PROVING WATCHTOWER MALFEASANCE
To catch the Governing Body in a big, fat lie, we must compare the excuse given for changing previous teachings against actual Watchtower history and publications. Are changes in doctrine “progressive” by adding to understanding—or—are they regressive, merely repeating exactly what was previously taught?
Romans 13:1, 2 and what it means is our central focus.
Just in case this is not clear, let’s review.
Why? Because we must understand three things before we can honestly accuse the governing body of lying, duplicity, and altering history to escape the charge of False Prophet.
1. Charles Russell, in both his Studies in the Scriptures (normative doctrine for Bible Students movement) and Watchtower publications, taught the meaning of Romans 13:1, 2 as relative subjection of Christians to worldly governments.
2. J.F. Rutherford, (Watchtower President) reinterpreted ‘worldly governments’ identity to that of Jehovah and Jesus rather than secular powers. The obligation to obey world leaders disappeared. Even relative subjection ceased to be a command of God from 1929 forward.
3. Nathan H. Knorr (Watchtower President) changed BACK AGAIN to view #1, pretending (and dissembling) progressive Light motivated the reversal.
Romans 13:1 King James Version (KJV)
13 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
QUESTION: Is it true that Russell taught ‘unqualified obedience’ to secular governments?
LET’S READ WHAT PASTOR RUSSELL TAUGHT:
In The Watch Tower, July 15, 1916, three months before he died, Charles T. Russell wrote the following in the article, "Militarism and Conscience":
“While Christians are enjoined to be subject to the "Powers that be"—the kings, governors, magistrates, etc. - nevertheless this is not to be understood as meaning the renouncement of our fidelity to the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Over-Lord. Our allegiance to earthly lords and powers and their commands is merely to the extent that they do not conflict with the commands of our Over-Lord. The Jews in renouncing Jesus cried, "We have no king but Caesar"! The Christian's position is, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's but unto God the things that are God's." Whenever Caesar and his laws conflict with the divine requirements, all true soldiers of the cross are left no alternative.”
QUESTION: Did the Watchtower later lie about this?
The Watchtower, November 1, 1972. p. 644 sought to argue a reasonable explanation for the change in teaching in 1929 from what Russell taught.
Romans 13:1 had been construed to mean that the governments of the world must be given unqualified obedience, the witnesses interpreted the "higher powers" or "superior authorities" there mentioned as applying to earthly government. (Rutherford changed this to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus.) However, a closer examination of the context revealed that Romans 13:1,2 does indeed refer to political governments of this world But by comparing this scripture with others, such as Acts 5:29, which states, "We must obey God as ruler rather than men," it was seen that the "subjection" mentioned at Romans 13:1 must be a relative subjection, not an unqualified one. That is, Christians are to be in subjection to the governments of this world so long as these do not ask Christians to go contrary to God's laws.
WHAT CHANGED IN 1929?
"The Higher Powers," The Watch Tower, June 1, 1929, pp. 163-69 end "The Higher Powers" (Part 2), The Watch Tower, June 15, 1929, pp. 179-85.
The official historic interpretation of Romans 13: 1-2 was destroyed by the President of the Watchtower, J.F. Rutherford. Rutherford reversed the historic teaching. Who were superior authorities? Jehovah and Jesus, NOT secular governments.
Another attempt at explanation for changing in 1929 and yet—BACK to Russell's previous interpretation appeared in December 1, 1981 issue of the Watchtower.
“Happily, in the year 1962, Jehovah led his people to an understanding of the principle of relative subjection. It was seen that dedicated Christians must obey secular rulers as the "superior authorities," gladly recognizing these as "god's ministers," or servant for their good. ((Rom. 13:4) However, if these "authorities" ask them to violate God's laws, what then? Up to that point Christians have obeyed the command at Romans 13:1: "Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities." But this is qualified by Jesus' words, as recorded at Matthew 22:21: "Pay back, therefore, Caesar's things to Caesar, but God's things to God." So whenever "Caesar" asks Christians to do things contrary to God's will, they must place Jehovah's law ahead of "Caesar's."
Does the following sound like unqualified obedience?
In SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol VI., we have set forth a suggestion that the followers of Christ seek every proper means to avoid participation in war. We there suggested the possibility, but that in the event of conscription the Lord's followers should use all their influence toward obtaining positions in the Hospital Corps or in the Provision Department of the army, rather than in actual warfare. We suggested further that if it were impossible to avoid going into the trenches, it would still not be necessary to violate the divine requirement, "Thou shalt do no murder."
We have been wondering since, if the course we have suggested is the best one. We wonder if such a course would not mean compromise. We reflect that to become a member of the army and to put on a military uniform implies the duties and obligations of a soldier as recognized and accepted. A protest made to an officer would be insignificant - the public in general would not know of it. Would not the Christian be really out of his place under such conditions?
"But," someone replies, "If one were to refuse the uniform and the military service he would be shot."
We reply that if the presentation were properly made there might be some sort of exoneration; but if not, would it be any worse to be shot because of loyalty to the Prince of Peace and refusal to disobey his order than to be shot while under the banner of these earthly kings and apparently giving them support and, in appearance at least, compromising the teachings of our heavenly King? Of the two deaths we would prefer the former - prefer to die because of faithfulness to our heavenly King.
The Watch Tower 1915, reprints p. 5755
The understanding of Bible Students guided by Pastor Russell was quite adequate and needed no change. The real reasons for the un-called-for change in 1929 have never been explained by the Society.
By trying to turn lemons into lemonade, the Watchtower leaders have misrepresented their own past. They have distorted what they know to be facts. Rather than admit to errors, this is the tactic required to avoid confession of false teaching.
How many faithful believers died, were imprisoned, or persecuted because of wrong-headed dedication to Watchtower teaching?
The Governing Body doesn’t really give a damn as long as it escapes culpability.