Does Error Honestly Taught Become Truth?
Dorris V. Rader
Two neatly dressed young men came calling at my door a few days ago. They were very polite and courteous. After giving their names, they quickly commented about a sticker near the door that gave warning to any would-be burglars. They inquired if I had considered why we have need for such warnings. That fit right in with their little speech and the head-lines on literature they intended to leave. (Incidentally, they forgot to leave their piece of literature.) They asked if I would like to see an era of peace and good will right here on this earth? At this point, I said, "Why don't you come inside and perhaps we can talk a little better inside?"
When we were seated, I said, "Now before we begin to discuss such matters, let us try to come to some agreement as to what we will both be using as our standard of authority for determining truth." They tried to quickly dismiss this as not a need worth mentioning. They said, "Oh, we will just use the Bible as the standard." I suggested that I needed some assurance that this would really be the case. I suggested that my reason for pursuing that matter is because I understand that you believe that there is a "faithful and wise servant" who ministers the spiritual food to God's people in due season. And, "I understand that you feel that Matthew 24:45-47 justifies your position." They looked at each other a second, each seemingly waiting for the other to respond, then one of them said, "Yes, that is what the Bible teaches, so we just take the Bible on that." They went on to indicate that anything we teach we will just accept the Bible on it.
I suggested then that I needed to be convinced on that and to know more about that "faithful and wise servant (slave) whom you feel gives you the proper food." They both got busy trying to change the subject, but I was just as insistent that we talk about the "servant." I pointed out that I surely needed to know who this is that the Bible is talking about. They changed the subject, and I changed it back. So, I suggested that we set an appointed time to get back together and just talk about the standard of authority which we accept in settling matters of truth. They finally said they would come back one week from that day. Really, from their action, I did not believe they would be back. At least, I was sure they would not come without bringing in a "trouble shooter" who was much older and more experienced. I've had this happen more than once. Sure enough, the latter is what happened.
At the exact time appointed, one of the original young men came accompanied by an older gentleman. The older man said, "I think I should tell you right up front that I am a full-time minister with over 30 years experience in this work." I said, "That is fine, so let us get down to the discussion agreed upon. We agreed that we would discuss the standard of authority that will govern us in determining truth." He quickly tried to dismiss this by saying, "We will just use the Bible." I suggested that I certainly expected that he would "use" the Bible, but the is-sue is whether the Bible would be the standard for settling matters. At this point I placed on the table in front of us a flip chart with the following points.
What Will Be Our Standard
1. The Bible Alone.
2. The WTBTS (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society).
3. The Bible as interpreted by the WTBTS.
4. If other than the above, please explain.
They glanced over it and said, "Let's just close this up and put it away and talk about the Bible." I said, "No, I have no intention of putting this aside until you tell me which of these you are using as your standard of authority."
It was at least twenty minutes later before I forced a choice out of him, and guess what! It was not the Bible, but #3 (the Bible as interpreted by the (WTBTS). I told them that I have here before us photocopies of pages from the literature you people always leave with people. I said, "Is it good to read that literature?" They said, "Oh, yes, but do you have a lot of stuff here that our enemies have said about us?" I assured them that all I intended to read was their own literature as we discuss what our standard of authority is to be. So I read how Charles T. Russell claimed that the "servant" was a class or group, and then at later dates that it was individual and that he was that "servant." Then, still later the WTBTS claimed that Russell never made such a claim about himself. I then read where they claimed they never had published even a biography of Russell, but I read from their literature his biography not once but a number of times. The society claimed that the teaching that Russell was that "servant" led to "creature worship," yet they published and sold his literature in which he made that claim.
That, I pointed out, is what you claim as "the Faithful and Wise Servant." I asked if a "faithful witness" will lie? They said, "No." But, then they began to get ready to go. The thirty year veteran began packing his things in his briefcase and said, "I don't intend to sit and listen to this. I won't sit by and let the `servant' be attacked in such a way." He, himself, had just finished an attack on the King James Bible, claiming that it was a translation dictated by King James through one man. I said, "Now, you have answered my little chart and you have chosen #3, haven't you?" He admitted this was the case. I said, "You were less than honest with me when you entered and said that the Bible alone would be used." Although he intended to read some passages, he knew that he would not give a single interpretation unless it was endorsed and set forth by the society.
In the short time the "Witnesses" remained, they attacked the King James Bible and grossly misrepresented it and perhaps to a lesser degree others except the New World Translation. But he got mighty upset when I just read from photocopies of their literature published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. I pressed them about the contradictions and false claims I had read from their literature. The "veteran of thirty years" denies that there was any error or false doctrine taught in any of that literature. Yes, there were "mistakes" but certainly no error or false doctrine, for "they were sincere in what they taught." I'm not quite sure how he could be so positive about sincerity in all those cases, but he felt that they were. It was a case he said of "new light" as time went on, but none of them could be charged with false teaching or error for they were sincere.
Somewhere in the back of my mind it seemed I had heard this plea made by some of my brethren to protect brethren who were guilty of false teaching. But they pleaded that this was not to be charged against them because they were of good character and sincere. Yes, they were wrong in what they taught, but they were not teaching error. Could this "Witness" have been reading after some of my brethren? Wonder how some brethren would respond to their claim? Is that a valid argument for my brethren, but not for the Witnesses?
Before they left they wanted to know if I was a former Jehovah's Witness. They began to plead for sympathy talking about how they were persecuted. One of them said people would jump on them for little minor matters or mistakes in their literature. I said, "Don't come with that martyr complex for you people have had no more persecution than others." They wanted to know if I treated other religious groups as I had them, going into their history and attacking what they teach say like other denominations or maybe the Hindu religion. I said, "I have not had any Hindu people coming around spreading their views, but if they do I'll take it up and expose it just as I have yours." At about this point they allowed that it was a good time to leave "in peace."
For a number of years when I first began preaching, I would let the Jehovah's Witnesses talk and then I'd answer. When I would answer their perversion of some passage, the other Witness would read another passage and take off in a different direction. I'd go after what he had misrepresented and by this time the first one would start reading or talking in still another direction. They had designed it this way, so as to be able to "hit and run." Somewhere along the way, someone helped me to find a much better way of dealing with the JW's. They reminded me that, after all, they don't really use the Bible as the standard of authority. They may read from it, but back in their minds they are listening to the WTBTS believing it to be the "faithful and wise servant" giving food to the people of God. As you can see in this case, they will not hesitate to misrepresent what they really believe, especially about their standard of authority in order to slip up on the unsuspecting. So, you have to make them admit where their loyalty really is. They believe the Bible is a "sealed book" and that only by listening to the "servant" can people know the truth. Don't be fooled by their sweet talk about just trying to get their foot in the door. By deceit, trickery, and down right lying about their real position, they are able to delude a lot of people. Once you knock them out of their little path of chosen speeches and selected topics they are totally frustrated and get really upset.
Just remember you have to force their hand on what is their real standard of authority. Don't back away just because they say, "Oh, we'll just take the Bible." Press the point and you will see where their real loyalty is. Until they come to really respect the Bible as the source of final authority, you are just spinning your wheels in any kind of discussion with these people.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 24 p. 12-13