Is the Society guilty of issuing false prophecies and thus be condemned as a “false prophet”?
This question has been grappled with for a long time and many fine arguments have been put forward to indicate that there is merit to this accusation; however, I feel that it may not be accurate or encompassing enough.
It is interesting to note that whereas the Hebrew Scriptures warned mainly about the existence of false prophets and methods of identifying them (Deut 18:20-23), the Greek scriptures and, in particular Jesus Christ, described more than just false prophets. (Mt 24:11). They talked about: “false Christs” (Mt 24:24), “false brothers” (Gal 2:4), “false teachers” (Mt 23:8, 2Ti 4:3, Rev 2:14), “false apostles” (2Co 11:13, Rev 2:2) and even “false witnesses” (Mt 26:60).
Neither the Society nor any of its representatives has ever claimed to be Christ personally. While the charge of being a false Christ may involve more than just impersonating Jesus, it could also mean representing Christ or working on his behalf, which falls under being an apostle or a false apostle. See below.
All those who obey and proclaim Jesus as Lord and Master are to be considered brothers. So a false brother is one that does not proclaim Jesus as Lord and Master. It could also mean something else. The Society has always claimed Jesus as Lord. However, their interpretation of what constitutes a brother goes far beyond what Jesus had stipulated. Even though a person comes to believe and put faith in Jesus as Lord, the Society does not acknowledge him or her as a “brother” until he or she gets baptized by their unique teachings and obey their rules.
By adopting this attitude, Jehovah’s witnesses are proving to be false brothers to those genuine Christians that do not belong to the Watchtower Society.
While the Society tries to hide its embarrassing record of failed date settings behind the veil of not invoking Jehovah’s name when making them, this by no means absolves it entirely. What condemn it as a false prophet may not be the criteria found at Deut 18, but rather by its own words recorded in:
Awake!, October 8, 1968 page 23:
“Still some persons may say: "How can you be sure? Maybe it is later than many people think. But maybe it is not as late as some persons claim. People have been mistaken about these prophecies before.".... True, there have been those in times past who predicted an "end to the world," even announcing a specific date.... Yet, nothing happened. The "end" did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying….”
The Greek Scriptures warned against false teachers. Can we safely say that the Society is guilty of being a false teacher?
Ok, so the teachings concerning 1874, 1880, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1943, 1975 and “This Generation” were not false prophecies, but rather over eagerness on their part. Since these teachings were later rescinded, changed, abolished or at sometimes reinstated after being abolished only later to be removed again, one can safely say that these proved to be “wrong” teachings. False is another word for wrong. Hence, those who were responsible in formulating and advancing what turned out to be wrong teachings are guilty of being false teachers. The fact that they abandoned those teachings is not an excuse, for they abandoned them AFTER they were proven false.
According to the Insight Vol. 1 page 127: “The term is principally applied, however, to those disciples whom Jesus personally selected….”
But evidently, and according to Jesus statements to the congregation of Ephesus found in Rev 2:2: “…and that you cannot bear bad men, and that you put those to the test who say they are apostles, but they are not, and you found them liars.”
There are men who falsely claim that they are apostles, or “sent forth from Jesus”. Now, the Society definitely claims that in 1918 Jesus had personally appointed it as the only faithful and discreet slave taking care of His kingdom interests on earth. In fact this is its main doctrine and foundation that all other teachings build upon. This claim of position and responsibility is even greater than any original 1st century apostle have had. In effect, the Society is claiming to be much more than an apostle.
What we need to do is apply the same tests that the congregation of Ephesus used in order to determine whether the Society stands up to this claim. Now, I do not know what exactly these tests were, but evaluating the Society’s past teachings record is a good start.
Another test is to check whether Jesus personally spoke to or talked to any of the Society’s founders, presidents, representatives, governing body members, anointed members, elders, ministerial servants, or any plain publisher. The Society freely admits that no such contact ever took place. Then, why do they claim that they were selected, sent forth, appointed, entrusted and received more than just an apostleship from Jesus Christ? I honestly do not know. Unless, of course, they are false apostles.
The incident recorded at Mathew 26:60 refers to finding false witnesses against Christ in order that the Jewish Sanhedrim could issue an adverse judgment against Him. This charge cannot be leveled against the Society for, in this incident, it is out of context.
However, a witness could prove to be false if he witnessed to events that he did not see. The Society claims that Jesus appointed it to a position of authority. While the Society could be termed as a false apostle, but the ordinary witnesses that go from door to door witnessing to such an event could be liable for being false witnesses.
Additionally, genuine Christians are to be witnesses for Jesus and no one else. By becoming Jehovah’s witnesses, they are in jeopardy of disobeying the Master’s command and also of being false witnesses to Jehovah, for HE has not commissioned them and the only true witness of Jehovah is none other than Jesus Christ himself.