reprinted from the book, Refuting Jehovah's Witnesses see catalog

Interpretation and Theology

by Randall Watters

Biblical Overview

"How can I interpret this passage?" we ask. Can most passages in the Bible be interpreted any number of ways? Were the parables of Jesus meant to be rich with hidden allegories and detailed significance? Are there no grammatical rules for interpreting the Bible?

Yes, there are. They are basically the same rules used to determine the historical significance of any ancient document that has become obscure due to changes in culture, ethics and philosophy. They are the same basic rules that we would follow to determine the meaning of the writings of Shakespeare, Aesop, Plato or Hippocrates. When a person uses these rules to determine the meaning of ancient or even contemporary documents, it is called hermeneutics. When these rules are applied to interpreting the Holy Scriptures, we call it hermeneutic theology.

Webster's dictionary defines the word thusly:

hermeneutics, n. the science of interpretation, or of finding the meaning of the author's words and phrases, and explaining it to others; exegesis: particularly applied to the interpretation of the Scriptures.

Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia points out, "The basic word `hermeneutics' (Greek: hermenia, verb hermeneuo) means `to interpret,' `to expound,' `to explain,' and further includes translating from a foreign language into a familiar language (John 1:38,42; 9:7)."

Hermeneutics relative to the study of the Word of God is vital to an understanding of God's timeless revelation to men. When the principles of hermeneutics are ignored, not only have men misinterpreted the Word, but they promulgate falsehood and deceive others. We cannot underestimate the importance of knowing the rules of hermeneutics, for in them lies the defeat of all cultic and sectarian theology. So often a discussion with those of the cults is reduced to a game of "scriptural checkers," where each person has a list of scriptures they intend to use in order to prove their point, and the confrontation becomes a standoff; each leaving, at best, with the idea that perhaps there is more than one way to interpret key doctrinal passages. While prophecy and divine revelation may at times be ambiguous (since the events are yet future), most passages in the Bible have one obvious interpretation.

Those who either intentionally or unwittingly pervert key texts often seek out alternate definitions of certain Greek or Hebrew words in order to justify their interpretation, yet the particular meaning ascribed to does not fit the context in their application.

WHEN SHOULD HERMENEUTICAL PRINCIPLES BE APPLIED?

When something isn't clear. Bernard Ramm, author of Protestant Biblical Interpretation, (p.7,8) says that hermeneutical principles are required when "something hinders . . . spontaneous understanding." This can occur often, as we live in another time and place than when the text was written down. There is therefore a historical gap. There is a cultural gap; in that our culture is different. There is a linguistic gap; in that the text is usually in a different language. There is the geographical gap; in that the document originates in another country. Since there is sometimes a totally different attitude towards life and the universe, it can be said that there is a philosophical gap as well.

Ramm points out that our great need for the science of hermeneutics is to bridge the gap between our minds and the minds of the Biblical writers. People of the same culture, same age and same geographical location understand each other with ease. Patterns of interpretation commence with childhood and early speech behavior, and by the time adulthood is reached the principles of interpretation are so self-evident that we are not aware of them. But when the interpreter is separated culturally, historically, and geographically from the writer he seeks to interpret, the task of interpretation is no longer simple. The greater the cultural, historical, and geographical divergences are, the more difficult is the task of interpretation.

In reading the Bible, we find the most obvious difficulty is that of language. The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. To formulate rules to bridge this gap is one of the most important tasks of Biblical hermeneutics. . . . It taxes the learning and judgment of the wisest scholars to decide out of the pool of meanings which is the meaning intended in a given sentence, and then try to match it with some word in the English language; which word may itself express a pool of meanings.

The following are necessary rules:

1. Determine the meaning of the original language of any passage as the original readers would have understood it. Ideally, this calls for a knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Practically speaking, it means the interpreter needs to use the best translations of the Bible available to him. In this connection he ought to learn something of the purpose for which the author wrote and the historical circumstances out of which the writing arose.

The Scriptures are part of a larger historical and cultural context. In the OT, Israel was related, in one way or another, to the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians (to name a few); in the NT the church emerged from a Jewish background and arose in the Greco-Roman world. The languages of the Bible reflect these various cultures; thus the interpreter must be knowledgeable of and sensitive to the use of words in their various settings.

2. Interpret the words of any given verse or paragraph within its immediate context. The context is the ultimate determinate of word meanings. While the dictionary will provide various possibilities, the context will aid in narrowing the choice.

3. Discover the literary nature of the passage under study. Is it to be taken in the natural, normal sense of the language? Or is it figurative? Is it a narrative of events? Or is it a discourse meant to teach us a specific idea? This calls for some knowledge of customs within the culture involved.

Often there is no problem in deciding matters of this kind. For example, the parables of Jesus are regarded as illustrations of ideas; figurative language to clarify concepts.

4. Interpret the Bible in terms of the principle of progressive revelation. Put simply, this means that God revealed things dispensationally, not all at one time. Partly, this was because of the stages in which the Divine program was being fulfilled (Heb. 1:1,2); partly, because of man's state of unreadiness to receive and understand the message (John 16:12). On occasion, this principle involved adding to what had been given earlier. Jesus told his disciples, "I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now." (John 16:12)

5. Interpret the language in the Bible regarding the natural world as that of appearance and popular rather than technical and scientific. The Bible does not theorize about nature; it simply states facts in an un-technical manner.

THE HISTORICAL, GRAMMATICAL, INTERPRETIVE METHOD

Dr. David L. Cooper has eloquently stated a proper definition of the historical, grammatical, interpretive method when he declares, "When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise." (Dr. D.L. Cooper, The Messianic Series, parts 14, p. 3)

When we speak of the historical, grammatical, interpretive method, we are speaking of allowing a given text within its historical, grammatical, geographical and cultural setting to speak for itself. Ramm says,

Whenever we read a book, an essay, or a poem we presume the literal sense in the document until the nature of the literature may force us to another level. This is the only conceivable method of beginning or commencing to understand literature of all kinds. The non-literal is always a secondary meaning which presumes an already existing literal understanding of literature. This previous stratum of language is the necessary point of departure for the interpretation of all literature. If we attempt to read some Oriental, mystical book we shall first attempt to understand it literally; and when we see that procedure is not doing justice to the text, we then forsake the literal program for a mystical, allegorical or metaphorical one. Therefore, without prejudging the nature of Holy Scripture one way or another (whether there is a deeper or more profound meaning expressed typologically, allegorically, mythologically, or existentially), we must start our interpretation of Holy Scripture from the stance of literal or philological interpretation. (Ramm, ibid., p.123,124)

So, in other words, there are sound rules for interpreting the Bible, common sense rules; that apply in interpreting virtually any historic literature. If the cultist ignores or rejects these rules of interpretation, then he must also reject the sum total of ancient literary writings available to us today; as they are all interpreted by basically the same rules mentioned above. This is an exceedingly valuable point to establish first in your discussion with Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc. Ask, what methods of interpretation they use. How do they determine the meaning of a particular text? Press the issue with them until they give an answer! If they recognize the value of the historical, grammatical, interpretive method, then you can proceed to systematically dismantle their entire theological framework piece by piece.

THEOLOGY

Proper theology protects us from false teaching. Jesus refuted the teachings of the Pharisees, Paul and John refuted the false teachings of the Gnostics and the early heretics, and so must Christians today.

The working out of a theology in understandable, logical patterns (usually called systematic theology) is a forced issue, necessitated by heresy itself. For example, the early Christians worshipped the Father and Christ as God and knew them to be eternal, and recognized the Personality of the Holy Spirit. But there appeared to be no need of defining their theology further until these beliefs were attacked by heretics. Gnosticism, Marcionism, and Montanism (early heresies) soon made it apparent what would happen to Christianity if it had no generally accepted canons of scripture and faith. Apologetics, now called the defense of the faith, began as the defense of the faithful. When there are no fixed, clearly acknowledged standards, the wildest and most fanciful notions can become mixed in with basic Christian doctrines and it becomes very hard to separate them. Thus we cannot avoid the study of theology as some would naively suggest. Any religion whose doctrine is attacked by dissidents (just as Christian doctrine was in the days of the apostles) must further define their theology in order to combat heresy, or their doctrinal structure will suffer.

IS IT ACCEPTABLE TO USE PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS IN THEOLOGICAL STUDIES?

Harold O.J. Brown says this about the influence of Hellenistic thinking upon doctrine:

It is evident that Trinitarian theology required the aid of Hellenistic concepts and categories for its development and expression, but they were the tools by means of which the implications of the New Testament were realized; they were not foreign concepts imposed upon an essentially simple message.

The adoption of the Nicene Creed in 325 and the Chalcedonian Creed in 451 stabilized the doctrines of the Trinity and Christ for over one thousand years. They made use of Hellenistic categories and thinking to do so. The important question to ask is not whether orthodox theology betrays Hellenistic influence. Nothing else was possible in the cultural climate of the time. The important question is whether this orthodoxy represents a proper and correct interpretation of New Testament Christology or whether it seriously distorts it. (Heresies, p. 146, 105)

How can we illustrate the need to further define doctrine using the NT as an example? Well, Jesus never developed the doctrine of salvation to the extent that Paul does in his letters to the Romans and Galatians. Jesus never defined the details of the heavenly resurrection as does Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Jesus never elaborated on the antitypical symbolism of the Temple and its furniture, such as we find in Hebrews; there we find a theology developed through reason and logic, plus the inspiration of the Spirit. The OT and the words of Jesus contained the principles, or foundations, upon which to build this theology, but contained no developed concept of these subjects such as we find in Hebrews and the writings of Paul.

When the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was challenged, Paul came to the rescue in 1 Corinthians 15:1258 with a well-developed refutation of those who denied the bodily resurrection of Christ. Why did Paul not let the opposers alone? Weren't the simple statements of Jesus on the resurrection adequate enough to silence unbelievers? Evidently not, for Paul feared the skeptics would eventually destroy the congregations with their heresies. The Gnostics were also a very formidable threat to the early church, so the apostle John put forth effort in refuting them in his writings. SUCH REBUTTALS AS THESE WERE NOT NECESSARY IN THE BEGINNING! Jesus' words were just taken literally; and his second advent, the resurrection, the fate of the wicked, etc. were not "spiritualized" into vague metaphors. The early Christian congregations accepted a literal, bodily resurrection of Christ. There was no need for details to be defined on the subject of the resurrection until the heretics came along and challenged the resurrection. Note this historical observation by Brown regarding early theology:

Opinions differ as to which early Christian writer deserves to be called the first theologian. A claim may be made for the converted philosopher Justin Martyr (ca. 100ca. 165), author of the celebrated First Apology, dealing with pagan arguments, and of the Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, dealing with Jewish ones. We shall choose the Greek-speaking Bishop of Lyons in southern Gaul, Irenaeus (ca. 125ca. 202), author of a five-volume work, Against Heresies, written about 18089. The full title is The Unmasking and Refutation of Falsely so-called Gnosis. Thus we see that one of the very earliest significant doctrinal works of Christianity was the direct result not of any desire to produce a comprehensive theology, but grew out of the necessity to deal with a dangerous and persistent heresy. (Heresies, p.42)

Thus there is a pattern: doctrine often must be clarified further to refute opposition.

Interestingly, the 27 books of the NT were canonized (accepted as inspired) by none other than the early church. In fact, all 27 books were not fully canonized until around 400 A.D., long after many of the significant writings of the early church fathers were also in their possession. We may almost say that the development of the body of doctrine preceded the arrival of the complete NT, for while the different books of the NT were written before or near the end of the first century and the Apostles' Creed dates from no earlier than 125, the first documentary evidence for the existence of a fairly complete NT canon, the Muratorian Fragment, dates from ca. 200, and the canonicity of some books of the NT remained controversial until into the fourth century, by which time many substantial doctrinal works had been written by the church fathers.

Therefore it may be said that while the Bible is inspired and complete for every good work, opponents of Christianity will seek to distort the language or context of its message, requiring clarification of its truths. Utmost care must be exercised, however, that in clarifying the truths, one does not change the actual message.

 

Refuting Jehovah's Witnesses

[In the following pages nine major interpretive errors of the Watchtower are discussed. Credit goes to James Sire for his outline of errors in Scripture Twisting.]

[1] WORLDVIEW CONFUSION

When we say "worldview," we are referring to the spectacles through which we look at life. In other words, we all look at life in a certain way. One of Russell's very first ideas was that Christ returned invisibly in 1874.1 By the late 20's, the date of this supposed event was changed to 1914.2 Using this notion as a foundation, everything he believed had to fit into the idea that Christ had already returned. So whenever he read anything in the Bible, his mind said, "We have to understand this in view of the fact that Christ has already returned." That's how a world view affects one's doctrine. It means seeing through a set of colored glasses; if you put on a set of yellow sunglasses, everything you see is going to be yellow. If you put on a set of "glasses" that says Christ already returned invisibly, everything you read in the Bible has to fit that, or you're going to change it, either consciously or subconsciously.

Originally, Russell and his followers believed that God had specially chosen Russell as his messenger, the "faithful and discreet slave." In the Society's early literature, they say that Russell was the chosen instrument used by God as the seventh and final messenger to the Christian church.

Russell believed there were only 144,000 members in the bride of Christ. He had a small group of followers (about 6,000), and they believed that most of the "anointed ones" (the bride of Christ) were chosen by the end of the first century. According to Russell, his followers were now in the last days, and there were a few left of this "class," probably around 6,000 to 9,000, which were the remaining members to be chosen for the bride of Christ. So, we find the organization reading the Bible through glasses that say only l44,000 are in the bride of Christ.

Can such an idea be supported by historical records?

Foxe's Book of Martyrs and Martyr's Mirror testifies that there were at least 250,000 Christians martyred for their faith in the early church! Since the number of those martyred for a cause is generally a small percentage of the total number involved in the cause, there had to have been much more than 144,000 true Christians back then. The Watchtower is implying that out of all those Christians, only a few, the "elite," were true Christians. Now, what puts them, living in the 20th century, in a position to say that? If 250,000 were ready to die for their faith and WERE put to death, how can the WT write them off as insincere or misled? This is simply an arbitrary assumption.

The follow-up doctrine to the "few anointed ones" is that there is a "great crowd" of "favorable ones" who do not really share with Christ, but will live on the earth under the supervision of the "earthly representatives" of Christ. Interestingly, the WT once taught that this "great crowd" was going to heaven, but that they weren't quite good enough to be a part of the bride of Christ. Because Rutherford later realized this to be unscriptural, he changed it. In 1935, he came out and said the "great crowd" was going to live on the earth. And because they weren't really born again, or "anointed," they wouldn't have the capability of understanding the Bible because they didn't have an anointing from God. So there were class distinctions from the very beginning of this organization.

The WT originally taught that the Bible was meant for Russell alone to interpret. A statement is made in the WT of Sept. 15, 1910 where Russell says, in effect, "If you read my books you'll find the truth of the Bible. If you've read my books, and then stop and just read the Bible itself (putting my books aside), you'll fall into darkness within two years." (Watchtower Reprints, p.298,299)

The WT changed their tune after the death of Russell and now say that the organization alone is qualified to interpret the Bible. In the Oct. 1, 1967 WT (p. 587) they say,

The Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe they can interpret the Bible. For this reason, the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah's visible organization in mind.

Today, the ORGANIZATION is the primary emphasis of their current teaching. The WT has always taught that Armageddon is "just around the corner," and accordingly they set the dates: 1914, 1918, 1925, 1941, and 1975 for it. Many JWs put their trust in 1975 and were sorely disappointed when nothing happened. The current teaching is that Armageddon will occur within the generation that began in 1914. "Updating" old prophecies presents no problem to them.

[2] INACCURATE OR INCOMPLETE QUOTATIONS

The WT exerts much effort to establish that certain passages in the Bible don't mean what they actually say. This becomes manifest in their treatment of Matt. 27:5153. When they quote from this passage, they leave out verse 53 and indicate its omission by using [ . . . ]. In fact, in their New World Translation, verse 53 is put in parenthesis, obviously for no other reason than that they don't want it there! Verse 53 says: "And persons coming out from the memorial tombs after his being raised up entered into the holy city." The WT has used the rest of the verses of this passage to try and prove that just the graves of the saints were thrown open and the decaying corpses were thrown upright, so that people from the city passing by could view them! It is obvious why they left out verse 53, because corpses would have difficulty walking into the city! This is done to support their denial of the concept of a bodily resurrection. When you read The Watchtower, keep an eye out for this familiar clue, [ . . . ]. It is obvious that not only are they guilty of incomplete or inaccurate quotation, but also twisted translation.

In the 10/15/75 WT we find an article in the "Questions From Readers" on Matt. 27:5153. The article says that "Scholars admit that the sense and proper translation is unusually difficult." Interestingly, one is hard-pressed to find a commentary which indicates that the translation is difficult. Perhaps believing it poses a difficulty for the WT, but even in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation that they use, the simple sense of the verse is clear. The 10/15/75 WT continues to say,

Without wresting the Greek grammar the translator can render Matt. 27:52,53 in a way that suggests that a similar exposing of corpses resulted from the earthquake occurring at Jesus' death. Thus, the translation by Johannes Greber renders these verses, "Tombs were laid open, many bodies of those buried there were tossed upright, and in this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city."

Now, that gives you an entirely different meaning, doesn't it? Such an interpretation can hardly be supported from the Greek! Yet the Governing Body agrees with Johannes Greber, a confirmed spiritist who wrote his own bible with the aid of the "spirit world."

The WT was well aware of Greber's connection with the spirit world and even published this information as far back as 1956, yet continued to quote from his bible in order to support their doctrinal positions as late as 1983. It is plain to see that they HAVE wrested the Greek grammar totally out of its context and wording.

[3] IGNORING THE CONTEXT

As mentioned earlier, Col. 1:15 calls Christ the "firstborn (Greek: prototokos) of all creation." Greek dictionaries will tell you that prototokos has two definitions: (1) the first one born in a family, or (2) it is used to express priority and authority. In all five cases in the New Testament where this word is used in reference to Christ, it carries the second meaning. In many cases in the Old Testament (in the Greek Septuagint), it also carries the second meaning, as when Ephraim is called the firstborn, though Manasseh was actually the first one born. How do we know which definition of "firstborn" to use in Col. 1:15? Let's examine the context.

We must ask, is this passage discussing Christ's creation, or is it discussing Christ as Creator (the head over all things)? Col. 1:15 says about Christ, that "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for by Him all things were created." Paul is making it plain that because Christ created all things, he is therefore the firstborn (head) over all things in heaven and earth. So the WT has intentionally ignored the context of this passage; and the word [other] is added to support their point.

[4] COLLAPSING CONTEXTS

This means taking two different and unrelated contexts in the Bible and combining them into a doctrine that doesn't really have anything to do with either context.

The WT has done this in its treatment of Rev. 7:9, where it says, "Look! I saw a great crowd which no man was able to number, out of all tribes. . . ." The WT interprets this "great crowd" as being unregenerate people that are not truly "anointed" ones (though they are standing in the very presence of God in white robes, symbolizing their righteousness!). Then they take a statement in John 10:16, where Jesus says, "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold, these too I must bring, and they will become one flock with one shepherd," and try to fit it together with the "great crowd" of Rev. 7:9. While to any serious Bible student John 10:16 obviously applies to the Gentiles (who were not yet introduced to Christ), the WT world view of two classes of Christians causes them to combine these two unrelated passages in an endeavor to support their doctrine.

[5] SELECTIVE CITING

In this case, certain passages in the Bible are used to prove a point, and other passages are ignored that might lead to a somewhat different conclusion. This is exemplified in the WT's explanation of the Hebrew word, sheol (the place of the dead). While calling attention to the verses that indicate inactivity in sheol, they ignore references to sheol that would lead one to an entirely different conclusion. They are silent about several passages where sheol represents a place of conscious existence for those who have died. Why would they leave these out? In order to fit their preconceived world view, which says that there is no existence beyond the grave.

[6] CONFUSED DEFINITION

In this case, different definitions are given for Biblical words or concepts than are commonly understood. If we use English as our common language, it behooves us to use it properly and not to "make up" new definitions to support our particular world view. For instance, while the word death can mean annihilation in the English language under certain situations, it is not used at all in the Bible in this sense. It is always used to signify either spiritual death or bodily corruption; or both. The word torment is taken from the Greek basanizo, which means to torture. So when the Bible uses this word in Rev. 14:10 and Rev. 20:10 to refer to individuals who are tormented forever and ever, it is dishonest for the WT to try and interpret this as something other than physical or spiritual punishment of a conscious being, regardless of how uncomfortable they may find this concept. To say (as they do) the never-ending torment of Rev. 20:10 means the wicked will leave us with "bad memories" (since the wicked will supposedly be annihilated) is a confused definition.

Another word severely misused by the WT is the word body, translated from the Greek soma. According to Webster's Dictionary, body is used with reference to having a material, as opposed to spiritual, nature. A body has to have some kind of material substance, either known or unknown. Even the Greek dictionaries do not allow for a definition other than material substance for this word.

[7] OBVIOUS FALLACY

Something is presented as "obviously" factual, even though it is not. In their book, United In Worship (p. 71) the WT says,

Those who adhere to traditional religions, both inside Christendom and outside, think they have an immortal soul, which would make resurrection unnecessary.

This is an assumption which is based on a misunderstanding of Christian doctrine regarding the resurrection. They continue,

Any who try to reconcile these two concepts find it more confusing than hope-inspiring.

This is assumption number two, that Christians are confused by their own doctrine.

[8] SUPPLEMENTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY

The WT teaches that man needs something other than the Bible to come to a knowledge of truth. In the Jan. 15, 1983 WT, referring to those who question the authority of the organization they say:

If we get to thinking that we know better than the organization, we should ask ourselves, "Where did we learn Bible truth in the first place? Would we know the way of the truth if it had not been for the guidance of the organization? Really, can we get along without the direction of God's organization? No, we cannot." (p.27)

They are saying that a person would not know the truth if it had not been for them; they are the only source of truth. What they are really saying is that anyone, anywhere in the world who picks up the Bible can never hope to have the truth until they find the WT organization.

[9] IGNORING THE HISTORICAL RECORD

The WT likes to quote from historical authorities in order to support their world view; and yet, most often the historian that they quote from does not agree with their distorted concepts at all. Or, they may quote historians partially, just enough to make an isolated point. A case in point is in the Sept. 15, 1983 WT, where they quote from Paul Johnson, who wrote A History of Christianity. In his book, Mr. Johnson makes the statement that "Christianity began in confusion. . . ." In its stated form, this was unacceptable for quoting due to its contradicting the WT's view (that the early Christians were highly organized). So what do they do? They add a word in brackets, and now the WT's quote of Paul Johnson reads, "[Apostate] Christianity began in confusion. . . ." So they have turned the meaning around 180 degrees from what Mr. Johnson intended to say, and they weren't even honest enough to let you know that they were misquoting him!

Interestingly enough, there are no historical records to verify that the early Christian congregations were anything like the modern-day Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses. The early congregations were almost identical to the churches we see today, in respect to their lack of unity and internal problems!

Actually, Paul Johnson does make some very enlightening statements that the WT will not quote, for they do not fit into their world view. Remember, they get selective. Paul Johnson says,

The Followers of Jesus were divided right from the start on elements of faith and practice; and the further the missionaries moved from the base, the more likely it was that their teachings would diverge. Controlling them implied an ecclesiastical organization. In Jerusalem, there were leaders and pillars, vaguely-defined officials modeled on Jewish practice; but they were ineffective. The Jerusalem council was a failure it outlined a consensus but could not make it work in practice. Paul could not be controlled, nor presumably could others. Nor could the pillars of this inner party maintain their authority even in Jerusalem. They slipped back into Judaism. Then came the catastrophe of 66-70 A.D. and the central organization of the church, as it was, disappeared. The atmosphere of the early church, in short, was that of a loosely organized revivalist movement. (ibid., p. 44)

That's how Mr. Johnson defines the early church; considerably different than the goose-stepping WT organization. The historical records reveal that the early churches were just as divisive as the churches today, yet holding on to a basic view of Christ, God and the Holy Spirit, as well as the incarnation and bodily resurrection of Christ.

In summary, a most effective technique to cause the JW to reexamine what he has been taught is to ask him how the Governing Body interprets the Bible. Since they do not tell their followers what procedure they use, the JW will be at a loss to comment. He can then be shown the proper technique of interpretation, and will be in a position to compare the two methods. He will find one to be arbitrary, the other logical and consistent.

1 Russell borrowed his doctrine of the "invisible return" from the Adventists, whose founder William Miller had predicted the return of Christ for 1843. When he didn't come as predicted, Miller's followers concluded that, since the date "must be" correct, his return would be invisible. Russell customized this view by changing the date to 1874.

2 World events were used as "proof" that 1874 was Christ's return. The events that began in 1914, however, provided even greater "proof" than 1874, so the 1874 date was rejected by J.F. Rutherford. This gave the WT more time as well, since 1914 was originally supposed to be the end of the world! 


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