How Scary Is This Admission By The Watchtower Society?
When Joseph Rutherford saw a “dazzling flash of divine light” (Revelation book, p.125) in 1935 and decided there were two classes of Christians, 144,000 with a heavenly hope and a great crowd with an earthly hope, he must have forgotten all about the scripture at 1 John 4:1. “Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.” (NWT) Testing an inspired expression means first trying to fit it in with what the rest of the Bible teaches. If it turns out that a person is forced to purposely mistranslate a biblical word to make the new idea fit, then that should be a clue that the inspired expression has failed the test. Apparently, Jehovah’s Witnesses are clueless.
In order to have a two-class system, the Watchtower Society must hold to a very narrow interpretation of the word “spirit” in the Bible. For them, it could definitely not refer to our inner self, possibly our subconscious mind, which is connected to God’s spirit and survives our death. “Spirit” to Jehovah’s Witnesses must be simply our breath or a spark of life, impersonal and fleeting, because the earthly class have to be unconscious after death. Otherwise, they’d be no different from the heavenly class.
As a result, a quick read of Hebrews chapter 12 should have raised two big red flags for Joseph Rutherford. The first 13 verses of Hebrews chapter 12 are comparing the discipline we receive from our earthly fathers to the discipline we receive from God our heavenly Father. Verse 9 says, “How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” (NIV)
Farther along in Hebrews 12, the writer tells Christians that the new covenant gives them a glimpse into their eternal future in heaven. Verses 22-24 say, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant . . .” (NIV)
In both of these passages, a person has a spirit that is connected to God while on earth and survives the body after death to dwell in heaven. In this second passage, these “spirits of righteous men made perfect” who are in heaven could not be the 144,000, according to Watchtower theology, because the 144,000 are “the church of the firstborn” who are also there in heaven. Who are these spirits, then?
Somehow, the Society has to get them back down on the earth as the remnant of the 144,000, so they can be temporarily separated from the church of the firstborn, dividing the 144,000 into two groups. However, the Society can’t get them down here and still call them “spirits.” So what alternative is there, other than to scrap the false premise of a two-class system?
Well, they could deliberately and with no scholarly justification whatsoever mistranslate the word “spirits” as “spiritual lives” in their New World Translation of the Bible. This is just what they have done, and they have the temerity and the audacity to openly admit it! In the Watchtower magazine of March 15, 1981, on page 31, they state: “Literally, the Greek text reads ‘the Father of the spirits.’ He is the father of the spirit-begotten congregation to which Paul was writing and so the New World Translation here paraphrases the expression with a personal touch, saying ‘the Father of our spiritual life.’”
Paraphrasing an expression with a personal touch is another way of saying they have altered the inspired Word of God to conform to their preconceived religious bias. They have admitted adding to the Word of God! And this from the group who said the following in the Foreword to their New World Translation:
“The translators who have a fear and love of the divine Author of the Holy Scriptures feel especially a responsibility toward Him to transmit his thoughts and declarations as accurately as possible. They also feel a responsibility toward the searching readers of the modern translation who depend upon the inspired Word of the Most High God for their everlasting salvation.”
After “clarifying” the Bible, they now have the “spirits [spiritual lives] of righteous men made perfect” here on earth where they want them, as the article goes on to say, “These spirit-begotten Christians really have ‘spiritual lives’ now on earth and they are exhorted to walk according to the spirit by which they were begotten.”
It doesn’t seem to matter that the writer of Hebrews said these spirits were in heaven. Spiritual lives are lived out on the earth, so the same Watchtower article concludes, “In view of these facts the expression ‘the spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect’ presents ‘the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens’ from a different viewpoint and therefore is no needless repetition of what has been said in verse 22. There is accordingly no need for trying to apply it to another class of God-fearing persons like the faithful men and women of former times from Abel to John the Baptizer.”
Yes, there is no need for Jehovah’s Witnesses to come to the reasonable and scriptural conclusion that these spirits of the righteous ones are probably the faithful men and women described in Hebrews chapter 11. Instead, Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the conclusions their leaders tell them to come to, leaders who brazenly change the inspired Word of God to make it agree with their false doctrines. How scary is that?!