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by Eric Pement

The file entitled "The History of Jehovah's Witness" [should be

"Witnesses"], does have a few problems with it, as was pointed out by

Murrell Selden. However, Mr. Selden does not always identify the

right problems, and some of Mr. Selden's own statements in rebuttal to

the JW file are not always accurate either.

Murrell begins by saying, "The file on Jehovah's Witnesses does not

report the beliefs of JW's!" I agree--the file does not report the

beliefs of JW's. On the one hand, I might reply that the file was not

intended to: it is entitled "The HISTORY of ...", not "The DOCTRINE of

.. " But on the other hand, I feel that if you carry only one file

on Jehovah's Witnesses, you ought to have a more well-rounded

discussion of JW doctrine. The file focuses on only a single belief,

their doctrine of the resurrection of Christ, and other Watchtower

distinctives are omitted. A few are hinted at in the fifth

sentence--denial of "the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Bodily

resurrection of Christ and the existence of hell." Although Charles

Russell and present-day Jehovah's Witnesses would agree on the first

three elements of this series, they might balk at the fourth, "the

existence of hell." Technically, Russell and his successors define

hell as "the grave," and they do not deny the existence of the grave.

They do, however, deny the existence of eternal, conscious torment of

the damned.


I do not agree with Selden's assertion that the file "makes abusive

statements about three JW's." While Charles Russell is described as

being linguistically deficient, guilty of perjury, and divorced, these

statements, IF THEY ARE TRUE, should not be considered "abusive." The

simple reporting of history, and the honest reporting of sins, is not

abuse. The file contains no name-calling or angry words, such as

"dirty liar," "slob," "Satan-inspired," etc. The closest the file

comes to abuse is in quoting the statement of the Judge of the High

Court of Ontario, specifying his reason for granting a divorce to Mrs.

Maria Frances Russell.

In fairness to Mr. Selden and to the truth itself, I must point out a

couple of errors. First, Russell was never charged with perjury or

found guilty of perjury by any court. Inspection of the transcript of

a trial called Russell v. Ross (Ontario, 1913) reveals that Russell

said (under oath) that he knew the Greek alphabet, but when tested on

the spot, he was unable to identify various Greek letters.

Technically, this is evidence that he lied about his ability to read

the Greek alphabet, but the court never charged him with perjury. It

did, however, rule against him.

Second, Russell's wife was not given a decree of divorce, she was

given a decree of "separation." The judge was not Judge of the High

Court of Ontario (that was Russell v. Ross in 1913), it was Justice

Orlany, Superior Court of Pennsylvania, ruling in the case of Russell

v. Russell (1908). His actual words were, "His [Russell's] course of

conduct towards his wife evidenced such insistent egotism and

extravagant self praise that it would be manifest to the jury that his

conduct towards her was one of continual arrogant domination, that

would necessarily render the life of any Christian woman a burden and

make her condition intolerable." (Records of the Pennsylvania Superior

Court, Vol. 37, page 348 [1908]).


It is true that Joseph F. Rutherford, along with seven other Directors

of the Watch Tower Society, was incarcerated in Atlanta for anti-war

sedition in 1918, and released in 1919. It is also true that the

conviction was overturned and this fact should have been noted.

I would like to correct Mr. Selden on one minor point. Rutherford was

not "exonerated of all charges in the U.S. Supreme Court". The U.S.

Supreme Court became involved in this case in March 1919, when Supreme

Court Justice Louis Brandeis directed that Rutherford and his

co-Directors, all incarcerated in Atlanta, be released on bail. The

Supreme Court declaring that they had a "right to bail" is not the

same as declaring them innocent.

One month later, April 1919, the Federal Second Court of Appeals in

New York held that the eight men had not received a "temperate and

impartial trial" in 1918, and "for this reason" it reversed the guilty

verdict rendered the previous year. This court was not the Supreme

Court, and their verdict was not an "exoneration of all charges," but

instead an admission of mistreatment by a previous court.


There is certainly no abusive language here about Knorr. It should

have been noted that Knorr died on June 7, 1977, and was succeeded two

weeks later by the current president of the Watchtower Society,

Frederick W. Franz.



Murrell Selden stated, "It is claimed that Jehovah's Witnesses do not

believe that Jesus assumed a fleshly body (Gk., soma) during the forty

days following his resurrection. That is not true! Jesus did assume

a fleshly body ... "

In this case, Mr. Selden did not read carefully. All the author of

that file did was to quote Watchtower source material. He actually

"claimed" very little, but let the Watchtower view speak for itself.

The Selden/Watchtower problem hinges on the word "assumed." As

Bible-based Christians, we maintain that the body of Jesus was

RESURRECTED (i.e., raised back to life). The Bible teaches that "the

body without spirit is dead" (James 2:26, New World Trans., 1984). I

agree. Conversely, the body WITH spirit is alive. We are saying that

the Bible's statements about the resurrection of Jesus simply mean

that the body of Jesus was reanimated. In other words, Jesus' BODY

came back to life (only with supernatural power and glory, such that

it can never decay or die again).

That's the whole point of the empty tomb. The corpse, the cadaver, is

gone because Jesus got up and walked out of the tomb!

The Watchtower Society teaches that at his resurrection, Jesus' body

was destroyed (dissolved/disintegrated/etc.) not raised intact. Any

appearances of Jesus in the New Testament are when Jesus ASSUMED

(i.e., took on) a body, but the body in which Jesus appeared bore no

real connection with the body which was slain. For the average JW,

the reason Jesus assumed a body was to accommodate the weak faith and

unbelief of the disciples.

As evangelicals, we believe that IF God the Father had dissolved the

fleshly body of Jesus, and transformed him into a spirit being, Jesus

COULD have assumed fleshly bodies, just as angels do. This is

possible. But instead, the Bible teaches that God the Father raised

the fleshly body back alive -- the same body, only this time imbued

with immortality. That's the point of John 2:19-21. "Break down this

temple, and in three days I will raise it up. ... But he was talking

about the temple of his body." (NW, 1984) We agree with this

scripture. However, if the Watchtower leaders are right, Jesus said

it wrong. He should have said, "Break down this temple, and in three

days I will dissolve it even more."

Take some time to read Acts 2:24-32, 13:30-37, and 26:8. The emphasis

is on the fact that Jesus did not remain dead, his corpse did not

decay, "nor did his flesh see corruption" (Acts 2:31, NW). If the

Watchtower is correct, then his flesh saw annihilation,

disintegration, and TOTAL corruption. We Christians say his flesh was

given immortality (i.e., deathlessness), and was raised to eternal


What about going through walls (John 20:26)? Why couldn't they

recognize Jesus normally (Luke 24:15-31, John 20:14)? Are those

characteristics of a fleshly body, asks the Watchtower Society?

Listen carefully now.

(a) The Bible affirms that the nature of the resurrection body is

immortal (not mortal), incorruptible, existing in glory, in power, and

spiritual. The resurrection body of Christ and the resurrection body

which God's faithful people will receive on the Last Day is a

"spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:44). It is with a BODY, not as a SPIRIT.

There is the glory of God and the power of the Spirit of God infused

in the resurrection body, and this is one reason why the resurrected

Jesus could do supernatural things which mortal, unpowerful

bodies--like mine--cannot.

(b) Moreover, even mortal bodies which are subject to pain and death

are capable of doing a lot more than you would think. The mortal body

of Jesus could walk on water (Matt. 14:25), and could walk straight

"through the midst" of an angry crowd without being seen (Luke 4:30,

John 10:31). I also believe that a miraculous acceleration of a boat

is involved in John 6:21 ("immediately" in the KJV, New International,

and the Kingdom Interlinear). Of course, all these miracles are done

through the power of God's Holy Spirit, working with mortal humans.

If the Spirit of God could enable a mortal Jesus to enter a room with

the doors shut (and to do other miracles), there is no reason to say

that the Lord Jesus, with a glorified, immortal, tangible body could

not also be transported into a closed room.

(c) The objection about not recognizing Jesus is answered by simply

reading the text. Luke 24:16 says "their eyes were kept [or held]

from recognizing him." It doesn't say Jesus' face was altered, or the

body he "assumed" looked different. It simply says their eyes were

KEPT from recognizing him.

The passage in John 20:11-16 also does not attribute Mary's inability

to recognize Jesus to any changes in his face. Since nothing

indicates a physical alteration in Jesus' features, we may assume that

the reason indicated in Luke 24:16 (the power of God) was behind

Mary's temporary lack of perception in this instance, also.

One last point for the resurrection of the body of Jesus.

If we look at John 20:24, we find Thomas' statement, "Unless I see in

his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of

the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will certainly not

believe." When Jesus showed himself to Thomas, alive instead of dead,

he told him, "Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your

hand and stick it into my side, and stop being unbelieving but become

believing" (John 20:27, NW).

If Russell's teaching is correct, then Jesus' body really dissolved,

and those holes in his hands and side which he exhibited to Thomas

were not ACTUALLY created by the nails and spear. However, Jesus was

leading Thomas to THINK they were. In essence, Jesus is deceiving

Thomas about the origin of those wounds. This conclusion is

inescapable if the Watchtower is right.

However, if Jesus was not deceiving Thomas about the origin of the

wounds, then those wounds in his body were created by the spear and

nails. As biblically-based Christians, we acknowledge that the body

of Jesus was transformed as it was raised back to life, and infused

with spiritual power and glory, and that his resurrected body had

genuine continuity with the body which suffered death on the cross.

Thank you for considering these statements, and I pray that they have

helped to clear up a few questions about the file on Jehovah's


--- written by Eric Pement on 1/17/1986

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