THE WATCHTOWER ENTANGLED ON THE WEB
by Robert C. Hill, ThB.
The information age is promulgating the truth about Christianity through many mediums but none contain the unique possibilities that the Word Wide Web offers. The Internet is a fascinating place for finding material covering all branches of human knowledge. Using this electronic medium for researching cults is no exception. One advantageous characteristic is the Internet's ability to find information. To do this task the Internet employs search engines. These are word driven tools that can locate and amass a tremendous number of Web sites as the following examples show. Type in the word "Jehovah's Witnesses" on the Microsoft Web page search engine (www.MSN.com) and it lists 10,690 links. Go to AltaVista's engine (www.altavista.com) and an impressive 16,649 links can be found. Infoseek (www.Infoseek.com) contains 9,784 sites incorporating this word.
Not all Web sites are beneficial regarding content and the sites listed under the words "Jehovah's Witnesses" in the search engines are both pro and con in the provision of JW material. This last fact should not be taken lightly and discernment is needed when visiting some of the Web pages. Even the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society itself now maintains a web presence as well as numerous pro-Watchtower theology sites. This article will explore only some links which offer excellent information and services for Christians who have a burden to evangelize Jehovah's Witnesses. It is a good idea to bookmark these as content changes often.
The type of material varies. There are plenty of articles and overviews expanding a whole gamut of JW issues and theology. One unique aspect of the Internet is the availability of the most recent news items coming from a wide variety of news services. For instance, Philadelphia's on line version of its newspaper The Inquirer (www.phillynews.com) ran the following item in its November 27, 1998 issue, "Russia seeks to ban Jehovah's Witnesses" by Dave Montgomery of Knight Ridder News Service. Montgomery states that in February of 1999 the Russian court is to make a ruling on the legality of the Watchtower's presence in that country. He states there are 200,000 JWs in Russia and that they have a law "that would 'liquidate' religious organizations if a court rules they are engaged in antisocial behavior . . . which depicts Jehovah's Witnesses as a cult that is stirring social discord by claiming to be the only true religion." This type of news article probably is not in many local papers, but with the Web, news can be searched and read from around the world.
Many larger cult ministries have an on-line presence including Religion Analysis Service, Inc., the parent ministry of The Discerner. At this site (www.ras.org) a person can order books, pamphlets and tracts on all the major and many minor cults. For example, Religion Analysis Service carries some 57 titles and tracts related to Jehovah's Witnesses alone. They also feature the table of contents and editorials from past issues of their journal and maintain excellent links to other cult ministries.
Well-known ex-JW and author, David A. Reed provides another site which should be bookmarked in everyone's browser (www.cftf.com). This site contains the online edition of Comments from the Friends. Also maintained at this site is a "Watchtower Victims Memorial" which lists many Witnesses who have died because of believing in various Watchtower teachings. These controversial teachings have included a ban against transfusions, blood fractions and certain transplants. The memorial is a sad tribute to those who followed the teachings of the Watchtower even to their death. Another feature of Reed's site is the Reference Desk where detailed information is but a click away. The latest offerings include an article on hidden pictures in various Watchtower publications and an article on "Jimmy Swaggart and the Watchtower Society" among other items.
Randy Watters, publisher and editor of Free Minds also has a very informative site. This ex-JW actually worked at Bethel Headquarters as a writer for the Watchtower before he left and started his ministry of refuting the Society. Watters' site, Watchers of the Watch Tower World (www.freeminds.org) has the added features of video and audio clips. One audio clip contains Ray Franz, a onetime member of the Watchtower governing board now disfellowshiped, addressing the issue of "Life After the Watchtower." Ever wonder what J. F. Rutherford sounded like? Well, the second President of the Society is another selection on Randy's list of audio clips and is heard delivering his "Who Will Survive Armageddon?" address. A person can also purchase original Watchtower publications through the "Free Minds Antiquarian." There is even a live webcam view of Watchtower headquarters near the Brooklyn Bridge which can be accessed from the comfort of ones home. Another feature of this site is the "Hot Topics" pertinent to the Watchtower, such as, "The Ray Franz Incident," or "Testimonies of Former Bethelites," to name a few. Randy also maintains a "News Wire on Jehovah's Witnesses." Some of the more recent news items include: "Watchtower Spokesman Paul Gillies Speaks Out on Blood (6/14/98)"; "France fines Witnesses $50 million in taxes (updated 7/6/98)" and "Jehovah Witness dies after refusing blood tranfusion [sic] (12/12/98)." Anyone interested in JW news can also sign up for the free Watchtower News mailing list at this site.
The "Official Web Site of Ex Jehovah's Witnesses" is The Watchtower Observer (http://watchtower.observer.org). The table of contents alone is worth the visit for the shear amount of information. I stopped printing the contents about half way through the list with the printer at page 29! One current topic is entitled Jehovah's Witnesses and the 3rd Reich! Original Watchtower documentation which refutes current writings by that organization is there for all to see. For example, photocopies of the 1934 yearbook of JWs are at this site along with such articles as "Erich Frost-Watchtower Leader and Traitor!", "Revisionist History,"and "False History" to note a few entries. A copy of a letter addressing the German issue, sent to the President of the Watch Tower by author and professor Dr. M. James Penton can also be read. He writes on August 11, 1995, "The Watch Tower Society has long attempted a cover-up of the most dishonest sort. While your organization properly censures other religious communities for their compromises with and support of Nazism, it tries to claim that Jehovah's Witnesses, and Jehovah's Witnesses alone, never were guilty of such compromise. Yet history tells a different story. The "Erklärung" or "Declaration" published by the Watch Tower Society at the Berlin Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in June 1933 is, in itself, clear evidence that the Society's president, Judge J. F. Rutherford, as accompanied by N. H. Knorr, manifested anti-Semitism, hostility to Great Britain and the United States, and to the League of Nations. Furthermore, the "Erklärung" clearly states that Jehovah's Witnesses supported the aims of the Third Reich." This and other interesting material can be found here. A discussion board is at this site as well.
The Watchtower Inquiry (http://home.powertech.no/festus/jwe/jwe.shtml) is another excellent link to include in your bookmarks. This Web site has the following categories: New, Awaken issues, Related sites, 100 Great Links, and Today's Watchtower Quote. A person can read such items as "WatchTower letter of disassociation," or "Facts you won't be Told when Jehovah's Witnesses call at your Door," or "The year 1975 and the Watch Tower bible and Tract Society's prophetic insights about that year."
From the links on the previous site I went to (http://www.ziplink.net/~ewl/jw) where a full copy of the Watchtower's "'Pay Attention to Yourselves and to All the Flock' Kingdom Ministry School Textbook" is available. This book is something only the elders of the Watchtower are allowed to read while the general membership is not authorized to know its contents, unless of course they have Web access! The Watchtower's own statement concerning how this book is to be handled is printed on its cover page, "A copy of this textbook is issued to each appointed elder, and he may retain it as long as he continues to serve as an elder in any congregation. At such time as he should cease to serve in that capacity, his copy of the book must be handed over to the Congregation Service committee, since this publication is congregation property. No copies are to be made of any part of this publication." This book explains the inner-workings of officiating as overseer's of JW members. Some of the chapter headings include: "How Overseers Teach,"; "Help Your Brothers to Reach all by Evangelizing"; " Sharing on a Judicial committee," and "Handling Cases of Wrongdoing with Wisdom and Mercy." This is the manual that gives the groundwork for disfellowshiping and should be of interest to anyone involved with evangelizing JWs
Another interesting site is Watch the Tower-Official Web Site of Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses (http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/2919/main2.html). Several main features are at this Web site. Some are, "Beliefs and Activities of the Watchtower Cult," "Russell's Pyramid Gravestone," and "Ultimate Children's Nightmare!" Also featured is an original scanned page taken from one of J. F. Rutherford's books where he promises, "'Perpetual heath, no more fear of the landlord, no more vicious animals, glass eyes, false teeth, wooden legs or bald heads' all this by 1926!" Other features include some of Randall Watters'sound clips from the 1960's to 1997. Various District Overseers can be heard touting Watchtower theology and their infamous date setting for the year 1975.
Another excellent forum for discussing JWs is called Watchtower Review: a forum for discussion regarding Jehovah's Witnesses (http://www.serve.com/larryi/wwwboard.html). On the opening page of this site is an insightful quotation taken from the late Dr. Walter Martin, "Controversy, for the sake of controversy is sin; Controversy for the sake of truth is a divine command." Previous messages are archived while posted messages are removed after five days then archived. Online searches of various Bible verses from many versions including Greek texts and the Watchtower's New World Translation can be made. A person can also make Greek word searches via the word itself or strong's numbers to aid in the discussions. These forums offer great opportunities to take part in the various arguments presented by the Watchtower. Current postings include discussions on "How can the Governing body be part of the 144,000?" and "1914-Gentile Times/Lord's Return?" This forum can help sharpen ones apologetics and polemics, all with the desire to bring the lost to Christ. This site also has JW news and open polling to questions about Jws. A recent question asked, "Does a paid 'clergy' have a Scriptural basis?" The viewer has several options from which to vote and see current results.
All Along the Watchtower (http://home.sol.no/~jansh/wteng/jwindex.html) should also be bookmarked. This site contains some 11 pages for its index. The major headings are: "What's New!"; "In Depth-Major Articles and Features"; "Watchtower Dates and Prophecies"; "JWs in the News"; "Human factor"; "Other Doctrine Issues"; "Humour"; "Watchtower Publications"; and "Why I Created this site." The site's owner gives the purpose of his site, "Part of the reason is that we know that the information the JWs give about themselves is incomplete at best, and even highly deceptive in many cases. Becoming a Jehovah's Witness will dramatically change your life, and the lives of your friends and family. Should you ever leave the organization or fail to meet its goals for you, you will very likely find yourself with no friends, alone in the world." Some of the in depth articles have such topics as, "Earthquakes and the Historical Facts," "Comprehensive list of Watchtower Dates," and "Does God Work Through an Organization?" This site contains much needed information for evangelizing JWs including access to "'Tower of Darkness: Hidden pictures in Watchtower Literature." It proclaims this page as, "One of the most popular JW-related pages on the whole Net, and definitely the most controversial."
Many sites maintain links to other Web pages. At Jehovah's Witnesses: The Watchtower & Jehovah's Witnesses (http://members.theglobe.com/cldj2/jw.html) some great topics at other sites are annotated and linked. These are only a mouse click away. Some of the links at this site have been mentioned in this article but there are many more which can be explored for their resources on JWs.
For those who have been involved with ministering to Jehovah's Witnesses since the 1980's the following names should be familiar. It is Kevin and Kathleen Quick's Web page, K&KMinistries (http://web4.superb.net/kevinquick/kkministries). I happen to have purchased one of Kevin's books, Reasoning with Jehovah's Witnesses, around 1988. It is now out of print but is offered by Kevin and his wife free of charge at their site. This book and another of Kevin's books can be read along with links and contact information. The purpose of this site is expressed on the opening page, "It is our desire and prayer that my experiences and research during my involvement with Jehovah's Witnesses in the early 1980's will be of help to many who are currently struggling with the claims of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It is our wish that they may understand the excellence of historical, Biblical Christianity, and that they may find eternal life and peace by placing their trust in the biblical Jesus."
Matthew J. Slick has a very good site as well. Check out Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (http://www.carm.org). Click on the Jehovah's Witnesses button for several brief but good articles covering the JWs. Some of the titles available at his site include: "What do Jehovah's Witnesses teach?" and, "A Test: do you have the True Jesus?"
Alpha and Omega Ministries (http://www.aomin.org) also contains useful information for evangelizing JWs. This site has several scholarly articles including such titles as, "Granville Sharp's Rule: Titus 2:23, 2 Pet. 1:1," and "Historical Honesty and the Watchtower Society: Ignatius and the Deity of Christ" are a few of their offerings. Check here too for possible future debates and discussions involving JW issues by Dr. James White.
Another excellent site is The Watchman Expositor (http://www.watchman.org). The people at the Expositor include many articles previously published in their journal of the same name. Articles on JWs include those written between 1989 and 1998 and cover a wide expanse of issues. Take for example the titles and subject matter of the online articles for the year 1998: "Working Out Their Salvation"; "Bulgaria and Blood"; "The Watchtower and the Wholly Other, Holy Spirit"; and, "Jehovah's Witnesses and the Immortal Soul." There is a lot of good resource material at this site.
These ministries on the Web are only a few of the total number existing in Cyberspace. There are many more that are just as good as these briefly described, each in its own way presenting the truth of Christ and His Church. Overall the Watchtower no longer has full control of what its members are reading as many JWs are searching the material from these very sites in the privacy of their own homes. Many are in discussion groups or chat rooms debating issues and theology with born again Christians. The Internet is but one more tool at our disposal. Early indications point to this Web's ability to entangle the theology and teachings of the Watchtower all to the glory of Christ.
Robert C. Hill