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Sunday, June 28, 2009

One God in Three?

Additional Reading:

THE Trinity—you undoubtedly know of it, for this doctrine is taught throughout Christendom. How important is it to the teaching of the churches? More significantly, what does God’s Word, the Bible, reveal about there being one god in three persons?

“The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion—the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons. . . . Thus, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: ‘the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God.’ . . . This, the Church teaches, is the revelation regarding God’s nature which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came upon earth to deliver to the world: and which she proposes to man as the foundation of her whole dogmatic system.”—The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Not only is the Trinity dogma “the foundation” of the “whole dogmatic system” of the Roman Catholic Church but it also figures prominently in the basis for membership of the World Council of Churches. Truly, the Trinity can be termed “the central doctrine” of Christendom’s religions—Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. But is this doctrine “the truth,” as The Catholic Encyclopedia claims?

Theology, Not Scripture

Additional Reading:

In its article “Trinity,” a Protestant work (The Illustrated Bible Dictionary) states: “The word Trinity is not found in the Bible . . . It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century . . . Although Scripture does not give us a formulated doctrine of the Trinity, it contains all the elements out of which theology has constructed the doctrine.”

Who were the first theologians to coin the word “trinity” as they “constructed the doctrine”? The Catholic Encyclopedia informs us: “In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word trias (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A. D. 180. . . . Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian.” However, Theophilus’ triad was made up of “God, and His Word, and His wisdom”—hardly Christendom’s Trinity! As to Tertullian, the encyclopedia admits that “his Trinitarian teaching is inconsistent,” among other things because he held that “there was a time when there was no Son.” So the least that can be said is that these two men had in mind something quite different from Christendom’s coeternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But the word “trinity” stuck, and later theologians gradually “constructed the doctrine” as we know it today. Did they, however, build it on the foundation of Scripture? No, but on theology or philosophy. The Encyclopædia Britannica states: “Christian theology took the Neoplatonic metaphysics [philosophy] of substance as well as its doctrine of hypostases [essence, or nature] as the departure point for interpreting the relationship of the ‘Father’ to the ‘Son.’” Their problem was to make “God the Father,” “God the Son” and “God the Holy Spirit” not three Gods but one. For years, they quarreled over whether the persons of the Trinity were of similar substance (Greek, homoiousia) or of the same substance (homoousia). This controversy was settled in favor of homoousia at the Councils of Nicaea in 325 C.E. and Constantinople in 381 C.E.

The Britannica adds: “From the outset, the controversy between both parties [at Nicaea] took place upon the common basis of the Neoplatonic concept of substance, which was foreign to the New Testament itself. It is no wonder that the continuation of the dispute on the basis of the metaphysics of substance likewise led to concepts that have no foundation in the New Testament.” Thus, the very concept of a God in three persons of one substance is founded on theology or philosophy, but not on the Scriptures.

You can see evidence of this by examining the two sections of the Bible commonly called the Old and New Testaments.

No Trinity in the “Old Testament”

The 15-volume Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique declares: “It seems unquestionable that the revelation of the mystery of the Trinity was not made to the Jews.” Similarly The Illustrated Bible Dictionary states: “It must be remembered that the O[ld] T[estament] was written before the revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity was clearly given.” How ridiculous, though, to maintain that true worshipers of pre-Christian times were in fundamental ignorance of the true God and worshiped only one third of the so-called Godhead! Can you believe that? Hardly. They knew whom they were worshiping.—Psalm 95:6, 7.

Some Trinitarians still try to use the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures, to support their concept of a three-in-one God. One of their arguments is that the Hebrew word translated “God” is often in the plural form (’Elo‧him′). They seem to ignore that this word is used in the same way for individual pagan divinities, such as Dagon (1 Samuel 5:7) and Marduk (Daniel 1:2), who were not triune gods. Commenting on this, Oxford scholar R. B. Girdlestone writes in his Synonyms of the Old Testament: “Many critics, however, of unimpeachable [Trinitarian] orthodoxy, think it wiser to rest where such divines as Cajetan [a theologian] in the Church of Rome and Calvin among Protestants were content to stand, and to take the plural form as a plural of majesty.” Such Trinitarian theologians doubtless realized that if they took ‘Elo‧him′ as a numerical plural (gods), they would become polytheists!

Two other arguments that some Trinitarians draw from the Hebrew Scriptures are (1) that Christ is prophetically called Immanuel in Isaiah 7:14 and (2) that “Mighty God” is one of the names applied to him in Isaiah 9:6.

The name Immanuel means “with us is God,” but this does not mean that Christ is God, any more than Elihu was God simply because his name means “God is he.” (Job 32:1, 2) As to Christ’s being called “Mighty God,” if puny human judges can be called “gods” in the Scriptures (Psalm 82:1-7), is it not appropriate that God’s Son should be called “Mighty God” (Hebrew, ‘El Gib‧bohr′)? Notice, however, that he is not called “God Almighty” (Hebrew, ‘El Shad‧dai′), a term used exclusively for Jehovah. Referring to these two arguments, The Catholic Encyclopedia admits: “Even these exalted titles did not lead the Jews to recognize that the Saviour to come was to be none other than God Himself.” Neither do they lead us to do so. Summing up on so-called Old Testament proofs of the Trinity, the Protestant Cyclopædia by M’Clintock and Strong states: “Thus it appears that none of the passages cited from the Old Test[ament] in proof of the Trinity are conclusive . . . We do not find in the Old Test[ament] clear or decided proof upon this subject.”

What About the “New Testament”?

We have already seen that a Greek philosophical concept permitted theologians to ‘construct’ the doctrine of a God in three persons of one substance, but the Swiss Vocabulaire Biblique says: “No New Testament writings supply explicit assurance of a triune God.” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology also admits: “The N[ew] T[estament] does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity.” This being the case, Trinitarians have been obliged to resort to strained reasonings to give a few verses in the Christian Greek Scriptures a Trinitarian twist. Let us examine a few.

They can be grouped into two categories: (1) Texts in which God, his Son and the holy spirit are mentioned in the same verse or verses and (2) texts in which any two of them are mentioned.

The first group includes the texts that are supposed to contain the so-called triadic formula. These are Matthew 28:19 (Father, Son, holy spirit), 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (spirit, Lord, God), 2 Corinthians 13:14 ([13 in some Bibles] Christ, God, holy spirit), Galatians 4:4-6 (God, Son, spirit of his Son), Ephesians 4:4-6 (spirit, Lord, God) and 1 Peter 1:2 (God, spirit, Jesus Christ).

Does the fact that God, his Son and the holy spirit are mentioned together prove that they share divinity, eternity and equality, as the Trinity dogma claims? If so, then it might equally be asserted that the Trinitarian “Godhead” is made up of God, Christ and the angels! (See Mark 13:32; 1 Timothy 5:21.) Even the M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia concedes, with regard to the so-called Trinitarian baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19: “The connection of these three subjects does not prove their personality or equality.” Neither this text nor any of the other so-called triadic-formula texts are proof of the Trinity doctrine. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament states plainly: “The N[ew] T[estament] does not actually speak of triunity. We seek this in vain in the triadic formulae of the NT.”

“Two-in-One-God” Texts

The second category of passages adduced by Trinitarians to bolster up their dogma might be termed two-in-one-God texts. Why? Because, at the most, they would indicate that God and Christ are one, nothing being said of the spirit. Viewed more objectively, though, these scriptures simply do not support the concept of a God in three persons of one substance. Nevertheless, let us consider two of those quoted in theological works.

Surprisingly, Christendom’s theologians do not appear to rank John 1:1 among the strongest proofs of the Trinity. To start with, they are disappointed that, to quote the Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, “the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this prologue [John 1:1-18].” That leaves them with a two-person “Trinity,” which is absurd. Further, the Trinitarian translation “the Word was God” gives the reader the impression that the Word was one and the same person with God. But this is impossible, because the same verse says “the Word was with God,” and “this preposition [“with,” literally “toward”] implies intercourse and therefore separate personality.” So professor B. F. Westcott hastens to state that the phrase rendered “the Word was God” describes “the nature of the Word and does not identify His Person.” Well and good. But this true meaning of the original Greek is certainly not the thought conveyed by most Bibles. Still, some scholars, less supportive of Trinitarian ideas, have translated it “the Word was a divine being” or “the Word was divine.” In the Journal of Biblical Literature (Volume 92, 1973), Philip P. Harner writes: “Perhaps the clause could be translated, ‘the Word had the same nature as God.’” Hence, far from proving that there is a three-in-one God, John 1:1 does not even prove that there is a two-in-one God!

The text that A Catholic Dictionary calls “the strongest statement of Christ’s divinity in St. Paul, and, indeed, in the N[ew] T[estament]” is Romans 9:5. In The Jerusalem Bible, this verse reads, in part: “Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology acknowledges that even if a Trinitarian rendering of the Greek were accurate, “Christ would not be equated absolutely with God, but only described as a being of divine nature, for the word theos [God] has no article. But this ascription of majesty does not occur anywhere else in Paul. The much more probable explanation is that the statement is a doxology [praise] directed to God.” Even A Catholic Dictionary admits: “There is no reason in grammar or in the context which forbids us to translate ‘God, who is over all, be blessed for ever, Amen.’” So much for “the strongest statement of Christ’s divinity”!—Compare Romans 9:5 in the Catholic New American Bible and the Protestant New English Bible.

One God or Three?

There are other scriptures quoted by Trinitarians in their efforts to back up the so-called “central doctrine of the Christian religion.” After having examined several of these, Professor Johannes Schneider concludes his article on “God” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology by stating: “All this underlines the point that primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds of the early church.”

One God or three? For the early Christians, the answer was plain. It was clearly stated by the apostle Paul:

“We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even though there are those who are called ‘gods,’ whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords,’ there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.”—1 Corinthians 8:4-6.

The Bible speaks of “the Father,” “the Son” and also “the holy spirit.” But it does not present them as a triune God. Just what the “one God and Father of all persons,” the “one Lord,” and the “one spirit” are, according to the Bible, will be examined in our next issue.—Ephesians 4:4-6.

The Expositor’s Greek Testament, edited by W. Robertson Nicoll, 1967 reprint, Volume 1, page 684.

Published by the WTB&TS, 1984

Friday, June 26, 2009

Will Planet Earth be destroyed?

What does the Bible show to be God’s purpose regarding the earth?
Matt. 6:10: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” Ps. 37:29: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” See also Ecclesiastes 1:4; Psalm 104:5.

Is there a possibility that, since the nations show little regard for God’s purpose, they might completely ruin the earth for habitation anyway?
Isa. 55:8-11: “[The utterance of Jehovah is:] As the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. . . . My word . . . will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”

Isa. 40:15, 26: “Look! [From the standpoint of Jehovah God] The nations are as a drop from a bucket; and as the film of dust on the scales they have been accounted. . . . ‘Raise your eyes high up and see [the sun, the moon, and the billions of stars]. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.’” (The nuclear power developed by the nations is fear inspiring to men. But billions of stars employ nuclear power on a scale that is beyond our ability to comprehend. Who created and controls all these heavenly bodies? Can He not prevent the nations from using their nuclear weapons in a way that would hinder his purpose? That God would do this is illustrated by his destroying the military power of Egypt when Pharaoh sought to stop the deliverance of Israel.—Ex. 14:5-31.)

Rev. 11:17, 18: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”

Will God himself destroy the earth by fire?
Does 2 Peter 3:7, 10 (KJ) support that view? “The heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition [“destruction,” RS] of ungodly men. . . . The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up [“burned (burnt) up,” RS, JB; “will vanish,” TEV; “will be made manifest,” NAB; “will be laid bare,” NE; “will be discovered,” NW].” (Note: The Codex Sinaiticus and Vatican MS 1209, both of the 4th century C.E., read “be discovered.” Later manuscripts, the 5th-century Codex Alexandrinus and the 16th-century Clementine recension of the Vulgate, read “be burned up.”)

Does Revelation 21:1 (KJ) indicate that our planet will be destroyed? “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”

To be correct, the explanation of these verses must agree with the context and with the rest of the Bible
If these texts (2 Peter 3:7, 10 and Revelation 21:1) mean that the literal planet Earth is to be consumed by fire, then the literal heavens (the stars and other heavenly bodies) are also to be destroyed by fire. Such a literal view, however, conflicts with the assurance contained in such texts as Matthew 6:10, Psalm 37:29 and 104:5, also Proverbs 2:21, 22. Furthermore, what effect would fire have on the already intensely hot sun and stars? So the term “earth” in the above-quoted texts must be understood in a different sense.

At Genesis 11:1, First Kings 2:1, 2, First Chronicles 16:31, Psalm 96:1, etc., the term “earth” is used in a figurative sense, referring to mankind, to human society. Might that be the case at 2 Peter 3:7, 10 and Revelation 21:1?

Note that, in the context, at 2 Peter 3:5, 6 (also 2:5, 9), a parallel is drawn with the Flood of Noah’s day, in which wicked human society was destroyed, but Noah and his household, as well as the globe itself, were preserved. Likewise, at 2 Peter 3:7 it says that the ones to be destroyed are “ungodly men.” The view that “the earth” here refers to wicked human society fully agrees with the rest of the Bible, as is illustrated by the texts cited above. It is that symbolic “earth,” or wicked human society, that is “discovered”; that is, Jehovah will sear away as by fire all disguise, exposing the wickedness of ungodly human society and showing it to be worthy of complete destruction. That wicked society of humans is also “the first earth,” referred to at Revelation 21:1 (KJ).

Consistently, Jesus’ expression at Luke 21:33 (“heaven and earth will pass away, but . . . ”) must be understood in the light of the parallel statement at Luke 16:17 (“it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than . . . ”), both of which simply emphasize the impossibility of the situations presented.—See also Matthew 5:18.

Will the righteous be taken to heaven and then returned to earth after the wicked are destroyed?
Does Revelation 21:2, 3 support that view? It says: “I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them.’” (Does the fact that God will “reside” with mankind and “be with them” mean that he will become a fleshly Being? That cannot be, because Jehovah told Moses: “No man may see me and yet live.” [Ex. 33:20] Consistently, then, the members of the New Jerusalem will not return to earth as physical beings. In what sense, then, could God “be with” mankind and how would the New Jerusalem ‘come down out of heaven’? No doubt an indication is found in Genesis 21:1, which says that God “visited” Sarah, blessing her with a son in her old age. Exodus 4:31 tells us that God “visited” Israel by sending Moses as a deliverer. Luke 7:16 says that by means of Jesus’ ministry God “visited” his people. [All from KJ and RS] Other translations use the expression God “turned his attention” to his people [NW] or ‘showed concern’ for them [NE]. So Revelation 21:2, 3 must mean that God will ‘visit,’ or be with, mankind by means of the heavenly New Jerusalem, through which blessings will come to obedient humans.)

Prov. 2:21, 22, KJ: “The upright shall dwell in the land [“on earth,” NE], and the perfect [“blameless men,” NE] shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.” (Notice that it does not say the blameless will return to the earth but that they “shall remain in it.”)

Has God’s original purpose for the earth changed?
Gen. 1:27, 28: “God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.’” (Thus God indicated his purpose to have the earth filled with the offspring of Adam and Eve as caretakers of a global paradise. After God had magnificently designed this earth for human habitation, making it unique among all the planets that man has examined with his telescopes and spaceships, did the Creator simply abandon his purpose, leaving it forever unfulfilled because of Adam’s sin?)

Isa. 45:18: “This is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: ‘I am Jehovah, and there is no one else.’” (See also Isaiah 55:10, 11.)

If no one is ever going to die in God’s New Order, how will all the people fit on earth?
Keep in mind that when God expressed his purpose for the earth he said: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Gen. 1:28) God gave man the ability to procreate, and when His purpose in that regard is fulfilled He can cause procreation to cease on earth.

What kind of people will God favor with endless life on earth?
Zeph. 2:3: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”

Ps. 37:9, 11: “Those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. . . . The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”

- Reasoning From the Scriptures, published by the WTB&TS

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Christendom Borrows from Plato

“GO THEREFORE and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20, Common Bible) Christians desire to understand that commission of Jesus Christ and want to fulfill it.

To do so one must know the relationship of God the Father to his Son, Jesus Christ. But in the minds of some this has proved to be puzzling. How so?

When persons read the Christian Greek Scriptures they encounter texts that present Jesus in a very exalted role. The apostle John, for example, referring to Jesus as “the Word,” or spokesman for God, wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) Jesus himself said: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) The apostle Paul wrote concerning Jesus: “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”—Col. 2:9.

On the other hand, there are places where the Bible presents Jesus as subject to God the Father. We read, for example: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.” (John 5:19) “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) “The Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28) “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.’”—Mark 10:18.

Declaring Jesus “Eternal,” “Almighty”

Not long after the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ died, heated debates began to center around the nature and relationship of the Father, Son and holy spirit. Efforts to settle such questions led to a series of “creeds,” or statements of belief, that eventually resulted in Christendom’s doctrine of the Trinity. Do you believe in the Trinity? Perhaps you have always thought of it as based upon the Bible. But do you know exactly what that doctrine teaches? The “Athanasian Creed” puts it this way:

“We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. . . . The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. . . . So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet there are not three almightys, but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet there are not three Gods, but one God. . . . And in this Trinity none is afore or after other; none is greater or less than another. But the whole three persons are coeternal together, and coequal.”

But what about the scriptures that portray Jesus as subordinate to God? The above-quoted “creed” took care of those by declaring Jesus to be both “perfect God” and “perfect man” at the same time. We read: “For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man. . . . Perfect God and perfect man . . . Equal to the Father as touching his Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching his manhood. Who, although he be God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ.”

Is that what you believe about God and Jesus Christ? Perhaps you ask: How could Jesus Christ be the “Son” of God if he had existed as long as his Father? How could Jesus be both human and divine, both “coequal” with and “inferior” to God at the same time? If “the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty,” can there truly be only “one almighty”?

Did you know that the inspired Scriptures never mention the word “trinity”? Nor do they state anywhere that Jesus is coequal and coeternal with God. Where, then, did such an idea originate?

The Role of Greek Philosophy

The Encyclopædia Britannica (1976 edition) states: “From the middle of the 2nd century [that is, the 100’s] AD, Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans. The philosophy that suited them best was Platonism.”

“Platonism” refers to the teachings of Greek philosopher Plato who was born about 428 B.C.E. Indicating a direct connection between the Trinity doctrine and Plato’s philosophy, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge points out:

“Many of the early Christians, in turn, found peculiar attractions in the doctrines of Plato, and employed them as weapons for the defense and extension of Christianity, or cast the truths of Christianity in a Platonic mold. The doctrines of the Logos [Greek for “the Word”] and the Trinity received their shape from Greek Fathers, who, if not trained in the schools, were much influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Platonic philosophy, particularly in its Jewish-Alexandrian form.”

In what way did such “early Christians” employ Plato’s philosophy when molding the Trinity doctrine? Let us consider briefly what this Greek philosopher taught.

From “Demiurge” to Pagan “Logos”

According to Plato, all the things that people can see and feel are the result of eternal “ideas” or “forms” impressed upon matter. As a beautiful sculpture represents the idea of the sculptor impressed upon stone, so Plato believed that the entire physical universe owes its existence to the influence upon matter of a “world of ideas.” The supreme “idea” was said to be “the Good,” which Plato sometimes identified with God.

Of special interest is Plato’s belief concerning creation of the world. S. E. Frost, Jr., Ph.D, writes in The Basic Teachings of the Great Philosophers:

“In one of Plato’s famous Dialogues, the Timaeus, he tells us how the world of our senses was created. There was an ‘architect,’ the ‘Demiurge,’ who brought the ideal world and matter together just as a sculptor might bring his idea and marble together to produce a statue. This ‘Demiurge’ had perfect ideas of everything, and he had a great mass of matter. Plato never tells us where either the ‘Demiurge,’ ideas, or matter came from originally. They were just there when things began. As the ‘Demiurge’ brought an idea in touch with some matter, a thing was created.”

This theory was brought into contact with the Bible by a Jewish philosopher known as Philo, who was born between 15 and 10 B.C.E. But what Plato called the “Demiurge” Philo referred to as “the Logos.” Dr. Frost explains:

“Philo taught that there were many powers, or spirits, which radiated from God as light might radiate from a lamp. One of these powers, which he called the ‘Logos,’ was the creator of the world. This Logos, he taught, worked with matter and out of it created everything in the universe. In this way, God, through the Logos, created the universe. Further, everything in the universe is a copy of an idea in the mind of God. This reminds us of Plato’s belief that the world which we experience through our senses is a copy of ideas in the ideal world. And, indeed, Philo was attempting here to reconcile Plato’s philosophy with the Jewish religion.”

“The Word,” or Logos, according to John, however, is different from that of Philo. John describes “the Word” as a person who “became flesh.” (John 1:14) This is not true of Plato’s “Demiurge” or Philo’s “Logos.”

Nevertheless, early in the Common Era certain individuals transferred to “the Word” of the Gospel of John characteristics of the “Demiurge” and “Logos” mentioned in the non-Biblical writings of Plato and Philo. Since that pagan “Demiurge” or “Logos” evidently had always existed alongside the supreme God, it became “orthodox” to teach that Jesus was coeternal with God. Does the Bible support that conclusion?
Jesus and God—“Coeternal”?

Clergymen of Christendom frequently cite Scripture texts to prove that Jesus had no beginning. An example is their treatment of John 8:57, 58, where we read: “The Jews then said to Him [Jesus], ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’”

That text in itself says nothing about how long Jesus existed before Abraham. But Trinitarians reason that it means that Jesus has existed eternally. Typical of this is what one commentator says: “It is important to observe the distinction between the two verbs. Abraham’s life was under the conditions of time, and therefore had a temporal beginning. Hence, Abraham came into being, or was born [genésthai, Greek]. Jesus’ life was from and to eternity. Hence the formula for absolute, timeless existence, I am [egò eimí, Greek].”

What is the real source of such reasoning? Hastings’ Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics explains: “Christianity took over from Greek philosophy, and to some extent developed independently, the profound and fruitful idea of the distinction between time and eternity, and between becoming and being. First clearly stated by Parmenides, c. 500 B.C. . . . , it is worked out in considerable detail by Plato, c. 390 B.C., especially in his Phædrus and Symposium.”

Not once, however, does the Bible state that Jesus is coeternal with God. Though Jesus enjoyed a prehuman existence of unspecified length in heaven, the Bible shows that he had a beginning of existence. He is called “the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation” and “the beginning [Greek, arké] of God’s creation.”—Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14.

The eighth chapter of Proverbs uses similar language concerning “wisdom” personified. There, according to the Greek Septuagint Version, wisdom speaks of itself as “the beginning [arké] of his [God’s] ways for his works” and claims to have existed “before time was in the beginning, before he made the earth.” (Prov. 8:22, 23, Bagster) Does this suggest that wisdom personified had eternal preexistence? No, for verse twenty-two begins with wisdom, saying: “The Lord made [Greek, éktise, “created”] me.”

“Coequal”—Another Loan from Plato

What about the teaching that Jesus is coequal with God? If you read the Scriptures alone, never will you get such a notion. While the Bible sometimes applies the term “god” to Jesus in his prehuman existence and after his resurrection, it uses the same terminology with regard to created angels. The psalmist, for example, declared that God made mankind “a little less than godlike ones.” (Hebrew, elohím, “gods”; Septuagint, “angels.”)—Ps. 8:5, NW.

However, many clergymen try to explain scriptures that apply the term “god” to Jesus as meaning that Jesus is fully equal to God. This is evident in many commentaries on Jesus’ statement, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) For example, Bible scholar C. J. Ellicott claims: “These words assert the oneness in power and nature of the Father and the Son. . . . ‘The Son is of one substance with the Father.’”

A similar explanation is given to the apostle Paul’s statement that “the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily” in Jesus Christ. (Col. 2:9) The noted Bible commentator J. A. Bengel gives an example of Trinitarian reasoning on this verse: “The fullest Godhead, dwells in Christ: not merely the Divine attributes, but the Divine nature itself; . . . as it were the entire essence of the Godhead, dwells in Christ most immediately and really.”

This reminds one of the wording of the “Nicene Creed” (325 C.E.), which declares Jesus to be “true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father.” According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), by the expression “of one substance [Greek, homoousios] with the Father” the Council intended “to assert His full equality with the Father.”

However, to arrive at that doctrine, Christendom once again borrowed from Plato, this time from a form of philosophy known as “Neoplatonism,” or “New Platonism.” “Christian theology,” notes the Encyclopædia Britannica, “took the Neoplatonic metaphysics of substance as well as its doctrine of [essences, or natures] as the departure point for interpreting the relationship of the ‘Father’ to the ‘Son.’”

What, though, did Jesus mean when he said, “I and the Father are one”? J. H. Bernard, D.D., states in A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel

According to St. John:

“A unity of fellowship, of will, and of purpose between the Father and the Son is a frequent theme in the Fourth Gospel . . . , and it is tersely and powerfully expressed here; but to press the words so as to make them indicate identity of ousia [Greek for “substance,” “essence”], is to introduce thoughts which were not present to the theologians of the first century.”—Compare John 5:18, 19; 14:9, 23; 17:11, 22.

The teaching that Jesus is coequal and coeternal with God has no foundation in the inspired Scriptures. From start to finish it is evidence of Christendom’s borrowing from the Greek philosopher Plato.

Unless otherwise marked, all Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the Common Bible, approved by both Catholic and Protestant authorities.

- Published by the WTB&TS in 1976

Additional Reading:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Clayton J. Woodworth (1870-1951)

Friends of the truth throughout the earth will be interested to learn of the death of one who played a prominent part in the affairs of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society for many years, Clayton J. Woodworth. An editor and textbook writer before coming into the Society’s service; he first became a member of the Brooklyn Bethel family in 1912, renewing this membership after a necessary interruption August 1, 1919. He was the writer of the commentary on The Revelation contained in the noted The Finished Mystery which the Society published in 1917. For his part in this and other Society matters he was one of the seven brothers, including the Society’s then president, J. F. Rutherford, who were sent to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary on false charges at the climax of World War I in 1918 but were released in 1919 and exonerated thereafter.

Additional Reading:

Following his release in 1919 Brother Woodworth was made editor of the Society’s newly introduced magazine The Golden Age. He remained editor when the magazine’s name was changed to Consolation in 1937, to carry on as such until 1946. Because of advancing years he was relieved of this when the magazine was given a new change of name to Awake! For years he served as a member and director of the New York Corporation, People’s Pulpit Association and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc. He continued joyfully active at other duties assigned to him till his illness made this recently impossible. He died at the ripe old age of 81, loyal to the faith and unwaveringly devoted to the theocratic organization, on December 18, 1951, at 4 a.m. Interment of his remains took place at the burial plot of the Bethel family adjoining Radio Station WBBR on Staten Island, New York, at the same time with two other faithful Bethel family members who had died, hours apart, two days previous at the Bethel home. All three professed to be of the anointed remnant, and we rejoice in hope of their realization of Revelation 14:13.

As its editor The Golden Age had one of the brothers who had been imprisoned with Brother Rutherford. He was Clayton J. Woodworth. His son, C. James Woodworth, fills in these interesting details: “My father reestablished a home for us in Scranton [Pennsylvania], and when, in 1919, The Golden Age was begun as a companion magazine to The Watch Tower, the Society appointed him its editor. It was necessary for him to spend a large part of his time actually in Brooklyn, so the Society kindly made an arrangement whereby he worked for two weeks in Brooklyn and two weeks at home—an arrangement that went on for quite a few years. I well remember my dads typewriter going busily at five o’clock many mornings—as he wrote or edited material for The Golden Age and sent it to Brooklyn by early mail.”

Clayton J. Woodworth faithfully served as editor of The Golden Age and its successor Consolation (published from October 6, 1937, through July 31, 1946, inclusive). Because of advancing years, he was relieved of this work when the new journal Awake! replaced Consolation, with the issue of August 22, 1946. However, Brother Woodworth remained faithful at other duties in God’s service until death, on December 18, 1951, at eighty-one years of age.

Charles Taze Russell had written six volumes of Millennial Dawn, or Studies in the Scriptures, but often spoke about writing a seventh volume. “Whenever I find the key,” said he, “I will write the Seventh Volume; and if the Lord gives the key to someone else, he can write it.” The Society’s officers arranged to have two Bible Students, Clayton J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher, compile a book consisting of commentaries on Revelation, The Song of Solomon and Ezekiel. The coeditors assembled material from Brother Russell’s writings and this was published under the title “The Finished Mystery” as the seventh volume of Studies in the Scriptures. Containing largely the thinking and comments of C. T. Russell, it was termed the “posthumous work of Pastor Russell.”

C. J. Woodworth

To one who forsook Jehovah’s service because the anointed followers of Jesus Christ were not taken to heaven in 1914, C. J. Woodworth wrote as follows:

“Twenty years ago you and I believed in infant baptism; in the Divine right of the clergy to administer that baptism; that baptism was necessary to escape eternal torment; that God is love; that God created and continues to create billions of beings in His likeness who will spend the countless ages of eternity in the strangling fumes of burning sulphur, pleading in vain for one drop of water to relieve their agonies . . .

“We believed that after a man dies, he is alive; we believed that Jesus Christ never died; that He could not die; that no Ransom was ever paid or ever will be paid; that Jehovah God and Christ Jesus His Son are one and the same person; that Christ was His own Father; that Jesus was His own Son; that the Holy Spirit is a person; that one plus one, plus one, equal one; that when Jesus hung on the cross and said, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou Forsaken Me,’ He was merely talking to Himself; . . . that present kingdoms are part of Christ’s Kingdom; that the Devil has been away off somewhere in an unlocated Hell, instead of exercising dominion over the kingdoms of this earth . . .

“I praise God for the day that brought Present Truth to my door. It was so wholesome, so refreshing to mind and heart, that I quickly left the humbug and claptrap of the past and was used of God to also open your blinded eyes. We rejoiced in the Truth together, working side by side for fifteen years. The Lord greatly honored you as a mouthpiece; I never knew anybody who could make the follies of Babylon look so ridiculous. In your letter you ask, ‘What next?’ Ah, now comes the pity of it! The next thing is that you permit your heart to become embittered against the one whose labors of love and whose blessing from on High brought the Truth to both our hearts. You went out, and took several of the sheep with you. . . .

“Probably I look ridiculous to you because I did not go to Heaven, October 1st, 1914, but you don’t look ridiculous to me—oh no!

“With ten of the greatest nations of earth writhing in their death agonies, it seems to me a particularly inopportune time to seek to ridicule the man, and the only man, who for forty years has taught that the Times of the Gentiles would end in 1914.”

Brother Woodworth’s faith was not shaken when the events of 1914 did not turn out as expected. He simply realized that there was more to learn. Because of his confidence in God’s purpose, he spent nine months in prison in 1918-19. Later he served as editor of the magazines “The Golden Age” and “Consolation.” He remained firm in faith and loyal to Jehovah’s organization right down till his death in 1951, at 81 years of age.

- Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS

Raymond Street Jail
Brooklyn, N.Y.
June 23, 1918

Dear Ones all:

It is a lot of fun to belong to the tribe of Asher. It helps on to enjoy the follies of the high life of our great cities. We are all on the third tier of cells. Brother Rutherford is in 9 N 7, Brother Van Amburgh is in 11 N 7 and I am in 24 N 7. That means we are in the north Gallery Number 7; in room number 9. 11 and 24 respectively.

When we came up to our Gallery, Bro. Rutherford goes in first, after parting with Bro. Van and me; then Van goes in, after parting with me, and then I go in, bringing the heavily made iron doors shut as I do so. The lock is on the outside and shuts with a resounding clang that can be heard all over the prison. When the 155 prisoners in this section go in together the result sounds like an army of locusts going over the top of a tin roof. See Rev. 19:18 comments in Vol. VII “SCRIPTURE STUDIES”. Brothers Martin, DeCecca, MacMillian, Robinson, and Fisher are in 19 S 3, 22 S 3, 23 S 3, 24 S 3, and 25 S 3, that is in Gallery 3, rooms 19, 22, 23,24, 25 respectively. This Gallery is opposite ours, only 20 feet from cell to cell. This enables me to see and exchange greetings with DeCecca, MacMillan, Robinson and Fisher. Martin is just outside my range of vision, but I can hear him when he LAUGHS.


Since writing the foregoing, Bro. Rutherford has been transferred to a clearer cell, 20 N 7, only 4 door from me, and directly opposite Bro. Martin. Bro. Rutherford can also see Bro. MacMillian and Bro. Hudgings in 18 S 2 almost directly under Bro. Martin. Bro. Van cannot see Martin, but can hear him talk and LAUGH.

Bro. DeCecca has been transferred to another prison. The Pope has just escaped! DeCecca is the man, so the papers say, that caused the great Italian retreat a year ago. Poor DeCecca! He never did a thing in his life but minister to the needs of a hand full of believers - and write one ore two unfortunate letters, one of which was to his own brother who had written to him for advice.

But this is the life! You explain verse in the Bible - say Rev. 16:13,14 - and then you attend a three-weeks comedy or farce, showing the end from the beginning, and each day see it coming closer and closer. You know it is coming, and you know Howe!

In due time, you arrive at the Hotel de Raymondie. You stand in line, and are searched for drugs and sharp instruments of any kind. Residents are respectfully invited to cut their nails with their teeth. By the new process it is very interesting to see Bro. Van trim his hind paws.

Your room is 6 x 8 x 8 feet high. It contains one door of eight 1 inch vertical bars set 3 inches apart in a frame of Iron Posts 3 inches wide with five cross pieces of equal size. At the bottom is a hole 6 x 9 inches through you receive your food. This hotel is very particular to treat all its guests alike, but the arrangements for attending social functions between 3:30 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. are not all that could be desired, and I shall leave here the moment my board is up.

Your room does not have any windows and the scenery inside is not interesting, baring the fact that you can see every private and personal act of the parties in the square of nine cells directly opposite to you. If you cover more then a fourth of your door with paper you disobey a rule, and the disobedience of rules in a prison is no joke. For coughing at night a man was taken out of his cell, and I think, was put in the cooler, as the dungeon is called. I heard him crying on the way there, and afterward.

Your furniture consists of an Iron cot, which may be hooked up against the wall, and two large, double, heavy woolen blankets, with a straw tick pillow covered with a slip made of flour sack cloth. No sheets. The walls are very cold and even the blankets have not been able to keep us from shivering all night, some nights. This leads us, sometimes, to sleep in our clothes, and even Bro. MacMillan does not look tidy, when he has slept all night in his clothes.

Then you have a sort of Methodist mourner’s bench 20 inches high, 13 inches wide and 28 inches long, with one shelf in it, 8 inches above the floor. This contains your fine china and other table ware, consisting of two enameled-ware 1-quart bowls which Mac has christened cuspidors. As for me and my house, we are not brought up to eat out of cuspidors, but you can not always sometimes tell what you will do in this world. You do a lot when you learn howe.

Then you have a nickel-plated table-spoon. A least you should have. I did not find mine until after I had my first meal here., and unless you have tried eating ham and eggs out of a deep tray without anything more then your fingers to help you, why then you have missed something. Bro. Rutherford did not find his spoon until the fifth day. How he has managed to eat his meals in the meantime is a matter between him and his towel into which I dare not too particularly inquire.

The room contains a wash-basin, with no stopper, and a spring faucet which closes the instant the hand is removed. It also contains a porcelain, coverless toilet which is strictly sanitary if kept scrupulously clean. There are 400 of these in this wing. The Russelites keep theirs clean. I cannot speak for the rest; but I can smell for them! The ventilation is entirely inadequate. Singing and whistling is forbidden, but we have Wagerian opera all the time, i.e. heavy airs. This makes everybody sleepy and stupid, and it is a fact that the average prisoner is in bed eighteen hours out of twenty four. We have all found it very difficult to study much except Bro. Fisher who was born wearing spectacles and his hands full of types. Bless his dear heart, he and Bro. Rutherford have already produced some splendid Tower articles, in spite of all conditions.

Then you have a pile of newspapers, and if inclined to think lightly of them at first, you soon come to realize that in these papers and in soap and a wash-rag, lies your one chance of cleanliness and self respect. Your room is painted buff on the ceiling and half way down the side. A reddish brown base 18 inches high is painted about the bottom and the floor and wainscot section of the wall were once painted a light brown. You enter at midnight. Your keeper slams the door behind you, and you find yourself the midst of unspeakable filth and disorder. Worn out with your three weeks attendance at the grand farce you wrap yourself in the top blanket and sleep fitfully until 5:30 when the light in the top of your cell goes on and the tier-man comes running along, shoves a broom under the door and orders you to get up; and clean up the cell and put your discarded papers through the door, along with your soiled towels.

You arise, and stripping for a sponge bath, find yourself bitten from neck to hips and covered with a dozen poisoned blotches 2 or 3 inches in diameter. You succeed in getting in touch with the jail physician on the fourth day. He looks at you and tells you that it is something in your blood. You take his advice with a grain of salt, as you have already killed bedbugs, lice and fleas in your cell. You take a dose of salts, in fact, and are glad to get the morning shower bath and sulphur ointment which he also prescribes.

The jail meals are at 6:00 A.M. , 12:00 Noon, and 5:00 P.M., but every hour or so a caterer send a man through selling cakes, coffee, pies and fruit, and takes orders for excellent meals, which are thoroughly well cooked and very appetizing. By buying one good caterers meal each day, suitable selecting from the regular jail menu provide amply for all one’s needs.

Every morning at 6:00 A.M. a bell rings. Then comes the clatter of what Mac calls the cuspidors out through the holes in the bottom of the doors and on the Iron steps. Immediately every boy in the place (for all men are but boys) yell, “moosh”, “moosh” and the Russellite begin to laugh. Martin’s yell of boyish glee at the rediculousness of the whole situation rings to the remotest corner of the dreariest cell in the place, and everybody joins in the chorus.

Down each tier goes an attendant with a big bucket and long-handled dipper, shouting “honor-mush” as he comes. You are an “honor” prisoner. You have not misbehaved in prison, so you get mush. Some morning it is hominy with milk and sugar already mixed in it, and is palatable. Other mornings it is oatmeal of Lapage’s liquid variety, and without milk and sugar., I would have to be hungrier than I ever was yet before I could eat it. The morning meal also contains good war-bread, all you want of it, and a hot drink - as it were coffee. The coffee supplied by the caterer at 5 and 10 cents is excellent.

At noon the jail gives a splendid soup, containing lots of meat and vegetables, and all you want of it, and more bread and coffee, potatoes and meat or hash. The evening meal is of bead, apple sauce, and tea of coffee.

At 7:00 to 7:45 A.M. we walk in the covered court , a motly array, seventeen of us are Negroes. There are three cells between Bro. Rutherford and me,with Negroes in two of them. The court is clean to start with, but many of the men smoke and chew, and make bad shots at the cuspidors. Hence, we have to wipe off the soles of our shoes when we return to our apartments. On these walks we eight brethren seek fellowship with each other by two and threes and fours, occasionally talking with others when any seem inclined to listen. Stopping an instant while Bro. Hudgings comb my hair , a pickpocket snatch at my watch, but the chain broke and I saved it. Behind me a murderer boasted of getting only ten years for murder. We seven each get 80 years Total 560 theoretically, because Uncle Sam and I disagree as to the meaning of Rev. 16:13,14 It is an awful crime to be a Bible Student nowadays: and sincere.

At 7:45 Martin, MacMillan, Fisher, and I take a shower bath together - a rare treat. The bath is as fine a shower bath as is to be found anywhere. Then we go back to our cells, but are left out again at 8:45 to 9:30 to see the sun and clouds and the tree tops of a near by park. At 10:00 A.M. to 11:30 those whose wives are here may go down to the visiting corridor, where they talk through wire mesh grating - so near and yet so far. This is a curious sight. On one side and one the other a long line of people jabbering loudly at each other, in the attempt to be heard above the general uproar. Martin and I have had visitors twice in the week we have been here.

We attended services Sunday A.M. at 9:00 Bro. Fisher played in the absence of the regular organist The chaplain preached at us eight. Manifestly he did not remotely understand the first thing about his text. his talk was silly, so I just passed 15:2,3 along to the seven and they marked Job 15:9 and sent it back - all of which was without profit - in some sense at least - to the Asherites. See Rev. 7:6

At 1:30 to 3:30 we have our concluding talk in the inner court, during which time we may get shaved, for 15 cents each. Every man lathers himself and the barber gives him a quick once over and turns him out with his clothing well spotted with leather in “Jig time”.


Be sure to take with you an extra towel, soap, wash - rag, Mirrors Not allowed.

Scrub your side walls, floor, bench, bed, wash basin, and toilet thoroughly. At the first opportunity slam your blankets hard repeatedly against the corridor bars. Then carefully pick them over carefully on both sides, inch by inch , eight times.

In making your bed lay a double thickness of the bottom blanket on the bed. Then lay on it eight thickness of clean newspaper. Put two thickness of newspaper inside the top blanket. Sleep with the back of the top blanket under you. By doing this you will keep warm.

Cover your floor with news paper turned up 6 inches around the base. This will hide the tobacco stains which you could not scrub off.

Lay extra floor paper in your runway. Discard these every day.

Cover your bench and toilet with paper napkins to save your towel. A clean towel, of good quality, is provided each day.

Sort over your papers and magazines and wrap up for discard if soiled or greasy.

Caterer’s meals are supplied in three white enameled ware serving - dishes, 1 1/2 inch deep with vertical sides and double handles. they are circular in for and 6 inches in diameter. One contains your soup, one your meat, and accompanying potatoes or spagetti, and the other your desert.

Wipe off the bottom of these dishes with paper napkins ere you receive them into your suite, lest you be sorry afterward when you see the grease spots everywhere.

Satchels or suit cases are not allowed in cells. anything left such is liable to be stolen. Supplies from your suit case can be obtained on application to the office before 3:30 P.M.

The light in your cell must always be burning when you are in it and extinguished when you leave.

In my cell at present, I have in the side board ( i.e., the shelf or mourners bench ) a paper containing 5 cents worth of salt ( enough to last me until I get out ), a paper containing two potatoes boiled in their jackets.. I have learned to peel these deftly by using the handle of the spoon. There is also a ham sandwich and an egg sandwich, saved from my ham and egg dinner. There are also two peaches , two bananas and an orange, total cost 15 cents. These will provide my evening meal today and breakfast tomorrow.

On the same shelf are my Bible, two magazines, pocket hymnal. pocket Revelation and Poems of Dawn, letter paper and envelopes, and Tower. Beneath it is a package of clean linen amd underware. When anything gets soiled I wash it and hang it nest to the ceiling on the iron pipe which carries the electric light wires. Hanging it there now are my nighty and tie, a paper folded so as to throw my pillow out of the direct light and a string to which my hat is attached by a bow knot run through the loop of the bow knot on the hat. There it is clean and I can get it and put it on in five seconds.

In the wall I found two small holes. Into these I thrust wooden toothpicks and now have on the wall a beautiful Lake and Mountain scene, formerly the cover of a Christian Herold, and a spiritual calendar which a dear sait of God mailed to me.
Phil. 4:11-13; Eph. 4:1-3; 2 Cor.13:11:14

In fondest love,

Clayton J. Woodworth

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How the Governing Body Is Organized

THE Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses consists of dedicated men who are anointed servants of God. They act as representatives of the faithful and discreet slave class, which has the responsibility of providing spiritual food and giving direction and impetus to the Kingdom-preaching work throughout the earth.—Matt. 24:14, 45-47.

Governing Body meetings are held each week, usually on Wednesday. This enables these brothers to work together in unity. (Ps. 133:1) The members of the Governing Body also serve on various committees. In caring for Kingdom interests, each committee has its area of oversight, as briefly outlined below. -

▪ COORDINATORS’ COMMITTEE: This committee is made up of the coordinator of each of the other Governing Body committees and a secretary who is also a member of the Governing Body. It makes sure that all the committees operate smoothly and efficiently. It also concerns itself with major emergencies, persecutions, disasters, and other urgent matters affecting Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide.

▪ PERSONNEL COMMITTEE: The brothers on this committee have been entrusted with oversight of the arrangements for the personal and spiritual welfare and assistance of Bethel family members earth wide. This committee oversees the selecting and inviting of new members of Bethel families and handles questions regarding their Bethel service.

▪ PUBLISHING COMMITTEE: This committee supervises the printing, publishing, and shipping of Bible literature worldwide. It has oversight of printeries and properties owned and operated by the various corporations used by Jehovah’s Witnesses. This committee arranges for the best use of funds donated for the worldwide Kingdom work.

▪ SERVICE COMMITTEE: Those on this committee have oversight of the preaching work and matters affecting congregations, pioneers, elders, and traveling overseers. It supervises the preparation of Our Kingdom Ministry and calls in Gilead School and Ministerial Training School students, later giving them postgraduate assignments.

▪ TEACHING COMMITTEE: This committee oversees the instruction provided at assemblies, conventions, and congregation meetings. It arranges spiritual programs for Bethel family members and has oversight of various schools, such as Gilead School and the Pioneer Service School, as well as of the development of audio and video programs.

▪ WRITING COMMITTEE: It is the responsibility of this committee to supervise the putting of spiritual food into written form for publication and distribution to fellow believers and the general public. This committee answers Bible questions and approves such material as drama scripts and talk outlines. It also oversees the translation work done worldwide.

The apostle Paul likened the congregation of anointed ones to a human body and emphasized the important places occupied by all members as well as their interdependency, love, and cooperation in doing God-given work. (Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:12-31) The Head, Jesus Christ, supplies the body members with what is needed for good cooperation, coordination, and spiritual nourishment. (Eph. 4:15, 16; Col. 2:19) In such respects, the Governing Body is organized to take the lead as Jehovah directs them by holy spirit.

- Published by the WTB&TS in 2008

Someone may argue that the way the Witnesses speak about the Watch Tower Society—or more often just “the Society”—indicates that they view it as more than a legal instrument. Do they not consider it to be the final authority on matters of worship? The book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom clarifies this point by explaining: “When The Watchtower [June 1, 1938] referred to ‘The Society,’ this meant, not a mere legal instrumentality, but the body of anointed Christians that had formed that legal entity and used it.” The expression therefore stood for “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) It is in this sense that the Witnesses generally used the term “the Society.” Of course, the legal corporation and “the faithful and discreet slave” are not interchangeable terms. Directors of the Watch Tower Society are elected, whereas Witnesses who make up ‘the faithful slave’ are anointed by Jehovah’s holy spirit.

In order to avoid misunderstandings, Jehovah’s Witnesses try to be careful about how they express themselves. Instead of saying, “the Society teaches,” many Witnesses prefer to use such expressions as, “the Bible says” or, “I understand the Bible to teach.” In this way they emphasize the personal decision that each Witness has made in accepting Bible teachings and also avoid giving the false impression that Witnesses are somehow bound to the dictates of some religious sect. Of course, suggestions as regards terminology should never become a subject of controversy. After all, terminology is of importance only to the extent that it prevents misunderstandings. Christian balance is required. The Bible admonishes us “not to fight about words.” (2 Timothy 2:14, 15) The Scriptures also state this principle: “Unless you through the tongue utter speech easily understood, how will it be known what is being spoken?”—1 Corinthians 14:9. -

- Published by the WTB&TS in 1993

The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses has decided (Oct., 2000) that the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, etc. in the legal corporations (e.g., Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.,) do not have to be filled by anointed brothers. Therefore, all of the brothers that were currently holding these positions, all of whom were on the Governing Body, have resigned. Brothers of the other sheep have replaced them. Therefore, Brother Don A. Adams is now the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Quite a lengthy discussion was given as to the reason this was decided and why it's okay. Essentially, it boils down to the fact that this allows the Governing Body to step back and deal primarily with spiritual matters, while these brothers of the other sheep handle day-to-day business operations of the legal corporations. Brother Max H. Larson has been serving as the president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., for a number of years.

In addition, three new corporations have been formed: 1) Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, which will supervise matters of a religious and educational nature. This includes organizing the preaching work, holding conventions, etc. The directors and officers of this corporation are primarily brothers who work closely with the Service department in Patterson. Brother William Van de Wall is the president of this corporation. 2) Religious Order of Jehovah's Witnesses, which cares for matters pertaining to those in Special Full-Time service, including Bethelites, Special Pioneers, Traveling Overseers, etc. Brother Patrick LaFranca is the president of this corporation. 3) Kingdom Support Services, Inc., which handles design & engineering of buildings and holds titles to vehicles used by the Society.

Jehovah's Witnesses are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired!!!

Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’ The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has said: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (January 1883, page 425) “Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible.” (December 15, 1896, page 306) The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit “does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.” (May 15, 1947, page 157) “The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.” (August 15, 1950, page 263) “The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as
understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)”—February 15, 1981, page 19. -

- Published by the WTB&TS in 1993

In his day (1884 - 1916) Pastor Russell was the Society

How did Russell view himeself: As we have been to some extent, by the grace of God, used in the ministry of the gospel, it may not be out of place to say here what we have frequently said in private, and previously in these columns,--namely, that while we appreciate the love, sympathy, confidence and fellowship of fellow-servants and of the entire household of faith, we want no homage, no reverence, for ourselves or our writings; nor do we wish to be called Reverend or Rabbi. Nor do we wish that any should be called by our name. The name of him who died for all--the name Christian--is quite sufficient to designate the spiritual sons of God, the true brethren of Christ; and whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil, of carnality, and tends toward more of the same. Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is, that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build. - Charles Taze Russell, December 15, 1896 Watchtower - WTB&TS