Misleading Information: Lies in the Watchtower
This article discusses numerous topics where Watchtower articles use blatant lies to mislead people. It is shocking for anyone with trust in Watchtower teachings to learn of such dishonesty.
Table of Contents
Watchtower asserts the Bible is uncorrupted and without omissions.
"Bible copyists, of course, made mistakes. But none of those mistakes corrupted the Bible. ... So, has the Bible been corrupted. Emphatically, no!" Watchtower 2017 no.6 p.14
"No striking or fundamental variation is shown either in the Old or the New Testament. There are no important omissions or additions of passages, and no variations which affect vital facts or doctrines." Reasoning from the Scriptures p.64
In contradiction to this statement, Watchtower alleges the word Jehovah was removed from the New Testament during the second century, and no known manuscripts have been found with Jehovah in it.
“When apostate Christians made copies of the Christian Greek Scriptures, they evidently took Jehovah’s personal name out of the text and substituted Ky′ri·os, the Greek word for “Lord."" Watchtower 2010 Jul 1 pp.6-7
"no ancient Greek manuscript that we possess today of the books of Matthew to Revelation contains God's name in full." The Divine Name that will Endure Forever p.23
Despite confessing the name Jehovah has never been found in any ancient Greek manuscripts, the New World Translation adds the word Jehovah over 200 times to the New Testament. This has signficant doctrinal implications regarding Jesus and Jehovah. Watchtower lies when saying they agree there are not important ommissions in the ancient Bible manuscripts, and are equally dishonest in their justification of where they chose to insert the word Jehovah - See Jehovah in the New Testament.
Jehovah’s Witnesses must not worship Jesus. Yet this has only been the case since 1954, as originally Witnesses worshipped both Jehovah and Jesus. Interestingly, the Watchtower Charter stated Jesus was to be worshipped up until it was finally amended in 1999. For 45 years, Witnesses were counselled against worshipping Jesus, even though in the Charter to do so was stated as the express reason for the existence of the Watchtower Society. To deal with this discrepancy, the Watchtower resorted to misquoting the Charter.
The Charter stated:
"for public Christian worship of Almighty God and Christ Jesus; to arrange for”
The Yearbook of 1969 p.50 leaves the words "and Christ Jesus" out, replacing them with dots.
"for public Christian worship of Almighty God … ; to arrange for”
The Watchtower 1971 p.760 replaces the word “and” with “through”, to significantly hide and change the true meaning of the sentence.
"for public Christian worship of Almighty God [through] Christ Jesus; to arrange for" Watchtower 1971 Dec 15 p.760
The 1993 Proclaimers book, which is a history of the Watchtower Society, fails to even mention what is in this important document.
Plagiarism carries inherent risks, such as copying inaccurate information, or illegally violating copyright.
The majority of Watchtower doctrine comes from other sources. For instance, teachings of Russell, including 1914, were from the nineteenth century Adventist movement. Rutherford's claim that Jesus did not die on a cross was being promoted by some Protestant Preachers, such as E.W. Bullinger. Watchtower books regarding evolution draw heavily on Creationist books, including their misrepresentation of science journals.
According to one Bethel illustrator, it was common to source and copy pictures from other magazines.
An example appears in You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, page 93. I remember the picture and feeling I understood the temptation the angels felt looking down upon such a beautiful woman. I did not know at the time that the picture was a real person, Pascale Petit, who appeared in Playboy November 1963 and the European sex comedy Frau Wirtin hat auch einen Grafen. The Live Forever book potentially infringed copyright, as it is a copy of an image that appeared on the cover of the 23rd July 1960 Today magazine, and the 13th August 1961 German magazine Stern.
Plagurised images have landed Watchtower in legal trouble.
One example was the cover of the Watchtower 1982 Sep 15. The following Johnny Walker advertisement appeared in magazines such as the U.S. News and World Report 29 Jun 1981 ans Reader’s Digest, Sep 1982 page 37. A plagiarised version appeared on the cover of the Watchtower 1982 Sep 15.
Somerset Importers, the distributor of Johnny Walker, contacted Watchtower regarding this violation of copyright, and it was removed from future printings, including in foreign editions and the Bound volume.
The new cover was changed to a grove of trees against a mountain.
Not only did Watchtower break copyright, but they were less than forthright with readers enquiring about the change, replying it was for a "more appropriate and suitable illustration."
Such enquirers must have been left wondering what was inappropriate about the sunset.
Watchtower 1994 Jan 15 p.3 includes an photo of a woman kneeled and weeping over a loved one killed in war. The picture is from a copy taken by Watchtower of an original photo residing in the Instituto Municipal de Historia, Barcelona. Whilst they attribute the Institute, they do not give attribution to the photographer, Agusti Centelles i Osso, el bombardeo de Lleida, noviembre de 1937, and use of the photo violated copyright.
https://centellesosso.blogspot.com/2010/11/lleida-2-de-noviembre-de-1937-las.html outlines that Agusti Centelles i Osso's heirs lodged a demand against "the "Jehovah's witnesses" organization" for violation of copyright in 2010.
Illustrations in My Book of Bible Stories (1978), stories 3 and 17, resemble images from The Bible Story by Arthur S. Maxwell (Review and Herald Publishing Association 1955).
The Watchtower has regularly lied about what it said prior to 1914, claiming it correctly predicted the occurrences of 1914, and has held to consistent teachings regarding that date.
Until the 1930's, the Watchtower taught that:
- The time of the end commenced 1799
- Jesus presence commenced 1874
- Jesus' heavenly rule in 1878
"There are two important here that we must not confuse, but clearly differentiate, namely, the beginning of "the time of the end" and of "the presence of the Lord". "The time of the end" embraces a period from A.D. 1799, as above indicated, to the time of the complete overthrow of Satan's empire and the establishment of the kingdom of the Messiah. The time of the Lord's presence dates from 1874, as above stated. The latter period is within the first named, of course, and at the latter part of the period known as "the time of the end"." The Harp of God (1921) p.231
"The year A.D. 1878 … clearly marks the time for the actual assuming of power as King of kings, by our present, spiritual, invisible Lord …" Studies in the Scriptures - The Time is At Hand (1911 ed) p.239
Yet it is now stated that the Watchtower "anticipated" Jesus would receive power in 1914.
"By linking the "seven times" of Daniel 4:25 with "the times of the Gentiles", they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914." Watchtower 1998 Sep 15 p.15
"For over thirty years before that date and for half a century since, Jehovah's witnesses have pointed to the year 1914 as the time for the end of "the appointed times of the nations" and the time in which Christ would begin his Kingdom rule. (Luke 21:24)" Watchtower 1966 Feb 15 p.103
Likewise, it was originally predicted that the end was to occur in 1914, yet now it is wrongfully stated that 1914 was the "start" of the end.
"But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble." Zion's Watch Tower 1894 Jul 15 p.226
"Jehovah's witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of "the conclusion of the system of things." Awake! 1973 Jan 22 p.8
1914 was to be the start of the earthly resurrection.
"The beginning of the earthly phase of the Kingdom in the end of A.D. 1914 will, we understand, consist wholly of the resurrected holy ones of olden time-from John the Baptizer back to Abel;-"Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the holy prophets."" Studies In the Scriptures - The Day of Vengeance (1897) p.625
Now they claim their calculations were true.
"He had correctly linked the Gentile Times with the "seven times" mentioned in the book of Daniel. (Dan. 4:16, 23, 25, 32) True to such calculations, 1914 did mark the end of those times and the birth of God's kingdom in heaven with Christ Jesus as king. Just think of it! Jehovah granted his people that knowledge nearly four decades before those times expired." Yearbook 1975 p.37
"Decades before 1914, Jehovah's worshippers declared to the nations that the end of "the appointed times of the nations" would come in that year and that the world would enter into an unequaled period of trouble." Watchtower 2013 Feb 15 p.18
It was not declared that the world would enter the time of trouble in 1914, as the time of trouble was said to have started in 1874.
“…, and the time of trouble, or “day of wrath” which began October 1874 and will end October 1914;… “ Studies in the Scriptures - The Day of Vengeance p.604
Whilst, it is strictly correct that Russell declared the Gentile Times, or "appointed times of the nations", would end in 1914, these statements hide that nothing expected for the end of the Gentile Times came to pass.
For more information see Failed 1914 Predictions.
In the 2010 DVD Faith In Action, Anthony Morris, speaking of Russell and the Bible Students, makes the statement:
"The fact that they were able to pinpoint that year  is just phenomenal."
Russell did not originate the interpretation that the Seven Times pinpointed 1914 as the end of the Gentile times. Russell took this teaching from the Second Adventist movement. In 1823, John Aquila Brown published in The Even-Tide that the "seven times" of Daniel 4 were prophetic of 2,520 years, running from the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar's reign in 604 B.C. to 1917 A.D. Barbour later adjusted this to 1914. In 1875, The Herald of the Morning, edited by Barbour, Cogswell and Paton, stated;
"I believe that though the gospel dispensation will end in 1878, the Jews will not be restored to Palestille, until 1881; and that the "times of the Gentiles," viz. their seven prophetic, times, of 2520, or twice 1260 years, which began where God gave all, into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, 606 B.C.; do not end until A.D. 1914; or 40 years from this." The Herald of the Morning 1875 Sep
Impressed with Barbour's prophetic doctrine, Russell joined with him in 1876 and started to promote Barbour's date doctrine, including 1874, 1878 and 1914.
When the New System did not arrive in 1914, Watchtower began predicting that the earthly paradise would commence in 1925, along with the resurrection of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In February 1918 Rutherford gave a public discourse entitled, "The World Has Ended - Millions Now Living May Never Die!" In March 1918, the lecture title was changed to the more compelling “The World Has Ended — Millions Now Living Will Never Die!”, and delivered around the world for the next seven years. This became Watchtower's core message from 1918 to 1925.
The 1925 return of Jesus' Kingdom was discussed in detail in the 1920 booklet, Millions Now Living Will Never Die!, the 1921 book The Harp of God, and the 1924 children's book The Way to Paradise. The Harp of God title page claimed to contain "Proof Conclusive that Millions now Living will never Die."
The 1980 Yearbook claimed the idea of 1925 was just “an expressed opinion.” This is inaccurate, as the expectations for 1925 were presented so dogmatically as proven fact that after the predictions of 1925 failed to eventuate, memorial attendance dropped from 90,434 in 1925 to 17,380 in 1928. (See Watchtower 1960 May 1 p.282 and Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose p.313)
The 1980 Yearbook phrase “an expressed opinion" is actually a partial quote from a 1926 Watchtower that attempted to justify why the end had not arrived. The Yearbook quote is a deceptive half quote that puts a full stop in place of a semicolon. The full quote shows that the return of Abraham was still being promoted as due “shortly after 1925.”
|Original Quote||1980 Quote|
“It was stated in the "Millions" book that we might reasonably expect them to return shortly after 1925, but this was merely an expressed opinion; besides it is still shortly after 1925. There is no good reason why we should expect the ancient worthies to return until the church is complete and the work of the church on earth is done." Watchtower 1926 p.196
"Indicative of this testing was the question meeting held by Brother Rutherford during the Basel, Switzerland, assembly, which took place May 1-3, 1926. The report on this convention stated:
Question: Have the ancient worthies returned?
Answer: Certainly they have not returned. No one has seen them, and it would be foolish to make such an announcement. It was stated in the "Millions" book that we might reasonably expect them to return shortly after 1925, but this was merely an expressed opinion." Yearbook 1980 p.62
When discussing the 1918 lectures, the Watchtower 2010 Feb 15 page 16 uses the word "may" instead of "will", despite the scanned image showing the word "will". Not only is using the word "may" deceptive, it covers over the absolute conviction that Rutherford was implanting in his followers that the new system would arrive in 1925.
Revelation 7:9-17 and 19:1 show that the great crowd are in heaven. However, the Watchtower is determined to show they will be on earth. Since Revelation 7:15 states that the great crowd are in the temple sanctuary (naos), where only the priests could enter, the Watchtower resorts to lying in order to convince followers that naos could include the outer courtyards.
"For example, in the Bible account of where Jesus Christ drove the money changers and merchantmen out of Herod's temple, the original Greek word used is na.os'." Watchtower 1980 Aug 15 p.15
This is a lie. None of the Scriptures discussing where Jesus drove the money changers from use the word naos, they use the word hieron, which includes the outer courtyards. See John 2:14-15, Matthew 21:12 and Mark 11:15 in the The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures.
It has been written that there was never a biography about Russell, so as not to take glory from Jehovah.
"But, is it true you have never published a biography of Pastor Russell? …
That's right. Jehovah's witnesses admire the qualities he possessed as a man, but were we to give the honor and credit to Pastor Russell, we would be saying that the works and success were his; but Jehovah's witnesses believe it is God's spirit that guides and directs his people." Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose (1959) p.63
This is not true, as the Proclaimers book tells us that there was a biography.
"A brief biography of Russell along with his will and testament was published in The Watch Tower of December 1, 1916, as well as in subsequent editions of the first volume of Studies in the Scriptures." Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom p.64
The Watchtower re-wrote history when changing what it must have recognised would become an embarrassing failure, when changing the wording of the original printed magazine to what it included in the bound volume. The Watchtower 1989 Jan 1 p.12 indicated that Armageddon would arrive within the twentieth century, stating :
"He was laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century."
When printed in the 1989 Watchtower bound volume and the subsequent Watchtower CD library, this was changed from "in our 20th century" to "in our day."
This is ingenious, as it provided Witnesses reading the magazine with false hope and motivation, yet in the future those researching would not be able to say the Watchtower was wrong. Printed prior to the mainstream internet, it could never have been expected that more than a few would ever become aware of the switch.
Watchtower has claimed it is a lie that numerous children die refusing blood transfusions, despite 4 years earlier proudly admitting that Jehovah's Witness children do die standing up for the Watchtower stance against blood.
"Jehovah's Witnesses have been targets of false accusations - barefaced lies and twisted presentations of their beliefs... The accusation that numerous children of Jehovah's Witnesses die each year as a result of refusing blood transfusions is totally unfounded." Watchtower 1998 December 1 p.14
"In former times thousands of youths died for putting God first. They are still doing it, only today the drama is played out in hospitals and courtrooms, with blood transfusions the issue." Awake! 1994 May 22 p.2
What Does the Bible Really Teach (2005) makes the comment;
"… you have made a dedication to Jehovah God himself, not to a work, a cause, other humans, or an organization. Your dedication and baptism are the beginning or a very close friendship with God-an intimate relationship with him." p.183
Jehovah's Witnesses make a dedication and baptism to an organisation. The second baptism question is;
"Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization?" Watchtower 1985 Jun 1 p.30
The Watchtower used to abide by the Biblical procedure outlined at Matthew 28:19 of baptising in the name of the Father, Son and holy spirit, but in 1985 holy spirit was replaced with God's spirit-directed organization, as discussed at Changing Baptism Arrangement.
The Watchtower made definitive statements that this worldly system would end in 1914 and 1925 and strong implications regarding 1975. Yet following the failure of these predictions, it claimed the fault was that of faithful members, shirking admission of its responsibility in setting these expectations.
"It seems to be a weakness of many Bible Students that if they locate a future date in the Bible, immediately they center as many prophecies upon that date as possible. This has been the cause of many siftings in the past. As far as we recall, all the dates foreseen were correct. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything. ... Many can remember how "absolutely sure" some were about 1914. No doubt the Lord was pleased with the zeal manifested by his servants; but did they have a Scriptural basis for all they expected to come to pass that year? ” Watch Tower 1925 Feb 15 p.57
“There is no doubt that many throughout this period were overzealous in their statements as to what could be expected. Some read into the Watch Tower statements that were never intended.” Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose p.52
“Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so." Watch Tower 1926 p.232
“If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.” Watchtower 1976 Jul 15 p.441
When describing a tragic period of persecution in Liberia in 1963, a 1982 Watchtower claimed only a few compromised their faith, with the majority maintaining integrity.
"While a few did give way and compromise because of fear, the great majority maintained integrity." Watchtower 1982 Apr 15 p.25
However, the 1977 Yearbook had shown that in fact the majority of Jehovah's Witnesses compromised their faith. After being caught out by readers, Watchtower was forced to admit:
"The statement in The Watchtower for April 15, 1982, is in error. Actually, according to the Yearbook of 1977, pages 176 and 178, there were about 100 Liberian Witnesses who went through the Gbarnga persecution maintaining integrity, while approximately 200 compromised their faith." Watchtower 1982 Jul 15 p.31
The Yearbook 1976 pp.69-74 discusses Joseph Booth and Elliot Kenan Kamwana, the Watchtower's first representatives in Nyasaland, Africa in the early 1900's. Booth was paid by Watchtower as a missionary and in 1909 the Watchtower contained an article titled "Good Tidings Spreading in Africa", which discussed the work of Kamwana in Nyassalan.
"Hence, the Society, for a time, undertook Booth's expenses as its missionary to those peoples [in Nyasaland] with whom he was acquainted." Yearbook 1976 p.71
"They are overjoyed at having the same message brought here which they have heard was being proclaimed up in their home country, Nyassaland, by Brother Elliott Kamwana. … Brother Elliot Kamwana was arrested and deported by the government at the instigation of the Calvinistic Scotch missionaries of Bandwe, Lake Nyasa, who were greatly surprised that their work of years could be so quickly lifted to the higher plane of our teaching. … Brother Kamwana baptized 9,126 in past year." Watch Tower 1909 Jul 1 p.195
The followers that Kamwana managed to convert became known as members of "The Watchtower Movement." However, many of the followers continued with pagan practices and polygamy, and were involved in a later uprising. In 1948, the Watchtower released a booklet called The Watchtower Story in an attempt to distance itself from this group. The booklet dishonestly said:
"It should be particularly noted that the "native rising" took place in 1915. The Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society had no resident representative in Nyasaland or the Rhodesias prior to 1925." The Watchtower Story p.6
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The Watchtower makes the grossly exaggerated statement:
"Who are no part of the world and learn war no more? Again, the historical record of the 20th century testifies: only Jehovah's Witnesses." Watchtower 1992 Apr 1 p.12
There are a number of pacifist and neutral religions that do not go to war, such as Quakers, Christadelphians, Worldwide Church of God and Anabaptists. Some Pacifists go further than Witnesses in their avoidance of war by even refusing to pay the "War Tax" component of income tax in the United States. This is discussed in detail at Jehovah's Witnesses and War.
“Third, unlike the Protestant movement, which has splintered into hundreds of denominations, Jehovah’s Witnesses have maintained a united global brotherhood.” Watchtower 2009 Nov 1 p.19
Surely, Jehovah's Witnesses are aware of enough of their history to know of the Russellites and Bible Student groups that broke away, particularly following Russell's death, though these groups would claim Rutherford broke away from the true religion as set up by Russell.
It may be said that the quote was referring to Jehovah's Witnesses specifically since the official name was chosen in 1931, rather than the Jehovah's Witnesses that have existed since Adam (Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose p.8), or possibly when the Governing Body is said to have been chosen in 1919, but even that is not true. New sects have been constantly forming. In Romania, one group of Witnesses spent decades isolated during communism, with access primarily to Rutherford's works. On gaining freedom, they were offended at the many doctrinal changes in recent Watchtower publications, and set up The True Faith Jehovah's Witnesses. Since the Internet, there have been many small splinter groups starting.
Some Breakaway sects with active websites, as of 12 Feb 2013 include:
- The True Faith Jehovah's Witnesses
- Bible Fellowship Union
- God's Kingdom Society
- Christian Witnesses
- The Lord's Witnesses
- Phoenix Bible Students
- Chicago Bible Students
- Baltimore Bible Students
In order to justify that the Watchtower teaches truth, despite constant doctrinal changes, the idea of the “light gets brighter” is invoked. New doctrine does not contradict but clarifies old doctrine. The progression of doctrine is described as tacking, moving from side to side but ever forward.
“Of course, such development of understanding, involving “tacking” as it were, has often served as a test of loyalty for those associated with the “faithful and discreet slave.” However, progress is being made continually toward fuller appreciation of the “good news” and all that it means.” Watchtower 1981 Dec 1 p.27
This is not the case in many doctrinal changes, where the doctrine has gone back and forth between two or more interpretations. Recent examples regard the “generation” and “faithful and discreet slave.” In such cases, the new doctrine is presented as new light, without revealing that they are going back to a previous teaching.
For instance, the Watchtower used to teach that the Superior Authorities of Romans 13:1 were Governments. In 1929, this was changed to being Jehovah and Jesus. In 1962, this went back to being Governments. Yet when discussing this topic, Watchtower publications, such as Watchtower 1990 Nov 1 p.11 and Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom pp.146-147, present the 1962 change as “progressive” or “increased” light, failing to mention that they were returning to “old light.”
When vaccinations first became popular, the Golden Age (now Awake!) claimed they were "barbarous" and credited to "the devil." (Golden Age 1921 Oct 12 p.17) A string of articles wrote against them, with the Golden Age 1931, Feb 4 issue devoting 10 pages to why vaccinations were not for Christians.
"Vaccination is a direct violation of the everlasting covenant that God made with Noah after the flood." Golden Age 1931 Feb 4 p.293
This led to great difficult for Jehovah's Witness children as schools started to make them a mandatory requirement, along with obtaining visas for travel. After preaching against vaccinations for 30 years, in 1952 Watchtower reversed its stance, specifically stating it would not be drawn into any legal responsibility.
"The matter of vaccination is one for the individual that has to face it to decide for himself... And our Society cannot afford to be drawn into the affair legally or take the responsibility for the way the case turns out." Watchtower 1952 Dec 15 p.764
In 1993, Watchtower dishonestly claimed it has held a consistent position on vaccinations.
"Previous articles in this journal and its companion, The Watchtower, have presented a consistent position: It would be up to the Bible-trained conscience of the individual Christian as to whether he would accept [vaccinations] for himself and his family." Awake! 1993 Aug 8 p.25
Who knows what harm Jehovah's Witness children suffered through preventable diseases, yet rather than an apology, Watchtower denies the period of its history.
Watchtower is not always honest nor provide the "pure truth" they falsely claim. Despite assurances to the contrary, each detail is not "accurate and truthful, even regarding seemingly insignificant details." (Yearbook 2011 p.13)
While followers may find it difficult to prove the merits of Watchtower doctrine, lies are easy to identify and show a high level of manipulation. Not only do errors creep in, but information is included that is specifically deceptive and misleading. As much as the Watchtower leaders encourage otherwise, each one of Jehovah's Witnesses owes it to themselves and their God to verify if the information that they are basing their life on is the truth.
"… really, would you want to be even associated with a religion that had not been honest with you?" Is This Life All There Is? p.46
Originally published Feb 2013, last update Sep 2021
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2022