The Governing Body has long claimed that they (as “the faithful and discreet slave” represented by their Watchtower corporation and its publications) are “God’s sole mouthpiece on Earth” and that, along with their faithful members (the Jehovah’s Witnesses), they fulfill the same role as the biblical prophets of old in delivering God’s message to the world.
So, the answer to the question in our title seems obvious: according to them, their [non-]inspiration comes from their god Jehovah.
We place the [non-] in front of “inspired” because “God’s organization on earth” tells us that they are neither infallible nor inspired! Be that as it may, they ask us to treat them exactly as if they were both: unquestioningly hanging on their every word and living our lives by the rules they pontificate, as if they came directly from God — even when we think they’re wrong!
They make the above disclaimer so that we won’t hold their checkered record of errors against them (if we try, they’ll fire back with: “We never claimed to be infallible!”) So, in effect, they ask us to treat them as inspired, infallible prophets today and in the future, but not in the past (not even when today becomes the past.) What a great deal for them! They get to be as wrong as wrong can be and not ever be held accountable or evaluated on their past record!
But what we really want to examine in this article is how this communication supposedly transpires between Jehovah and the Governing Body (or whoever has happened to be at the helm of the Watchtower issuing “God’s messages” at the time.)
Surprisingly, the Watchtower has not offered much in the way of explanation of this miraculous process. It’s also odd that Witnesses don’t bother to inquire. If anyone else were to claim that a god had imparted a message to them that they would like to share, a Witness would no doubt ask questions as to how the supposed “prophet” had received this communique.
In fact, the Bible (which Witnesses laughably claim to be their sole authority) admonishes us to investigate such claims, and not just gullibly believe in them:
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
1John 4:1 (NLT)
So, here’s what the Watchtower has told us over the years:
1. Angels implant thoughts in their head.
2. Not angels: Holy Spirit!
Those who make up the one true Christian organization today do not have angelic revelations or divine inspiration.
— Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom (1993) p.708
The holy spirit is the active force of the living God, which he sends out through his Son, Christ Jesus, and which operates toward Jehovah’s people, enlightening and directing his theocratic organization on the earth today as it did in the days of the apostles.”
—Watchtower 1960 May 15 p.299
3. Not Holy Spirit: The Bible!
Question: By what mechanism would you understand God’s spirit to direct your decisions?
Answer: Well, what I mean by that is, by prayer and using our constitution, God’s word, we would go through the scriptures and see if there was any biblical principle at all that would influence our decision – and it could be that in our initial discussions there was something that maybe we were missing and then in another discussion that would come to light. So we would view that as God’s spirit motivating us because we believe the Bible is God’s word and came by means of holy spirit. (Australian Royal Commission transcript: 15935:10)
Immediately prior to this, Jackson stated that a majority vote by the Governing Body members would decide an issue.
So this is quite a different image from the one painted earlier in their history: of angelic or holy-spirit supernatural intervention into their minds! Now we see a group of ordinary men merely kicking around their ideas about the Bible and then putting said ideas up for a vote.
And, we need to bear in mind that when the Governing Body speaks of “God’s word” they don’t just mean the Bible, but they include their own Watchtower publications under that umbrella:
To the whole series of messages of truth which he gave and which he continues to give ever since the lighting have been flashing from the temple and upon the record of his Word. The expression “the word”, therefore includes every revelation of truth down to and including the book Vindication and whatsoever shall be revealed and published, by the Lord’s grace, as long as the remnant is on earth.
—Watchtower 1932 April 1 p.101 (emphasis added)
A former Governing Body member relates an incident in which two members brought forth an idea in which the 1914 date would be changed to 1957 to correspond with the launching of the Russian satellite Sputnik fulfilling the prophecy of “there will be signs in the heavens.” This, however failed to win a majority vote, but it’s interesting to see how close millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to abandoning their precious 1914 date on a show of hands! (Crisis of Conscience [Commentary Press; Ex-library edition, 1983] by Raymond Franz)
4. Not the Bible: Spirits of Dead People!
As you can see above, In the year 2007 the Watchtower told us that they may have been receiving their “divine truth” in the form of spirit messages from the dead! They conjectured that their 1935 doctrine of a “great crowd” destined for everlasting life on earth, may have been conveyed to them from the spirits of dead people!
But the Watchtower has always told us that spirit messages are from the devil:
Spirit messages are quite plentiful which purport to give the human family superior wisdom from the so-called spirit world… We think that the devil and his angels are responsible for… the messages.
The Golden Age 1924, Jan 16 p.251
So, as usual, they can’t seem to get their story straight. When Rutherford imagined that angels were putting thoughts into his head, the Governing Body now tells us he was wrong. So, where were his thoughts coming from, then?
The 2007 Watchtower tells us that the Governing Body figured that spirits of dead people [which their 2006 tract tells us cannot possibly exist] had imparted information to them on an important doctrine.
Though the Watchtower has claimed that its doctrines come from “holy spirit,” it turns out — according to Governing Body members themselves — that the doctrines really come from some old men sitting around reading the Bible and voting on whatever odd ideas they may concoct.
This just doesn’t sound like the way the Bible describes Jehovah’s communications with his “prophets of old.” Can you imagine Isaiah and Jeremiah sitting around arguing about what they thought God’s message was, and then taking a vote on it? And then later changing their minds and issuing a retraction and revision; then going back to the original message; then changing it again, and again?
Who’s Messaging Whom?
Just as there is a good deal of confusion as to who is delivering the “divine truth” messages, it turns out there is also some muddle as to who is on the receiving end. The receiver has usually been associated with whoever currently holds the reigns of the organization and is identified as “the faithful and discreet slave” (aka “that faithful and wise servant”.)
At first it was thought that the receiver of this divine knowledge was Charles Taze Russell:
THE WATCH TOWER unhesitatingly proclaims Brother Russell as “that faithful and wise servant.” He delivered the message faithfully, finished his course and has now entered into his reward. Through him the Lord gave to the church the message that is so essential to each one who in this harvest time would win the glorious prize.”
—Watch Tower 1917 Mar 1 p.67
Years after Russell’s death the above sentiment was deemed “creature worship,” and the messages were then delivered to the “remnant” (the remainder of the 144,000 anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses still alive on earth.)
Why to this group and to no one else — not even other Jehovah’s Witnesses (known as “the other sheep” or “the great crowd”)? This is because the Watchtower tells us that only the anointed are qualified to understand the Bible since it was written primarily for them, and since Christ is their mediator while the rest of the world must settle for them as their mediator!
Also, it is to the spirit-anointed Christians who will rule in that kingdom that most of the Christian Greek Scriptures is directed, including the promises of everlasting life.
—Watchtower 1974 June 15 p.376 (emphasis added)
So in this strict Biblical sense Jesus is the “mediator” only for anointed Christians.”
—Watchtower 1979 Apr 1 p.31 (emphasis added)
To keep in relationship with “our Savior, God,” the “great crowd” needs to remain united with the remnant of spiritual Israelites.“
—Watchtower 1979 Nov 15 p.27
This hierarchy is shown in the following Watchtower organizational chart from The Watchtower December 15, 1971 p. 749
But this chart (which depicts the Governing Body as only a part of the F&D Slave Class) was later deemed incorrect by the Watchtower. The F&D Slave class was changed yet again: this time from the remnant to just the governing body (and then just to them when in session: when they are engaged in kicking around their wild guesses as to the meaning of Bible verses in their [brain-]storming sessions. [Reminiscent of how the Pope is only infallible when he is issuing his proclamations on the faith.])
The “faithful and discreet slave” was appointed over Jesus’ domestics in 1919. That slave is the small, composite group of anointed brothers serving at world headquarters during Christ’s presence who are directly involved in preparing and dispensing spiritual food. When this group work together as the Governing Body, they act as “the faithful and discreet slave.”
— jw.org (10th Nov 2012)
So, here’s a historically accurate depiction of the disorganized mess that the Watchtower claims is “God’s organization and only channel of truth” through which the “divine truths” flow:
Christians who do not have the misfortune of being Jehovah’s Witnesses, and who take to heart what the Bible actually says at 1Tim 2:5, have always had a much simpler hierarchy:
In the end I don’t think the Governing Body knows how “Jehovah communicates with them,” or if he even does. But, given their egregious record of errors and their frequent changes of mind, I think I know, and I think you do as well.