Conversations With Jehovah’s Witnesses – Part Three

This morning I had my third meeting with some Jehovah’s Witnesses. It has been the same lead person each of the three visits, but a different helper each time.

I had mentioned last time that I was interested in how they got 1914 as the year of the establishment of the kingdom of God in heaven. Initially we were going to focus on Revelation 12. They see the casting out of Satan from heaven as being necessary before God’s kingdom could be established in heaven.

I pointed out “She gave birth to a Son, a male who is going to rule all nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and to his throne.” (Revelation 12:5) which takes place before the casting out of Satan. Yet this verse looks as if the throne is already established before that happened.

This led to a shift in gears and a focus on Daniel 4.  They asked me what I thought this chapter was about. To me, it is clearly about Nebuchadnezzar and his experience of losing his mind in order to be humbled because of his pride. Is there a further meaning? The principle is that we should understand that ultimate power is with God and we should not to be proud of our own accomplishments.

They explained that it was a prophecy about the coming of the kingdom. The cutting of the tree is to represent the end of the kings of Israel. The “seven times” is the times of the Gentiles, that is the period between the end of the kingship and the establishment of the kingdom in heaven. The restoration of Nebuchadnezzar is Jesus’ establishment of the kingdom in heaven.

They asked me what I thought of this and I told them the truth. “It’s a pretty big stretch.” This is not me as a Baptist pastor opposing Jehovah’s Witness doctrine. This is me reading a passage from the Bible and not seeing even a hint of what they are saying.

Since we were in Daniel 4, I pointed out this verse:

How great are his miracles,
and how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom,
and his dominion is from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:3)

This verse really seems to suggest that God’s kingdom was reality, at least in heaven, even in the time of Daniel. Instead of responding to this verse, the brought me back to Adam’s rebellion against God, meaning that the kingdom couldn’t be a reality until Jesus established it. Again a big stretch.

They admitted that it is not immediately obvious that Daniel 4 means what they say it means. They even admitted that Daniel wouldn’t have understood it. This was a “sacred secret” which would only be revealed later in time.

I asked who it was revealed to (even though I already knew). They responded with, “Does it matter?” It matters very much. Even in the Bible, there are plenty of false prophets saying something would happen. I reminded the Jehovah’s Witnesses that many people of many traditions have made calculations and predictions and were wrong.

I finally asked if it was Charles Taze Russell. They admitted that it was. Just because it was Russell, doesn’t mean that it was wrong. Unlike the Mormons with Joseph Smith, Jehovah’s Witnesses have backed away from Russell. There are too many embarrassing parts to his life and ministry.

I wanted then to get to how they calculated 1914, since that is not in Daniel 4. They declined at that point, desiring to go back to the basics of the kingdom of God at our next meeting.


Are you interested in learning more about Jehovah’s Witnesses? Check out my book The Watchtower and the Word.

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4 thoughts on “Conversations With Jehovah’s Witnesses – Part Three”

  1. I am not with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I am concerned about what is being said related to Charles Taze Russell. Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim Russell to have been a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, in reality, he was never a member of such an organization. He preached against such sectarian authoritarianism as is found in the JW organization. For links to some of my related research:
    http://rlctr.blogspot.com/2016/12/jws.html

    Russell, however, unlike the JW leadership, claimed no special authority, and none of the Bible Students were bound to accept what he stated. As Russell stated:

    I disclaim any special inspiration. In some particulars my views agree with those of other Bible students, and in other respects they disagree. Each hearer must use his own judgment, do his own Bible study, and reach his own conclusions. — “Battle of Armageddon” – Sermon given November 3, 1912 at Brooklyn Academy of Music, as reproduced in the St. Paul Enterprise, November 21, 1916, page 1.

    Thus, there were differing viewpoints among the Bible Students in the days of Russell related to time prophecies and parallels. ome Bible Students even rejected the idea that times of the Gentiles were to end in 1914. Some believed they were to end in 1915; some believed they were to end sometime in the 1930s. Brother Russell often allowed differing views to be discussed in the Watch Tower. Every once in a while someone quotes some point being presented for discussion as though it was from Russell, when, if one examines the context, the point is from another Bible Student rather than Russell.

    Regarding 1914, as best as I can determine, the first to point to 1914 as a possible date for the end of the Gentile Times was E. B. Elliott, as shown in his book, “Horae Apocalypticae” (1844), pages 1429-1431. Later, Nelson Barbour adopted the date 1914, and presented several lines of prophetic scriptural evidence that points to that date. Russell accepted this from Barbur in 1876, and he elaborted greatly on these scriptural evidences, especially in his books, “The Time Is At Hand,” and “Thy Kingdom Come.” Rutherford wanted to use many of the time prophecies of the Bible to bolster his “Jehovah’s visible organization” dogma, so he quietly rejected almost all the evidence pointing to 1914. Today, as far as I know, the Jehovah’s Witnesses leadership only uses Daniel 4, which, alone, is not very convincing. You may find Russell’s books mentioned above online at:
    https://www.biblestandard.com/studies.html

    The Edgars produced even more support for the date 1914; and I believe some other Bible Students have also produced more support the date.

  2. I would think the single most important doctrine to concentrate on when speaking to the JWs is the person of Jesus. Discussing the significance of 1914 is moot in comparison as is all their other scripture twisting.

  3. You said – “Russell….. claimed no special authority, and none of the Bible Students were bound to accept what he stated.”

    Really?

    C.T. Russell was an egotist and the worst kind – a religious one.

    Russell claimed and proffered that to understand the Scriptures correctly, one had to read his books. and he even declared that it would be better to leave the Scriptures unread and instead read his writings , rather than read the Bible and neglect his books and literature. – The Watchtower, Studies in the Scriptures – September 15, 1910, p 298.

    As for your claim he was never associated with the Jehovah’s Witness – it is true – that name was taken and used by his successor Judge Rutherford in the 1930’s in an effort to distance themselves from the Millennial Dawn Movement – but the teachings and doctrinal assertions of Russell remained.

    Time to bone up on that research you say you’ve done.

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