One of the most used ways by Jehovah’s Witnesses to get around the subject of even considering the many changes in doctrine and practice that the Watchtower Society has made is the expression, “We are getting new light.” This is supposed to get rid or justify all these changes. (It doesn’t seem to bother them that these mistakes have caused a lot of suffering and even deaths.)
In order to be successful in witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness, you are going to have to know how to use this statement, “We are getting light,” to your advantage. There are quite a number of ways you can approach the subject that will give you an opportunity to ask thought-provoking questions.
Whenever the subject comes up, if they don’t quote from Proverbs 4:18 you can ask then where does this idea of “new light” comes from in the Bible? They will immediately take you to Proverbs 4:18. Often they will just give you the reference. If this happens, ask them to open their Bible to this verse and read ALL of the verse which states: “But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”
If you happen to have a NWT Bible right in front of you, look at the verse and pause for a few moments and then read it out loud. If you don’t have your own NWT ask the JW to read the verse again. Pause for quite a few seconds and then ask them to read it again. (This is very important because you are getting them to reconsider the verse by doing this.)
You can ask them if they noticed that this verse was not a promise to everyone, but has a very important qualification! It states: “The path of the righteous.” Thus before you consider the rest of the verse you have to find out how people can become righteous! Ask them how JW’s are taught in order to become righteous? I think they will be quite hard pressed to come up with a good answer. Here you have an opportunity to present the Biblical way of salvation. You can then say, “Let’s look at what the Bible says about how someone can become righteous.” Then go to Romans 3:22 where it states, “Yes, God’s righteous is through the faith in Jesus Christ.” Ask them to explain to this verse to you. Then go to Romans 3:24: “It is a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by ransom [paid] by Christ Jesus.” It is because of faith in Jesus Christ that makes one righteous! Don’t let them go to any other verse or just brush you off. Righteousness comes by His “underserved kindness through the release by the ransom [paid] by Christ Jesus.” Here we see that a person is made righteous through the ransom of Jesus Christ (the WT teaches that the ransom was just to pay for the sins we inherited in Adam and we have to pay for our own sins and this is done when we die physically. To WT tries to prove this belief by uses Romans 6:7 that reads: “For he who has died has been acquitted from [his] sins.”) and it is a “free gift” and something that God “declares” because of our faith in the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for our personal sins. You can continue in Romans by reading 3:26, 28, 30, 4:6, 9, 11, 22, etc.
Then you might say, “That is really an interesting verse (Prov. 4:18)!” Have you ever noticed what it really says? (The JW will probably be a little surprised.) Ask them if they realize that this verse is actually a “prophecy”? Then you can point out that this verse states that the light at dawn is very dim, but as the day goes on the light keeps getting brighter, but we know that at “noon” the sun is the brightest and then from then on the sun begins to wane! Thus the light can only get brighter until a certain time, and that is noon.
If the JW’s would accept what Charles Russell wrote then they could not use this argument that “the light is getting brighter and righter.” In the Zion’s Watch Tower, February 1881, on page 188 he stated: “A new view of truth never can contradict a former truth. ‘New light’ never extinguishes older ‘light,’ but adds to it. If you were lighting up a building containing seven gas jets you would not extinguish one every time you lighted another, but would add one light to another and they would be in harmony and thus give increase of light. So is it with the light of truth; the true increase is by adding to, not by substituting one for another.” The only trouble is, every time the WT Society gets “new light” then the teaching that it replaced is not longer valid. Thus the light really is not “getting brighter and brighter.”
But without mentioning what Charles Russell said, if you are taking with the JW’s in your living room and have a number of lamps you can use the above as an illustration. Turn one light on, then turn another on but the first one off and ask if you now have MORE or BRIGHTER light? Of course the answer is “No.” Then turn a third one on and the second one off and ask you question again. If you do this for a number of times the JW’s might get the point.
In order to get them confused, continue by asking, “When did the Watchtower Society first begin to get this new light”? There had to be a start (dawn) in order for this light to keep getting brighter!
(Let me inject something here that is very important in this discussion. In the July 15, 1996 Watchtower on page 20 we read: “After many years in God’s service, one brother wrote: ‘I am so thankful that I have lived in the knowledge of Jehovah’s purpose from these early days just prior to 1914 when all was not so clear…to this day when the truth shines like the noonday sun.” Apparently the WT agrees with this statement since it printed it. The Watchtower Society movement began in about 1879, so I guess it was just pitch black until 1914, the year (according to the WT) in which God started to look around for a “faithful and wise servant,” and chose them in 1919. This quote says that dawn began in 1914 and in 1996 the sun was at its zenith. If this is really true, then the WT Society could not receive any more “new light” or at least “brighter light” after 1996! But there have been some very significant changes since that date.
As we have said, the light starts getting brighter from sun up until noon. Let’s say sunup is at 6:00 a.m. and then of course noon is at 12:00 a.m. In order to get the JW’s really confused and hopefully thinking, you can ask the following question. “I am a person who doesn’t like changes. But it seems like there have been a lot of changes in the teachings and practices of the WT Society! Could you give me some kind of an estimate as to what time it is on the Watchtower clock so I have an idea as to how much long these changes will continue to be made? Would you say that we are at 10:00 a.m.? 11:00 a.m.? 11:15 a.m.? 11:30 a.m.? Or 11:45 a.m.? I would appreciate it if you could give me some kind of idea as to what time it is on this ‘the light is getting brighter and brighter’ clock”? (Since this is an entirely new question and thought to them, I am not sure what he or she will answer.)
Next question. “Would you please tell me where the original teachings of the Watchtower Society came from that were so very vague in the first place that they needed to be improved upon?”
They will probably tell you that you have to remember that there are “fallible” men in their organization that makes mistakes.
Then you can say, “I really want to understand you here. See if I have come to the correct conclusion from what you just said? At the beginning of the Watchtower movement there was a man or a group of men who sat down and come up with a lot of ‘ideas’ but they really were not well informed so most of what they decided was wrong and needed to be changed!” Would this be an accurate conclusion?
Another question. “Has there ever been a time when the Society claimed that it received ‘new light’ but later on this ‘new light’ needed to be changed”?
If the Witness is honest, he or she will have to admit that there have been many times when the Society taught one thing, then changed it to just the opposite and later on went back to the original teaching.
Here are just a few of the changes.
1. The Society taught in 1931 that vaccinations were unbiblical and condemned. (New light.) But then in 1952 it got “new light” that they really were not unbiblical.
2. Charles Russell taught that the “superior authorities” in Romans 13:1 were government officials. Then Rutherford came along and said that Russell was greatly mistaken and they were really God and Christ (Michael the archangel) in heaven. But then in 1962 the society got “new light” that Russell was right in his interpretation.
3. Russell said that the number of “anointed” were filled on Oct. 3, 1881. But then Rutherford came along and said they were filled in 1935. But then just a year or so ago (2008 or 2009) the Society got “new light” that both of those dates were wrong and there really are some openings left.
4. In 1967 the Society got “new light” that organ transplants were cannibalistic and forbidden with God. There were JW’s who died during that time because they followed the direction of the Society and refused to have a transplant. I personally know a man who lost his wife this way. But then in 1980 the Society again got “new light,” and while using the same Bible came to the conclusion that organ transplants were really not cannibalistic and not forbidden by the Bible.
You can say: “This is all very confusing, but let me see if I am understanding what you are saying? The original teaching came from fallible men! Then since the “new light” or “adjustment” are not set in cement, then wouldn’t this mean that this “new light” is really coming from the fallible men at the head of your organization who have come to realize that they were wrong and needed some adjustment? Would this be correct?”
Since the Society has a history of making mistakes and things need to be adjusted and changed, then where does God fit into the picture? After all, if God were really directing the organization then there would never be any need for change!
After asking the above questions I don’t think the JW’s will want to bring up the subject of the “new light” again.