This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 2000, Volume 17, pages 218-220. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.
Book Review - Index of Watchtower Error.
David A. Reed (Ed.). Baker Book House, 1990.
This book records the prophetic errors of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WT) in detail. The reason these prophetic errors are significant is that it establishes that by its own standards, the WT (Jehovah's Witness) organization is illegitimate.
Index points out that the WT has claimed to be God's sole mouthpiece on earth today, This is what they said: "Is not the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society the one and only channel which the Lord has used in dispensing his truth continually?"(1) They also professed, "Who will be Jehovah's prophet? Who will be the modern Jeremiah? The plain facts show God has been pleased to use Jehovah's Witnesses. (2)” This claim of organizational exclusivity should be a warning signal to the wary that the WT is a cult.
But is this criticism fair? Aren't even genuine prophets allowed to make mistakes? The answer for the WT must be no, for two reasons. Reed and his collaborators, Steve Huntoon and John Cornell point out that the WT invites such a critical examination: "Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a 'prophet' of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record." Index does just that. (3)
The second reason that the WT's prophetic failures are important has to do with their reliance upon biblical authority. According to the WT, the Bible is completely true (although they have their own, altered version of it). In the Bible it says that anyone who claims to speak as a prophet of Almighty God must be completely accurate in the area if predictive prophesy. If he is not, he has established himself as a false prophet. The WT's New World Translation quotes God as saying, "In case you should say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?' When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak" (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). This is the classic definition of a false prophet.
Therefore, the WT has, by its own standards disqualified itself as a faith that deserves a hearing. But in addition to establishing that the WT is a false prophet, Reed et al., show that the WT is guilty of other spiritual abuses, such as:
Thought reform (“Avoid independent thinking …questioning the counsel that is provided by God’s visible organization.”(4)
Strict organizational control (“…we must not only recognize Jehovah God as our Father but his organization as our Mother.”(5)
Shunning former members, even when they are in the same household ("We should not see how close we can get to relatives who are disfellowshipped from Jehovah's organization, but we should 'quit mixing company' with them.” (6).
Index indicates that these are reasons to be concerned about family and friends who may be involved with the WT religion. It simply confirms what is evident to most of us outside the WT: It is an abusive religious cult.
Index can be used as a tool to assist in the process of educating Witnesses about the cultic nature of the WT. However, great care must be exercised in its use with the Witnesses, because they are taught that opposition will come from outsiders, particularly from those who are close to the Witness herself.
(1) WT 4/1/19, 6414
(2) WT 1/15/59, 40-41
(3) WT 4/1/72, 197
(4) WT 1/15/83, 22
(5) WT 5/1/57, 274
(6) WT 7/15/63, 444
Everett Shropshire, Director
Watchman Fellowship of California
Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 17, 2000