When Christians point out Watchtower errors or flip-flops in the area of prophecy, Jehovah’s Witnesses often get defensive.
Nobody’s perfect, right?
They accuse us of persecution.
Because of this, when discussing prophecy with Jehovah’s Witnesses, we first need to establish our motivation and our right to examine what the Watchtower Society has taught since its inception.
I like to start by drawing from them what I previously called Persona #1—the claim of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses that, “It is vital that we… respond to the directions of the ‘slave’ as we would to the voice of God, because it is his provision.” (The Watchtower, June 15, 1957, p. 370)
I also recommend citing this quotation from a 1972 Watchtower article entitled, “They Shall Know that a Prophet Was Among Them”:
“People today… 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?… These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?… 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 Witnesses.… 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?”
From this article, you can establish three key points:
- Since the days when they were known as International Bible Students, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been prophets of God.
- Anyone can make such a claim, but it’s another thing to prove it.
- The only way to prove (or disprove) this is to review the record.
Tell them that you want to accept the Watchtower’s invitation to review its record of prophetic interpretation from its days as International Bible Students until now.
If they tell you that the Watchtower does not claim to be an inspired prophet, have them read aloud this statement from the January 1, 1969 Watchtower (p. 2):
“Ever since ‘The Watchtower’ began to be published in July of 1879 it has looked ahead into the future.… No, ‘The Watchtower’ is no inspired prophet, but it follows and explains a Book of prophecy the predictions in which have proved to be unerring and unfailing till now. ‘The Watchtower’ is therefore under safe guidance. It may be read with confidence, for its statements may be checked against the prophetic Book.”
Follow up by adding something like this: “All I want to do is examine the Watchtower’s explanations of Bible prophecy from July of 1879 until now to see if it has been giving safe guidance in which you and I can be confident. Is there any reason why I shouldn’t do that?”