose pp.8-9
If that is true, who were his witnesses immediately preceding Russell? There has never been a religion that taught what Russell taught. Russell felt that:
"It was often the case, however, that one religious group was distinguished by a clearer understanding of one Bible truth; another group, by a different truth. Their further progress was frequently hindered because they were shackled to doctrines and creeds." Proclaimers p.120
For this reason, he created a new religion with no connections to any nineteen century historical lineage.
To test if the parable is referring to the Watchtower Society, the history of the Watchtower can be examined by referencing Watchtower publications.
The reason a Jehovah's Witness is supposed to believe that the Watchtower Society was chosen as God's only true organisation is because they were supplying the right sort of food, the truth, when Jesus inspected the organisation in 1919. Between 1914 and 1919 they had removed the shackles of false Babylonian practice.
•It is explained that in 1914 Jesus took rule and first cleansed the heavens.
"Obeying his Fathers order, Jesus cleansed the heavens of Satan and his demons, hurling them down to the earth. After seeing this occur in vision, John hears a heavenly voice proclaim: Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ! Yes, in 1914 Christ began ruling as King!" Watchtower 1991 May 15 p.9
•In 1919 Jesus inspected the organisation and found it clean.
"Anointed Christians who survived the testing period of 1914-19 were freed from the dominating influence of the world and from many Babylonish religious practices. The remnant went forward as a cleansed and refined people, willingly offering sacrifices of praise to God and having the assurance that they as a people were acceptable to him." Watchtower 1998 May 15 p.17
"In 1919 the cleansed slave class could look forward to ever-expanding activities." Watchtower 1993 May 1 p.16
Jesus is said to have chosen the Watchtower Society as his only means of salvation because it was the only organisation providing food at the proper time, and so justly appointed over all Jesus belongings.
"The serving of food, the right sort of food, at the proper time was the issue. It had to be according to this that a decision must be rendered by the returned master... On inspecting the remnant of his anointed disciples in the year 1919 C.E., the reigning King Jesus Christ did find the appointed slave faithful and discreet in the feeding of his domestics. Accordingly, he appointed this slave class over all his belongings." Gods Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached pp.350,355
Is this really what Jesus found in 1919 when he inspected the Watchtower Society? No, he found the following teachings being promoted:
• The "Last Days" started in 17993 and the 1800s were the worst time period of all history
• That Jesus presence commenced in 18743
• That Jesus had begun ruling in 18784
• Armageddon had occurred in 1914
• That the end was going to come in 1925
• That blood was acceptable as food for Christians
• That Jesus should be prayed to and worshipped, as well as Jehovah
• That the Great Crowd were a heavenly class
• That birthdays and Christmas were acceptable celebrations
• The cross was on the cover of the Watchtower
• Teachings adapted from Freemasons, such as that pyramids and astrology supported 1914
• Strong Zionist support for a new nation of Israel in fulfilment of Bible prophecy
• That the Faithful and Discreet Slave was not the anointed, but rather Pastor Russell
Furthermore, the most noteworthy doctrine introduced in 1918 - that the earthly resurrection would start in 1925 - was a false and embarrassing failure.
Are these teachings the "right sort of food at the proper time"? By current Watchtower truth the food the Watchtower Society was providing in 1919 was filled with inaccurate prophecy, spiritism, paganism, polytheism, idolatry and political activism. Certainly anyone belonging to such a religion could not be considered one of the anointed. It brings into question if Russell, who had died in 1916, could be in heaven. Did Jesus go about immediately cleansing his organisation in 1919? No! The reality is that virtually no teachings or Babylonish practices were changed between 1914 and 1919. All of the above teachings were still being promoted in 1925. In fact, the understanding of 1914 was not changed until 1943,5 and the (so called) idolatry of Jesus continued until after 1950! Can you imagine Jesus pronouncing the slave clean and then allowing them to worship the wrong God for the next 30 years?
One interesting twist to all of this is that in 1914 there was no Faithful and Discreet Slave class awaiting the Lord's arrival. Luke 12:35-43 is the parallel prophecy about this slave class. It says;
"Let YOUR loins be girded and YOUR lamps be burning, and YOU yourselves be like men waiting for their master when he returns from the marriage, so that at his arriving and knocking they may at once open to him. Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching! Truly I say to YOU, He will gird himself and make them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them."
However, at that time there was no slave class, as it was believed that Russell was the Slave.6 Neither were any members of the Watchtower Society waiting for the Lord's return as described in this Scripture. The Watchtower 1984 Dec 1 p.14 states;
"Russell and his associates quickly understood that Christ's presence would be invisible. They disassociated themselves from other groups and, in 1879, began publishing spiritual food in Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. From its first year of publication, this magazine pointed forward, by sound Scriptural reckoning, to the date 1914 as an epoch-making date in Bible chronology. So when Christ's invisible presence began in 1914, happy were these Christians to have been found watching!"
This is untrue, as in 1914 no one was waiting for Christ's invisible return, since at the time it was believed he already had returned invisibly over 40 years earlier, in 1874.
circular watchtower reasoning
There is still a religious group that follows the Watchtower teachings as they were in 1919 - Bible Students. If Bible Students were found to be spiritually clean in 1919, then Bible Students today must still be considered acceptable to Jehovah. In fact, Bible Students are closer to the 1919 teachings than Jehovah's Witnesses. Between 1916 and 1932, with Rutherford's dramatic and often incorrect overhaul of Russell's doctrine, around three quarters of all Bible Students separated and formed their own organisations. Bible Students to this day reject the Trinity, immortal soul and hell-fire, and believe we are living in Christ's presence.
The above information briefly shows that any claim about Jesus choosing the Watchtower Society as his organisation in 1919 has no basis. The Watchtower Society carried many false teachings as part of the religion until Rutherford made significant changes in the late 1920s, and has continued changing teachings ever since.
To shut down clear thinking, thought-stopping concepts, common amongst high control groups, are used. You need to overcome each of these to see through Watchtower dogma successfully.
A powerful thought-stopping concept of the Watchtower Society is that light gets brighter, used to explain why truth constantly changes. This enables Jehovahs Witnesses to put aside doubts, allowing them to feel that it is unnecessary to deal with inconsistencies that occurred in the past or are still apparent now. Rather than accept that the many wrong dates and changed teachings indicate God does not direct the Organisation, it is explained away as progressive enlightenment. This is provisional infallibility, that is; the Watchtower is to be considered the voice of God (w57 6/15 p.370) even though it has regularly been wrong. This is illogical when examined but satisfies the minds need for stability.
When confronted with this information the mind of a Jehovahs Witness will immediately raise a further thought-stopping question, if it is not the truth where else will we go? and of course they know of no other place. Such a dilemma causes the mind to suffer what is referred to as cognitive dissonance. It is safer mentally to refuse to consider the implications of such inconsistencies of belief than to confront them. If a person confronts these inconsistencies and realises what they believe is wrong, they are faced with accepting that many years of their life may have been spent in pointless pursuits and are left not knowing what to do next. This is a common dilemma for members of many high control groups.
stumblilng blocks to leaving the Watchtower Society
Sadly, the last hurdle, fear, is most difficult of all. Fear is so ingrained that for years after leaving, former Witnesses may still suffer panic about dying at Armageddon. Even more real is fear of the pain suffered being shunned by family and friends on leaving.
With the Watchtower Society no longer stipulating your beliefs in areas as disparate as theology, morals and your view of the historical past, present, and future, the mind grasps for a new reference point. There is no easy way to avoid this, which results in cognitive dissonance. It parallels well with the philosophical question posed in the movie The Matrix written by Andy & Larry Wachowski.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. (long pause, sighs) Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.
(In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill.)
Morpheus: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. (a red pill is shown in his other hand) You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. (Long pause; Neo begins to reach for the red pill) Remember -- all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
For many people, it is easier to take the figurative blue pill and think no further as to whether what they believe is truth.
Viewing the history of Watchtower doctrine, complete with all that was wrong and that has changed back and forth multiple times brings one to the understanding that holy spirit does not direct the Watchtower teachings. The same is true in regard to the appointment of brothers as well as the disfellowshipping of wrongdoers, which are also said to be done under the guidance of the holy spirit. At times, Witnesses are appointed to positions of authority whilst engaging in gross sin, making it apparent that holy spirit is not guiding the Watchtower organisation in this area either.
Few people, aware of the above information prior to baptism, convert to being Jehovah's Witnesses. Once a person is ready to accept that the Watchtower Society has made significant mistakes, was not dispensing the proper food in 1919 and is not an organisation directed by God and his holy spirit, the question arises, How was I ever so sure it was the truth? Over time, it becomes difficult to comprehend how you could ever have been convinced that the Watchtower teaches truth. A small amount of research will uncover that:
•There are other religions with almost identical doctrine to the Watchtower
•There are some that have a far sounder doctrinal foundation
•There are religious groups that display a stronger anti-war stance
•Other groups are more effective in their preaching work
•Many religions display charity to an extent unheard of amongst Witnesses
Why does a Witness believe no one else worships Jehovah? This is due to the effects of constant indoctrination, as described in the article on Fear and Mind Control.
You will also wonder, "are the doctrines correct, or at least isn't this religion the closest to truth?" Once you realise the leaders are not directed by God, make mistakes and can be questioned, studying the Bible takes on new light. You will find many doctrines you believed without question take on different meaning. Much of the doctrine unique to Jehovah's Witnesses centre around an application to the Watchtower organisation, so when this is seen to have no basis so does the interpretation. This includes a large portion of prophetic understanding and doctrine, such as the Great Crowd. Studying objectively, you will quickly see many doctrines are incorrect and understand that;
•By dishonestly adding the word Jehovah to the New Testament the Society gives false importance to this word.
•Watchtower blood doctrine is unchristian and members needlessly lost their lives for a standard that recently changed when the Society started to allow almost the entire volume of blood to be transfused in fractionated form
•1914 has no basis as the start of the Last Days
•Disfellowshipping is misapplied and used as a form of manipulation
More damaging spiritually is to notice the number of times that the organisation is implicated in place of Jesus, including that Jesus is not Mediator for the other sheep of Jehovah's Witnesses but just for the leaders.7
If you stop accepting the Watchtower as Truth, your viewpoints will undergo dramatic alteration. This should not be surprising. Beliefs are based on underlying axioms. If a fundamental axiom is flawed, so will be much that is based on it. With the Watchtower being dominant in every aspect of a persons life, all areas will undergo reassessment. This is even more-so for a person born a Witness, as boundaries and beliefs are dictated, not developed.
After this has occurred, it is interesting finding out the reasons people in other religions hold to their beliefs. One word of caution. People that come out of one high control group are often attracted to similar groups and can quickly become ensnared in the same situation they have just left. You have plenty of time. There is no need to make a hasty decision in regards to leaving the Watchtower Society or joining another religion.
It generally takes what Raymond Franz termed a "Crisis of Conscience" to start seriously wondering whether the Watchtower religion is really the truth. There are numerous different events that have prompted this first important moment for former Jehovah's Witnesses. This includes:
•Disfellowshipping of a loved one
•Death of a loved one for refusing blood
•Lack of love in the congregation
•Treatment by a judicial committee
•Appointment of a sinner
•Specific incorrect doctrine or changes such as
?Changing generation teaching
? 607 BCE
•Scandal such as ? Handling of paedophiles
?Watchtower NGO membership to the United Nations
You can take comfort that you are not alone. Many tens of thousands leave every year, over one third of the number baptized, in what is the world's most mobile8 religion.