Should Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the Spirit or the Governing Body?

Perhaps this mock dialogue will illustrate:

Non-JW:  When the Holy Spirit is leading us, it’s always to the truth?  It would never lead somebody to error.

JW:  Right.

Non-JW:  And all true Christians have the Holy Spirit?

JW:  Yes

Non-JW:  So if we think something incorrectly, it is our own imperfection leading us that way, right?

JW: Yes.

Non-JW:  Then if the Governing Body teaches something that’s false, would it be the Holy Spirit or their imperfect nature that led them to the false belief?

JW:  Their imperfect nature because they are imperfect men.

Non-JW:  So is the greater sin to follow imperfect men when you believe the Holy Spirit is leading you to another conclusion or to ignore the Spirit in favor of imperfect men?

JW:  No, because it’s Jehovah’s will that we believe what the Governing Body teaches.  After all, if we believe things on our own accord, we may fall into divisions and sects; things that God condemns.

Non-JW:  But didn’t we establish before that if we follow the Holy Spirit, that it will lead us to the truth?  Your claim suggests that it would lead us to false beliefs since we’d be following a group of men who sometimes teach you things that are false.

Here we have a dilemma: if we follow the Holy Spirit, we will always be led to the truth.  If we follow the Governing Body, we will be led to both truth and error.  Therefore, it cannot be claimed that following the Governing Body is the same thing as following the Spirit.  Yet, the Governing Body claims that all true Christians should always follow them.  If this is the case, then the Governing Body is telling all Christians to sometimes refrain from following the Spirit since they sometimes teach what is false.

62 thoughts on “Should Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the Spirit or the Governing Body?

  1. Grundy says:

    But if an individual can think of something incorrectly and so can the governing body…what’s the difference? How can you determine ahead of time whether you are following the Holy Spirit or incorrect thought in either case?

    If the Holy Spirit can only come from within, then the same logic can by applied to any external source of information–from anyone’s pastor, to a faithful friend, to C. S. Lewis, to anyone.

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      The difference is the dilemma presented in the post; namely, that following the Spirit and the GB cannot be reconciled because the former never errs and the later does err.

      But if you don’t believe that the Spirit can or does lead someone to the truth, then that’s for an entirely new discussion. For this article, I assumed that the reader believes the Spirit can guide one to the truth.

  2. rotherham2 says:

    From this standpoint, shouldn’t all Christians when following the lead of the holy spirit, be infallible? Could there be a difference in your view of being “led” by holy spirit and being “inspired” by holy spirit? For instance, you yourself, do you believe that holy spirit is guiding you? Why then are you not infallible?

    Rotherham

  3. rotherham2 says:

    Direct inspiration of the holy spirit always leads to truth. However, not all encounters with the holy spirit are manifested as direct inspiration. Again, you please answer me. Do you believe that the holy spirit is guiding you? If so,are you infallible? This is not missing the point. This IS the point.

    This conversation is a two way street.

    Regards,
    rotherham

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Rotherham,

      I’m sorry, but inspiration just isn’t an issue here. If you’re inspired, you receive direct revelation from God and will not err in proclaiming it (Deut. 18:20-22). If you aren’t, then your imperfections can get in the way of whatever direction the Spirit might be leading you. Do you agree with this? If not, is the GB any different? In addition, if the Spirit is leading someone in a direction contrary to the GB, are we better following them or the direction we believe the Spirit is leading us.

  4. rotherham2 says:

    Yes, Mike, that is the case with any man or any religious organization. Our imperfections can sometimes get in the way of where the holy spirit is leading us. The GB is no different. However, if we believe we have identified the true body of Christ due to their adherence to the absolute teachings of the Bible, then we should be willing to submit to and obey those who are taking the lead among us. Eph. 4:11-16 makes it amply clear that prefection of understanding would not come all at once but over a very long period of time. In the meantime that same passage stresses the need for unity until such time as we arrive at the full-grown stature.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

  5. rotherham2 says:

    Mike, How would you know that the holy spirit would be doing this and not your own strongly felt personal convictions? Since we are not inspired, can not our own personal imperfections affect what the spirit is trying to tell us? That’s why the Bible says there is “salvation in a multitude of counselors”. Subjective personal reasoning, unless it has irrefutable Biblical backing, could not possibly be as trustworthy as those “gifts in men” whom God has appointed to readjust the holy ones to maintain unity until we arrive at full understanding.

    Rotherham

  6. rotherham2 says:

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. AKA-Do Christians always GET IT when the spirit leads them?

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      No, and that’s the point. When we believe something false, it’s because of our own imperfections, not because of some fault of the Spirit.

      But please answer: does the Spirit lead Christians to the truth or does it not?

  7. rotherham2 says:

    Yes, but we don’t always get it, individually or collectively. How many ways do I have to answer this?

    Please answer this one question without any evasion.–Is Christian Biblical teaching supposed to be a SUBJECTIVE understanding or an OBJECTIVE understanding.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Rotherham,

      I’m afraid you jus aren’t seeing the dilemma as presented in this post. So I’m not going to beat a dead horse here.

      Christian biblical teaching is always objective, but the truth of which is obtained through the leading of the Spirit. It’s a “both and” rather than an either or.

      The problem the JW faces is to follow the Spirits leading regardless of where the GB is going. Or to follow the GB regardless of where the Spirit is leading them. Only one of these options can be chosen.

  8. rotherham2 says:

    And the problem you are not addressing is how do you know that what you think is the spirit leading you is really the spirit? What is the only completely reliable source of holy spirit that we have today? Answer those two questions and great strides can be made in helping resolve this.

  9. rotherham2 says:

    If you would just honestly answer those questions, there would be no dilemma, just as there is none for us. Take care.

    Rotherham

  10. rotherham2 says:

    You are asking about “the leading of the spirit” into truth. How is that not relevant to epistemology? It’s at the very core of epistemology. So please answer, How do you know that what you think is the spirit leading you is really the spirit?This is most relevant to this discussion.

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      It’s relevant to epistemology, but not the dilemma presented, just as inspiration isn’t relevant.

      If we can agree that the Spirit DOES lead Christians to the truth, regardless of HOW, then the dilemma presents a major problem for the JW as the post clearly shows.

  11. rotherham2 says:

    No, it simply doesn’t and your inability to answer a direct question is telling. So let me spell it out as I see it.

    The only truly reliable, infallible source of holy spirit teaching is found in the Bible, no where else. it doesn;t come from special notions within our head or from the collation of secualr information. It has to come from the Bible in order for it to have any credence whatsoever for Christian teaching.

    We let the spirit guide us by letting the Bible be our guide for the Bible is the tangible teaching product of holy spirit itself.

    Therefore, if the Bible irrefutably speaks out against the GB or something that it teaches, then we should reject the GB as those “gifts in men” being used by God to readjust the holy ones until the end. Why? Because then, the holy spirit would have clearly told us so.

    However, other than the clear and absolute teachings of the Bible, there are many things are hard to understand within its pages. Peter himself acknowledges this in regard to some of Paul’s writings. Otherwise we would all have full knowledge of what the Bible teaches and all prophecies, parables and symbollisms would be fully understood. I think it safe to say that NO ONE, as of yet, has that knowledge.

    To assist us in that area of imcomplete understanding, God has appointed “gifts in men” to readjust us until we all arrive at that knowledge, in order to keep us unified in the process. Once we have come to know who those “gifts in men” are, revealed to us BY the HOLY SPIRIT from the pages of the BIBLE, then we should be willing to obey and submit to them as those who will render an account for US before God.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Rotherham,

      I question whether what you say is consistent with WT teaching. I’ll try to do some research and see. At the very least, I’d have to be sure my post accurately reflects WT theology for it to be a dilemma for the JW.

      On the surface, you give me the impression that you think it’s all up to fallible men’s intellects to come to the truths as found in Scripture. Otherwise, what “extras” are JW’s relying on?

  12. rotherham2 says:

    What I am saying is definitely consistent with WT teaching. A great deal of Christian truth is up to the intellect of fallible men to discern as long as they present their good “soil” to God. As we are told, one plants, another waters, but it is GOD who makes it grow, and that is dependent upon the kind of heart condition and humility that is presented by the one who has received the seed and the watering.

    We expect this to happen all the time when we encourage people to read and study their Bibles to be convinced that what we teach is what the Bible teaches. Yes, God surely blesses the efforts of those who humbly submit and adhere to the truth but he is not bestowing some special power of interpretation to them. They simply study as deeply as any one can study and continue to adjust and refine their teachings according to what those studies reveal. They OBJECTIVELY approach prophecy and parables and symbollisms and they use Biblical PRECEDENT and PATTERN as their guide for understanding these cryptic elements. They continue to analyze Biblical patterns and precedents as far as word meaning and usage goes, and adjust anything that needs adjusted. They pray for God to help them to see the truth as it really is, to help them to not give way to faulty human ideas but to rely upon Divine direction found within the patterns and precedents of the Bible. Not to overlook things that could be relevant to their goal. Sometimes they make mistakes as any imperfect group of men or singualr theologian is bound to do, but we see that the errors are dwarfed by the truths that have come to be appreciated.

    This process will inevitably lead to a full understanding of truth when the time for that arrives. IT is NOT a PERFECT process as Ephesains 4:11-16 points out but in the end it will yield perfect results, and all the while, we will be united as God desires..

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Rotherham,

      Please share your thoughts on these WT quotes which speak of the Spirit leading. What am I missing?

      *** w52 8/15 pp. 497-498 par. 5 God’s Spirit Essential to Maturity ***
      5 We come now to our main passage of Scripture showing why God’s spirit is essential to understanding. The apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (NW) that the treasures of God’s wisdom, expressed in his eternal purpose, are wrapped in a “sacred secret”, “hidden wisdom,” which “not one of the rulers of this system of things came to know” or understand. In fact, these treasures are hidden so securely that it is quite impossible for man by his own wisdom to “conceive” these things. Then Paul explains why: “For it is to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.” Ah yes! The riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge go down deep. (Rom. 11:33) Two things are indispensable if we are to gain an understanding and appreciation: First, God must give a revelation, and, secondly, we must be in touch and in harmony with the channel of his spirit, which conveys and opens up the revelation given by God to his people. We of ourselves cannot search into the deep things of God; it is only God’s spirit that can do that. Here we note three proofs of the apostle’s statement.

      *** w92 7/15 p. 28 Follow the Surpassing Way of Love ***
      Today, Jehovah’s spirit enables his Witnesses to understand Bible prophecies and sacred secrets and guides them in imparting such knowledge to others. (Joel 2:28, 29)

      *** w05 9/15 p. 22 par. 6 Go On Walking as Jesus Christ Walked ***
      The holy spirit, sent in Jesus’ name, guides and strengthens us today. It enlightens us spiritually and helps us to understand “even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10)

      *** jv chap. 31 p. 708 How Chosen and Led by God ***
      Those who make up the one true Christian organization today do not have angelic revelations or divine inspiration. But they do have the inspired Holy Scriptures, which contain revelations of God’s thinking and will. As an organization and individually, they must accept the Bible as divine truth, study it carefully, and let it work in them. (1 Thess. 2:13) But how do they arrive at the correct understanding of God’s Word?
      The Bible itself says: “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Gen. 40:8) If in their study of the Scriptures a certain passage is difficult to understand, they must search to find other inspired passages that shed light on the subject. Thus they let the Bible interpret itself, and from this they endeavor to understand “the pattern” of truth set forth in God’s Word. (2 Tim. 1:13) Jehovah leads or guides them to such understanding by means of his holy spirit. But to get the guidance of that spirit, they must cultivate its fruitage, not grieve or work against it, and keep responsive to its proddings. (Gal. 5:22, 23, 25; Eph. 4:30) Moreover, by zealously applying what they learn, they keep building up their faith, as a basis for gaining clearer and clearer understanding of how they must do God’s will in the world of which they are no part.—Luke 17:5; Phil. 1:9, 10.

      *** w05 2/15 p. 19 par. 10 Safeguarding Our Christian Identity ***
      Jehovah’s spirit can help us to comprehend even difficult subjects. (1 Corinthians 2:11, 12) We should pray for God’s help when we are having problems understanding something. (Psalm 119:10, 11, 27) Jehovah wants us to understand his Word, believe it, and obey it. He welcomes honest questions asked with the right motive.

      *** g98 10/22 p. 13 How Can I Make the Truth My Own? ***
      The apostle Peter said that some things in the Bible are “hard to understand,” and you will find this to be true. (2 Peter 3:16) But God’s spirit can help you to grasp even difficult subjects. (1 Corinthians 2:11, 12) Pray for God’s help when you are having problems understanding something. (Psalm 119:10, 11, 27) Try doing some additional research in the publications of the Watch Tower Society. If you’re not sure how to do that, ask for help. Your parents or perhaps some other mature members of the Christian congregation can assist you.

      *** it-2 p. 1141 Understanding ***
      Understanding Prophecy. Inspired prophetic messages are understood only by those cleansed ones who humbly pray for understanding. (Da 9:22, 23; 10:12; 12:10) Though the general time period of their fulfillment may be comprehended, full discernment of the prophecy’s application may have to await God’s due time for its being carried out. (Da 8:17; 10:14; 12:8-10; compare Mr 9:31, 32; Lu 24:44-48.) Those placing their confidence in men and disdaining God’s power and discounting his purpose as a factor worth considering cannot understand the prophecies, and they remain blind to their significance until the disastrous effects of their fulfillment begin to hit them.—Ps 50:21, 22; Isa 28:19; 46:10-12.

  13. FredTorres says:

    Mike, I find your question to be fallacious on several levels. It’s a classic Hobson’s choice. It also ignores the concept that the Paraclete reveals truth in progressive nature, which implies that someone can be led by the holy spirit while holding on to doctrinal error. It also ignores the notion of “appointment” by holy spirit of those that would overseers over God’s sheep. (Acts 20:28).
    Your question is one dimensional caricature based on your presuppositions on how you believe that Paraclete operates.

    The question in your previous article “what if” the GB went into apostasy” is a more focused and targeted question, It’s a better question than the one posed in this article.

    My answer to your question, “Should JWs Follow the Holy Spirit or the Governing Body” is that JWs should follow the Holy Spirit, plain and simple.

    The better questions could be, What if the Holy Spirit leads you to be submissive to men that are as equally imperfect as you? What if the Holy Spirit appoints equally imperfect men to “govern” or “oversee” you and your fellowship?
    What is the motivating factor behind such submission? I would answer that love is what motivates true obedience, and love is a fruit of the spirit, and it is said that love “never fails. 1 Cor 13:8

    In addition to revisiting Ephesians 4, I would humbly submit that you consider the account in 1 Samuel 24, especially verses 8 through 22, in regards to the love and respect for the authority and annointing that David displayed towards Saul. Consider what Saul had been conspiring against David.
    Consider that over time, a new king was selected to lead God’s people, and that it came in due time, not on David’s timeline.
    I encourage you to prayerfully consider if there are principles that a Christian could learn from this account that would help him today in dealing with dilemmas.

    Another account to consider is Paul’s letter to Titus, focus Chapter 1 verse 5. Note how the “incomplete” or “defective” things would be corrected and completed. Was the Holy Spirit teaching that such things could be accomplished through holy spirit-appointed overseers? Are there principles found there that we could glean and benefit from today that would help a Christian facing dilemmas?

    …just some quick thoughts on a very interesting article and discussion.

    your friend,
    Fred

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Fred,

      Mike, I find your question to be fallacious on several levels. It’s a classic Hobson’s choice. It also ignores the concept that the Paraclete reveals truth in progressive nature, which implies that someone can be led by the holy spirit while holding on to doctrinal error.

      This is not “considered” because its really not applicable to our dilemma. If we have theological conclusion A, then it is either true or false. Therefore, the issue would be A vs. B, with the Spirit leading you to one and the Governing Body to another.

      If i’m still missing it, then perhaps an actual example would be helpful. But I do find it hard to believe that the Holy Spirit was “progressively” revealing the teachings regarding the various medical practices which the Watchtower has enforces. These have led to impairments and possibly death, which would make them bloodguilty (e.g. fobidding of organ transplants, etc.). And I mean this with all sincerity; what was the Spirit “revealing” throughout all of this?

      It also ignores the notion of “appointment” by holy spirit of those that would overseers over God’s sheep. (Acts 20:28).

      What does this have to do with the dilemma? This is about those shepherding the church and there is nothing in the text which would forbid a faithful Christian from following the Spirit instead of something he/she believes is false.

      Your question is one dimensional caricature based on your presuppositions on how you believe that Paraclete operates.

      The question in your previous article “what if” the GB went into apostasy” is a more focused and targeted question, It’s a better question than the one posed in this article.

      My answer to your question, “Should JWs Follow the Holy Spirit or the Governing Body” is that JWs should follow the Holy Spirit, plain and simple.

      The better questions could be, What if the Holy Spirit leads you to be submissive to men that are as equally imperfect as you? What if the Holy Spirit appoints equally imperfect men to “govern” or “oversee” you and your fellowship?
      What is the motivating factor behind such submission? I would answer that love is what motivates true obedience, and love is a fruit of the spirit, and it is said that love “never fails. 1 Cor 13:8

      I fully agree with this, as your question seems to imply that I don’t believe Hebrews 13:17 or something. On the contrary, I do submit to my elders and generally trust their leadership. But again, this doesn’t really address the issue at hand.

      Perhaps your question could be stated: what if the Spirit leads you believe the teachings of men instead of what the Spirit is leading you to believe? That would be more applicable here, and the answer is that the Spirit wouldn’t do that, unless you can show me Scriptural evidence to the contrary.

      In addition to revisiting Ephesians 4, I would humbly submit that you consider the account in 1 Samuel 24, especially verses 8 through 22, in regards to the love and respect for the authority and annointing that David displayed towards Saul. Consider what Saul had been conspiring against David.
      Consider that over time, a new king was selected to lead God’s people, and that it came in due time, not on David’s timeline.
      I encourage you to prayerfully consider if there are principles that a Christian could learn from this account that would help him today in dealing with dilemmas.

      I hope I didn’t give you the impression that i’m condoning disrespect regarding one’s leadership? Far from it! I believe that correction should be done with gentleness and respect (2 Tim. 2:23-26). But there are a few problems here if you are trying to parallel Jehovah’s choosing of kings and what the GB supposedly is today. Even so, God didn’t demand that all Jews obey everything that the chosen king was teaching. If so, He’d be commanding apostasy.

      Another account to consider is Paul’s letter to Titus, focus Chapter 1 verse 5. Note how the “incomplete” or “defective” things would be corrected and completed. Was the Holy Spirit teaching that such things could be accomplished through holy spirit-appointed overseers? Are there principles found there that we could glean and benefit from today that would help a Christian facing dilemmas?

      Absolutely! Elders should certainly be “setting things in order” when they find them to be out of order. But again, i’m not sure how this really addresses the dilemma at hand.

      1. FredTorres says:

        Hey Mike, you are all over the place today!!

        Your question suffers from an informal fallacy, not a structural one. You assume it is A vs. B. It could be A vs. B vs A and B. . You create a false dilemma based by ignoring other necessary conditions to solve the problem, some which I mention below.

        In regards to the progressive nature of revelation, where did I mention medical treatments and so forth? But to your point, have Witnesses abandoned false beliefs instead of holding fast to error? If they were led out of error, could that not be a work of the spirit? In the first century, many spirit directed Christians held to error of circumcision (a medical procedure) before the Jerusalem council

        But to the main point: I cite the Trinity as an example of progressive revelation from your perspective. Did Jesus teach the Trinity Doctrine, Mike?

        You also state in regards to the source of the authority of elders “What does this have to do with the dilemma? ”

        It has a lot to do with it. If someone is appointed by holy spirit to teach, and follows the lead of the spirit, it will lead to truth always. (Conclusion “A and B” from above)

        Mike, you asked,” Perhaps your question could be stated: what if the Spirit leads you believe the teachings of men instead of what the Spirit is leading you to believe? That would be more applicable here, and the answer is that the Spirit wouldn’t do that, unless you can show me Scriptural evidence to the contrary.” This is a slightly better version of your original question.

        If the spirit always leads you to truth and leads you to the teachings of this group, then one would associate with that group because he believes the spirit guides the entire group, not just the individual. (Solution A and B from above). (Zechariah 8:23). A fruit of the spirit is “great patience”, thus it would be loving to let the Holy Spirit work in due time with his brothers.Keep in mind that love is placed above the gift of prophesying. 1 Cor 13:8.

        Consider my question about David and Saul. I’m not “trying” to draw a precise parallel, or fit a round peg into a square hole. The simple question is ” Are there PRINCIPLES that can help a Christian today when dealing with the dilemma you mentioned.” Don’t think in terms and labels that you can place in little boxes. I invite you to consider this without any presuppositions.
        Would you be opposed to answering this question for me in that way? And yes, Saul was not an apostate, neither is the GB.

        my best to you,
        Fred

      2. FredTorres says:

        Mike ..and one more thing on Titus chp 1.
        Who was given charge to set things in order, including healthful teaching and put a stop false teachings within the church, Appointed elders, or individual adherents?

        Again, as in the account of David and Saul, are there PRINCIPLES that can guide a Christian facing a dilemma (albeit fallacious) like the one you present?
        If you do believe there are, answer “yes”, if there are not, answer “no.”, and I will know exactly where you stand.

  14. Ivan Monroy says:

    The phrase “gifts in men” is not biblical. As every other translations correctly bares out, the gifts are TO men for equipping the saints for ministry.

  15. Frankleeh says:

    “JW: No, because it’s Jehovah’s will that we believe what the Governing Body teaches. After all, if we believe things on our own accord, we may fall into divisions and sects; things that God condemns.”

    It is one of those ironies that when the GB, or any religious governing body falls into the trap of speculative dogma (social shunning, policies to do with sexual crime and how to handle it, serial prophecy, what sex is righteous and what is sinful etc) it is more likely that the whole will fall into sects and divisions – though not always discernible to the eye. An underground of discontent will follow along with dissenters who feel they cannot talk to elders who seem to feel no compunction about reporting alleged ‘apostasy’ to the body of elders. This does not make for a healthy unit and promotes the wrong sort of fear (fear of punishment, not respectful fear due to easily discerned wisdom).

    What we need to remember is that unity (doctrinal or otherwise) was not the quality which would identify true Christians – love is (John 13:34,35). One merely has to look at the results of speculative dogma to know it’s speculative; there is resistance.

    Sooner or later, religion engages in extremes in dogma in order to maintain control – so does government.

    Frankleeh

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Frankleeh,

      Great thoughts. One of my “beefs” is that unity seems to equal “agreement with the Governing Body” in that its the subjects that are always assumed to be in the wrong rather than the leaders.

  16. Frankleeh says:

    Hi Mike, I for one have always believed and maintain my belief that all clearly-Biblical doctrines remain truth; no Trinity, no hellfire, no immortal soul. I can easily argue Biblically for any of these and other related doctrine, but when the same body sets up a judiciary that sets out to deny even the basic human rights of its victims, I draw the line between what is Biblical and what is not. Following the history of the latter doctrine shows us that it was clearly motivated primarily by solipsistic self-interest.

    There are no forums for discussion for Jehovah’s Witnesses and they must accept, even against their own Christian Bible-trained consciences, whatever they’re taught whether or not it is clearly set out in the Bible.

    It is said of Islam that it has many doors and no exits. This, as many JWs discover applies to their own religion too. They can leave, but the cost is enforced unity through social shunning of by JW relatives.

    Frankleeh

  17. theapologeticfront says:

    Fred,

    My apologies if i’m brief here, but hopefully I can adequately address some of your points.

    Your question suffers from an informal fallacy, not a structural one. You assume it is A vs. B. It could be A vs. B vs A and B. . You create a false dilemma based by ignoring other necessary conditions to solve the problem, some which I mention below.

    But what if A is contradictory to B? That was more to my point, which is why I didn’t name it “AB” and AC” or something of the kind. Therefore, I don’t see how my example is a fallacy when I have the liberty to define the variables in my example.

    In regards to the progressive nature of revelation, where did I mention medical treatments and so forth?

    Well, are the WT’s medical practices based upon Scripture or are they not? I was just using that as an example as “progressive revelation” as I believe the WT would identify it.

    But to your point, have Witnesses abandoned false beliefs instead of holding fast to error? If they were led out of error, could that not be a work of the spirit? In the first century, many spirit directed Christians held to error of circumcision (a medical procedure) before the Jerusalem council

    But who led them to the error? That is the point. Also, it wasn’t the Spirit who led Christians to the requirement of circumcision; it was their own erroneous thinking. So yes, the Spirit can lead one away from an error (which could mean away from a present error from the GB), which is one of the primary points in this blog post.

    But to the main point: I cite the Trinity as an example of progressive revelation from your perspective. Did Jesus teach the Trinity Doctrine, Mike?

    I don’t see the Trinity as “progressive revelation” but as a progressive understanding. The revelation was revealing Jesus through the incarnation and the identity of the Spirit as experienced at Pentecost. The “understanding” is progressive the process by which Christians have come to develop their views of God and Christ, which all Christians have to do at some point, and with pretty much every area of theology for that matter.

    But regardless, I don’t see this as a parallel to the WT’s erroneous doctrinal history and the corrections displayed therein.

    You also state in regards to the source of the authority of elders “What does this have to do with the dilemma? ”

    It has a lot to do with it. If someone is appointed by holy spirit to teach, and follows the lead of the spirit, it will lead to truth always. (Conclusion “A and B” from above)

    But not if A and B are contradictory.

    Mike, you asked,” Perhaps your question could be stated: what if the Spirit leads you believe the teachings of men instead of what the Spirit is leading you to believe? That would be more applicable here, and the answer is that the Spirit wouldn’t do that, unless you can show me Scriptural evidence to the contrary.” This is a slightly better version of your original question.

    If the spirit always leads you to truth and leads you to the teachings of this group, then one would associate with that group because he believes the spirit guides the entire group, not just the individual. (Solution A and B from above). (Zechariah 8:23). A fruit of the spirit is “great patience”, thus it would be loving to let the Holy Spirit work in due time with his brothers.Keep in mind that love is placed above the gift of prophesying. 1 Cor 13:8.

    I’m fine with the Spirit leading one to a group and its teachings as far as that goes. But again, I don’t see how it answers the dilemma. Association with a group is different from believing everything a group teaches, even when you are convinced the Spirit has led you in a different direction. Texts like Rev. 2:2, Gal. 1:6-9, and others would be an example of this.

    Consider my question about David and Saul. I’m not “trying” to draw a precise parallel, or fit a round peg into a square hole. The simple question is ” Are there PRINCIPLES that can help a Christian today when dealing with the dilemma you mentioned.” Don’t think in terms and labels that you can place in little boxes. I invite you to consider this without any presuppositions.
    Would you be opposed to answering this question for me in that way? And yes, Saul was not an apostate, neither is the GB.

    Fine, but what about the majority of the appointed kings following? What principles can we glean from all the Godless kings of Israel as it relates to our leaders?

    Mike ..and one more thing on Titus chp 1.
    Who was given charge to set things in order, including healthful teaching and put a stop false teachings within the church, Appointed elders, or individual adherents?

    Elders have this as one of their qualifications, but all Christians have this duty as well (2 Tim. 2:23-26).

    Again, as in the account of David and Saul, are there PRINCIPLES that can guide a Christian facing a dilemma (albeit fallacious) like the one you present?
    If you do believe there are, answer “yes”, if there are not, answer “no.”, and I will know exactly where you stand.

    Yes

    1. FredTorres says:

      Mikey,

      You said. ” But what if A is contradictory to B? That was more to my point, which is why I didn’t name it “AB” and AC” or something of the kind. Therefore, I don’t see how my example is a fallacy when I have the liberty to define the variables in my example.”

      But what if A and B are both true under certain conditions ? Your failure to account for this is the key. Contrary to your assertion, this is not about assigning value to the variables, I’m not taking that away from you. It is about you excluding conditions that that are incongruent with the conclusion you are trying to confirm. (The false dilemma leads to question begging)

      Again, your question can be soundly expressed in this way:
      A vs B vs A and B

      There is no valid logical reason to resist the conditions I mention, other than your presuspposition, which rightly has to be called out if you are attempting to use the rules of logic and reason in an argument.
      And don’t I have the same right to bring my own suppositions to a two way discussion?

      Mike, you said, “But who led them to the error? That is the point. Also, it wasn’t the Spirit who led Christians to the requirement of circumcision; it was their own erroneous thinking. So yes, the Spirit can lead one away from an error (which could mean away from a present error from the GB), which is one of the primary points in this blog post.”

      Who is arguing that the Holy Spirit led Christians to error in the Circumcision issue? I’m certainly not.
      Check the point I’m making. True Christians can be led by the spirit in many respects while in one respect holding to a false doctrine (A and B). The question to ask is “to what extent” = (A&B) were the early Christians following the spirit, not necessarily “were they” = (A) or” were they not” = (B). The same question can be asked of Jehovah’s Witnesses today.

      Mike, you also said in regards to Jesus teaching the Trinity, “I don’t see the Trinity as “progressive revelation” but as a progressive understanding.”
      I don’t have a problem with your view here. You know as well as I do that Jesus did not teach the Trinity Doctrine, but that is not the point. It was something that was “progressively understood”. You seem to agree that the Spirit can lead to understanding things in a progressive way.” That’s the point I’m making.
      And at this point, I am not drawing a parallel to the “WT”. My initial post said that the Spirit reveals things progressively, right? And I’m not asking you to defend the manner of revealed understanding.

      But, evidently, this progressive understanding was not limited to the understanding the nature of God, as is evidence by the Jerusalem Council decision.

      Mike, you stated, “Association with a group is different from believing everything a group teaches, even when you are convinced the Spirit has led you in a different direction”
      –Not necessarily true. Once again, you are producing unwarranted bifurcated thinking. You ignore the notion that the association is based on the “extent” to which the holy spirit is producing fruitage (=A&B). Love will produce the unity in doctrine, not the doctrine itself. This occurs over time, or as you stated, through “progressive understanding.” A spirit directed person would recognize that love is greater than the gift of prophesy (=A). The spirit will not lead you elsewhere.
      You need to look at that Mike. This directly answers the question you keep asking.

      Mike, you asked, “but what about the majority of the appointed kings following? What principles can we glean from all the Godless kings of Israel as it relates to our leaders?”

      One thing that stands out is how patient Jehovah was with his Witnesses and their “leaders” (Isaiah 43:10)

      I fully believe in Rev 2:2 and Gal 1.
      Timothy was an overseer. The point?
      Jehovah’s Witnesses have full confidence in the head of the congregation, Jesus Christ..that he would provide loving teaching and oversight to God’s sheep through those appointed to so.

      my best to you as always,

      Fred

  18. Eve says:

    When the GB of the WTBTS,Inc. became NGO members of the UN in 1992 (applied in 1991) and subsequently withdrew that membership after publicity became an issue nine and a half years later, their excuse for such a course by no means excuses their hypocrisy. To fallaciously assume their actions were a result of Holy Spirit infused by our Creator is to err in sin. Magnifying that err in sin is the withholding of the facts from the “Congregation” then the misleading excuse to recuse themselves from wrongdoing when the issue became public.

    For the GB of the WTBTS,Inc. to willfully align themselves and their “sheep” with the Disgusting Beast is unforgivable in my opinion. Doubt of their stance as being the chosen FDS by Jehovah has emerged not by my own willful choice but by theirs.

    Otherwise, thanks for the great discussion.

  19. Eve says:

    I am aware of the controversy and the sanctioned response spoon-fed to followers of the JW doctrines, teachings and demand for an unquestioning attitude having personally experienced it from two witnesses who do not know each other yet responded identically when I raised the question to them. Each replied as they were instructed adding the accusation of apostasy, admonition to not expose myself to such information and warning that I am in danger of losing my everlasting life (hope) for my conduct.

    As an intelligent, reasoning, critical thinking human, this flies in the face of reason..Therefore, I immediately cancelled my Bible Study and am in the process of prayerfully approaching my Heavenly Father for understanding and guidance.

  20. Frankleeh says:

    I’ve read the first chapter of the WT apologetic on the UN that you cite, Mike. Already this short space in contains a number of easily provable fallacies.

    The WTBTS joined the DPI (Department of Public Information) and not the political branch merely to use the library there. How does this change the issue of neutrality? It is the same offer made in the Garden of Eden: “Of all the trees of the garden you may eat, but as the the tree in the middle of the garden…” It wasn’t any library that was joined – it was the UN library! (Isaiah 52:11)

    If the WTBTS has a clear conscience and is now aware of what a stumbling block this is to its adherents, why has it not gone public in the form of official Watchtower publication articles to clear its name of the ‘slurs’ made against it?

    What about motives? At http://www.watchtowernews.org/nytimes.htm you will find a full-page advert placed in the New York Times by the WTBTS headed: France Moves to Tax Religion (Sunday July 5, 1998). Under the heading: Human Rights Violated it states:

    “The ability to practice religion freely is a basic human right,
    supported by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
    the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Constitution of the French
    Republic. Yet the tax authority believes it has the right to use its
    power of taxation arbitrarily to restrict some religions but not others.”

    From this small paragraph alone it can be deduced that it is calling on a political entity to protect its financial interests. The Bible has much to say on this subject as you will know.

    As to the use of libraries, the evident double-standard applied thus far is akin to going to the door of the Reich stag’s book repository and explaining that the researcher wished to use the information gleaned to criticise and condemn Nazism.

    What I would like to see also is an apologete’s view on defending the hedge funds involvement that the WTBTS (this is easily provable as well) has placed publisher’s money into. Not ironically, the desire for profit (as the government will see it) may one day disqualify the Society from its present charitable status.

    Do elders offer knock-down arguments when asked about the Society’s motive in this matter? Rick Fearon was told, “We disagree with you.”

    Do you think I should read on, Mike?

    Go your way in peace, Eve.

    Frankleeh

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Frankleeh,

      In no way, shape, or form do I think that website was a satisfactory answer to the problem. And I would probably agree with most of what you said.

      I only raise that website because I’ve noticed that you won’t get too far with a JW on that issue until you’ve gone through that site and exposed it.

      I’ve actually written a lengthy paper in response to that site, but haven’t gotten to complete it.

      1. Eve says:

        We are experiencing an interesting twilight zone-esqe truth as lies and lies as truth, i.e. down the rabbit hole, land of oz, red pill – blue pill, insanity as reason. lol

        Hang on to what you are because from what I’ve read of you so far, you have very much of value to offer that ones like myself need very much. Intelligence.

        Thank you for allowing me to comment on your blog.

  21. Frankleeh says:

    No problem, Eve. There is something quite hypocritical about indicting a JW for stumbling another brother or sister when they see them going into a YMCA to use their swimming pool and watching a WTBTS official walking into the UN grounds to use their library.

    I can accept that they made a mistake – admit this, genuinely apologise and re-instate all those who were disfellowshipped on the grounds of apostasy because they “questioned” the wisdom of the Governing Body. Bullying people who are ignorant of true intent into submission while excusing one’s own errant behaviour is simply too much for human intelligence.

    Something not quite right, do you think?

    Frankleeh

    1. Eve says:

      Texts between myself and my Bible Study Teacher yesterday

      Me: Did you know the WTBTS was an NGO of the UN for 9.5 years beginning in 1992? How can this be?

      BST: You really have to consider the source. The apostates distort the truth, if you want to know the truth about that we can talk.

      Me: Of course I want the truth that is why I asked.

      BST: Good! 🙂 Apostates tried to claim that the Branch was a member of the UN when it actually was they were members of a news group that gave news access privileges for writing purposes. About 10 years ago the brothers stopped renewing their press privileges.

      Me: Then it is true.

      BST: Apostates are crafty and their “strong evidence” is information that is either outright lies or taken out of context. This is a classic example of that.

      When I worked for the state their was a group of retirees that started a blog that contained half truths about the retirement system. They were disgruntled people that like to stir other people up under the facade of “helping others”.they were selfish, vindictive people and some believed them for awhile but the truth came out eventually

      Me: I feel sick about this. We are taught to be no part of this world. Being a member of the UN for any reason is hypocrisy.

      BST: We each have to decide who we will believe. I personally believe that Jehovah is using this organization today to teach the truth. And like Peter told Jesus (when some chose to stop following Jesus) “Lord whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.” John 6-60-70

      Me: Why do we need a mediator between us and Jesus?

      BST: We don’t. Jesus is our mediator. That is why we pray through his name.

      Me: If the organization is teaching the truth how are we following Jesus?

      BST: *name* I care about you but I am not going to discuss anymore about what you are reading. It is demonized words from Satan, the first apostate. If you want to read it and even believe it, that is up to you but I want nothing to do with it. I am on Jehovah’s side.

      Me: I care about you too. I also care about the truth in all matters. Thank you for your time.

      1. theapologeticfront says:

        Eve,

        You’ve actually gotten much farther than I have in real life conversation on this issue. All JW’s I’ve ever raised this to dismissed it as “apostate lies” without taking a glance. Little did they know that I really did want an answer because I was involved in book studies at that time!

      2. Eve says:

        The second Witness I referred to is my biological sister who lives in another state. When I told her what I had learned, she reacted almost exactly the same way except she said “I don’t believe it, I can’t and I won’t. I may not understand everything, but I trust in Jehovah”

        I warned her not to mention this to anyone or else she would either be required to shun me or they would mark her for listening to me. So sad.

        The thing is, I studied for some years back in the late 70’s to early 80’s at which time I memorized the books of the bible in order, studied all of the publications, attended all the meetings and even participated for a short while as an unbaptized publisher I couldn’t quit smoking permanently so of course the guilt and demon sermons were constant.

        My mother and step-father became baptized and made it their life mission to save the everlasting life of my only child who was a toddler. The length they went to to take her from me, a “servant of satan” included bringing legal action which included slander of my character. Having defended myself from those accusations in a court of law and prevailing only made them work harder to find a way to get her away from me. At last they decided to enlist the help of their congregation and a new plan was born.

        I was arrested (at work) on a Friday afternoon on felony charges of non payment of child support (for a younger child). I was released on Monday evening on my own recognizance and was informed that my parents had arrived at my residence from out of state only moments later with a court order from Juvenile court judge in their state giving them emergency custody of my daughter on the grounds that I was in jail. This scheme came to no satisfaction for them as I was able to disprove their allegations at my court hearing (out of state).

        Six months later, my daughter was on court ordered visitation with her out of state father and on the day she was to return home with me, I received yet another notification of emergency custody granted to her father (who never wanted her but did want to help my parents get her) as she was 13 years old by then and wrote a letter to the court stating that I, her mother, was physically, emotionally and mentally abusing her, she was afraid of me, etc Needless to say, I was devastated and could not comprehend her actions as of course it was all a lie. My younger daughter then went out of state on her court ordered visitation with her father (my second ex) and this time because my child was only 10 years old, the accusations were made against my new spouse. She said he sexually molested her

        Long story short, I did not get either of my children back and the consequences of those lies also cost me my marriage and my two youngest children from my current marriage, my job, my home and everyone in my family for either being impartial or involved in the seditious nature of the length my mother, her congregation and all those who supported her campaign to save my daughter’s everlasting life resorted to.

        Present day: I was feeling suicidal because I could not find a single thing in life that had any value or purpose and was slowly dying inside as every day was torture mentally due to the events I briefly outlined above.

        I prayed desperately and angrily to god (whom I was no longer sure even existed). Soon I had an answer in the form of a personal miracle that I thought led me back to the “Truth”. So, 6 weeks ago I began to study again.

        After discovering the hypocrisy from the FDS/GB within the “Truth”, I am left to wonder why I thought God had sent me back to them. Perhaps it is because I may be fit for him to use in a way that might help others escape the “Lie”.

  22. Frankleeh says:

    I don’t think I could put it better than Rick Fearon (disfellowshipped for bringing up issues like this) at his judicial appeal. He asked his committee: “Which is worse: colouring in a pumpkin (at Halloween) or being a member of the UN for nearly ten years”?

    When a person uses language like “demonised words form Satan” they’ve lost track of reality. The reality is that no genuine discussion can take place because the mind that is trained to use these words have had their freedom of thought closed down. Out come the pejoratives like “apostate,” “opposers” etc in an attempt to close down further discussion. Any issue, as is shown above, will last only seconds, or if lucky, a full minute before the questioner becomes a suspect.

    Must be nice to live in an ivory tower where no one can touch you.

    Frank V

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Frankleeh,

      Just a word of caution: be careful when you say that they “became members of the UN.” That’s not really the case and JW’s will think you didn’t do your research. Instead, say that they were an NGO in association with the UN’s DPI.

  23. Frankleeh says:

    With respect, Mike, I didn’t say that, Fearon did. Though, really, what’s the difference? It is just playing with words to use ‘association’ when having reason to drive through the gates of that building should give offence for whatever reason representatives of the WTBTS are there, when, for decades, this pragmatic organisation (UN), has been called “the disgusting thing that causes desolation.”

    Do Witnesses also understand that it was only the Catholic Church that dubbed the UN “the last hope for mankind.” Unlike other organisations, the UN does not seek to raise itself above what it is – an organisation genuinely run by imperfect men who genuinely wish to do their best for a politically fragmented race.

    Frankleeh

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Frankleeh,

      It’s just a concern for accuracy, that’s all. The difference is the WT couldn’t be a member of the UN if they wanted to. But yes, at the end of the day, they were associated with the UN in a way that condemns them within their own claims.

  24. Frankleeh says:

    And for anyone who feels that my point has not been made, I challenge them to repeat this a few times in their own head:

    “The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in association with the United Nations,” and ask themselves what is wrong with the sentence. (i Corinthians 15:33, New World Translation)

    No, I refuse to absolve the sin by means of a semantic technicality.

    Frankleeh

  25. Frankleeh says:

    Was there genuine affiliation?

    Fact 1: The WTBTS was registered with the UN.

    We know this because they asked to be removed from the register in 2001.

    Fact 2: They were registered as an NGO (Non-governmental organistion).

    This simply means that they were registered as a religion along with other religions who had registered.

    Why is this not affiliation?

    Here’s an interesting piece of information (http://esango.un.org/civilsociety/displayDPISearch.do?method=search&sessionCheck=false):

    “DPI/NGO Relations proactively reaches out to representatives of approximately 1,300 members of civil society who seek information about the UN and look for opportunities to support the Organization at the international, regional, national and community levels. Among the many services provided by our office, the most important ones are the Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference (NGO Relations’ premier event for civil society at the UN), the weekly Briefings, two Communication Workshops, two orientation programmes for new representatives and NGOs, the youth initiative, and the Resource Centre. It also aims to facilitate an exchange of information and development of partnerships around issues relating to civil society within other offices of the Department and with colleagues in the UN Secretariat as well as to reach out to civil society partners around the world to enhance their interaction with and understanding of the work of the United Nations. The Cluster is a service-oriented office assisting the NGO community.

    For more information, please visit us at http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection

  26. Octavio says:

    Joseph Rutherford, the main leader of “the faithful and discreet slave”, named by Jesus in 1919, said that those in the temple “have no further need for the administration of the holy spirit” (The Watchtower, September 1, 1930, page 264). So, I think this discussion may finish here, because the answer is obvious: Jehovah’s Witnesses are neither inspired nor guided by the Holy Spirit, because their leaders, the goberning body, do not need the Paraclete. This is why they teach that they can’t donate blood, but they may use blood fractions provided by “wordly” donors. This teaching is an example of the lack of the guide of the Holy Spirit and that Jesus has nothing to do with the GB policies.

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