God is editor of the WT

by Earnest 49 Replies latest jw friends

  • Earnest

    In an earlier thread reference was made to a court case in which Fred Franz stated that Jehovah God was editor of the "Watch Tower". As this quotation is often used to support the allegation that JWs believe the WT is inspired of God I thought it would be of wider interest to provide the relevant court record for general consideration.

    The court case itself was in 1940 and was Olin Moyle against Fred Franz and others and the WTBTS. Just so that you know who is who, Hayden Covington was attorney for the defendants and Walter Bruchhausen was attorney for the plaintiff. The relevant part of the case was the direct examination of Fred Franz by Covington (columns 794 - 795) and cross-examination by Bruchhausen (columns 865 - 867).

    In the direct examination Fred Franz had just started to explain the purpose of the Watchtower magazine. The examination continued -

    Q. Is the "Watch Tower" magazine a one man magazine?
    A. It is not.

    Q. Who was the editor of the magazine in the days from 1900 to 1916?
    A. Pastor Russell was the Editor, the sole Editor of the "Watch Tower" down to his death in 1916.

    Q. Who became the editor of the magazine upon the death of Pastor Russell?
    A. Pastor Russell left a will designating five gentlemen to serve on an editorial committee, three of which must agree as to an article.

    The Court: He asked you who they were.

    Q. Do you remember who they were?

    The Court: Do you? If you don't remember, tell us.

    Q. The names, and if you don't remember the names-You say there were five?
    A. Judge Rutherford was one of them. Mr. Van Amburgh was another, and Fred Robison was another.

    Q. Was there any provision in the Charter of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society for such editorial committee?
    A. No, that was the Will of Pastor Russell.

    Q. Who subsequently became the Editor of the magazine, the main editor of the "Watch Tower" magazine?
    A. In 1931, October 15th, as I recall, the "Watch Tower" discontinued publishing the names of any editorial committee on the second page.

    The Court: He asked you who became the editor.
    The Witness: And it said-
    The Court: Who became the editor?

    Q. Who became the editor when this was discontinued?
    A. Jehovah God.

    Q. And who wrote the magazine under the direction of Almighty God?
    A. Various individuals contributed to the magazine, Judge Rutherford, and others.

    Q. Who passed on what went into it?
    A. Judge Rutherford, primarily, and he also called in associates-

    The Court: Who had the final say?
    The Witness: Judge Rutherford supervised everything that went into the magazine, sir.

    Fred Franz was cross-examined on this by Mr. Bruchhausen -

    Q. I understand that you say that in 1931, the Watch Tower discontinued naming the editorial committee, and then Jehovah God became the editor, is that correct?
    A. Jehovah's editorship was indicated thereby citing Isaiah 54:13.

    The Court: He asked you if in 1931 Jehovah God became editor, according to your theory.
    The Witness: No, I wouldn't say so.

    Q. Didn't you say that Jehovah God became the editor of this paper at some time?
    A. He was always the One guiding the course of the paper.

    Q. Didn't you state that on October 15, 1931, the Watch Tower discontinued the naming of an editorial committee and then Jehovah God became the editor?
    A. I didn't say Jehovah God became the editor. It was appreciated that Jehovah God really is the One who is editing the paper, and therefore the naming of an editorial committee was out of place.

    Q. At any rate, Jehovah God is now the editor of the paper, is that right?
    A. He is today the editor of the paper.

    Q. How long has He been editor of the paper?
    A. Since its inception he has been guiding it.

    Q. Even before 1931?
    A. Yes, sir.

    Q. Why did you have an editorial committee up to 1931?
    A. Pastor Russell in his will specified that there should be such an editorial committee, and it was continued down till then.

    Q. Did you find that the editorial committee was in conflict with having a journal edited by Jehovah God, is that it?
    A. No.

    Q. Was the policy in opposition to what your conception of an editing by Jehovah God was?
    A. It was found on occasions that some of these on the editorial committee were preventing the publication of timely and vital, up-to-date truths and thereby hindering the going of those truths to the people of the Lord in His due time.

    By the Court:

    Q. After that, 1931, who on earth, if anybody, had charge of what went in or did not go in the magazine?
    A. Judge Rutherford.

    Q. So he in effect was the earthly editor-in-chief, as he might be called?
    A. He would be the visible one to take care of that.

    By Mr. Bruchhausen:

    Q. He was working as God's representative or agent in running this magazine, is that right?
    A. He was serving in that capacity.

    Q. Didn't he have his name on it as editor?
    A. No, sir.

    Each one must conclude for themselves just what Fred Franz was claiming for the Watch Tower magazine. To me it seems quite clear that he qualified his meaning of the expression "editor" to mean that God was guiding the course of the paper and no more than that. You may well disagree with his viewpoint but it is a far cry from saying the Watch Tower is inspired.


    "Beware the Jub-jub bird and shun the frumious bandersnatch" - Rev. Charles Dodgson

  • refiners fire
    refiners fire

    Well Freddie lied right off.
    Rutherford wasnt on the list of the 5 man committee.
    Freddie just conveniently remembered it that way after the fact, because uncle Joe became president.

  • waiting

    Howdy Ernest,

    Thank you for supplying the court discussion. I don't believe that the argument was whether the Watchtower was inspired. I believe that the comment was made that F. Franz said that Jehovah God was editor.....and he did, several times under oath.

    I never thought about the Watchtower being inspired.....until you mentioned it.

    Isn't that why people say that the Bible is inspired - because God watched over it....editing it to say what he wanted? Remember the example the jw's always use of a businessman dictating a letter to his secretary, even when he's not there...and her transcribing it? But we ALL know that the businessman wrote the letter, not the secretary.

    So........if Jehovah God was the editor of the Watchtower, like he was of the Bible, wouldn't that make the Watchtower inspired also? Because actually, men wrote BOTH books/magazines, and claim that God oversaw the outcome.

    Thanks again for posting, Ernest.


  • JT

    Wiggle all you want to Earnest thier track record speaks itself- i fully undestand the desire to try and make the wt not look bad , but they do it to themselves--


    This Resolution was adopted by congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses
    throughout the earth.

    The announcement in the Watchtower magazine of October 15, 1932, at the end of 2,300 evenings and mornings was:

    "the official notification made by Jehovah"

    through his visible channel of communication that his sanctuary of anointed "living stones" had been cleansed, vindicated and justified."
    Watchtower, October 1. 1959, page 601-2. Italics mine.

  • Earnest

    Hi waiting,

    In the previous thread which referred to this case AlanF said

    Here is another unequivocal example of a claim of direct inspiration.
    The record speaks for itself as to whether that is true.

    It's quite interesting to consider whether the first readers of Paul's letters and other scriptures considered them to be inspired in the same sense we do today. Quite possibly the congregations which received Paul's letters viewed them in the same way JWs view the WT - as an aid to understanding [let's not argue about that, I'm trying to make a serious point]. Only later when many others were also writing to the congregations did they have to decide what was inspired and what was not. But I think it has been accepted by most believers that such inspiration ended with the death of the apostles.


    "Beware the Jub-jub bird and shun the frumious bandersnatch" - Rev. Charles Dodgson

  • refiners fire
    refiners fire

    Well Earnest baby, if the Watchtower and the org are only "Aiding our understanding", why oh why pray, is noone allowed to offer a dissenting opinion in a meeting?
    I knew numerous people who tried raising points in meetings and they were shushed.That is pure evidence that the org doesnt want any opinions presented except its own.
    Why is that unless the org wants pure truth (its own opinion) presented to the members?
    I might ask what the above Olin Moyle quote is supposed to prove, I agree with you, that quote doesnt demonstrate the organizations claim to divine inspiration. Would you like to see 500 others that do demonstrate it?
    As I said before, Freddie under testimony didnt get his facts right on who comprised the editorial commitee, why should any of us here be expected to be absolutely totally factual in anything we say.
    The SPIRIT my man
    What is the spirit things are said in. WHY is a person saying what theyre saying, see, thats the question.
    Why do you think Fred Franz said Rutherford was one of the members of the commitee of 5, when he wasnt, care to speculate?

  • Lionel_P_Hartley


    The thing is this - if Franz says to a court that God is editor of the Watchtower, then that's funny enough. It's even funnier to then argue that God has nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of the Watchtower even though he's the editor. Owner I could swallow, but editor!!!!????? Maybe you don't know what an editor is or does. But it's a real hoot to see you, my man, flailing around trying to justify such insane statements.

    Are you saying what we all know - that Franz was a grade A loon? You guys crack me up - how, so seriously, you say well, Jehovah is editor but we're responsible for the typos. Fine. But when the semimonthlies (!) contain nothing but typos then what does it all mean?

    You couldn't make this stuff up (thanks JT) and, for laugh value per dollar this site can't be beat. Sure can't!


  • AlanF

    Well, Earnest, I must say that I misjudged you. I'm very happy to see that you put your money where your mouth is.

    A minor point about the Moyle case: The case was finally settled in 1943, and Moyle collected $15,000 for his trouble.

    As for the transcript you posted, it has been some time since I read it, so your posting is a welcome refresher. It is evident that Fred Franz could not keep his facts straight -- Jehovah was the editor since 1931, he was not the editor, he was the editor since the inception of The Watchtower. I'm sure the court was mightily entertained by such antics.

    The bottom line can be seen in Franz's statement to Mr. Bruchhausen:

    "Jehovah's editorship was indicated thereby citing Isaiah 54:13."

    That scripture says: "And all your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah..."

    Of course, anyone can read the Bible, and if he perfectly applies it he can say that in a certain sense he was "taught by Jehovah". But that is not what Franz, Rutherford, and current Watchtower leaders want the JW rank and file to believe. They want to go far beyond that, and claim that God is guiding them, not simply through the static information written in the Bible, but actively. That's what Franz meant by saying of Jehovah and The Watchtower, "Since its inception he has been guiding it." Surely you can see that this "guiding" involves far more than just reading the Bible. It does so because this sort of guidance is exactly what so many other religions claim, and the Society rejects. If JW leaders reject it on the principle that other religions get a lot of their interpretations wrong, then by the same token they ought to reject their own claim, for the same reason. But because they don't, it's obvious that they're claiming that God actively directs them in everything done officially by the Watchtower Society.

    An editor is an active worker, causing changes to be made in material he doesn't like. Someone who passively watches over the work of a writer is in no sense an editor, but an observer. Thus, by using the term "editor", rather than sticking exclusively to a more passive term like "one giving guidance", Franz was claiming active direction by Jehovah on everything that appeared in The Watchtower. Try as you might, Earnest, you can't get away from this simple fact.


  • siegswife

    Earnest, thanks for providing the whole transcript. I can see more clearly now how misguided Franz and the rest of the governing body are now.

    Franz says several times that Jehovah God is the editor, watching over the editing, directing, etc. etc. the publication of the Watchtower magazine. I guess that means that when the crap hits the fan, they say to Him "It was the magazine You edited that perpetrated the lies, not us."

  • Adonai438

    Earnest- Here is another quote from the trial in question regarding claims of inspiration. Hope you find it insightful as there are MANY more in their books as well- if you are interested.
    Nathan Homer Knorr-For Defts-Cross

    Knorr is being cross examined the answer portion is him.
    Olin Moyle v. WTBTS, 1943, Section #4421

    Q: But you don't make any such statement, that you are subject to
    correction, in your Watch Tower papers, do you?
    A: Not that I recall.
    Q: In fact, it is set forth as God's Word, isn't it?
    A: Yes, as his word.

    Q: Without any qualification whatsoever?
    A: That is right.

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