No Loopholes Allowed
October 4th, 2017
[Edited: December 26th, 2017]
It is not uncommon to hear the claim that Witness leaders, presently the Governing Body, are false prophets (à la Deuteronomy 18). And this is not without basis. Indeed, I think it is true, though, to be sure the "Organization" and the "Governing Body" are ambivalent about how they present themselves: sometimes as speaking what God in some fashion communicates to them, sometimes offering what is merely their own sincere - and yet in some way (generally?) divinely guided - interpretation of prophecy or Scripture.
I was hesitant to come to this conclusion, because I could point to many places in the old Witness literature that showed that they eschewed prophetic status; and sometimes the supposed quotes that non-Witnesses would use to prove that they considered themselves inspired prophets seemed to have been misunderstood. However, I think there is good reason to think that, by their own words, the Governing Body and their predecessors - Russell, Rutherford and Knorr - considered themselves to be, or where considered to be, inspired by God to interpret prophecy (and doctrine). Demonstrating this claim will be the task of next's week post.
However - and this is not appreciated by many - it doesn't really matter if the Organization or its leaders are false prophets or not. Why? Because their record of failed predictions, whether considered as the product of divine guidance, inspiration or mere human conjecture, speak for themselves: they are no good at interpreting prophecy. At least, no better than anyone else. And this gives the lie to their Governing Body's claim to be God's unique spokesman as demonstrated by the various prophecies they say that they and their Organization fulfill. If they were wrong these numerous times before (and in substantial ways), why pay them credence now? They were just as confident before, and dead wrong.
And I'll repeat this observation again, for it is so important. Indeed, I recognized the strength of this point even before I realized that there was good reason to consider the Governing Body and their predecessors as false prophets The legitimacy of their movement and their Governing Body's putative doctrinal authority rest on the role they posit for themselves in the last days. For instance, the Governing Body - it is said - has doctrinal authority over God's people; we can know this because they fit that role as foretold in prophecy (as interpreted by them). But we know there is no good reason to trust that they have any special insight into prophecy, so we know that there is no reason to think they've correctly interpreted prophecy when it concerns the role they've posited for themselves. Thus, we have good reason reject the doctrinal supremacy of the Governing Body.
And once this implication is grasped, then the ability to reason with a Witness on doctrine is greatly increased. This is true in my case, as I will relate in the future in more detail. And it is for this reason, and for the reason that it is not as confrontational as arguing that their Organization or its leaders are false prophets, that I recommend that this more modest case be made: they are not reliable interpreters of prophecy.
Next week, though, I will argue that given their own characterization of their role, interpretations and predictions, their leaders have made themselves out to be prophets. In the third and final post of this series, I will note of many of their predictions that have failed - a fact which once grasped is sufficient in of itself to reject the authority claims of the Governing Body, as I have said.