“The years from 1914 to 1918 did, indeed, prove to be a ‘testing season’ for the Bible Students. Some of the tests came from within; others came from outside. All of them, though, tested the Bible Students in ways that revealed whether they really had ‘the love of God in their hearts.’ Would they hold on to ‘the Lord and His Truth’ or let go?” – Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, Chapter 6 p.61
According to the Watchtower, Jesus Christ returned invisibly in 1914 (as examined in the first installment of this series) and in 1918, Invisible Jesus performed an invisible “temple inspection” wherein the Watchtower was tested to see if they would “hold on to ‘the Lord and His Truth'” as stated in the above quote. Furthermore at this time, the Watchtower teaches that Invisible Jesus completely rejected “corrupt Christendom” in favor of the Watchtower organization which underwent a “brief period of refinement followed by a swift spiritual restoration in 1919”. Note the following quote…
“In the modern-day fulfillment of these prophecies, there was an important spiritual development in 1918 in connection with Jehovah’s worship. Jehovah and Jesus evidently made an inspection of all of those claiming to represent pure worship. That inspection led to the final casting off of corrupt Christendom. For Christ’s anointed followers, the inspection meant a brief period of refinement followed by a swift spiritual restoration in 1919.” – Isaiah’s Prophecy II (2001), p.397 par. 14
So, by 1919 everything was set in order and the Watchtower organization was “evidently” God’s one and only true organization. Obviously there must have been something drastically different about the Watchtower organization and the rest of “corrupt Christendom” that was “evidently” set aside. Of course, not everything was different in the Watchtower. After all, the churches of “corrupt Christendom” claim to adhere to the doctrines of the Bible and worship Jehovah God too. So why don’t we perform this “inspection” ourselves and see what was so remarkably different, shall we?
Things in Common
- Worship of Jesus Christ. Both C.T. Russell and J. F. Rutherford felt it was completely proper to worship Jesus. They felt this was completely acceptable, even though they both simultaneously taught that Jesus Christ is none other than Michael the Archangel (thus permitting and/or encouraging creature worship). This doctrine wasn’t changed until 1954. Up until 1999, the Watchtower charter, decreed that the organization is founded in part “for public Christian worship of Almighty God and Christ Jesus;” (Article VII, p. 172). On that point, it’s an interesting fact to note that the Watchtower was thus in violation of its own charter for decades from 1944 to 1999.
- Christmas Celebrations. As the photo on the right illustrates, Christmas was still celebrated at Watchtower headquarters until at least 1926. That’s 10 years after Russell died (Rutherford himself is in the photo at the end of the center table), 12 years after 1914, and 7 years after Christ’s supposed “temple inspection” completed in 1919.
- Blood Transfusions. Blood transfusions weren’t banned until 1945. In fact, Russell specifically stated that blood, even as solely a dietary restriction as it is commonly interpreted, is no longer binding on Christians.
- “Heavenly Hope”. The concept of a subclass of people that don’t enjoy Christian salvation, but instead are supposed to be content with languishing on Earth forever, wasn’t invented until 1935. Until then, the 144,000 was thought to refer to faithful “Bible Students” who would be raptured at some very near point in the future.
- God’s Name. While most Jews and Christians alike agree that God’s name is Jehovah (or, more accurately, Yahweh), the Watchtower is fond of pointing out that “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are the only ones loudly proclaiming this fact as though it were a secret otherwise. Ironically enough, however, the Watchtower’s own usage of Jehovah was roughly the same if not less than the typical frequency found throughout Christendom at the time. In fact, it could be argued that the only reason its usage has diminished in modern times (especially in favor of the more accurate transliteration Yahweh, for instance) is that many would rather not be associated with the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” sect.
- Tobacco. Although tobacco usage was discouraged throughout the organization’s history (as it is in many churches), it was not considered an offense incompatible with membership until 1973. In fact the entire practice of disfellowshipping, as it is understood by “Jehovah’s Witnesses”, was not practiced until 1944.
- The Cross. It wasn’t until 1936 that Rutherford introduced the “torture stake” theory. Until then it was commonly understood, as it is by secular historians, that Jesus was crucified. The cross itself was commonly depicted in scenes of the crucifixion throughout the Watchtower, and the cross was found on the cover of Zion’s Watchtower for years after Russell’s death. The particular cross featured was inside of a crown, but we’ll get to that later.
- The Pyramid of Giza. Until the day that he died, Russell taught that the pyramid of Giza was “God’s stone witness” corroborating biblical prophecy. The pyramid was an essential part of his entire eschatology, and he outlined detailed measurements of its interior shafts and general dimensions. This detailed study is known as pyramidology and is one of the finest examples of quack science in which Russell was involved (other examples
include phrenology, astrology, and numerology). The “Proclaimers” book on page 201 gives a brief nod to this extensive obsession of Russell’s, but downplays it completely. The truth of the matter is that Russell had a whole fold-out chart called the “Chart of the Ages” printed within the The Divine Plan of the Ages (republished as Studies in the Scriptures (Volume 1)).
- Freemasonry. While it is difficult to absolutely prove whether or not C. T. Russell was a Freemason himself (considering that it’s a secret society, that’s to be expected), his extensive association with them is a matter of public record. For instance, he used Masonic “signals” in the form of symbols such as the “Cross and Crown”. While your average JW may have a faint recollection of Zion’s Watch Tower usage of a cross on its cover, many are completely ignorant of its true significance. It was not merely a cross, but the “Cross and Crown”, a symbol of the Knights Templar. Additionally Russell held sermons and other gatherings in Masonic temples, a practice that has continued decades after his death. As illustrated on the right, the “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society” erected a memorial for Russell several feet from his grave. It is a large stone pyramid with a “Cross and Crown” symbol inscribed above a plaque which reads “WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY”.
- Fraud. Through the pages of Zion’s Watch Tower, C. T. Russell advertised wheat seed for sale at $1.00 a pound (quite expensive for the day). He called it “Miracle Wheat” and it was claimed, among other things, that the wheat would grow five times as much as any other wheat on the market. The proceeds were to go to the “Watch Tower” and be used for publishing Russell’s sermons. When the Brooklyn Daily Eagle published a cartoon mocking the venture, Russell sued for libel, asking $100,000 damages. When Government tests determined that there was, in fact, nothing special about the wheat at all, the Eagle won the suit.
- False Prophecies. Throughout the entire history of the Watchtower organization, it has published explicit dates for Armageddon, the Lord’s Return, etc. All of them have inevitably failed. Since 1975, the Watchtower has generally refrained from making explicit statements. However, before 1925 the Watchtower, Russell, and his associates continually set dates that were since proved false. Some dates include 1873, 1874, 1875 (mostly from Barbour), 1914, 1915, 1918, and 1925.
One could argue that the Watchtower organization was chosen based on its Arian theology, but then, plenty of other organizations assert the same heresy to this day. Examples include the Unitarian Universalists or the Arian Catholics (not to mention all of Islam, New Age, or any other movement that denies the Deity of Christ while affirming the Deity of “Jehovah”).
In summary, the only real distinguishing characteristics peculiar to the “Bible Students” in 1919 is their numerous false prophecies, lies, and involvement in Freemasonry and other occult practices (a.k.a Satanism). How’s that for an inspection…?
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2. ^ The charter in question is for the “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania” and is on the public record in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Additionally it’s interesting to note that up until 1999, Article IX stated “A member may be suspended for a period or expelled for cause upon wilfully violating any of the by-laws, reasonable rules, or ordinances of the Society, or upon becoming out of harmony with any of the Society’s purposes…” Considering that Article VII clearly states it is one of “the Society’s purposes” to engage in “public Christian worship of… Christ Jesus” it would seem that a good number of members, including the Governing Body itself, should have been “suspended for a period or expelled” as the entire organization was definitely “out of harmony” with this stated “purpose” for decades between 1954 and 1999 at which time the charter was finally amended quietly to simply read “arrange for and hold assemblies for religious worship” instead.
3. ^ In the Watchtower 12/01/1904 p.364 there is a most interesting statement regarding Christmas: “Even though Christmas is not the real anniversary of our Lord’s birth, but more properly the annunciation day or the date of his human begetting (Luke 1:28), nevertheless, since the celebration of our Lord’s birth is not a matter of divine appointment or injunction, but merely a tribute of respect to him, it is not necessary for us to quibble particularly about the date. We may as well join with the civilized world in celebrating the grand event on the day which the majority celebrate – ‘Christmas day.’”
4. ^ Compare Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! (1999) p. 300 to Revelation: Its Grand Climax At Hand! (1988) p. 184. The Watchtower claims through these two books that the 1,290 days of Daniel 12:11 refers to the exact same period as the 1,260 days of Revelation 12:6. Or January to September for Daniel and Spring to Autumn for Revelation. In regards to Daniel the League of Nations was actually proposed by the Paris Peace Conference on January 25, 1919. If we add 1,290 days to this date we come to August 7, 1919. That’s several weeks shy of “September” to be sure. Furthermore, the Autumnal Equinox occurs on September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere which is yet more weeks off from August 7th.
8. ^ “Jehovah” itself is derived from “Iehovah” which evolved from “Iehouah” which was the first English transcription of the Divine Name made in William Tyndale’s translation of the Pentateuch (1530). “Iehouah” was created by ignorantly transposing the vowel markers of “adonai” (Heb. for “Lord”) over the four consonants YHWH. Most scholars agree that the vowel markers in the Hebrew texts used were not pronunciation guides but simply a visual reminder to the reader to simply say Adonai rather than attempt to pronounce the Name. For a comprehensive overview on the subject, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahweh
9. ^ Let the honest-hearted reader (*wink*) compare the frequency of “Jehovah” throughout the Watchtower’s assorted literature before 1931 with other religious literature of that time period. Of course, if you’re a faithful JW you are basically prohibited from doing either, aren’t you?
14. ^ If you’ve ever gotten a headache trying to figure out how “seven times” comes to 2,520 years, it becomes pretty obvious that the Watchtower is obsessed with numerological supposition to this day.
16. ^ In the 1913 Convention Report of the International Bible Students page 120 “Temple of God” sermon, Pastor Russell states “I am very glad to have this particular opportunity of saying a word about some of the things in which we agree with our Masonic friends, because we are speaking in a building dedicated to Masonry, and we also are Masons. I am a Freemason.”
17. ^ If you use your Watchtower Library CD to search for “Masonic”, within the search results you’ll notice scheduled assemblies and other gatherings throughout the years held at Masonic Lodges and Temples.
19. ^ The Brooklyn Daily Eagle 01/01/1913 pp.1-2 “Miracle Wheat Scandal”, Ibid. 01/22/1913 p.2 “Russellite Beliefs”, Ibid. 01/23/1913 p.3 “Testimony on Wheat”, Ibid. 01/25/1913 p.16 “Financial Statements Proving Russell’s Absolute Control” by Secretary-Treasurer Van Amberg, Ibid. 01/27/1913 p.3 “Government Experts Testify on ‘Miracle Wheat’ and Ascertain Its Ordinariness”, Ibid. 01/28/1913 p.2 “Prosecution and Defense Closing Arguments”, Ibid. 01/29/1913 p.16 “Russell Loses Libel Suit”
20. ^ For a comprehensive overview of quotes illustrating the Watchtower’s great plethora of false prophecies over the years, here’s one URL—http://www.geocities.com/paulblizard/dates.html or just google for “Watchtower False Prophecies”