Watchtower apostasy is an important issue that every JW should consider. Though i’ve thought through it in the past, this discussion provoked me to consider writing about it; in particular, this comment by a JW apologist. But before I address his comment, it is important that we set the stage with some context.
The Watchtower has long held that all true Christians must worship Jehovah in association with them. Otherwise, they aren’t a true Christian. This has been discussed HERE, so there is no need to belabor this point and most JW’s would agree. But what happens if the Watchtower begins to teach apostate doctrines or even go so far as to join themselves with so-called “christendom?” I will post the JW response (linked above) to this question and interact throughout.
The Watchtower has never addressed the idea as to what would happen if they apostatized because the notion is considered ridiculous. From what I know of them, I would agree.
Its ridiculous that a Christian organization can apostatize? According to the Watchtower, isn’t that what happened in the early church? Or what about Saul, the one whom Jehovah chose to rule his people (1 Sam. 9:17)? Is there something in Scripture which would somehow imply that the Watchtower is exempt?
On the contrary, the Watchtower even admits that apostasy will happen in the “last days,”
*** w80 8/1 p. 19 par. 8 Remain “Solid in the Faith” ***
8 But other scriptures make it clear that even during “the last days” of the present system of things, cases of apostasy would occur within the true Christian congregation. The apostle Peter wrote:
“In the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his?’ . . . You, therefore, beloved ones, having this advance knowledge, be on your guard that you may not be led away with them by the error of the law-defying people and fall from your own steadfastness.”—2 Pet. 3:3, 4, 17.
Granted, this isn’t admitting that this can or will happen with the entire leadership, but it is difficult to imagine why such a notion would be “ridiculous.”
The Bible takes precedent in any teaching within the JW congregations. If there were clear and unquestionable deviation from an established Biblical teaching, if that were maintained and not expeditiously corrected, they would lose God’s favor and be rejected as his earthly organization and God would establish another.
But what would be a “clear and unquestionable deviation?” Since the Governing Body expressly forbids their authority to be challenged, then how could the faithful JW even know that they are deviating? Perhaps their “deviation” is actually “new light?” As a matter of fact, this is the very reason why many JW’s leave the organization; because they feel the Governing Body has deviated from established biblical teachings. Yet, faithful JW’s will consider them apostate with little hesitation.
This is further complicated when the Watchtower advises that JW’s can’t even understand the Bible without them. Therefore, if the JW can’t understand the Bible without them, then how could they know when the Watchtower has truly deviated?
Those who appreciate the Bible as the final word would follow as it would naturally result in a schism.
So how would the JW know who to follow? Would this require independent thinking? What if the organization disbanded completely, as it is said to have happened in the early church?
The WT is considered to be like the eyeglass that helps one understand the true teachings from God’s word. It is however, recognized as fallible. The scriptures, as far as they are translated properly, reflect the perfect word of God and the Bible is well known to be our primary textbook. It is infallible and takes full precedent in any understanding, teaching or practice. Therefore, with the Bible at the helm, your above contrived scenario is not an issue.
This is fine, but the JW is still to recognize the Watchtower publications as “instructions from Jehovah.” In addition, you are not to challenge them and accept what they put in print; even if you think they might be wrong. After all, could you really know better than them? This is precisely how the Governing Body expects JW’s to think. Claiming “fallibility” does little to alleviate these concerns.
Although the organization is considered God’s arrangement, that would only be as long as they were devoted to the teachings of the Bible. Just as Israel was rejected for corruption, so could the WT. Israel was God’s nation but became corrupt to the point that God rejected them as a nation. Not individually but as a nation. Jesus told them that the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to nation producing its fruits.
So can they or can’t they apostatize? But again, it is always assumed that the Governing Body is “devoted to the teachings of the Bible.” In fact, that is the very thing that you aren’t supposed to challenge.
Those who adhere first to God’s Word would clearly see the reason for their rejection, but as I said, the notion is a purposeful contrivance on your part.
What exactly is a “purposeful contrivance?” Is my concern not legitimate? I do agree that those who “adhere first to God’s Word would clearly see the reason for their rejection.” Where I disagree is whether a faithful JW could do this.
The WT has proven faithful in changing as they discern error, as they should. They are lovers of truth and will change as the revelation and clarification of truth continues.This would be in harmony with the idea presented in the parable of the wheat and the weeds.
Its interesting when a rank-and-file JW “discerns error” in a Watchtower teaching, it is regarded as “doubting Jehovah.” Yet, when the Governing Body does it, its regarded as “new light.”
Besides, one can question what they will. The problem is not questions or doubts, it is the promoting of teachings against what has been accepted by the governing body. In the first century, that was the Apostles as all congregation adhered to the teachings of the Apostles. In the harvest it would be the FDS as mentioned in Matthew or the wheat as mentioned in the prophecy about the wheat and the weeds. Ephesians 4:11-17 would be in full support of that type of arrangement.
Actually, even in the first century, at least one apostle expressly denied this (Gal. 1:8). Contrary to the Watchtower, Paul advised that even apostles can be opposed when they distort the gospel. But even then, how can we compare the first century apostles to the Governing Body of today? Where does Scripture make such a connection? Is my JW friend really suggesting that we should obey the Governing Body in the same way that the first century church obeyed the apostles? If not, then what is the real difference?
This issue of apostasy should be of concern for any faithful Christ follower. When one renders their leader(s) as exempt from this, we should question where their allegiance really lies.
5 thoughts on “What if the Watchtower went into apostasy?”
From their standpoint, the notion that they as the GB would apostatize is considered ridiculous. I am not sure why that seems to be such a problem to understand. They are dedicated to the pursuit of Biblical truth and are willing to change their views regardless of the consequences that the change may bring.
Of course I never stated that such a thing would be impossible, I said it was considered ridiculous. The WT is a self-correcting organization with the Bible as the guideline. All JWs are admonished to let the scriptures be their main guide. The combination of the two would stand as a bulwark against the organization as a whole to fall into apostasy.
As I tried to get you to appreciate, the Bible is the first and foremost guide in a JWs life. Everything else is secondary to the Bible. Within the scriptures there are absolute statements and non-absolute statements. A clear apostate position would be to take a stand against an absolute statement offered in the Bible. I am sure you would agree that there are many.
Ambiguity or non-absolutes naturally present a difficulty with a clear interpretation, such as prophecy and/or the understanding of certain parabolic features. But if a defined stand were to be made against absolute statements in the Bible, then the result is apostasy as I stated before.
For instance, if the WT came out and stated that the scriptures are no longer considered inspired of God, that would be clear and defined stand against what the scriptures teach. That would be apostasy, and naturally any Bible believing Christian would walk away from an organization that would promote such and idea, and rightfully so.
Independent thinking is not prohibited in a some wholesale fashion as you seem to want to establish. The entire admonition against independent thinking is within the context of one entertaining and promoting teachings which are not accepted by the GB, who adhere strictly to the scriptures. As I stated, we certainly know that independent thinking is entirely necessary even for a person to live their life meaningfully and with a certain a natural, balanced autonomy.
And yes, just as the teachings of the Apostles were adhered to in the first century, according to Eph 4:11-17, that same process of gifts of men would be followed until full understanding would be achieved. Teachers, prophets and evangelizers would continue the work of the Apostles that would be responsible for “perfecting/readjusting” the holy ones until that full-grown stature of the church is recognized.
A large part of Christendom believe in OSAS/Eternal Security. The Watchtower proclaims something equally fallacious, namely Eternal Organisational Security. To them the Organisation is incorruptible in the real sense of the word in that they do not even consider going astray a possibility. Even in this sense they have elevated themselves above Jesus who was tempted, hence NOT eternally secure. How blind…
Going astray is a far cry from apostasy. The organization has been “astray” a number of times. That’s the very reason they change a certain view or teaching or policy, they were astray and they corrected it.
In most cases, The Society corrects a teaching when it is impossible to maintain it. For instance, I doubt that they may admit the fact that the destiny of the Great Crowd is a heavenly one, as shown in Revelation 7:15. They continue to place the great crowd in an earthly courtyard. This is an unscriptural teaching. They know that they are wrong in this issue many years ago. Also, The Society permits witnesses to accept blood fractions from four blood components, but contradictorily, the Society forbids their followers to donate blood. This is a very absurd doctrine, which is against the love of Christ.
Jehovah witness committ apostasy with their totally false doctrines. They also commit blasphemy and idolatry worshipping a false god. All of their doctrines are false. Their eternal destination is the lake of fire. Along with the false prophet the watchtower society and the so called governing body. They worship SATAN. when they die they will be in the second resurrection. Their names will not be in the lambs book of life. The veil of SATAN IS UPON THEM. Gal. 1-6-9 says anyone teaching another gospel let him be accursed. And they are accursed and will never enter the kingdom of god. Neither will they enter into the milenium.