The greatest enemy of the Watch Tower organization is its own literature – Leonard Chretien, Marjorie Chretien, Witnesses of Jehovah, p. 210.
The present publication in English language is an abridged version of the Polish book printed under the title Zmienne nauki Świadków Jehowy. Najważniejsze zmiany w doktrynie Towarzystwa Strażnica w latach 1879-2011 (2012) and its expanded electronic version of the year 2015.
Because the English-speaking people have better knowledge concerning the discussed matter, we do not include in our paper a long introduction and commentaries, which appear in the Polish version. We hope that the titles of sections, chapters and subsections will lead readers in correct understanding of cited texts and of the authors’ intention. Polish edition of the book is easy accessible in the Internet and every person who speaks Polish can freely use it:
We sign that all the changed names of the major magazine of Jehovah’s Witnesses are expressed here just in one shortened name, The Watchtower.
We want to inform the readers that it is practically impossible to mention all the doctrinal changes from the earliest years, when the Watchower magazine was issued in 1879 or from the time, when C.T. Russell (ob. 1916) started his publishing activity (since 1876). For example in 1917 the Watchtower Society published its own commentary to the Revelation of St. John and the book of Ezekiel under the title The Finished Mystery, which was used till 1929. However, in 1930 the organization published its new commentary to the Revelation, Light, which contained the completely changed interpretation when compared with the former one, so that each Bible verse was differently interpreted than before! The same applies to the book of Ezekiel, because the new commentary, Vindication (three volumes), published in the years 1931-1932, was a complete rejection of the interpretation presented in the book The Finished Mystery. The same phenomenon refers to the other books written by C.T. Russella and J.F. Rutherford (ob. 1942), presidents of the Watchtower Society, which were rejected by their successor, N. Knorr (ob. 1977).
Since the year 1950 situation in the area of doctrinal changes was partly ‘stabilized’, because the Watchtower Society started to print its own Bible and modified its interpretation in agreement with the new Bible. Formerly, when the organization used several different Bible versions, the Watchtower Society selected such translations which better suited its doctrinal solutions, accepted by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Nevertheless, in the years 1950-2015 the Watchtower Society introduced many new teachings, presented here (the record-breaking introduction of new teachings took place in the year 2013).
We would like to point the readers attention to the fact that it is not always easy to discern in exact manner in which year the Watchtower Society changed a teaching. For example, many teachings were changed in the years 1917-1929, but at the same time the old Studies in the Scriptures were printed, advertized and distributed, even till the year 1929 (See The Watchtower November 1, 1929 p. 322). The same principle applies to a book The Harp of God (1921), printed until the year 1940, and studied even in the year 1943, although many of its teachings were changed in the years 1921-1943 (e.g. the cross, the date of Christ return in 1874):
In 1943, I symbolized my dedication to God by water baptism. By then I was conducting Bible studies in three of the neighboring villages—Dhravískos, Palaeokomi, and Mavrolofos. I used the book The Harp of God as our Bible study aid. (The Watchtower October 1, 1999 p. 23).
We have to admit that our paper is partly based on the book by David A. Reed, Index of Watchtower Errors 1879 to 1989. However, we expanded the contents of our publication, adding new doctrines of the years 1990-2015.
We hope that our paper will be helpful both for people searching for the truth, and for many Jehovah’s Witnesses who would like to know their religion’s history and development of the Watchtower Society’s teachings.