“Saying but not citing” is an error in which “a writer says that the Bible says such and such but does not cite the specific text (which often indicates that there may be no such text at all).”
The Watchtower commits this error frequently. This allows them to imply that they are just teaching what the Bible teaches, when in fact the Bible provides little or no support for their teaching.
Here are four examples from Watchtower literature:
1968 “Just think, brothers, there are only about ninety months left before 6,000 years of man’s existence on earth is completed… The majority of people living today will probably be alive when Armageddon breaks out, and there are no resurrection hopes for those who are destroyed then. So, now more than ever, it is vital not to ignore that spirit of wanting to do more.” (Kingdom Ministry, March 1968, p. 4)
- Even assuming the Watchtower’s date calculation were correct, where does the Bible say that people who are alive in the 6,000th year of man’s existence on earth will be alive “when Armageddon breaks out”?
- Where does the Bible teach that there are no resurrection hopes for people who are destroyed at Armageddon?
“Jesus declared in prayer to his Father: ‘I have made your name known . . . and will make it known.’ (John 17:26) Jesus would undoubtedly have pronounced God’s name on numerous occasions when he read, quoted, or explained portions of the Hebrew Scriptures containing that important name. Jesus would thus have used God’s name just as freely as all the prophets did before him. If any Jews were already avoiding the use of God’s name during the time of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus would certainly not have followed their tradition. He strongly criticized the religious leaders when he said to them: “You have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition.”—Matthew 15:6.” (Watchtower, 7/1/2010, p.5)
- This Watchtower paragraph makes a lot of unsupported assumptions.
- Where does this passage say that “making the Father’s name known” is the same as pronouncing the name “Jehovah”? Isn’t it far more likely it means extolling and exemplifying God’s character?
- The practice in Jesus’ day was to say “Adonai” (Lord) instead of pronouncing the divine name (YHWH). Why would Jesus “undoubtedly” have done otherwise?
- Jesus specifically named the traditions of which he was critical. Does the Bible say here—or anywhere—that the Jews’ practice of not uttering the divine name was one of them?
- If uttering or not uttering the divine name was a major point of contention between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day, why is there no account in the New Testament of either of them explicitly making an issue of it?
- If Jesus pronounced the divine name in public, wouldn’t we expect to hear the Pharisees condemning him for doing so? (They condemned him for many things, but there is no record in the New Testament of this issue being one of them.)
“… Jesus taught that ‘all those in the memorial tombs’ will come back to life. (John 5:28, 29) Undoubtedly, these will include many millions who were never baptized. Upon being resurrected, they will have the opportunity to learn God’s requirements and live forever in Paradise on earth.—Psalm 37:29.” (Watchtower, 10/1/2011, p. 11)
- Where does the Bible teach that millions of people will be given a second chance after death “to learn God’s requirements” and thereby merit everlasting life?
- Psalm 37:29 is cited, but all that passage says is, “The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.” (ESV)
- The Bible also says that, apart from being saved by faith in Jesus, “…all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one…’” (Romans 3:9-10)
“Five days before his death, Jesus prayed: ‘Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me out of this hour. Nevertheless, this is why I have come to this hour.’ After expressing these natural human feelings, Jesus unselfishly switched his focus to the matter of greater importance and prayed: ‘Father, glorify your name.’ Jehovah immediately responded: ‘I both glorified it and will glorify it again.’ (John 12:27, 28) Yes, Jesus was willing to go through the greatest test of integrity any human has ever had to face. But hearing those words of his heavenly Father undoubtedly gave Jesus strong confidence that he would succeed in magnifying and vindicating Jehovah’s sovereignty. And succeed he did!” (Watchtower, 8/15/2010, p. 11)
- This Watchtower paragraph gives the impression that Jesus’ mission was to face a great test of integrity and to magnify and vindicate Jehovah’s sovereignty.
- Doesn’t the Bible say, rather, that Jesus’ mission was “to seek and save the lost”? (Luke 19:10)
- The paragraph also implies that Jesus needed his Father’s assurance in order to give him confidence that he would succeed in his mission, as if that were in doubt. Where does John 12 say this? Where does the Bible say this anywhere?
- In fact, Jesus’ comment to his disciples to after hearing the Father’s statement was quite different: “Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not mine.’” (John 12:30)
Combatting This Error
The Watchtower repeats its doctrines over and over at meetings and in its literature. For this reason, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Bible teaches those doctrines even when it says no such thing.
When you hear or read a Watchtower statement, always ask yourself:
- What specific scripture teaches what the Watchtower is claiming as Bible truth?
- If the Watchtower gives a scripture citation, does it really say what the Watchtower says it does?
- If you find a scripture that says some of what the Watchtower claims, does it say everything the Watchtower is claiming?
If not, ask those questions of the Witnesses.
Tell them you don’t understand and would like them to explain.
You are free openly to question what the Watchtower teaches; they aren’t.
If you don’t ask such questions, they won’t—at least not publicly and most likely not even privately, because they trust the Watchtower implicitly.
1. Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible, James W. Sire (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1980), p. 158