Hello everyone. Good of you to join us. I’m Eric Wilson, also known as Meleti Vivlon; the alias I used for years when I was just trying to study the Bible free from indoctrination and wasn’t yet ready to endure the persecution that inevitably comes when a Witness doesn’t conform to Watchtower dogma.
I finally got the place ready. It’s taken me a month since I moved, as I mentioned in a previous video, and it’s taken all that time to get the place ready, everything unpacked, the studio ready. But I think it was all worth it, because now it should be easier for me to produce these videos…well, a little bit easier. Most of the work isn’t in shooting the video but in putting together the transcript, because I have to make sure that everything I say is accurate and can be backed up with references.
In any case, on to the subject at hand.
The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has become super sensitive in recent years to any hint of dissent. Even mild questioning can cause the elders to react and before you know it, you’re in the backroom of your Kingdom hall facing the dreaded question: “Do you believe the Governing Body is God’s channel to communicate truth to his organization today?”
This is seen as a litmus test, a kind of oath of fealty. If you say, ‘Yes’, you are denying your Lord Jesus. Any answer other than an unequivocal ‘Yes’ will lead to persecution in the form of shunning. You will be cut off from pretty much everyone you have ever known and cared about. Worse, they’ll all think of you as an apostate, and there is no worse designation in their eyes; because an apostate is condemned to eternal death.
Your mother will weep for you. Your mate will very likely seek separation and divorce. Your children will cut you off.
What can you do, especially if your awakening is not yet at the point where a clean break seems desirable? Recently, one of our commenters, who goes by the alias, JamesBrown, faced the dreaded question, and his answer is the best one I’ve heard to date. But before I share that with you, a word of explanation about this video.
I had intended for it to be an analysis of the so-called prophecy of the last days found at Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21. I wanted it to be a denomination-free study of those verses. The idea is that we will approach the subject like we were first-time readers of the Bible having never belonged to any Christian religion before, and thus be free of all bias and preconceptions. However, I realized that a word of warning was called for. Those three parallel accounts are very seductive to the human ego in that they hold the promise of hidden knowledge. This was not our Lord’s intent upon uttering those prophetic words, but human imperfection being what it is, many have succumbed to the temptation of reading their own personal interpretation into Jesus’ words. We call this eisegesis, and it is a plague. We don’t want to be infected by it, so a word of warning is called for.
I think that more false Christian prophets have resulted from misapplying Jesus’ prophecy than from any other part of Scripture. In fact, he warns us about this, saying, in Matthew 24: 11 that “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many”, and then again in verse 24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead…even the chosen ones.”
I’m not suggesting that all these men start out with wicked intent. In fact, I think that in most cases, they are motivated by a sincere desire to know the truth. However, good intentions do not excuse bad conduct, and running ahead of God’s word is always a bad thing. You see, once you start down this path, you become invested in your own theories and predictions. When you convince others to believe as you do, you build a following. Soon, you reach a point of no return. After that, when things fail, it becomes painful to admit you were wrong, so you may take the easier path—as many have done—and rework your interpretation to breathe new life into it, to keep your followers bound to you.
Historically, this has been the course which the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has taken.
This raises the question: “Is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses a false prophet?”
Officially, they deny the label by claiming that they are just imperfect men who are trying their best to understand the bible and have erred from time to time, but willingly admit their mistakes and move on to a brighter and brighter light of revelation.
Is that true?
Well, as for the oft-raised apologetic that they freely admit their mistakes, I would ask for some evidence of that. Decade after decade throughout my life, they altered their interpretation as to the start and length of “this generation”, always pushing back the date by 10 years after each failure. Did each change come with an apology, or even an admission that they had messed up? When they abandoned the calculation altogether in the mid 1990s, did they apologize for misleading millions for half a century with a false calculation? When 1975 came and went, did they humbly acknowledge that they were responsible for getting the hopes of all witnesses up? Or did they and do they continue to blame the rank and file for “misreading their words”? Where is the admission of error and the repentance for compromising the organization’s neutrality after a 10-year affiliation with the United Nations?
All that being said, a failure to acknowledge error doesn’t mean you are a false prophet. A bad Christian, yes, but a false prophet? Not necessarily. What constitutes being a false prophet?
To answer that vital question, we will first turn to the historical record. While there have been innumerable examples of failed interpretations within the annuls of Christianity, we will concern ourselves only with those pertaining to the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. While Jehovah’s Witnesses only came into being in 1931, when the remaining 25% of the original Bible Student groups affiliated with Russell still loyal to J. F. Rutherford adopted the name, their theological roots can be traced back to William Miller of Vermont, U.S.A. who predicted Christ would return in 1843. (I will put links to all the reference material in the description of this video.)
Miller based this prediction on various calculations taken from time periods in the book of Daniel thought to have a secondary or antitypical fulfillment in his day. He also based his research on the aforementioned prophecies of Jesus. Of course, nothing happened in 1843. He redrafted his calculation adding a year, but nothing happened in 1844 either. Disillusionment inevitably followed. Yet, the movement he started did not die off. It transformed into a branch of Christianity known as Adventism. (This refers to Christians whose primary focus is on the “advent” or “coming” of the Christ.)
Using Miller’s calculations, but adjusting the start date, an Adventist named Nelson Barbour concluded that Jesus would return in 1874. Of course, that didn’t happen either, but Nelson was crafty and instead of admitting he’d failed, he redefined the Advent of the Lord as heavenly and therefore invisible. (Ring a bell?)
He also predicted that the great tribulation culminating in Armageddon was going to start in 1914.
Barbour met C.T. Russell in 1876 and they joined forces for a time publishing Bible material. Up to that point, Russell had disdained prophetic chronology, but through Barbour he became a true believer in antitypes and time calculations. Even after they split up over a disagreement about the nature of the Ransom, he continued to preach that humans were living during the presence of Christ and that the end would start in 1914.
Russell’s last will and testament provided for a 7-man executive committee to control the running of the publishing house known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. It also established a 5-man editorial committee. Right after Russell died, Rutherford used legal machinations to wrest control from the executive committee and have himself placed at the helm of the company to direct its affairs. As to publishing Bible interpretations, the editorial committee exercised ever-waning influence over Rutherford until 1931 when he dissolved it completely. So, the idea that a group of men, a governing body, acted as the faithful and discreet slave from 1919 onward throughout the presidency of J.F. Rutherford is contradicted by the facts of history. He considered himself the supreme leader of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, its generalissimo.
Shortly after Russell passed, Rutherford began preaching that “millions now living will never die”. He meant that literally, because he predicted that the second phase of the Great Tribulation—remember that they still believed the Tribulation had started in 1914—would start in 1925 with the resurrection of such worthy men as King David, Abraham, Daniel, and the like. They even bought a mansion in San Diego, California known as Beth Sarim to house these ones known as “the ancient worthies”. [Show Beth Sarim] Of course, nothing happened in 1925.
In Rutherford’s later years—he died in 1942—he changed the start of Christ’s invisible presence from 1874 to 1914, but left 1914 as the start of the Great Tribulation. The second phase of the Great Tribulation was to be Armageddon.
In 1969, the Organization changed the prediction that the great tribulation had started in 1914, placing that event in the very near future, specifically on or before 1975. This was based on the erroneous assumption that each creative day described in Genesis was of equal length and measured 7000 years. Based on the calculations taken from the Masoretic text on which most Bibles are based, this brought the age of Man’s existence to 6000 years as of 1975. Of course, if we go by other credible manuscript sources, the year 1325 marks the end of 6000 years from Adam’s creation.
It hardly needs saying that yet again a prediction made by the leaders of the organization failed to come true.
Next, Witnesses were directed to look to a period from 1984 to 1994 since Psalm 90:10 puts the average lifespan as between 70 and 80 years and the generation that saw the start in 1914 would have to be alive to see the end. That passed as well, and now we are staring down the start of the third decade of the 21st century, and still the organization is predicting the end to come within a generation, albeit a wholly new definition of the word.
So, are these the mistakes of imperfect men just trying their best to decipher God’s word, or are we being misled by a false prophet.
Rather than speculate, let’s go to the Bible to see how it defines a “false prophet”.
We’ll read from Deuteronomy 18:20-22. I’m going to read from the New World Translation since we are focusing on Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the principle expressed here is universally applicable.
“If any prophet presumptuously speaks a word in my name that I did not command him to speak or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. However, you may say in your heart: “How will we know that Jehovah has not spoken the word?” When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word is not fulfilled or does not come true, then Jehovah did not speak that word. The prophet spoke it presumptuously. You should not fear him.” (De 18:20-22)
Really, does anything else have to be said? Don’t these three verses tell us all we need to know to guard ourselves against false prophets? I assure you that there is no other place in the Bible that gives us such clarity in so few words on this topic.
For example, in verse 20 we see just how serious it is to prophesy falsely in the name of God. It was a capital crime in the time of Israel. If you did it, they would take you outside the camp and stone you to death. Of course, the Christian congregation does not execute anyone. But God’s justice has not changed. So those who prophesy falsely and do not repent of their sin should expect a harsh judgment from God.
Verse 21 raises the expected question, ‘How are we to know whether someone is a false prophet?’
Verse 22 gives us the answer and it really couldn’t be simpler. If someone claims to speak in God’s name and predicts the future, and that future doesn’t come true, that person is a false prophet. But it goes beyond that. It says that such a person is presumptuous. Further, it tells us “not to fear him.” This is a translation of the Hebrew word, guwr, which means “to sojourn”. That is its most frequent rendering. So, when the Bible tells us not to be afraid of the false prophet, it isn’t talking about the type of fear that makes you run away but rather the type of fear that causes you to stay with a person. Essentially, the false prophet gets you to follow him—to stay with him—because you are afraid to ignore his prophetic warnings. Thus, the purpose of a false prophet is to become your leader, to turn you away from your true leader, the Christ. This is the role of Satan. He acts presumptuously, lies to deceive people as he did to Eve when he told her prophetically, “you will not die”. She sojourned with him and suffered the consequences.
Of course, no false prophet openly admits to being one. Indeed, he will warn those who follow him about others, accusing them of being false prophets. We return to our question, “Is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses a false prophet?”
They say emphatically that they are not. Indeed, they have provided Jehovah’s Witnesses with extensive information on how to identify one who is truly a false prophet.
In the book, Reasoning from the Scriptures, the Governing Body has devoted 6 pages of Scriptural references to fully instruct Jehovah’s Witnesses on what constitutes a false prophet, with a view to defending the faith against this accusation. They even provide suggestions on how to answer common objections that might be raised at the door.
They cite verses from John, Matthew, Daniel, Paul and Peter. They even cite Deuteronomy 18:18-20, but remarkably, the very best answer to the question, “How do we identify a false prophet?”, is notably missing. Six pages of analysis and not a mention of Deuteronomy 18:22. Why would they overlook the single best answer to that question?
I think one of the best ways to answer that question is to read the experience from JamesBrown as I promised to do at the start of this video. I’m reading excerpts, but I’ll put a link to his comment in the description for those who wish to read the entire experience. (If you need to read it in your own language, you can use translate.google.com and copy-and-paste the experience into that application.)
It reads as follows (with a little bit of editing for spelling and readability):
I don’t know if you have been reading my experience with 3 elders regarding Rev 4:11. It was “hell” on earth. Anyway, I had a visit from 2 elders to try to set my mind straight last night, and meanwhile my wife was in tears and begging me to listen to the elders and the directions of the Governing Body.
I am almost 70 years old; I have been made fun of for my critical thinking, and I have even been accused to knowing more than the Governing Body.
Before they came, I went in my room and prayed for wisdom and keeping my mouth shut, and somehow “PRAISE” the Governing Body for all they do.
I was asked again, if I believed the Governing Body is God’s ONLY channel on earth that gets us close to Jehovah, and that we are the ONLY ones to teach the truth, and also if we follow their direction, everlasting life awaits us?
A light bulb came on in my head, and please don’t ask me what I had 2 days ago for lunch, but I quoted John 14:6. “Jesus said to him: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
I said, “Please listen to what I have to say then you can make up your minds.” I explained that I have come to believe the Governing Body is Jesus Christ on earth. Let me explain. I quoted their words: “The Governing Body is God’s ONLY channel on earth and that we are the ONLY ones to teach the truth. Also, if we listen to and follow directions, everlasting life awaits us.”
So, I said, “Compare the 2 statements. You said, “The Governing Body is God’s ONLY channel on earth.” Isn’t that the WAY Christ said about himself? We are the ONLY ones to teach the truth.” Isn’t this what Jesus said about HIS teaching? And if we listen to him, we will get life? So, I asked isn’t the Governing Body wanting us to get close to Jehovah? So, I believe the Governing Body is Jesus Christ on earth.”
There was one incredible silence, even my wife was shocked at what I came up with.
I asked the elders, “Can you disprove my statement about the Governing Body being Jesus on earth in the light of what we are being taught at meetings and publications?”
They said the Governing Body is NOT Jesus Christ on earth and that I was stupid to think that way.
I asked, “Are you saying they are NOT the way, the truth, the life, in getting us close to Jehovah in the light of the scripture I read about Jesus?”
The younger elder said “NO”, the older one said “YES”. A debate ensued between them in front of my eyes. My wife was disappointed by their disagreements, and I kept my mouth shut.
After the prayer, they left and they were sitting in the car for a long time outside my house, and I could hear them arguing; and then they left.
Love to all
Brilliant, wasn’t it? Notice, he prayed first and had a different goal in mind, but when the time came, the holy spirit took over. This, in my humble opinion, is proof of Jesus’ words at Luke 21:12-15:
“But before all these things happen, people will lay their hands on you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors for the sake of my name. It will result in your giving a witness. Therefore, resolve in your hearts not to rehearse beforehand how to make your defense, for I will give you words and wisdom that all your opposers together will not be able to resist or dispute.”
You see how what the elders expressed to JamesBrown proves that the failed prophetic predictions of the Governing Body over our lifetime cannot be explained away as merely the failings of imperfect men?
Let’s compare what they said with what we read in Deuteronomy 18:22.
“When a prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah…”
The elders said that “the Governing Body is God’s only channel on earth and that we are the only ones to teach the truth.”
Those men are only echoing a teaching they have heard from the convention platform and read in the publications time and again. For example:
“Surely there is ample evidence to show that you can trust the channel that Jehovah has used for nearly a hundred years now to lead us in the way of the truth.” July 2017 Watchtower, page 30. Interestingly, that little gem comes from an article entitled “Winning the Battle for Your Mind.”
In case there’s any doubt as to who is the one speaking for God today in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have this from the July 15, 2013 Watchtower, page 20 paragraph 2 under the title, “Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?”
“That faithful slave is the channel through which Jesus is feeding his true followers in this time of the end. It is vital that we recognize the faithful slave. Our spiritual health and our relationship with God depend on this channel.”
Is there any doubt left that the Governing Body claim to speak in the name of Jehovah? They may deny it out of one corner of their mouth when it suits them, but it is clear that out of the other corner they repeatedly state that truth from God only comes through them. They speak in God’s name.
The concluding words of Deuteronomy 18:22 tell us not to fear the false prophet. That is precisely what they want us to do. For example, we are warned,
“By word or action, may we never challenge the channel of communication that Jehovah is using today.” November 15, 2009 Watchtower page 14, paragraph 5.
They want us to sojourn with them, to stay with them, to follow them, to obey them. But their prophecies have failed time and again, yet they still claim to speak in God’s name. So according to Deuteronomy 18:22, they are acting presumptuously. If we are to obey God, we will not follow the false prophet.
Our Lord is the same “yesterday, today, and forever”. (Hebrews 13:8) His standard of justice does not change. If we fear the false prophet, if we follow the false prophet, then we will share the fate of the false prophet when the judge of all the earth comes to execute righteousness.
So, is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses a false prophet? Do I have to tell you? The evidence is before you. Each one should make their own determination.
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