Friday, February 26, 2010

Does the Watchtower Communicate with the Dead? Some additional thoughts...

A few months ago, I BLOGGED on a particular Watchtower publication which says the following:

*** re chap. 20 pp. 124-125 par. 17 A Multitudinous Great Crowd ***

From the time of the apostle John and on into the Lord’s day, anointed Christians were puzzled as to the identity of the great crowd. It is fitting, then, that one of the 24 elders, representing anointed ones already in heaven, should stir John’s thinking by raising a pertinent question. “And in response one of the elders said to me: ‘These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?’ So right away I said to him: ‘My lord, you are the one that knows.’” (Revelation 7:13, 14a) Yes, that elder could locate the answer and give it to John. This suggests that resurrected ones of the 24-elders group may be involved in the communicating of divine truths today. For their part, those of the John class on earth got to learn the identity of the great crowd by closely observing what Jehovah was performing in their midst. They were quick to appreciate the dazzling flash of divine light that emblazoned the theocratic firmament in 1935, at Jehovah’s due time.

This quote came to me as a surprise, because it seemed to strongly go against something I had thought The Watchtower didn't approve of: spiritism and necromancy. The following should cast all doubt that the Watchtower would ever approve of any communication with anyone who has passed away.

*** w81 9/15 p. 9 Can You Talk with the Dead? ***

This person from the spirit world could not really have been Samuel. Samuel was dead, and the Bible says “as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Eccl. 9:5)

This is the classic Watchtower view on the state of the dead. To those who are unfamiliar, Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that man has an immaterial soul that is separate from the physical body. The physical elements are all we have. Therefore, when we die, that's it.

The article continues,

Furthermore, while he was alive Samuel had refused to see unfaithful Saul. (1 Sam. 15:35) Surely now, even if he were alive after death, Samuel would not allow a spirit medium to arrange for him to meet Saul. So we can be sure that a spirit medium could not force Jehovah to give Saul a message through dead Samuel.

But what if Samuel could be contacted by means other than a spirit medium? The answer is provided,

But suppose the living could actually talk with dead loved ones, as the people at this séance are trying to do. If they could, surely a God of love would not say in the Bible: “There should not be found in you . . . anyone who inquires of the dead. For everybody doing [so] is something detestable to Jehovah.”—Deut. 18:10-12.

Well, there you have it. Even though the Scriptures may not explicitly and systematically denounce each and every possible means one might attempt to communicate with someone who had died, the Watchtower affirms that Deuteronomy 18:10-12 rules it out.

Who, then, was pretending to be Samuel? A wicked spirit person was. Wicked spirits, or demons, are the angels who joined Satan in rebellion against God. To promote the lie that death is only a change to another life, they pretend to be persons who have died. But the truth is, the dead are completely unconscious, awaiting the time when God may remember them in the resurrection. (Acts 24:15) So neither you, nor anybody else, can talk with the dead.

The Watchtower not only presents commands from the Scriptures to not communicate with those who have died, but also presents another basis; that even if communicating with the dead were allowed, we wouldn't be able to since "neither you, nor anybody else, can talk with the dead."

I remember a while back speaking to a JW who sought to defend the idea that the "anointed" are not dead, but very much alive, since they had be "re-created" as spirit creatures, though their bodies remained dead. But as this Watchtower article articulated, there is no biblical basis for one to communicate with anyone who has died, whether they are consciously dead, or have become some sort of spirit creature.

But where would this JW have gotten the idea that the "anointed" (one of the 144,000 who go to heaven) are the exception to those who remain dead until the resurrection? This idea goes back as early as 1917,

Although we recognize that the Lord is the great Master and Director of the harvest, yet we recognize that he would privilege the saints beyond the veil to have a part in the work on this side; and thus all the saints, both in heaven and upon earth, are now given the honor of concluding the work on this side, preparatory to the full establishment of the kingdom of glory.” –The Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1917 p. 324, 325

It would be difficult to establish from this article alone how the saints are active, and especially whether or not they are communicating with those on earth. But another publication affirms precisely what is going on, as well as coincide with what the Revelation book (abbreviate above "re") is referring to when it speaks of the anointed "communicating divine truths today."

"And to the saints—‘We hold that it is a most reasonable inference, and one in perfect harmony with all the Lord’s plan, that in the spring of 1878 all the holy Apostles and other ‘overcomers’ of the Gospel Age who slept in Jesus were raised spirit beings, like unto their Lord and Master.'" –The Finished Mystery, 1918 edition p. 182

Why is it significant that these "overcomers" (also identified as the "anointed" 144,000) were raised as spirit creatures into heaven? After all, isn't it also the traditional Christian view that all believers enter into heaven upon death? Yes, but the problem is, the Watchtower can't have it both ways. On the one hand, the September 15, 1981 Watchtower article teaches that communicating with anyone who has died is forbidden by the Scriptures. Yet, The Finished Mystery and Revelation: its Grand Climax is at Hand both teach that dead, anointed Jehovah's Witnesses who have been raised as spirit creatures are now communicating divine truths to the anointed today.

Interestingly, The Watchtower hasn't been able to set the record straight on this issue, because in 1934, the organization declared the following,

“All at the temple will realize that their spiritual food comes to them from their Teachers, Jehovah and Christ Jesus, and not from any man. No one of the temple company will be so foolish as to conclude that some brother (or brethren) at one time amongst them, and who has died and gone to heaven, is now instructing the saints on earth and directing them as to their work.” –The Watchtower, May 1, 1934 p. 131

This is yet another instance where the organization known as The Watchtower has shown themselves to be unreliable in discerning biblical truths. And this is no small matter. Anyone familiar with the Scriptures knows that any form of necromancy or spiritism is a gross sin. But when you claim to be God's "one channel of communication on earth today," it is not likely that most of your followers will question what you teach. However, it is my prayer that this information will reach those few Jehovah's Witnesses that are willing to think for themselves and question the flawed teachings of the organization.


Anonymous said...

After Russell died in 1916 it was believed that he continued to direct the work from heaven.

"This verse shows that, though Pastor Russell has passed beyond the veil, he is still managing every feature of the Harvest work."

The Finished Mystery page 144 (8:3) 1918 edition

Mike Felker said...

I was a little hesitant to use that quote because a JW might argue that he was only continuing his work through his writings, not necessarily through divine communication or something like that.

Anonymous said...

You used the below:
*** re chap. 20 pp. 124-125 par. 17 A Multitudinous Great Crowd ***

When I read this, this is what occurred to me. Remember when John the batizer was in prison and he dispatched to Jesus two disciples? They wanted to know (for John), if Jesus was the “one”, or if there was one coming after him? Did you note “HOW HE,JESUS, ANSWERED JOHN?”. He told the disciples “Tell John what you have seen [YOU KNOW-OBSERVATION] here...” Thus, in order for John to conclude that Jesus was the Messiah, he would have to have known what the scriptures would “indicate” about the Messiah. Therefore, John would have to come to the determination by Jesus “virtue” of action, and not “direct” communication by clear explanation and word.
Likewise, take note to the end of the portion you used, “... got to learn the identity of the great crowd by closely observing what Jehovah was performing in their midst... The connection between that day, and Revelation was not as though a voice came from heaven, but like John the Baptizer, through dedicated study and knowing the scriptures, it would become known through “observation”.
Now I am not going to address the Samuel, because if you understand what was just stated, and meditate on that thought, you will understand, its just not worth the additional conjecture.
Next, the comparison of Samuel and John's revelation, and then a statement claiming “by obsevation”, are not comparable to the base quote. Furthermore, the Jehovah's witness elder did not claim divine voices. In fact, you took the quote out of the bible, and made a false witness as though it was “conveyed” the messages were delivered the same. The BIBLE stated John got his information from one of the 24 elders. Now, can you say today “How the lord, or those under his direction ARE communicating with his people today?” Are you going to tell us how Jesus and those whom he would choose angels, or elders, or otherwise are communicating with his people today?
Additionally, if as so-called Christians, anyone has not come to know the difference of messages communicated from heaven during John revelation according to the bible – not the watchtower society as your quote insinuates – after all, the body of your quote is from the book of Revelation where John the Apostle was having his revelation, which is in any bible. And the difference of a worldly spirit medium being used by fallen angels to deceive. My suggestion is you spend less time on criticizing the watchtower society, and more time studying and preaching. For did not Jesus say, Your lord and my lord, “Let them be! If they are not against us, they are for us...”