Watchtower Lied; Did the Truth Lie?

Has the Watchtower Society purposefully misquoted people in defense of their views?

The Watchtower said in their Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook:

We are posting a number of e-letters Make Sure Ministries has received from David Henke, founder of Watchman Fellowship, Inc., an apologetics ministry, on a variety of subjects. They will post on Tuesdays into the foreseeable future. As always, we appreciate your comments. Please consider clicking on the link following this blog to learn more about Watchman Fellowship and what they have to offer. E-letters have been slightly edited for clarity.

Accuracy of Statement. Jehovah’s Witnesses are an organization of truth. We should want to speak the truth and be absolutely accurate in every detail at all times. This should be so not only as regards doctrine, but also in our quotations, what we say about others or how we represent them, also in matters involving scientific data or news events.

Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook, p. 110

Does the Watchtower speak with a forked tongue?

It should go without saying that if one’s “truth” must be defended with a lie then that so-called “truth” is probably also a lie. Christians should not fear having their faith challenged or examined closely. The Watchtower claim of being Jehovah’s spokesman on earth means they have to have answers to everything and also be correct.

It would not necessarily be an indictment on any given religion if one of its adherents lies in defense of his faith. That could just be his own weakness manifested. However, if the religion’s leaders lie regularly and knowingly sanction it on the part of their followers then that shows the poverty of truth at its foundation. It would be an indictment on the religion just as the Watchtower said in their School Guidebook.

Has the Watchtower Society purposefully misquoted people in defense of their views? The answer is definitely Yes. Most of the dishonesty can be found in their representations of our scholars’ comments on scripture translation, especially John 1:1, and historical events as they relate to doctrinal development, especially the Trinity.

“The Word was God” or “… a god?”

When the Watchtower Society published their New World Translation they rendered clause C of John 1:1 as “the Word was a god.” This drew the attention of Christian scholars and their unanimous rejection. In order to defend their rendering the Society represented certain scholars as supporting the rendering, if not directly, then indirectly.

When this writer asked the Society about their John 1:1 rendering they replied on their letterhead with this comment:

Note what Mr. Harner writes as to John 1:1: “In John 1:1 I think that the noun cannot be regarded as definite.” Therefore, the Greek at John 1:1 is not overwhelmingly “definite” as Colwell and others maintained so that the text should be rendered in the definite “the God.” Rather, as Harner shows there is the qualitative force possible, hence, warranting “a god,” meaning quality of Godlikeness or a mighty one.

Watchtower letter to David Henke, October 24, 1975

The Watchtower would have their people think there are only two options for translating John 1:1c, “a god” or “the God.” However, there is another alternative and that is simply God meaning Jesus is as much God as the Father is God. That is the true “qualitative force” Harner meant.

The noun the Society is speaking of in John 1:1 is the word theos (God) in clause C. The issue, briefly stated, is that if the word theos (God) is definite, i.e., “the God,” then Jesus would be all there is to God. If the word theos (God) is indefinite then Jesus would be a lesser god, or “a god,” as the Society contends. However, the whole point of Harner’s article in the Journal of Biblical Literature (JBL) was that there was a middle ground that did not say too much, nor too little.

Further in the JBL article Harner gave five examples of what John could have said as potential alternatives to what he actually said. This was Harner’s way of demonstrating that the “qualitative force” of theos was so strong as to require that it be understood as equating Jesus’ divinity with that of God the Father.

One of the alternatives would have been rendered as “a god,” a lesser deity than the Father. This was alternative D in Harner’s list of possibilities.

Harner specifically rejected this alternative. He said:

John evidently wished to say something about the logos that was other than A (the God) and more than D (a god). … But in all these cases the English reader might not understand exactly what John was trying to express. Perhaps the clause could be translated, “the Word had the same nature as God.” This would be one way of representing John’s thought, which is, as I understand it, that ho logos (the Word), no less than ho theos (the God) had the nature of theos (God).

Journal of Biblical Literature, by Harner, (parenthetical additions Henke’s; italics, this editor’s)

The Watchtower no longer answers questions on their letterhead but I’ve got some doozies in my files from way back when.

Make Sure Ministries: For further study on the Watchtower’s rendering of John 1:1 and another source they used to support the NWT’s John 1:1, the New Testament of Johannes Greber, a spiritist use these links.

April 16, 2021 E-Letter

Copyright© 2019 Watchman Fellowship, All rights reserved. Used by permission of David Henke.



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