The Watchtower clearly expresses that no Christian can be faithful to Christ and at the same time, contradict what the Governing Body teaches. Never mind the fact that the Apostle Paul admonished Christians to render someone as accursed if he or she were to preach a “different gospel,” even if it were an Apostle himself (Gal. 1:6-9). And never mind also the fact that the angel of the church in Ephesus commended Christians in “putting to the test those who call themselves apostles” and concluded that they were false (Rev. 2:2). I could go on and on, but I think the point is made.
Surely, such testing towards even the Apostles would result in disunity, would it not? Yet, we are instructed to do so at the expense of unity. I hope this will set the stage as I respond to a COMMENT made by a JW apologist on one of my POSTS.
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.
I would invite the reader to check out Ephesians 4:11-17 and examine where it speaks of, “unity trumping perfection of doctrine.” It doesn’t. My JW friend is correct to state that the church must strive to remain unified. But what happens when even the leaders begin to teach a false gospel? Apparently, according to this JW, “unity trumps perfection of doctrine.” Perhaps an exception is made for matters of apostasy. But why? Is “unity trumps perfection of doctrine” an absolute statement or is it not? Its certainly not declared to be so in the text. Nor is there an exception made in the text. So where do we get the exception from? Galatians 1:6-9, Revelation 2:2, among other places.
Also notice that “the church might hold a position for a time that is incorrect.” Knowingly or unknowingly? And who is the “they” that “sees the need to readjust?” Certainly not the church, for they have no say in this. Its the Governing Body who decides on these matters. I have two problems with this:
1. Where does the Bible admonish Christians to hold to something they know to be false?
2. Where does the Bible teach that they have to wait on a “Governing Body” before coming to a conclusion on something to which they were previously unsure of?
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 statement itself is pretty ambiguous. Which “understandings” are being referred to here? Why does the Governing Body get to decide on what is ambiguous and what isn’t? What if an elder decided to teach dogmatically something he knew to be true, but the Watchtower deemed ambiguous?
Let’s take the Society’s understanding of “this generation” in Matthew 24:34. Is Jesus being ambiguous? The Watchtower must think so, because the Society has changed their view so many times that i’ve literally lost count. But surely not, for they say of their own publications,
***w09 2/15 p. 24-25 par. 4 They Keep Following the Lamb***
Yes, Jehovah provides direction to the slave. We can therefore have full confidence in the Scriptural insight, understanding, and guidance that we receive from the slave.
Can we or can we not have “full confidence” on the Society’s current understanding of Matthew 24:34?
This is entirely expected when one considers that during the harvest, the weeds would be separated from the wheat.
I appreciate this admission, but is my JW considering some of the GB members as “weeds?” Or are the “weeds” those who deviate from the Governing Body’s teachings? If its the latter, i’m not sure how this relates to the Society’s “adjustments.” So, is it the former?
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.
Another statement I can appreciate, but i’m not so sure its consistent with what the Watchtower teaches. It ends up being quite circular, because it is claimed that Christians cannot understand Scripture without the Watchtower. So how is it that my JW friend can “look and see whether their position is supportable by Scripture?” But aside from this, its by default that all that the Watchtower teaches is supportable by Scripture. So why would my JW friend question this in the first place?
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.
Unfortunately, given some bold statements the Watchtower has made, there can be no “I don’t think so” in the equation. You are to accept the Society’s teachings because its coming from Jehovah. This was stated quite clearly just recently:
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) –April 15, 2013 Watchtower Study Edition p. 30
Either Jehovah is instructing and guiding through the publications or He isn’t. If he is, then why question it at all?
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.
I could not disagree more. I would refer my JW friend to THIS ARTICLE, which was written by a JW.
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.
In other words, we are to submit to the Governing Body’s teachings even if we know those same teachings to be false? Is this what Hebrews 13:17 or Ephesians 4 is teaching us? Its interesting that an exception clause is provided (e.g. “unless of course…”). So what are the Biblical possibilities and who determines them? As far as I know, the Governing Body determines them. Therefore, not only can they draw the line, but they can move the line wherever they wish and expect absolute unquestionable obedience in return.
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.
If you were to conclude that the GB is wrong, wouldn’t that involve independent thinking? Yet, this couldn’t happen because they have forbidden JW’s to think independently in this sense.
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.
But God also condemns believing false doctrine and following those who do. So what are we to do? Apparently, this is the answer:
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.
So there you have it. But unfortunately for this JW and others, this is not how the first century church dealt with those who taught what was false, even at the expense of unity.