Supplementing Biblical authority means, “New revelation from postbiblical prophets either replaces or is added to the Bible as authority.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses would deny that the Watchtower engages in this sort of error. They would point out that they recognize only the Bible as Scripture, unlike, say, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), which explicitly recognizes other scriptures—The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants.
However, the Watchtower does claim to be God’s modern day prophet and his sole channel of communication today.
Here are examples of claims it has made throughout its history (emphasis added in quotations):
- 1919 “Is not the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society the one and only channel which the Lord has used in dispensing his truth continually since the beginning of the harvest period?” (Watchtower, 4/1/1919, p. 641)
- 1943 “This is not giving any credit to the magazine’s [The Watchtower’s] publishers, but is due to the great Author of the Bible with its truths and prophecies, and who now interprets its prophecies. He it is that makes possible the material that is published in the columns of this magazine.” (Watchtower, 4/1/1943, p. 127)
- 1943 “Christ Jesus, the court’s official mouthpiece of interpretation, reserves to himself that office as Head of Jehovah’s ‘faithful and wise servant’ class. He merely uses the ‘servant’ class to publish the interpretation after the Supreme Court by Christ Jesus reveals it. How does the Lord God make known the interpretation? By causing the facts to come to pass visibly which are in fulfillment of the prophecy.” (Watchtower, 7/1/1943, p. 203)
- 1952 “We should meekly go along with the Lord’s theocratic organization and wait for further clarification, rather than balk at the first mention of a thought unpalatable to us and proceed to quibble and mouth our criticisms and opinions as though they were worth more than the slave’s provision of spiritual food. Theocratic ones will appreciate the Lord’s visible organization and not be so foolish as to pit against Jehovah’s channel their own human reasoning and sentiment and personal feelings.” (Watchtower, 2/1/1952, p. 80)
- 1957 “Jehovah has established a very definite channel of communication through which he deals with his people… It is vital that we appreciate this fact and respond to the directions of the ‘slave’ as we would to the voice of God.” (Watchtower, 6/15/1957, p. 370)
- 1971 “There is an authentic prophetic class of Christians among us. Jehovah has raised up a genuine ‘prophet’ within our generation. Regardless of how Christendom views or regards this group of anointed witnesses of Jehovah, the time must come, and that shortly, when those making up Christendom will know that really a ‘prophet’ of Jehovah was among them.. Whom could the real ‘chariot’ of Jehovah’s organization roll up to and confront that He might bestow upon this qualified one the commission to speak as a prophet in the name of Jehovah?… They were a small minority group of men and women who had dedicated themselves to Jehovah as God by following in the footsteps of his Son Jesus Christ… Who is Ezekiel’s present-day counterpart, whose message and conduct correspond with that of that ancient prophet of Jehovah? Of whom today was he a ‘sign’ or ‘portent’? Not of some individual man, but of a group of people.. Who were they?.. they became Jehovah’s witnesses.” (“The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah” – How?, 1971)
In 1972, the Watchtower published this extensive article, in which it claimed to be Jehovah’s current day prophet:
‘They Shall Know that a Prophet Was Among Them’
JEHOVAH GOD is interested in having people know him. Though he is invisible to human eyes, he provides various ways by which they can know his personality. They can know what to expect from him and what he expects of them.
One can come to understand that Jehovah is a God of surpassing wisdom by observing creation. This also reveals the loving care with which he designed things for man’s welfare and enjoyment. A second way to know God is through his Word of truth, the Bible. Herein one finds the full expression of Jehovah’s purpose toward mankind—why man is on the earth and the blessings that God has in store.
A third way of coming to know Jehovah God is through his representatives. In ancient times he sent prophets as his special messengers. While these men foretold things to come, they also served the people by telling them of God’s will for them at that time, often also warning them of dangers and calamities. People today can view the creative works. They have at hand the Bible, but it is little read or understood. So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come?
Identifying the “Prophet”
These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? The clergy of the so-called “Christian” nations hold themselves before the people as being the ones commissioned to speak for God. But, as pointed out in the previous issue of this magazine, they have failed God and failed as proclaimers of his kingdom by approving a man-made political organization, the League of Nations (now the United Nations), as “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.”
However, Jehovah did not let the people of Christendom, as led by the clergy, go without being warned that the League was a counterfeit substitute for the real kingdom of God. He had a “prophet” to warn them. This “prophet” was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. They are still proclaiming a warning, and have been joined and assisted in their commissioned work by hundreds of thousands of persons who have listened to their message with belief.
Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a “prophet” of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show? (Watchtower, 4/1/72, p.197)
Combatting This Error
The Watchtower tries to have it both ways.
When you point out to Jehovah’s Witnesses errors and doctrinal changes of the Watchtower, they will tell you that the Governing Body members are just humble men who have never claimed to be infallible or inspired.
In order to counter this, show them the Watchtower literature which makes the claims set out above.
Spell out point by point what the Watchtower has said and them ask them to what standard we can rightfully hold an organization which claims that:
- It is Jehovah’s only channel for dispensing truth.
- Jehovah is the one who makes possible the material it publishes.
- Christ Jesus uses it to publish prophetic interpretations.
- It is Jehovah’s theocratic organization.
- We should meekly go along with what it says and wait for further clarification rather than challenging anything it might say.
- We must respond to its directions as we would to the voice of God himself.
- It is Ezekiel’s modern day prophetic counterpart.
- The only way we can know if it is truly a prophet of God is to review its record and see what they shows.
- Scripture Twisting: 20 Ways the Cults Misread the Bible, James W. Sire (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1980), p. 160.