The April 15, 2013 Watchtower Study Edition contains some noteworthy thoughts that i’d like to draw some attention to.
6 How could we use the Bible to a fuller extent in our teaching? If you have the privilege of teaching the congregation from the platform, use specific Bible references. Rather than paraphrasing key scriptures or reading them from a computer printout or an electronic device, open the Bible and read from it, and encourage the audience to do the same. Also, take time to apply the verses in a way that helps the audience draw closer to Jehovah. Instead of using complicated illustrations and experiences that merely entertain, use the time to expound on God’s Word. -p. 13
This is good advice. Where I may differ is regarding “electronic devices” such as the iPad, which can be of great help. But I won’t make an issue out of this. Something else to add is the exposition or exegesis the Scriptures. This would help the Bible student to avoid taking verses out of context from their surroundings. Elsewhere, the Watchtower has correctly stated as much:
***w03 1/1 p. 27 What Can Help Us to Handle the Word of the Truth Aright?***
That example illustrates how important the context of a statement can be. Taking words out of context can distort their meaning, just as Satan distorted the meaning of Scripture when he tried to mislead Jesus. (Matthew 4:1-11) On the other hand, taking the context of a statement into account helps us to get a more accurate understanding of its meaning. For this reason, when we study a Bible verse, it is always wise to look at the context and see the verse in its setting in order to understand better what the writer was talking about.
Unfortunately, in my experience through listening to JW presentations, I have rarely heard the exposition of Scripture. While Scriptures are regularly cited, they are rarely exegeted in light of their surrounding context. In addition, while much is taught in the area of doctrine and what to believe,very little is instructed in the area of Bible exposition and exegesis. I have my opinions as to why this is so with the organization, but my point is to show that if Bible instruction is to be given as paragraph 6 states, then exegesis and exposition should be mentioned and strongly emphasized.
7 What do we need to keep in mind while conducting home Bible studies? As we use our Christian publications, we must be careful not to skip the Bible references. We should encourage the student to read cited texts and help him to grasp their meaning. How? Not by giving long explanations that turn the study into a series of lectures, but by encouraging the student to express himself. Instead of telling him what to believe or how to act, we can ask well thought out questions that will help him arrive at proper conclusions. -p. 13
This is interesting. Just one paragraph earlier, the Watchtower was emphasizing teaching from the Bible in the context of public meetings in the congregation. On the other hand, the so-called “home Bible studies” are to use “Christian publications” (i.e. Watchtower publications) along with “Bible references.” Is this really a “Bible Study” when the publications are the primary focus? What if the Bible teacher decided not to use the publications in his teaching, but instead decided to study the Bible with the interested student? It is doubtful that the Governing Body would approve. But why?
10 When writing to the Christians in Corinth, Paul described the strategy that he used to reprove himself. (Read 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27.) He struck at his imperfect human nature with well directed spiritual blows. Very likely, he looked for points of counsel in the Scriptures, supplicated Jehovah for help to apply them, and worked hard to improve. We can benefit from his example because we wage similar fights against our imperfect inclinations. p. 14
I must admit that this is excellent advice and the Watchtower should be commended. But I would also add doctrinal matters to the list of things in which the Scriptures be searched for counsel. I’m sure there is an extent to which Jehovah’s Witnesses would agree with this. However, the line is drawn when so-called “independent thinking” is involved. In other words, the Watchtower has expressly advised the Bible student to not read the Bible apart from the publications. In fact, the Bible cannot even be understood without them.
***w10 9/15 p. 8 par. 7***
We cannot hope to acquire a good relationship with Jehovah if we ignore those whom Jesus has appointed to care for his belongings. Without the assistance of “the faithful and discreet slave,” we would neither understand the full import of what we read in God’s Word nor how to apply it. (Matt. 24:45-47).
*** w90 12/1 p. 19 par. 13 How Can We Respond Unselfishly to God’s Love? ***
Let us face the fact that no matter how much Bible reading we have done, we would never have learned the truth on our own. We would not have discovered the truth regarding Jehovah, his purposes and attributes, the meaning and importance of his name, the Kingdom, Jesus’ ransom, the difference between God’s organization and Satan’s, nor why God has permitted wickedness.
Therefore, the Watchtower’s advice needs to be very carefully qualified when they recommend the Bible student to “read the Bible” for guidance.
IT IS awe inspiring to contemplate that we are part of a vast universal organization. The visions recorded in Ezekiel chapter 1 and Daniel chapter 7 vividly portray Jehovah maneuvering matters to a grand climax. Jesus is taking the lead in directing the earthly part of Jehovah’s organization to focus on preaching the good news, to care spiritually for those carrying out this work, and to promote the true worship of Jehovah. What confidence this gives us in Jehovah’s organization!—Matt. 24:45. -p. 27
When is Jesus directing the earthly organization? All of the time or some of the time? And when did this “direction” begin? Surely, Jesus was not directing the organization when falsehoods were proclaimed for years (i.e. organ transplants forbidden, etc.)? Therefore, the answer must be at best that Jesus is directing some of it. But this simply doesn’t work for the Watchtower. The Governing Body’s expectation is that all faithful Christians accept everything they print as true and directed by Jehovah. But we all know that not everything they put in print is true.
11 Jehovah has provided a bounteous supply of written spiritual food to give us strength. No doubt, you can think of a time when after reading a publication, you thought: ‘That is exactly what I needed! It is as if Jehovah had that written just for me!’ That is not a coincidence. Through these provisions, Jehovah does instruct and guide us. He has said: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go.” (Ps. 32:8) – p. 30
Without calling the Watchtower “inspired,” this is as close as it gets. Notice that its not the Bible that is instructing and guiding us. Instead, its “the publications.” When it was taught (now as an admitted falsehood) that the the “faithful and discreet slave” included all anointed Christians, was this “Jehovah instructing and guiding” or someone else? If the Watchtower publications really are “Jehovah’s instructions,” then how can they not be inspired? In addition, if they really are Jehovah’s instructions, then there is no basis by which the faithful Christian can question whether it’s true or false. And this is exactly what the Governing Body expects.
But what is most noteworthy in this paragraph is the quotation of Psalm 32:8 where Jehovah instructs the Psalmist. How does Jehovah instruct the Psalmist? Through His word. But according to the Watchtower, Jehovah instructs Jehovah’s Witnesses through…the publications. Therefore, it appears that the Watchtower publications are a fulfillment of Psalm 32:8. Does this mean that if one chooses not to obey a particular teaching of the Watchtower that they are, as a result, disobeying Jehovah? This seems to be the inevitable result of such an application.
Do we strive to take in all the spiritual food we receive and meditate on it? Doing so will help us to continue to bear fruit and not wither spiritually in these difficult last days.—Read Psalm 1:1-3; 35: 28; 119:97…May we be diligent in partaking of all the spiritual food we receive through Jehovah’s organization.—Ps. 119:27. -p. 30
Notice again that the “spiritual food” is not explicitly qualified as the “words of Scripture.” (though the publications do contain some Scripture) But the subtle insertion of “all” is quite noteworthy and should not be missed. Is the Watchtower really declaring that everything in their publications be received and meditated on? Even those teachings which remain in print but are admitted to be false (i.e. “old light” with Matt. 24:45)? Or is it just the most recent publications which we are to accept and meditate on? These are questions that should be answered by the Watchtower and its apologists.
14 In like manner, the great crowd fully supports the work of Christ’s anointed brothers who are still on earth and who are taking the lead in the organization today. (Read Zechariah 8:23.) -p. 30
Since the “anointed class” is no longer of the “faithful slave class,” then what exactly is their role? In what way are they “taking the lead”? It seems irresponsible for the Watchtower to be making such a statement in light of their recent doctrinal change without explaining basic questions such as these.
It appears that the Watchtower continues to avoid self-reflection on their statements and their consistency (or lack thereof). Lord willing, Jehovah’s Witnesses will continue to see this and begin questioning the teachings of the Watchtower in light of Scripture (Acts 17:11).
18 thoughts on “Some very bold statements found in the April 15, 2013 Watchtower Study Edition.”
“Since the “anointed class” is no longer of the “faithful slave class,” then what exactly is their role? In what way are they “taking the lead”?
As a class they never have taken the lead, how could they when there has not being any communication with them, and their true number is unknown. See
Thanks for your comment. I agree, which is why I would like for the WT to explain it.
The anointed brothers of Christ currently take the lead in the preaching and teaching work. That is their assignment from the Lord and it is trusted that they are carrying it out. There is certainly no reason to believe otherwise. Generally speaking, those who claim to be of the anointed are zealous preachers and teachers within the congregations.
Plus it must be remembered that their role is primarily futuristic as kings, priests and judges for the world during the millennium.
The WT has stated that there will be numerous articles to clarify the questions that arise due to this newer understanding, so running too far ahead and stating that they are irresponsible for not clarifying everything is premature. Patience is a virtue. Wait till the chips are in and then we can see more clearly what we have, or don’t have to complain about.
Thanks for your comment. But I have a question: rather than waiting on the Watchtower to give you the answer, why not study it for yourself to find out the answer?
After all, surely when the WT provides the answer, you will then tell us that it’s “Scriptural” and “the truth.” So why not determine the truth before they do?
I’m already doing that, Mike, and have been for some time on different issues. I believe I do understand many of the questions that have risen even before they have printed the answers. Believe it or not, with a few tent pegs of understanding if place, much of the rest falls into order. In fact, the new understanding of the FDS is far more harmonious then what it was before, answering a personal nagging question that I had about that particular context. That’s because independent research is entirely fine within the organization. As I have stated before, it is only promotion of a contradicting doctrine that presents a real problem, and that comes from the Bible, not the WT.
First, I must point out that its quite coincidental that the Society’s new position just happened to answer a “nagging question” of yours.
But aside from this, I have a few concerns. First, where does the promotion of truth present a problem in Scripture? Sure, it might contradict Watchtower doctrine, but so what? How else can we “prove all things” (2 Thess. 5:21) and “put to test those who call themselves apostles, but are not?” (Rev. 2:2)? In turn, I would ask where the Bible admonishes Christians to obey the teachings of men at the expense of proclaiming the truth?
Several other concerns: sure, as a faithful JW, “independent research” is fine as long as it doesn’t contradict the Society. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is doing independent research on matters where the Society is still “researching.” The new FDS understanding is the prime example. Obviously, “answers” have been given, but many of us have a lot of questions that JW’s tell us to “be patient” with as we “wait on the Governing Body.”
However, you say you have been researching these matters for yourself and apparently have formed some conclusions before the GB. Great! But are these conclusions true and Scriptural? I’m sure you’d have to admit they are, otherwise you wouldn’t hold to it as true and Scriptural! But what happens when the GB’s answers contradict these independent conclusions of yours? I think we all know the answer: your conclusions are not longer true and Biblical. Why? Because whatever the GB says is true and biblical. Therefore, you can’t question them because that would be the same as questioning Jehovah.
Do you see where i’m coming from?
I see what you are saying Mike but you still entirely misrepresent the scenario. Eph. 4:11-17 clearly tells us that “full understanding’ is yet for the future, but still the church must remain united in it’s teachings until that time so that men are not carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching. What that clearly boils down to is that the church might hold a position for a time that is incorrect until such time that they would see the need to “readjust” to conform to a better understanding of truth. That context plainly shows that unity trumps perfection of doctrine.
The GB is well aware that their current understandings, which deal with ambiguous areas, are subject to correction. They have stated this time and again and they have demonstrated that time and again. This is entirely expected when one considers that during the harvest, the weeds would be separated from the wheat. If what the GB teaches contradicts something that I have thought is true, then I will take another look and see whether their position is supportable by scripture. If it is, then I have no reason not to accept it at the very least, as possible. If I do not think so, I will patiently wait upon Jehovah to see if either I or the GB are adjusted in their thinking. I do not think that my understandings are infallible.
But out of respect for the Divine arrangement for the maintenance of unity within the congregation, I will do as Hebrews 13:17 tells Christians to do. “OBEY and SUBMIT” to those who are taking the lead among you, and surely from our standpoint, the GB would be taking the ultimate lead among men in the world today when it comes to Biblical matters and understanding. The meaning of the word “submit” is a significant one for this context. It means to surrender, such as one would do in a wrestling match. That should tell us that we might not always personally AGREE with those who are taking the lead, but for the sake of unity and peace, we should submit, unless of course what they would teach would fall clearly outside Biblical possibilities. If the GB is wrong about something, we have full confidence that in time, they will fix it, just as we have seen them do numerous times.
The scriptures ask that we remain united with no divisions among us, to be untied in the same mind and the line of thought. (1 Cor. 1:10 and context) God condemns the existence of divisions and sects to the same degree that he condemns adultery.
The scenario that we are left with, all things considered, is that we remain in unity with the GB, with those gifts in men; regardless of what we might THINK is the right view. Unless we think we are personally infallible in our understanding, that HAS TO BE the stance that we take in order to remain united.
Thanks for your comment. I’ve responded to it here:
As have I.
“The anointed brothers of Christ currently take the lead in the preaching and teaching work. That is their assignment from the Lord and it is trusted that they are carrying it out. There is certainly no reason to believe otherwise. Generally speaking, those who claim to be of the anointed are zealous preachers and teachers within the congregations”
Rotherham this is just speculation on your part. Where is the evidence? You know as well as I do there are no separate field service and teaching activity records kept for the anointed so there is no way to know if they are or are not taking the lead in the preaching and teaching work. There are no records to show if there is a higher percentage of anointed pioneers than the percentage of pioneers amongst the ordinary publishers. In reality those who the GB view as “genuine” anointed are likely to be elderly and frail unable to take the lead in the preaching and teaching work.
As for your comment “unity trumps perfection of doctrine” this was confirmed in the Douglas Walsh trial even if the doctrine is subsequently shown to be untrue. Unity before truth. JW unity is of course enforced through disfellowshipping those who do not agree with current WT doctrine and publically say so. Submitting to those taking the lead is fine provided the GB really was appointed as the FDS in 1919 as they recently have claimed. I think Don Cameron’s Captives of a Concept clearly demonstrates this was not the case together with the post 1919 history which does not support a small group of men at Brooklyn preparing the so called spiritual food. Rutherford dissolved the WT writing committee established in accord with Russell’s will in 1931. Infact at the first annual meeting after Rutherford’s death in Jan 1942 a declaration was passed confirming the belief that ” instructions come to the Lord’s people on earth from the office of president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, filled by anointed men chosen of the Lord in his organization” 1943 Yearbook page 169.
I think your argument hangs in the balance of these words: “Submitting to those taking the lead is fine provided the GB really was appointed as the FDS in 1919 as they recently have claimed.”
I am glad to see you state that. We clearly believe that they were. You don’t. However, I believe that our position in regard to these gifts in men can be successfully sustained, prophetically and otherwise.
Interesting article. I just happened to stumble on. The most interesting part I feel is the following:
“Do we strive to take in all the spiritual food we receive and meditate on it? Doing so will help us to continue to bear fruit and not wither spiritually in these difficult last days.—Read Psalm 1:1-3; 35: 28; 119:97…May we be diligent in partaking of all the spiritual food we receive through Jehovah’s organization.—Ps. 119:27. -p. 30”
Take in all the spiritual food and meditate on it. Here is where a JW can get in trouble. If we deeply meditate on such publication and find discrepencies and point them out, we are then consuled and sometimes reproved for going beyond what was asked of us. SO its kinda a cache 22.
Fortunately I am one that always voices my opinion and when I am approached I ask that what is it that I am doing that is specifically wrong. At that point I am left alone.
The upcoming articles in the WT is already creating a buzz amoung the RnF. And word has it that more is coming down the pike with additional “new light”. I will follow the consul of having a wait and see attitude.
Take care to all.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. You bring up a good point with that quote. If we are to take in all the spiritual food, then wouldn’t that mean we are to take in food that is demonstrably false?
Unfortunately, false food can only be realized in retrospect. But unless one is claiming infallibility, why would a group of fallible error prone men advise all faithful Christians worldwide to take in ALL of their teachings and meditate on it?
Some JW here tries to give the idea their is room for disagreement in Gods organization ! That is not true ! Any good JW know that disagreeing with current teaching re the FDs will eb disfellowshipped just like those who were disfellopwshipped for disagreeing with the old ligth .