Watchtower Puzzle: Spirit-Directed vs Inspired

Scan your Bible and you probably won’t find the term spirit-directed. I searched for that term online and could not find a dictionary that defines it. That’s puzzling in view of the fact that Watchtower publications have used it 33 times.

I’ve also been mulling over the question about spirit-direction and inspiration as defined by those publications and I’m not certain that I understand a few other puzzles that seem to crop up. Maybe you can help.

Let’s first establish some Watchtower-defined principles to set the groundwork, examining what they’ve told the flock. You’ll see that the following is supported within pages of The Watchtower:

  1. Its organization is spirit-directed1 and, in fact, is the only such one on this earth.2
  2. Jehovah’s visible organization is under the control of a governing body3 (currently 7 men).
  3. Their governing body is spirit-directed.4
  4. This governing body approves what is written and published.5
  5. The organization is run from the top down,6 “not from the rank and file up.”
  6. All Jehovah’s Witnesses become rank and file at baptism7 and as witnesses are spirit-directed.8

See if the illustration below conveys those principles.

While not illustrated completely, it should be obvious that a hierarchy is suggested by the graphic. Fact is, between Governing Body and Rank and File, there’s a chain of offices worthy of brief (not complete) mention – zone overseer, district overseer, circuit overseer; and in the local congregation, presiding overseer, elder, and ministerial servant.

So while all positions inside that yellow-colored icon are explained to be spirit-directed, all are clearly not equal. Behavior, for one, is treated differently. How so? Well, those with higher positions have the power to invoke punishment on those with lesser positions but that does not work in reverse.

  • Any baptized member who uses tobacco and cannot quit (not deemed repentant) will be disfellowshipped. This equally applies to one who accepts a medically-recommended blood transfusion for any reason. Note there is no stated minimum age limit for baptism. A disfellowshipped 15-year old child is not permitted a relationship with any family members who do not live within his household. His baptized grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. are off-limits to regular family gatherings. Even his siblings who no longer live within his household.
  • The governing body is immune to punitive action from its members. The same group responsible for the failed published date predictions, doctrinal teaching contradictions and flip-flops, are not held accountable despite the fact that they’ve never apologized or repented of such egregious behavior.

“Spirit-directed” vs “Inspired”

There are two other puzzling Watchtower-stated principles that we should consider.

  1. The words of Jesus were spirit-directed.9
  2. The words of the apostles were spirit-directed.10

What makes those statements intriguing is that Watchtower has understandably been quick to assert that those ancient Bible-based individuals11 were inspired.

So, which is it? Or is it both?

  1. Are Jesus and the apostles demeaned when described by a term that equally applies to modern-day blunder-makers within the Watchtower organization?
  2. Or is this so-called visible organization somehow promoted when described by the same term used for Jesus and the apostles?
  3. Or does Watchtower secretly believe that the terms spirit-directed and inspired are actually synonymous and only deny the inspiration part when they are exposed in their throng of contradiction blunders.
  4. Is spirit-directed merely a recently homebrewed term (from 196812 onward) that Watchtower uses to deflect the blame of critics when caught in the ever-increasing magnitude of their teaching contradictions.

What am I missing here?


1 “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?” – The Watchtower, 1985, 6/1 p. 30

2 “Consider, too, the fact that Jehovah’s organization alone, in all the earth, is directed by God’s holy spirit or active force.” – The Watchtower, 1973, 7/1 p. 402.

3 As of one month ago, the names of the 7 members of the governing body are: Samuel F. Herd, Geoffrey Jackson, Stephen Lett, Anthony Morris III, Gerrit Lösch, Guy H. Pierce, and David H. Splane. – ref

4 “In such respects, the Governing Body is organized to take the lead as Jehovah directs them by holy spirit.” – The Watchtower, 2008, 5/15 p. 29.

5 “To this day the Governing Body follows similar guidelines. Each article in both The Watchtower and Awake! and every page, including the artwork, is scrutinized by selected members of the Governing Body before it is printed. Therefore, you can read The Watchtower and Awake! with confidence.” – The Watchtower, 1987, Mar. 1, p.15.

6 “Hence it is patterned according to His design for it. It is a theocratic organization, ruled from the divine Top down, and not from the rank and file up. The dedicated, baptized members of it are under Theocracy!” – The Watchtower, 1971, 12/15 p. 754.

7 “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?” – The Watchtower, 1985, 6/1 p. 30.

8 “Jehovah’s Witnesses from earliest times in the past century have understood that they must be willing to modify and correct their views of doctrine, practice and organizational procedure when it became apparent that Jehovah’s spirit was directing them toward such adjustments.” – The Watchtower, 1979, 7/1 p. 29.
“The publishers of this journal do not hesitate to say that Jehovah’s Witnesses fit the Bible’s description of the people having holy spirit.” – The Watchtower, 2010, 10/1 p. 31.

9 “JEHOVAH’S servants must pay attention to the spirit-directed words of Jesus Christ ….” – The Watchtower, 2003, 5/15 p. 15 par. 1.

10 “… the same spirit-directed decree of the apostles and older men at Jerusalem.-Acts 15:19, 20, 28, 29.” – The Watchtower, 1986, 3/15 p. 18 par. 11.

11 “Let us keep ever in mind the inspired words of the apostle Paul … ” – The Watchtower, 1995, 4/1 p. 15.

12 “Failure to keep in mind such spirit-directed counsel has laid the majority of men open to the wily tactics of the Devil, …” – The Watchtower, 1968, 1/15 p. 54.

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Leonard R. Miller is a frequent and outspoken contributor to several Jehovah’s Witness discussion forums. Baptized at the age of 15 in 1956, he left over 30-years ago, and is still shunned by some friends and family. Rutherford’s failed 1925 prophecy led to his research of Watchtower history.


Watchtower Puzzle: Spirit-Directed vs Inspired — 2 Comments

  1. Thank you for this article, Mr. Miller. What I find extremely frustrating to figure out re. the GB, is that they state that they are spirit-directed – and the way I understand “spirit-direction” is that such a person or group is directly directed by SPIRIT. When the so-called “new light” arrives, WHO or WHAT was directing “old light”?

    This very same question was posed by me to the judiciary committee of elders in front of whom I had to appear during 1996. They couldn’t answer me, and proceeded to declare me an apostate in public.

    In my mind, and according to my understanding, “spirit-directed” and “inspired” as far as the WTS/GB is concerned, is one and the same.

    Maybe I’m also missing something? 😉

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