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WHEN LIGHT IS DARKNESS?


But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness.

-- Matthew 6:23

Does Proverbs 4:18 excuse false prophecy and doctrinal flipflops?


I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life -- John 8:12



Shall we boast of the leading of the Lord when it is plain to others that we have wandered down ways unlighted by Him? The Watchtower habitually excuses its doctrinal reversals and datesetting blunders by rationalizing that God has revealed "new light" to his people. This view amonuts to claiming that God evolves truth by trial and error, bound apparently by the limitations of men. The "new light" rationale also serves Watchtower leaders well when they find themselves called to account for date setting scandals. These "mistakes", so they reason, are not really false prophecies,but examples of "progressive truth", "advancing light". Perversely, by such justifications, telltale traces of the Lord's absence become "signs of his presence" since 1914. (Particularly are the years 1919, 1922, 1925 and 1931 associated with God's "lightnings.") Follow this typical attempt to evade responsibility for past embarrassments -- and, we may safely assume, for future "adjustments" as well:

As reflected in their modern-day history, the experience of Jehovah'sWitnesses has been like that described at Proverbs 4:18: "The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established." The shining of the light has been progressive, just as the light of early dawn gives way to sunrise and the full light of a new day. Viewing matters in the light that was available, they have at times had incomplete, even inaccurate, concepts. No matter how hard they tried, they simply could not understand certain prophecies until these began to undergo fulfilment. As Jehovah has shed more light on his Word by means of his spirit, his servants have been humbly willing to make needed adjustments.-- Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1993; p.146)

 

Progressive Revelation or "Progressive Truth"?


The Watchtower's pet fallacy constructs a falsehood upon a half-truth. Whereas it IS true that God gradually reveals truth (witness OLD and NEW Testaments), it is NOT true that "new truth" eclipses or extinguishes "old truth." The Watchtower policy makers recognize that a "God of truth" (Psalm 31:5) allows for no contradictions -- at least in the Bible. They train Jehovah's Witnesses to substitute the expressions "Hebrew Scriptures" and "Christian Greek Scriptures" for the church's traditional Old and New Testaments. This is justified, Witnesses protest, because Old and New might suggest the superiority of the latter (and later). To its credit, The Watchtower has always advocated the complete inerrancy and inspiration of BOTH Testaments. And what does this absolute consistency -- with NO contradictions -- PROVE about the Bible?:

If it really is the Word of God, the Bible should be harmonious, not contradictory ... the outstanding unity of the Bible ... demonstrates without doubt its divine origin. -- The Bible: God's Word or Man's (WTBTS, 1989; pp.87,97)

 

Who's at the Switch?


Still, while assuming the impossibility of 'progressive truth" admitting contradiction into the Bible, the Witnesses almost instinctively resort to Orwellian doublethink when attempting to explain God's method in the meanderings of The Watchtower. The traditional prooftext is Proverbs 4:18 (NWT):

But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.

A glance at the context reveals this chapter is not discussing doctrinal changes. Nor is Solomon's intent to excuse error in God's past self-revelation. Like his father David, Solomon had an exalted view of Jehovah's law (already 500 years old when the first Proverbs were gathered.) Did either see the advisability of retiring Moses as "new light" from God "flashed forth"? Solomon said of the Law of Moses, "For the commandment is a lamp, and a light the law is." (Proverbs 6:23, NWT) In this he echoed his father David, who honoured the Torah thusly, "The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul." (Psalm 19:7, NWT) David and Solomon were consistent with the tradition of their fathers. But the law's light grew dim; not because it had become inadequate, in need of updating, but because it was IGNORED in favour of new teachings "recently come in" (Deut.32:17). Gods unknown to Israelite tradition shoved the Law of Moses to the edge of extinction (2 Kings 17). Would God change with changing times? Would He, like fickle Israel, consign Moses to the ash heap of history, replace the Law with "new light" more appropriate to the time?


Extension, Expansion -- but not Extinction!


How does Jehovah accredit His spokesman? Israel knew Samuel was a prophet -- "Jehovah himself proved to be with him, and did not cause ANY of all his words to fall to the earth" -- 1 Samuel 3:19,20 (NWT)

The continued backslidings of Israel were not to be remedied by "new truth", but by return to tradition. God's revelation, as Moses himself had been assured, would be vouchsafed ONLY to accredited prophets (Deut. 18:15-22). These spokesmen for God pointed their own generation both BACKWARDS -- to the eternal covenants and commandments of the Pentateuch -- and FORWARDS -- extending and expanding God's promises and judgments. The Spirit of God illuminated past revelation more brightly, but true prophets never REVISED "old truth." Nor did they REVERSE it. This consistency and continuity with the past, together with accurate prediction, accredited the true prophet (Deut. 13:1-5; 1 Sam. 3:19-21; 9:6).

The Twin Witness of God's Spokesmen

We may illustrate the infallible mark of true prophecy by noting a particular example. Moses (and Jacob before him, Gen. 49:10) had indicated that Messiah would descend from the tribe of Judah. 500 years later David's "new light" narrowed the promise to his own family (2 Sam. 7:11-16). Micah, a further 300 years on, amplified the prophetic promise by adding the detail of Messiah's birthplace, David's hometown Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Thus the traditional revelation was confirmed -- amplified, not nullified, by new revelation. Micah's contemporary Isaiah supplies an outstanding example to an accredited spokesman of Jehovah. How did Israel know Isaiah was a prophet of God?
TEST ONE: CONTINUITY -- Isaiah pointed to ignorance of the PAST, particularly God's prior dealings with them, as the reason for Israel's PRESENT problems:

Woe to those who are saying that good is bad and bad is good, those who putting darkness for light and light for darkness, those who are putting bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those wise in their own eyes and discreet even in front of their own faces! ... they have rejected the law of Jehovah of armies, and the saying of the Holy One of Israel they have disrespected. That is why the anger of Jehovah has grown hot against his people ... -- Isaiah 5:20,21,24,25


No compromise was possible with those who would substitute their own (or foreign) dark light for the lamp of Jehovah. TEST TWO: CREDIBILITY -- Isaish's prophetic inspiration was verified within his own lifetime by undeniable fulfillments of his prophecies (Isaiah 37:7,33-38; 38:5-8). Thus the prophet's hard sayings were tolerated, even when least palatable, by the very kings and aristocrats he publicly denounced. Subsequent generations of Israelites also experienced the continuous confirmations of Isaiah's prophetic office; even in the specific details of his predictions,
such as setting the exact dates of fulfilment, or even the very name of the fulfiller (Isaiah 7:8; 44:28).

Thus, by these TWO witnesses, twin tests, continuity with tradition and predictive credibility, Jehovah demonstrated which spokesmen actually prophesied IN HIS NAME (by His authority). To speak publicly in the name of Jehovah without His authority was not only foolish but fatal (Deut. 18:20; Jeremiah 28:1-17).

Does the real Jehovah change?
Not even the Babylonian exile, the predicted punishment foretold by the prophets if God's Law continued to be ignored, was sufficient to teach Israel the verity of the ancient proverb: My son, fear Jehovah and the king. With those who are for a change, do not intermeddle [associate, NAS] for their disaster will arise so suddenly, that who is aware of the extinction of those are for a change? -- Proverbs 24:21,22 (NWT)

But now, instead of swapping the pure light of the Law and Prophets for the degrading allurements of pagan deities, Israel began to create a body of tradition that superimposed human ideas upon divine revelation. The symptom was new, but the disease was the same. The pollution of inspired revelation (by addition) or the dilution of the same (by subtraction or supplementation) can only be tolerated where men make a false assumption: they assume the eternal I AM is as changeable as fallible man.

Yet even then (a. 400 B.C.) as Old Testament revelation drew to its close, Jehovah reconfirmed his unchangeableness -- and consequent reliability -- with this solemn reiteration of covenant faithfulness:


For I am Jehovah; I have not changed. And you are sons of Jacob; you have not come to your finish. From the days of your forefathers you have turned aside from my regulations and have not kept them. -- Malachi 3:6,7

If Russell says he's NOT the "faithful and discreet slave", then says he IS; and Rutherford insists Russell IS "that slave", then insists he's NOT -- just HOW is the "light getting lighter and LIGHTER"?

Following close upon this reassuring, if humiliating, contrast, Malachi concludes the Old Testament oracles with Jehovah's final exhortation:

Remember the law of Moses My Servant, even the statutes and
ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold,
I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the
great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of
the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their
fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse. - Malachi 4:4-6

Israel is urged to look both backward AND forward in order to wonder at the eternal truthfulness of the Holy One of Israel. The law of Moses remains; 1000 years have not diminished its purpose, the lighting of Israel's path until the day of the Lord. The prophets did not eclipse its light, but will the coming of Elijah render the law obsolete? Will the rising of the "sun of righteousness" (Malachi 4:2) make the lights of the night sky redundant?

Are the Law and the Prophets Eclipsed?
Some will answer with Matthew 11:13, "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John." But inasmuch as Israel's leaders did NOT "accept it" (the testimony of John, v.14), the day of the Lord still has not come. And when Israel also failed to recognize her Messiah, the Light of the world, was she to be left in total darkness? Let the Messiah himself answer:


Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. -Matt. 5:17-19


That the Lord flatly denies the Law's obsolescence should not surprise those who believe the Father of Lights inspired BOTH Testaments. With Him there is no variation, nor shifting shadow (James 1:17). Had not the Psalmist marveled at the Law, "Forever, O Yahweh, Thy word is settled (lit. stands firm) in heaven. Thy faithfulness continues throughout all generations (Ps.. 119:89,90)? Had not Isaiah introduced his gospel of the Suffering Servant with "the word of our God stands forever" (40:8)? Some will trouble over a familiar line in Paul; is not Christ "the end of the Law"? (Rom. 10:4) Is there not a basic discontinuity between God's former revelation and the gospel? But let Paul complete his thought:


For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on (lit. from) law shall LIVE by it. (Romans 10:4,5)


At issue, for Paul, is not the LIGHT of the Law, but its potential for LIFE. Moses is still authoritative. Indeed, he serves as Paul's authority for the very principle that proves conclusive: Can even a perfect light give LIFE? No, for only One ever saved his soul from death under the Law. Life can only come from life. But being perfect light the Law can perfectly illuminate the horror of human sin and its awful cost. So then Paul is not inconsistent with "old light", nor with himself, for he had asked earlier in the Roman letter:


Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law ... So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good ... the Law is spiritual; but I am flesh, sold into bondage to sin. (Rom. 7:7,12,14)


The imperfection is not with the "old light", but with the old man. The Law enlightens, but cannot enliven. The need is not new light, but new life.

"New Light" or Light of Life?
The Lord Jesus, in conversation with Nicodemus, gives no support to the notion that the new birth is "progressive truth" (John 3:10). The emphases of the gospel may be new, but the truths of the gospel are eternal. The risen Lord, who only days before had claimed "I am ... the TRUTH" (John 14:6), saw himself in Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (Luke 24:27,44). And according to His promise, "the TRUE God," "the God of TRUTH" (John 17:3; Psalm 31:5), has sent "the Spirit of TRUTH," who guides the church into "all the TRUTH" (John 16:13). Could the HOLY Spirit, the Inspirer of the HOLY Law and indeed ALL Scripture, give us any less than ALL truth? (Romans 7:12; 2 Timothy 3:16) "He who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." A final question: Is it this Lord who has guided The Watchtower for four generations?

 

FOUR GENERATIONS OF WATCHTOWER 'LIGHT'

 WATCHTOWER DOCTRINE  Russell 1879-1916   RUTHERFORD1916-1942  KNORR 1942-1977   FRANZ 1977-1995
Is this generation going to witness Armageddon?

  Yes

 Yes

 Yes

 Yes
Is the FAITHFUL DISCREET SLAVE an individual?

 No/Yes

 Yes/No

 No

 No
Does the "Christ" include the 144,000?

 Yes

 Yes

 No

 No
Ransom complete 1914, when whole "body" in heaven

 Yes

No

 No

 No
Does the Memorial include sacrifice of 144,000?

 Yes

 Yes/No

 No/Yes/No

 No
1874 "presence" THE "message of present time"

 Yes

 Yes/No

 No

 No
Christendom's Bible societies fulfill Matthew 24:14

 Yes

 Yes/No

 No

 No
Only "anointed" qualify for public preaching

 Yes

 Yes/No

 No

 No
Does God use ONE organization?

 No

 No/Yes

 Yes

 Yes
Do secular authorities have God-given powers?

 Yes

 Yes/No

 No/Yes

 Yes
Should local congregation have body of elders?

 Yes

 Yes/No

 No/Yes

 Yes
Should Jesus be worshipped?

 Yes

 Yes/No

 No

 No
Should the "bride" accept any Name but Christ's?

 No

 No/Yes

 Yes

 Yes

 

APOLOGIA: Home Mission To New Religions Inc.

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