When presented with evidence of the failed prophecies1 and doctrinal flip-flops of the Watchtower Society, individual Jehovah's Witnesses are quick to distance themselves from any notion of the Watchtower religion or Watchtower leaders being a "prophet". However, as the following quotations conclusively demonstrate, the Watchtower Society has over the course of its history repeatedly taken upon itself the title (and role) of prophet:
The Watchtower is not the instrument of any man or set of men, nor is it published according to the whims of men. No man's opinion is expressed in The Watchtower. –The Watchtower, November 1, 1931, page 327.view
For an answer, people should listen to the plain preaching by the remnant [i.e. the Watchtower Society] prefigured by Jeremiah, for these preach to men the present-day fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecies. Who made them a prophet to speak with the authority that they claim? Well, who made Jeremiah a prophet? –The Watchtower, January 15, 1959, page 39.
Who will be Jehovah's prophet to the nations, to speak to them everything that He should command? Who will be the modern Jeremiah? ... Jehovah's witnesses are deeply grateful today that the plain facts show that God has been pleased to use them. ... Jehovah thrust out his hand of power and touched their lips and put his words in their mouths... –The Watchtower, January 15, 1959, page 40-41.
What a thrilling moment it will be when, during the coming "great tribulation" on this present system of things, the authentic news comes from all around the earth that the antitypical Jerusalem, Christendom, has fallen at the hands of Jehovah's executional forces! This will be a vindication of the modern-day Ezekiel class [i.e. the Watchtower Society], to authenticate that they have not been a false prophet but have been a faithful "watchman" class in sounding out Jehovah's warnings to Christendom. –The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah, 1971, page 286.view
Unlike the clergy class, those of the Jeremiah class [i.e. the Watchtower Society] have been sent by Jehovah to speak in his name. –The Watchtower, September 1, 1979, page 29.
Let us now unmistakably identify Jehovah's channel of communication for our day, that we may continue in his favor. ... It is vital that we appreciate this fact and respond to the directions of the "slave" [i.e. the Watchtower Society] as we would to the voice of God, because it is His provision. –The Watchtower, June 15, 1957, page 370.
So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? ... This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian witnesses. –The Watchtower, April 1, 1972, page 197.view
In behalf of such individuals who at heart seek God's rule instead of man's rule, the "prophet" whom Jehovah has raised up has been, not an individual man as in the case of Jeremiah, but a class. –The Watchtower, October 1, 1982, page 27.
As noted above, when presented with evidence of the Watchtower Society's failed predictions and doctrinal flip-flops, individual Jehovah's Witnesses (as directed by the Watchtower Society) quickly dismiss the idea that the Watchtower Society is a prophet of God. Instead, Witnesses will parrot statements to the effect that the Watchtower Society is not inspired and does not claim to be inspired. Such statements have indeed been made by the Society;2 however, such statements stand in stark contrast to the statements quoted above and can in no way 'undo' the Society's claims of being a prophet (nor, I think, are they intended to). That individual Jehovah's Witnesses accept and believe both concepts despite their contradictory nature is evidence indeed of the absolute blind faith the Witnesses have in the group's leaders. One cannot help but recall George Orwell's famous dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and its concept of "doublethink":
The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed...3
1. At some point I hope to put together a page considering the false prophecies of the Watchtower Society. In the meantime, much information can be found at this site.
The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic. –The Watchtower, August 15, 1950, page 263.
When I read such statements, I am immediately reminded of Zechariah 13:4,5:
Those prophets will be ashamed of their so-called visions, and they won't deceive anyone by dressing like a true prophet. Instead, they will say, "I'm no prophet. I've been a farmer all my life." (CEV)