An outstanding Watchtower article that is in direct conflict with the WTS policy of today is partially quoted below. Please excuse the many typos, but the OCR on a really old magazine is not that accurate.


The written Word of God, therefore, does not need the addition of traditions which are the private interpretations of men and of religious organizations.

…Had the oral traditions of religious men been necessary to complement the canon of the Bible, Paul would not have said that the inspired Holy Scriptures were profitable to the point of making the men of God perfect in faith and devotion to God. It would have been inadequate and would have left the man of God unperfected…

AUTHORITY OF HIGHER POWERS NOT DISREGARDED Now a final argument is shot at us by those who uphold an ecclesiastical or hierarchical organization. They say: ’Even doing away with religious tradi- tions, the Bible cannot be left for each reader to interpret for himself ; we still need the visible organ- ization of the faithful to act as a “living magisterium” or teaching power in order to interpret the Bible and make plain the will of God from it. Look at how the Bible, left to each one’s individual inter- pretation, has resulted in the religiously divided condition of Protestantism.’ To this we say, Protestantism’s multitude of sects and cults is no proof that the Bible is a divisive force to those who take it, and it alone, as adequate. The Bible is not a divisive Book, for it is harmonious from cover to cover and agrees with itself, in all its canonical books. The divisive force among the Catholic and Protestant religionists of Christendom is the religious tradi- tions which they follow. The truth of the Bible is a unifying power. After Christ Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them through thy word: thy word is truth,” he immediately prayed that all his believers, those then following him and those yet due to believe, should be united in one, just as he and his heavenly Father are one. (John 17: 17-23)

…How is this? How is disunity over each one’s individual interpretation of the Holy Scriptures now overcome or avoided? Is it because they are united around a visible human organization or around a visible human leader? The answer is No. It is because they recognize Jehovah God and Christ Jesus as The Higher Powers to whom every Chris- tian soul must be subject for conscience’ sake. (Rom. 13:1) …It is, too, because they recognize Jehovah God as the living, ever-present Teacher of His church on earth, and that he teaches the “church of God” through her Head, Christ Jesus.–Isa. 54: 13; John 6 : 45. 40

Hence Jehovah’s witnesses do not claim the church to be what the religious Hierarchy claim their religious organization to be, namely, the one holding the magisterium or teaching office and hence “the divinely appointed Custodian and Interpreter of the Bible” and whose “office of infallible Guide were superfluous if each individual could interpret the Bible for himself”.* Rather than take this religious tradition of the Hierarchy, those who recognize the higher authority of Jehovah God and Christ Jesus will take the inspired and infallible statement of the apostle to Timothy regarding the church. This reads: “Thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”–i Tim. 3 : 15, Douay. ” Therefore, like a pillar, the church of the living God Jehovah must hold forth and display the truth, which truth, Jesus said, is God’s Word. She must be a sign and witness to God’s truth. (Isa. 19:19, 20)


Isn’t this article refreshing, and truly balanced in it’s viewpoint? The hiercharical movements of the past, the present, and the future, all basically say the same thing- that you can’t know the truth without US. The WTS fell into this exact same mold at some point along the way, and the distinction between it and other groups has been lessened and blurred. BTW, this was written by Frederick Franz, fourth president of the WTS. (In Search of Christian Freedom, page 36)

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6 Comments on We Can Understand the Bible – WT46 11/1 p330

  1. Amos says:

    It’s interesting to note that Pastor Russell also made the claim that you couldn’t understand the Bible without his Study in the Scripture volumes. I’ll try to post the exact copy from the Reprints (WT) where he makes this claim, tomorrow, as I don’t have time to find it now.
    This is one thing that made me stop & think with regard to his writings, as good as most of them are.



  2. andrew says:

    Most JWs after reading this article would probably say that this is what the organization is doing presently. They would say that the Society isn’t the divinely appointed interpreter of the bible. The society only passes on what God reveals.

    Consider the watchtower study of this past sunday (watchtower sep 15, 2010 pg. 21 parr 1) after condemning the Catholic church for following the pope and the orthodox churches and other religions for following human leaders, paragraph 1 says “Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize no human as their leader” What?!

    Paragraph 8 says “The anointed and the other sheep companions recognize the by following the lead of the modern day Governing Body, they are in fact following their Leader, Christ”

    Page 8 paragraph 7 of the same magazine says “We cannot hope to acquire a good relationship with Jehovah if we ignore those whom Jesus has appointed to care for his belongings. Without the assistance of the faithful and discreet slave we would neither understand the full import of what we read in God’s Word nor know how to apply it.”

    In effect they say when we speak God speaks; when we lead Jesus is leading; if you speak against us you are speaking against God. This is blasphemy and elevating oneself to the extreme. I cannot believe the all or most of us at one time thought there was nothing wrong with these claims. Thanks and glory be to God who has begun to open our eyes!


  3. ResLight says:

    I am not with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (neither was Charles Taze Russell).

    The article that “Amos” refers to is probably that I have reproduced at:

    Russell did not write that article as alleged to represent an organization in which he did not believe; he simply was giving his own opinion, representing only himself.

    In that article, he stated: “Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the Divine Plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the SCRIPTURE STUDIES aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years –if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness.”

    Many have taken this to mean that Russell was saying that one cannot understand Bible without his writings. Russell, of course, believed that what he had written was in harmony with the harmony with the light of the Bible (any Christian author who writes on doctrine should certainly think this), and thus to be searching elsewhere would bring one into darkness. I believe that they way he wrote his sentence has been misunderstood when not viewed in relation to his writings as a whole. He was not literally speaking of using the Bible “by itself”, but he was using the words “by itself” as meaning apart from using the Studies in the Scriptures. Those who were setting aside the Studies in the Scriptures were not simply going to the Bible “alone”, but rather they were being influenced by the writings of various ones. So they were not literally going to the Bible “by itself” without any other influence. And those Christians of man’s self-proclaimed orthodoxy have the writings and traditions of that orthodoxy which blinds them to many Bible truths without help in seeing what the scriptures do say and what they do not say. I believe that Russell may have overstated the matter and not have realized that his sentence would be taken in the way that many have misused it.

    In the same article, however, he wrote:

    “The six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are not intended to supplant the Bible.”

    “We do not feel that it would be in our province to give any interpretation except that which would be either already given by our Lord and the Apostles or such as would so fit and dovetail with their interpretations as to leave, in our judgment, no doubt as to the proper application of the Scriptures referred to and explained.”

    “t is for each one to think for himself, however, and to guide his conduct in every way accordingly.”

    “Therefore, in reading them the first time, and perhaps the second time, and before we would accept anything as being our own personal faith and conviction, we should say, “I will not take it because these studies say so; I wish to see what the Bible says.” And so we would study the Scriptures in the light of these SCRIPTURE STUDIES; we would prove every point, or disprove it, as the case might be. We would be satisfied with nothing less than a thorough investigation of the Bible from this standpoint.”

    “If, at the same time, in any future reading, we should come to a place where something did not seem clear to us and we thought of some Scripture which seemed not as harmonious with it as we had previously thought, we would think it our duty to refer at once to the Scriptures, because the Scriptures are the standard, and in that reference to the Scripture it would be with a view to discerning whether or not we had been mistaken in our previous examinations.”


    “If one has any doubt as to a reference or if one’s recollection should lapse in any degree, one should refresh his memory, and, in fact, should see that his every thought is in harmony with the Bible –not merely in accord with the SCRIPTURE STUDIES, but in accord with the Bible.”

    I do not agree with all that Russell wrote, but I believe he was far ahead of others in bringing forth food in due season in his time.

    Nevertheless, Russell was against the formation of an organization such as was formed by Rutherford after Russell died.


    • JJ says:

      Brilliant overview of Russell’s words ResLight. I too feel that the one small part of the quote has been used and used and used to an excess. By itself it doesn’t match up with the other humble expressions found in the Pastor’s words and writings. Thank you for bringing out the context and a clearer understanding of his commentary.


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