Thus far, myself and the JW apologist “Rotherham” have gone through almost 80 comments in discussion on this topic. While one can only take a discussion so far before the dead horse gets beaten some more, I really think this topic is central to our differences with the JW’s.
Unfortunately, i’m going to be out of commission for 2-3 weeks and won’t be able to carry the discussion forward during this time. This is due to my wedding, honeymoon, moving, etc. And who knows what my blogging/discussion activities will be like after that because i’ll be entering a new and foreign stage in life. So we’ll just have to see when we get there. In addition, I have a lot of plans upcoming with CARM, so that may take priority over what goes on here.
At any rate, i’ll reproduce Rotherham’s most recent comment here, just for my own accountability purposes (and bad memory!). I don’t view this as between myself and Rotherham only, so anyone is welcome to leave their comments here.
The question I asked is relevant to the discussion, so please take time to answer it. Although I have and will again offer an exegesis of Ephesians 4:11-17, I also think it is important to interact with the person who is in opposition to the view. Since so much of modern day teaching is based upon opinion and sometimes personal whim, it is important to know their views so as what to address and what not to address.
Yes, the GB is following first century practices with one very significant difference. They are not inspired and they do not possess the gifts of the spirit, in particular the gift of discerning inspired utterances. In the first century, through the combination of those two things, the inspired library of books was established. We certainly are not establishing inspired writings today. What we are establishing is the correct understanding of that library which has been corrupted by the weeds during the growing season. It is a “process” to continue to rid those things which cause stumbling and/or persons who do the same. Naturally, the need of the existence of a governing element should become readily apparent in order to accomplish the refinement that would take place during the harvest period, which is where we believe we are in the stream of time. Refinements can come about through the efforts and personal research of the individual members of the GB or through their collective efforts, but always, these new understandings are presented before the body for their perusal and either rejection or acceptance. I don’t know why you would think that to be so odd or why you think I am off on that estimation.
With that in mind, Ephesians 4:11-17 clearly establishes that there would be gifts in/to men that would be responsible for readjusting the holy ones until that full stature arrives. And it should be readily clear from the context that the purpose was for the unity to be maintained so that the congregation would not be torn by every wind of teaching. I’m not really sure what more there is to exegete than that. I think we actually agree that this is what it says. I think your disagreement is in relation to how strongly we should adhere to the teachings of those gifts in men.
The way we have things arranged within our modern organization of Christianity is that we are trying to maintain the same stance toward unity as was maintained in the first century. As I stated before, without the very beneficial aid of direct inspiration, given that we are in the process of digging out from age-old errors and discovering more and more about the ancient languages used, I don’t see any other way to maintain earthwide unity except in the fashion that we do so. I am sure that there is some room for variation, but the basic principle is Biblically sound. If such a thing can be carried out on a local level, why in the world would we think that the same thing would not be necessary on a worldwide scale? Without it, Christianity would indeed be a perfect example of different congregations being carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching based on the cunning and contriving errors of men.
We believe that this reflects the spirit of what is stated in numerous places within the Bible. Ephesians 4:11-17 surely doesn’t stand alone. And any exegesis of that passage must be seen to harmonize with everything else that is stated on the topic.
The scriptures often reiterate the stance that there should be no divisions or sects among you. The only allowance ever spoken of for the existence of sects was for the purpose of establishing those who were approved by God. It was prophecied more than once that wolves would sneak in and even arise from within to mislead the congregation and possibly even wreck their faith. Without a centralized authority, that is exactly what happens in the world of religion.
From the things that we have established, which are:
1. An unrelenting heretic should be removed from the congregation.
2. We should surrender our views to those taking the lead over us as long as those views do not violate what the scriptures teach.
3. Ephesians 4:11-17 is an active and current process to be fully realized in the future.
we should be able to readily perceive that one who would take an unrelenting stance against those giftsof men, and therefore create disuntiy and possibly a sect, they should be removed from the congregation after a second admonition.
70 thoughts on “Ephesians 4:11-16 discussion”
With regard to the 3 things that he regards as established, we would have to ask how a JW might ever determine #2, since the WTS teaches that it is only possible to understand the Bible through their publications, and not through one’s own independent reading of the Scriptures. If that is the case, how can the teaching of the GB ever be tested against Scripture? If they started teaching a viewpoint that contradicted the Scriptures, how could a JW know, since the GB’s interpretation of the Scriptures is always presumed to be the correct one?
These are great points and have expressed them to my JW apologist friends. I think Rotherham would answer in saying that the GB is only necessary for interpreting “unclear” things, especially that which is more prophetic in nature. There are major problems with this, but I’ll leave it to Rotherham to explain this.
I’ll respond later this week. Very busy.
Let’s take a for instance and maybe this will answer the question you ask. Let’s say, starting tomorrow, that for whatever reason, the GB began to teach that God does not have a personal name after all. This would be a clear contradiction to the scriptures that takes nothing but normal insight to discern, and if the GB insisted upon this view they would no longer be regarded by God as that faithful and discreet servant.
As has always been the case, the GB has invited people to examine the things that we teach to see if they can be found in the Bible and retain the harmony and respect due to the words of God. There are things that are absolute in the scriptures and other things that are not absolute. Clearly, anyone with normal insight should yield to the absolute teachings, and anyone with normal insight should be able to recognize certain teachings as absolute, such as God’s personal name, and then use those as tools to understand the things which are “harder to understand”, such as what Peter said of some of the writings of Paul.
Anyone can identify the true church by seeing if they align with the foundational teachings of Christianity, which are basically listed for us at Hebrews 6:1,2. Once it is established through normal insight who correctly represents those teachings and would therefore represent the true body of Christ and not a counterfeit, one should be willing to join themselves to that Christian organization or group and, as Hebrews 13:17 indicates, be willing to both obey and “submit/surrender” to those who are taking the lead.
But once a teaching would arise that would be in clear contradiction to what the scriptures say, then there would be an issue. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the scriptures have always taken precedent over anything written in the literature. If what is written is a clear violation of scripture, we should reject it and reject any organization that would insist on that clear contradiction.
So first, the scriptures themselves will identify the church. Absolute teachings will isolate the body of Christ from all the other counterfeits. Second, once discerned and trusted as representative of the body of Christ, the Christian should be willing to obey and submit to that scripturally identified Christian organization, but with this caveat, as long as they do not violate clear Biblical teachings. If the Bible is clear on something, then they should be teaching it that way.
Thanks for your reply. I appreciate your taking the time to respond. However, I think you are painting a picture of the JW world that is a bit rosier than it is. Here’s what I mean: looking at your example, let’s say that the GB did decide to start teaching that God didn’t have a personal name. Would most Witnesses question the new teaching? Obviously, the publications would present the new teaching couched in biblical language. They might even refer to Scriptures such as Acts 4:12, where the name of Jesus, not Jehovah, is mentioned and it is said that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” So they might argue that it is the name of Jesus that is really key, and that the name of Jehovah is of less importance for Christians.
Or, they might appeal to Philippians 2:9, where Jesus is said to have “the name that is above every name.” In your hypothetical example, they might use texts such as these (coupled with the fact that the name, “Jehovah” appears nowhere in any Greek manuscript of the New Testament) to downplay the importance for Christians of the name “Jehovah.” My point is that they would not simply introduce the new teaching; they would attempt to back it up with some sort of biblical argument. Now, on what basis would any individual Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the new arguments? If they accept the GB as the “faithful and discreet slave” (per the “new light” in the upcoming July 15 Watchtower), would they not just see this new reasoning as another example of the ‘light getting brighter?’
In fact, according to Watchtower publications, that is exactly what they are supposed to do. Consider the following citations:
It seems that some in association with the early Corinthian congregation were disregarding Paul’s authority, looking at him according to what he appeared to be in the flesh, and neglecting to take into account his special commission from Christ. Today, too, there are those who, by their independent thinking, question Christ’s ability to have and use on the earth a specially appointed governing body of imperfect humans, to whom he has entrusted all the Kingdom interests or “belongings” on earth. (Matt. 24:45-47) When such independent thinkers receive counsel and direction based on the Bible, they incline to the thought, ‘This is only from fleshly men, so it is up to me to decide whether to accept it or not.’ – The Watchtower, 6/1/1966, page 324, “Intellectual Freedom or Captivity to the Christ?”
How is such independent thinking manifested? A common way is by questioning the counsel that is provided by God’s visible organization. – The Watchtower, 1/15/1983, page 22, “Exposing the Devil’s Subtle Designs”
In the world, there is a tendency to reject leadership. As one lecturer said: “The rising education level has improved the talent pool such that followers have become so critical that they are almost impossible to lead.” But a spirit of independent thinking does not prevail in God’s organization, and we have sound reasons for confidence in the men taking the lead among us. – The Watchtower, 9/15/1989, Page 23, para 13, “Be Obedient to Those Taking the Lead”
In fact, such independent thinking is simply not tolerated in the organization at all. Anyone who openly disagrees with any published teaching of the organization is liable to be disfellowshipped and shunned by even their closest friends and family. A woman of my acquaintance was disfellowshipped around 30 years ago because she disagreed with the organization’s chronology that leads to the 1914 date for Christ’s invisible return. Ever since then, she has been completely cut off from her children and grandchildren who are JWs. So, given your hypothetical example, individual JWs not only would be unlikely to question the reasoning of the GB, but would be forbidden from doing so under pain of disfellowshipping. All Witnesses would be required to accept the new explanation as “new truth.”
With regard to the Scriptures taking precedent over anything written in the literature, I understand that the organization makes that claim. But in reality, it is untrue. While they may verbally acknowledge the superiority of the Bible over the WT literature, the fact is that the organization is seen as the final arbiter of the meaning of Scripture. For example, notice these quotations:
“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind.”—The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 587
“We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization.”—The Watchtower, February 15, 1981, p. 19
Now, if the Bible cannot be understood without the visible organization interpreting it for us, then that actually places the organization over the Bible. I can’t simply read the Bible and understand it, but it can be explained by the organization’s literature. What, then, truly becomes the final authority? The Bible that I can’t understand, or the literature that explains it? That being the case, it is impossible for the individual JW to test the teachings of the GB against Scripture, since they have been taught that they cannot properly understand Scripture without the explanations of the organization. This is what I meant when I said in my prior post that “the GB’s interpretation of the Scriptures is always presumed to be the correct one.” Think about it – as a JW, if you have a question on a Bible topic, do you turn first to the WT Indexes or WT Library CD-ROM, or to a concordance of the Bible? For the vast majority of JWs, the answer is the former.
Applying this to your hypothetical example, then, if the GB started teaching that God has no personal name, Witnesses would necessarily need to conclude that the GB’s interpretation was correct, since it had originated with God’s organization, and without the organization, they cannot understand the Bible anyway. It therefore becomes impossible, as I asserted in my earlier post, for the teachings of the GB to ever be tested critically against Scripture. If any Witness endeavored to do so, he would be seen as a rebel against God’s organization and disfellowshipped as an apostate. I know many people who have met this very fate, simply because they believed the Bible over the organization.
Thanks again for your response and your reasonable tone. I wish you the best.
I would think that regardless of what argument any organization, including the WT, would offer in establishing that God does not have a personal name, nothing could overturn the clear and concise statements that are found in the scriptures to the contrary. They truly stand as absolutes that any one with normal insight can see.
Of course, this is merely an example for the sake of demonstrating a point, which is, that any teaching that stands against the clear and concise statements, or absolutes, as found in the Bible, should be rejected as should any organization that would insist on something that clearly contradicts the scriptures. Other examples could be used that would demonstrate the same point, such as claiming that Christ is really not the messiah or there is no such thing as a resurrection or that adultery is not a sin. The list could go on and on that would violate absolute Biblical statements.
In reading your quotes and then investigating the surrounding contexts of those articles I believe they are being used in a manner that does not do justice to their true intent. Let me demonstrate:
It seems that some in association with the early Corinthian congregation were disregarding Paul’s authority, looking at him according to what he appeared to be in the flesh, and neglecting to take into account his special commission from Christ. Today, too, there are those who, by their independent thinking, question Christ’s ability to have and use on the earth a specially appointed governing body of imperfect humans, to whom he has entrusted all the Kingdom interests or “belongings” on earth. (Matt. 24:45-47) When such independent thinkers receive counsel and direction based on the Bible, they incline to the thought, ‘This is only from fleshly men, so it is up to me to decide whether to accept it or not.’ – The Watchtower, 6/1/1966, page 324, “Intellectual Freedom or Captivity to the Christ?” Unquote
Please note that the stipulation was counsel based upon the Bible. I wouldn think that naturally, a Christian would not think of counsel based upon the Bible as only coming from fleshly men but from God’s word as well. I don’t think this quote serves the purpose that you are using it for.
How is such independent thinking manifested? A common way is by questioning the counsel that is provided by God’s visible organization. – The Watchtower, 1/15/1983, page 22, “Exposing the Devil’s Subtle Designs” Unquote
Again, this is in the context that the counsel is based upon Biblical principles. Christians should be willing to obey and submit to those that they believe are representing Christ’s body, as long as, as mentioned before, they are not in contradiction of clear biblical statements or principles.
In the world, there is a tendency to reject leadership. As one lecturer said: “The rising education level has improved the talent pool such that followers have become so critical that they are almost impossible to lead.” But a spirit of independent thinking does not prevail in God’s organization, and we have sound reasons for confidence in the men taking the lead among us. – The Watchtower, 9/15/1989, Page 23, para 13, “Be Obedient to Those Taking the Lead” Unquote
I’m not sure why you would find fault with this view. If one has come to trust that certain men are indeed the FDS as mentioned by Christ and are indeed representing the body of Christ, this means that the person has already put their confidence in these individuals. I think that is properly defined as sound reasoning to continue to trust these individuals until such time as they would insist upon a clear violation of Biblical statements of truth or clear Biblical principles.
These quotes here I believe demonstrate the same failing:
“Thus the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind.”—The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 587 Unquote
The true intent of this statement is entirely correct. The Bible indeed is a book that belongs to the Christian congregation, and in order to understand it as fully as one can understand it, it does require instruction from those who are approved by God to do so. For instance, how does one define adultery or fornication or idolatry? What exactly constitutes things like that? How many standards of definition should be entertained? This is extremely important when we consider that these things can cause one to be removed from the
congregation and that only adultery is accepted as a Biblical foundation for divorce. Should each person or should each couple determine on their own what constitutes fornication or adultery? It should be obvious that in some instances, the church, the multitude of counselors that the scriptures encourage, is a necessity for proper understanding and Christian living. When it comes to prophecy, God makes it clear that private interpretations are not to take place. The logical conclusion would be then that an “objective” view of prophecy, one promoted by the church collectively, is what Christians should view as acceptable. As long as a prophetic view does not violate scripture, logic and known history, then the Christian should be able to submit and obey the views that are presented until such time that the church, objectively, sees the need to adjust the understanding. That’s what the scriptures encourage.
Statements of this nature, such as in your quote above, are not intended to say that not a single word or statement in the Bible can be understood without the GB telling you what it means. This would be in direct conflict with their invitation for anyone and everyone to examine our teachings to see if they originate in the words of God and are true to his words. How could we make such an invitation with the stance that you are claiming in regard to the GB? As mentioned, Peter acknowledged that in the writings of Paul there were things that were hard to understand, which he said the UNTAUGHT were twisting to their own demise.
“We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization.”—The Watchtower, February 15, 1981, p. 19 Unquote
Please note that it was not said that the Bible, categorically, cannot be understood without help. However, it is certainly true that in order to understand some very important aspects of the Bible, direction from God’s appointed gifts in men, is necessary. For instance, we are told that we must get out of Babylon the Great. Since this means our life, is it not necessary to properly identify who Babylon the Great is? Or should the individual decide? If you say the individual should decide, then that amounts to nothing more than private interpretation of prophecy, which God assures is not proper.
Simply put, there are indeed many things within the scriptures that are ambiguous, but then there are many things that are not ambiguous. Natural common insight can be used to recognize the absolute teachings for the scriptures. If a person can read and understand what they are reading, then many truths are easily discernible in the Bible. They simply need to see the whole picture of what the Bible presents. Sometimes even seeing the whole picture requires some assistance.
Once a person can see, by means of those clear Biblical teachings, who is truly representing the body of Christ, the scriptures are clear that they should not be creating division or sects within the congregation, that they should all speak in agreement and be of the same mind and the same line of thought. Hebrews tells us to not only be willing to obey these trusted individuals but also to submit, which means to surrender your view to theirs, again, as long as there are no clear Biblical contradictions in what they are saying or practicing.
We obey and submit, not because we regard them as higher than the words of God, but it is because God himself tells us to do so. Why? It is because these men must render an account for our souls to God. But this is all under the umbrella of having come to appreciate that these men are indeed representing the true body of Christ, and not some counterfeit. Heb. 13:17
In reality, if a person holds a different view then the GB, they can do so privately. Although not recommended to harbor such a view, which means to feed and protect it, it is not forbidden to have such a view. Otherwise, how could they recommend to such ones to “wait on Jehovah” and see what happens?
It is only when this view is promoted as the correct view against the GB determination, is there a problem. Why? Not because the view is WRONG necessarily, but because promotion of such a view causes division and could create a sect within the Christian congregation. Eph. 4:11-17 teaches us that unity trumps PERFECTION of understanding, and that the process of readjustment by these GIFTS IN MEN will continue until full understanding is achieved, but all for the sake of unity so that the church is not divided and that individuals are not carried like a wave by many winds of teaching.
I realize that you do not believe I am presenting an accurate picture, but I assure, this is indeed an accurate picture. I have been a baptized member of the JWs for 40 years and have a good deal of experience in dealing with things of this nature. I’m not tooting my horn or anything, I’m just saying, I should know.
Take care Tom,
Now getting back to your prior of the two posts (which, admittedly, I touched on in my previous post where I said I wasn’t going to)…
I agree fully with you that “any teaching that stands against the clear and concise statements, or absolutes, as found in the Bible, should be rejected as should any organization that would insist on something that clearly contradicts the scriptures.” My point of contention is that JWs simply do not have the freedom to make such evaluations without running afoul of the organization’s authority structure. This is because the vast majority of Witnesses accept the GB as the final word as to the meaning of Scripture. The GB would never present a new doctrine as contradicting the Scriptures; rather they would make a “Bible-based” argument in favor of it. And the vast majority of the rank and file would go along, thanking Jehovah for the wonderful “new light.”
As an example, for many years, the GB taught, allegedly based on Matthew 24:34, that the people alive in 1914 would be the ones to see the “new system” established. For many years, this was touted in the masthead of Awake magazine as “the Creator’s promise.” This position was abandoned in 1995, and has been revised a few times since then. The latest revision, in 2010, asserts that the “generation” of which Jesus spoke is actually an “overlapping” generation – that those younger anointed JWs who knew the older ones who were alive in 1914 will see the establishment of the new world. This effectively stretches out the time for the end to come by the length of another human lifespan. One wonders why there could not be three, four or even more “overlapping” generations when the time for this one runs out. The biblical basis for this change in teaching is virtually nonexistent. Their explanation of a generation including persons widely separated in age, such as the sons of Jacob, is fallaciously based on equivocation – they are actually using two differing definitions of the word “generation” to make their case. However, despite the fact that the Witnesses who could provide an explanation for the new doctrine are few and far between, the new teaching is universally accepted in the organization simply because the GB has offered it – and as the “faithful slave” class, they must be accepted and obeyed. Indeed, any JW who openly questions the GB in this (or any other) matter is likely to find himself facing a judicial committee. I have heard of JWs expressing thanks that they have been given a clear teaching on this question, even though the explanation has changed at least four times within the last 20 years.
In response to my quotations regarding not questioning the counsel from the organization, you responded that “this is in the context that the counsel is based upon Biblical principles.” However, as I have pointed out, the GB never presents any teaching as being contrary to the Bible, or even unsupported by the Bible. A “Bible-based” argument is always offered, even if it completely contradicts the “Bible-based” argument for the previous teaching that was absolutely opposite of what is now taught. In the minds of JWs, anything published in the WT publications is a “Bible-based” teaching, regardless of how the Scriptures are being used, or even if no actual biblical argument is offered at all. And that’s exactly what the publications mean when they speak of “counsel based on biblical principles” – the term includes anything that is published by the “slave class,” whether it is taken from the Bible or simply from their own opinions.
As an example of what I mean by that, the Awake magazine of February 8, 2002 on page 10 speaks of “Scriptural grounds” for marital separation (not divorce). The reasons given for legitimately separating from a spouse are willful nonsupport, extreme physical abuse, and absolute endangerment of a believer’s spirituality. Now, I’m not arguing here regarding the validity or non-validity of these as reasons to separate from a spouse, but by what Scriptures are we taught that these are valid reasons for a believer to separate from his/her spouse? Calling them “Scriptural grounds” implies that, somewhere in the Bible, we can read that it is permissible for a spouse to initiate a separation if these conditions exist. But no such texts exist. The texts cited in the article to support these three points condemn the sort of behavior under discussion (for example, 1 Timothy 5:8 is cited to show that believing husbands are responsible to provide for their wives and children), but none of the texts specifies the misbehavior as grounds for marital separation. Many types of behavior are condemned in the Bible, but are not accepted as grounds for marital separation – theft and coveting, for example, are clearly condemned in Scripture, but are not grounds for marital separation. So what makes these three things acceptable grounds? More to the point, in what sense can they be said to be “Scriptural grounds,” since no Scripture enumerates them as grounds for separation? Apparently, just the fact that they have been published in literature produced by the “slave class” makes them “Scriptural” enough for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
You state, “If one has come to trust that certain men are indeed the FDS as mentioned by Christ and are indeed representing the body of Christ, this means that the person has already put their confidence in these individuals.” The extent to which Jehovah’s Witnesses put their confidence in the GB is inappropriate. The things taught by GB are accepted by most Witnesses uncritically, and reading the publications (such as the statements I quoted in my first post in this thread) would certainly not lead anyone to challenge them. I have often said that the only thing you MUST believe to be a JW is that the organization speaks for God. Once you have crossed that threshold, all other doctrines follow on the basis that the organization, which speaks for God, teaches them, no matter how bizarre they may be. And, the fact is that the GB has not earned that level of trust. Because of many years of false predictions, bad medical advice in many areas, occultic connections and many scandals, they have proven themselves to be unreliable guides. Indeed, if God was using an organization as his “faithful slave” class, one would have to conclude, based upon their record, that it could not be the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
You state that a central teaching authority is needed to clarify matters such as a definition of fornication or adultery (and other matters). This is very similar to the Roman Catholic view that church tradition is needed to clarify what the Scriptures mean. It is also very similar to the teaching of the Pharisees, who made hundreds of little regulations to define exactly how the laws of God should be followed. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for that approach. Jesus came to bring freedom, not legalism, and Paul demonstrates in Romans 14 that there is room for great latitude of conscience. We do not need an organization to legislate, for example, as the WTS has done, specifically which sexual acts are acceptable between a man and wife, especially in the complete absence of any Scriptural counsel on the subject. Nor does a teenager who has engaged in premarital sex need to be grilled by a judicial committee of three older men asking her to recite every detail of each touch and caress, as many young women have testified happened to them. If we want to know what the meaning of the Bible term for “fornication” means, a simple word study of the underlying Greek term will certainly serve for most purposes, particularly in the matter of practical application to church discipline. A long list of specifics is not necessary; church elders and church bodies involved in such discipline can evaluate each case upon its merits, looking for an attitude of overall repentance rather than technical definitions of each sin.
You say, “If a person can read and understand what they are reading, then many truths are easily discernible in the Bible. They simply need to see the whole picture of what the Bible presents. Sometimes even seeing the whole picture requires some assistance.” Again, I agree completely. Mature teachers and pastors can be very helpful in one’s spiritual growth. But the GB does not present itself as merely offering assistance. Rather, it is presented as the absolute authority, the “faithful and discreet slave” who speaks for God and who must be believed and obeyed without question. That is a different matter entirely, and there is no warrant in Scripture for them to make such a claim.
In fact, the entire claim for them to be the F&DS is circular. Why should we believe that what Jesus said about the F&DS was a prophecy of a leadership group in an organization rather than simply a parable encouraging each Christian to be faithful and wise? Well, because we have the official interpretation by the F&DS class, and they have said it is so. And we have to believe their interpretation, because they are the ones Jesus appointed. And we know that Jesus appointed them because they are the F&DS and they told us he did. And on and on. The one thing you must believe in order to be a JW is that the organization speaks for God.
You also say that “In reality, if a person holds a different view then the GB, they can do so privately.” Well, yes, I suppose one could even be an atheist and remain a JW in good standing if he never told anyone about his beliefs. However, that is not an acceptable situation for most people; one could have held JW beliefs in Nazi Germany without penalty as long as he did not let anyone know what he believed.. I know from personal experience that elders will typically try to answer questions that arise from individuals having doubts. Most JW elders are sincere and would like to help. But if the answer they give does not make sense to the questioner, or he finds himself unable to believe it, he will soon be faced with the authority of the organization rather than an effort to teach him. At some point, he will be told to get in line, at least publicly (and that means not telling anyone of his doubts, even the elders who are trying to help) or else face disfellowshipping. The official position of the organization, as expressed in a confidential letter to overseers several decades ago, is that anyone who holds even a private view contrary to any published statement of the organization is to be regarded as an apostate if it becomes known (even if it only becomes known to the elders).
I find this statement of yours to be particularly interesting: “It is only when this view is promoted as the correct view against the GB determination, is there a problem. Why? Not because the view is WRONG necessarily, but because promotion of such a view causes division and could create a sect within the Christian congregation.” It sounds as if you are saying that it would be better to hold an incorrect view that is endorsed by the GB rather than a correct, completely biblical view that is out of harmony with the teaching of the GB. In other words, unity of belief by all members is more important than truth. Could there be any clearer proof that, for JWs, the teaching of the organization supersedes the Bible?
You are correct in your realization that I do not believe you have presented an accurate picture of life as a JW. I, too, am in a position to know what it is like. I was a JW for 30 years and left the organization voluntarily because I came to disagree with the GB on many issues, and I also saw from their record that they could not possibly be used by God in the way that they claim. It seems to me that you are trying to “soften the edges” so that the situation of an average Witness will appear to have more freedom of questioning and expression than is actually allowed.
I see you have already responded to my previous post to this one, but I don’t have time to mount yet another response right now. I’m jealous of your typing speed. I’ll get to it as soon as I can.
In reading through this I think most of your concerns are covered in my latest full response. If there is something that you feel is significant that is not covered please call attention to it in your next post. Let’s try and keep this to one thread at a time. It can become most confusing to the readers to folllow if we don’t. For instance, this latest reponse of yours ended up in an odd spot and will likely be missed by many readers because it didn’t go to the bottom the way it would be expected to do so.
I’ll await your response before continuing.
I just now noticed this in your last response. I see that you say you were once a JW and left the organization. I am afraid that this is a deal breaker for me when it comes to having any more discussion with you in particular. I had hoped otherwise.
I can invite you to follow along as Mike and I hash this out, but I wont be able to respond any longer to your comments as you would be one that we would regard as an apostate, and I am sure you know what our position on that would be. Maybe Mike would be willing to present some of your same concerns when he responds but I will leave that up to him.
To Mike and Tom,
When you think about it, isn’t a great deal of Christianity, at its core, a matter of trusting men? You are either trusting yourself and your readings and studies of the Bible or you are trusting others and what they have discerned. The human element is never removed. The scriptures tell us that “in a multitude of counselors, there is salvation”. That doesn’t mean that the multitude actually saves you, but at the very least, it tells us that an “objective” view, involving many, is far more trustworthy view and is recommended beyond the subjective, or individual evaluation.
For instance, even when it comes to reading the Bible, should every believer become a Bible scholar, trained in all the original languages, or should they come to relatively trust in a translation that is offered by a team?
Point being, God is not a fan of the autonomous, lone theologian, is he?
I’m going to reply to your second post first, since the prior one will require a bit more time to address. It seems to me that you are drawing a false dichotomy here. Option 1, as I understand it, is to put full faith in a self-proclaimed “faithful slave” class as being the sole interpreters of God’s Word, and Option 2 is becoming an “autonomous, lone theologian.” Those are not the only options available. We can place a reasonable level of trust in scholars, teachers and others who have educated themselves so as to be able to handle God’s Word correctly, while always holding the Bible as the final authority and regularly testing such scholars and teachers according to what it says. We need not accept any scholar, or for that matter any specific translation of the Bible as the final word on the matter. There is no need for a monolithic organization to enforce conformity of doctrine upon all Christians.
Additionally, as I have pointed out, JWs simply do not have the freedom to test the GB according to Scripture. If someone does and finds their teachings wanting, he is subject to disfellowshipping and shunning, even if the matter revolves around the most minor points of doctrine. Despite your mention of the GB’s “invitation for anyone and everyone to examine our teachings to see if they originate in the words of God and are true to his words,” such invitations, on the rare occasions that they are offered, are directed exclusively at outsiders. Once one has become a JW, he is no longer invited to question teachings, but is expected to submit and accept the “spiritual food” being dispensed.
Should every believer become a Bible scholar, trained in all the original languages? That would be wonderful; unfortunately it is not possible for all. However, the GB actually discourages such independent study of the original languages. In the September 2007 Kingdom Ministry, it is made clear that the GB does not endorse efforts by individual Witnesses or groups to study independently in any way, including the study of Greek and Hebrew. The point is made that what is being provided by the organization is sufficient and that “no personal pursuit should detract from what Jesus Christ is accomplishing through his congregation on earth today,” in other words, the material being dispensed by the organization takes priority even over the original languages of the Scriptures. The issue is summarized with encouragement for those who want a deeper knowledge to stick with the Watchtower’s publications. Again, with no possibility of referencing outside sources (at least not without risking disobedience to the “slave class), and with the GB as final interpreter of the Bible, how could one come to know if the GB did deviate from teaching Bible truth?
In my next post I’ll be repeating alot of the information in the first post that you mention so maybe it would be best to wait so that we don’t get too fragmented in our responses. It’s hard for the readers to follow if there are a number of lines presented at once.
I respond later today to your lastest information.
I’m going to reply to your second post first, since the prior one will require a bit more time to address. It seems to me that you are drawing a false dichotomy here. Option 1, as I understand it, is to put full faith in a self-proclaimed “faithful slave” class as being the sole interpreters of God’s Word,
That’s not really what I said. Not SOLE interpreters. As mentioned, there is no need for any special interpretation when it comes to the absolute teachings of the scriptures, and we invite anyone and everyone to examine to see if we adequately present those absolute teachings. Naturally, JWs themselves have already done that and have come to trust that central authority to be that FDS. I think that’s the point you and others seem to miss. JWs have already made the examination that you speak of and have come to a decision as to who they trust. Really, your question should be along the lines of what happens when someone finds something that is in clear contradiction of scripture AFTER they become a member of Christianity? That seems to be closer to your real quandary.
I have answered this before for Mike and maybe you can look back through these exchanges and find it, but, the gist of it is this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with presenting and asking your questions, or even your view to the GB for their estimation of it. The problem only comes about when one would promote what the GB would determine to be incorrect. This is exactly how the scriptures would lay it out. Why? Because it would first have to be determined “objectively” if what you have found is actually a problem for our current understandings. How does one know, without proper examination, that what they have found is actually a problem? Is it absolute, or is it a viewpoint? It should be examined by the “multitude of counselors”, in which there is salvation, to see if it is actually as problem. Naturally, in the harvest period, the FDS would be involved in that multitude of counselors. In the end, if it is a viewpoint and not an absolute, then whose viewpoint should be yielded to? Would it not be to those who are rendering an account for our souls? Heb. 13:17
Once you have joined Christianity and have determined who this FDS would be, it is expected Biblically that you would not create divisions or sects within that body. It is expected that unless this body insists on something clearly out of line with the Bible, then the Christian should be willing to submit. If you feel that there is something that we have clearly missed, please give an example.
My point is, which you actually acknowledge, that Christian understanding and doctrine is not created in an autonomous vacuum. The question really becomes, who do we trust to be representing the body of Christ. And in the harvest period, who do we trust to be that FDS who has been given the charge to feed the members of Christianity food at the proper time?
The FDS is at least SOMEONE who will be appointed in the “harvest period, by Christ the conclusion of the age, to give the proper food at the proper time. Since Christianity would be involved in the separating of the wheat and the weeds at this time, it would be imperative to have a centralized authority in regard to teachings. It would be imperative to also identify that centralized authority on teaching and to adhere to their teachings, just as the 1st century Christians adhered to the teachings of the Apostles.
So, if one has come to be convinced that they are in the time of the harvest, they would naturally expect there to be the existence of this FDS. God asks us to obey and submit to those ones who would be taking the lead because these ones have to make any accounting for our souls before God.
and Option 2 is becoming an “autonomous, lone theologian.” Those are not the only options available. We can place a reasonable level of trust in scholars, teachers and others who have educated themselves so as to be able to handle God’s Word correctly, while always holding the Bible as the final authority and regularly testing such scholars and teachers according to what it says. We need not accept any scholar, or for that matter any specific translation of the Bible as the final word on the matter. There is no need for a monolithic organization to enforce conformity of doctrine upon all Christians.
But this is really the same thing that we are saying. It is the FDS and those associated with them that we believe are trustworthy in their scholarship, in their teaching and their education so as to be able to handle the word of God correctly. If we find something that doesn’t add up to us, there is a Christian process for determining the validity of that and that is available to every JW. If their elders and their personal research cannot resolve the issue then they can certainly write to the FDS and ask them to consider what they have found or to answer their question. If the matter is simply viewpoint, then the FDS viewpoint would trump the issue, so as to maintain unity and to not create divisions within Christianity.
But I have a question, was there a first century centralized authority in regard to teachings in the first century? Did not the Apostles constitute that at that time in history?
Additionally, as I have pointed out, JWs simply do not have the freedom to test the GB according to Scripture. If someone does and finds their teachings wanting, he is subject to disfellowshipping and shunning, even if the matter revolves around the most minor points of doctrine.
I hear this alot but it simply isn’t accurate, and I believe I have the experience to know. As stated, whatever is supposedly found to PROVE that we are wanting in our view, should first be tested ITSELF before it would ever be promoted to the congregation. That sounds like a no-brainer process to guard against promoting a dissident view and causing division.
Disfellowshipping only occurs when one insists on a view that the GB does not agree with. Why, not because the view is inherently wrong, (the FDS might even come to appreciate later that it was correct) but because it causes division in the congregation, which God condemns. This is in harmony with Titus 3:10,11.
Despite your mention of the GB’s “invitation for anyone and everyone to examine our teachings to see if they originate in the words of God and are true to his words,” such invitations, on the rare occasions that they are offered, are directed exclusively at outsiders. Once one has become a JW, he is no longer invited to question teachings, but is expected to submit and accept the “spiritual food” being dispensed.
To the contrary, we are encouraged if we have questions and doubts, to take the steps necessary to resolve them as best as possible. Naturally, though, in the end, if it is just a viewpoint, and not an absolute failing of the GB, as the scriptures admonish, one should be willing to obey and submit to their lead. That is the Biblical admonition, is it not?
Should every believer become a Bible scholar, trained in all the original languages? That would be wonderful; unfortunately it is not possible for all. However, the GB actually discourages such independent study of the original languages. In the September 2007 Kingdom Ministry, it is made clear that the GB does not endorse efforts by individual Witnesses or groups to study independently in any way, including the study of Greek and Hebrew.
This is simply inaccurate. Not ENDORSING something is not the same thing as preventing something. The WT also states that it does not endorse any particular medical practices. That in no way means they view them as forbidden. This simply means they do not put their stamp of approval on something. It doesn;t forbid it by any means. Many people are misquoting and misusing the information contained in that particular KM.
The point is made that what is being provided by the organization is sufficient and that “no personal pursuit should detract from what Jesus Christ is accomplishing through his congregation on earth today,”
While it is true that the organization is providing all that is necessary, it in no way condemns personal and independent research. The issue, again, is when people take the improper course to resolve issues that may arise in their studies. That is what would “detract” from what Christ is accomplishing through the congregation.
in other words, the material being dispensed by the organization takes priority even over the original languages of the Scriptures.
Never seen this to be true, Tom. Do you have an example?
The issue is summarized with encouragement for those who want a deeper knowledge to stick with the Watchtower’s publications.
Only if there ends up being a conflict. Deeper knowledge is in no way prevented or forbidden. Naturally, though there should be caution. And that doesn’t mean you are not encouraged to resolve the conflict. And if you actually find something that is indeed a failing, the GB will be under obligation by God to correct it.
Again, with no possibility of referencing outside sources (at least not without risking disobedience to the “slave class), and with the GB as final interpreter of the Bible, how could one come to know if the GB did deviate from teaching Bible truth?
I think you are being misled as to the true nature of our epistemological process. The FDS quotes numerous outside sources. My own personal theocratic library is full of outside sources. And as mentioned, they are not the sole interpreter of the scriptures, for we insist that for the most part, scripture will interpret scripture as to it correct understanding. Many truths are easily recognized by those who can merely read and understand the words they are reading, they simply have to look at all the information on a particular subject before making a decision. Much of the Bible is self explanatory.
I just now noticed this in your last response. I see that you say you were once a JW and left the organization. I am afraid that this is a deal breaker for me when it comes to having any more discussion with you in particular. I had hoped otherwise.
I can invite you to follow along as Mike and I hash this out, but I wont be able to respond any longer to your comments as you would be one that we would regard as an apostate, and I am sure you know what our position on that would be. Maybe Mike would be willing to present some of your same concerns when he responds but I will leave that up to him.
Sorry to hear that, though I can respect your position at least more than that of those JWs who come onto online discussion boards and passionately argue for every teaching of the GB, all the while knowing that they are disobeying the GB in doing so.
I might point out, though, that in setting up the rules the way they have regarding those who leave the organization, the GB effectively screens out the rank and file from hearing arguments against the organization from those in the most knowledgeable position to offer them. That is exactly what one might expect from an organization that has something to hide.
I’ll still respond to your last post when I have time, since I think there are some points that need to be made. I’ll understand that you won’t be responding to that post. Thanks again for your reasonable tone and interesting arguments.
What about children? So many are baptized at a young age, before reasoning and critical thinking have fully developed. If they are taught by their parents to trust the org and do, only to later in life analyze those beliefs and reject them, are they truly to be faulted and deserving of shunning if they are not immoral or antichrist as in 2 John? You said above that ones who become JWs first get to examine them and determine if it is true, but this is hardly true for ones raised in it. – Fire of Mox
I know you said that you would no longer respond to me, but as I said, I think your last post to me contains some ideas that need a response, at least on behalf of others who might be reading the thread.
In response to my “Option 1,” of putting full faith in a self-proclaimed “slave” as being the sole interpreter of the Bible, you responded: “That’s not really what I said. Not SOLE interpreters.” I understand that’s not what you said, but analyzing what you have said, I can come to no other conclusion. You try to argue that no interpretation is needed with fundamental doctrines, but, of course, JWs are required to accept all the doctrines taught by the GB, not just the major ones. You then proceed to state that, if one does come to a different conclusion on any point than that of the GB, then such a one would need to yield his viewpoint to “those who are rendering an account for our souls,” i.e., the GB. So, ultimately, the GB does become the sole interpreter. There is nobody else in the JW world who would be accepted as authoritative, and one’s own opinions must ultimately be subsumed to those of the GB. By what stretch of the imagination could you not consider them to be the SOLE interpreter of Scripture for JWs within that framework?
Additionally, you seem to think that the command at 1 Thess. 5:21 to “Test all things” is a one-time event, and not an ongoing process. You state, “Once you have joined Christianity and have determined who this FDS would be, it is expected Biblically that you would not create divisions or sects within that body. It is expected that unless this body insists on something clearly out of line with the Bible, then the Christian should be willing to submit.” In other words, it’s OK to question and examine until you become a JW, after that you must fall into line. This is the very point I was trying to make – JWs do not have the freedom to test the teachings offered by the GB, so there would be no basis for ever determining that the GB had been teaching something that violates the Scriptures.
However, Paul did not address his words at 1 Thess. 5:21 to persons outside the Christian church who were considering becoming Christians. He wrote the letter to an existing congregation of Christians, expecting them to test all teachings on an ongoing basis, with the expectation that they would reject any that they found to be false. Nothing is said or implied that there would be a sanction of disfellowshipping applied to any who might disagree with their teachers, and I would hasten to add that disagreeing on non-essential doctrinal matters is a far cry from starting a sect. Paul’s own teachings were evaluated and tested by the Bereans, and, despite his great authority as an apostle, he commended them for doing so (Acts 17:11).
You state: “The FDS is at least SOMEONE who will be appointed in the “harvest period, by Christ the conclusion of the age, to give the proper food at the proper time.” Yet you can’t substantiate that teaching from the Bible; that interpretation itself is the product of the supposed F&DS. And, as stated, it differs from the teaching of the GB as little as last year, when they taught that the F&DS had come into existence in 33 A.D., and not during the harvest period. Was the GB wrong last year, or are they wrong now? Or were they wrong both then and now, with some new understanding to be advanced in times to come?
Next, you say: “Since Christianity would be involved in the separating of the wheat and the weeds at this time, it would be imperative to have a centralized authority in regard to teachings.” What is the biblical basis for saying that it would be “Christianity” that would separate the wheat and weeds? The Bible clearly states that it is the angels, not Christians, who would make the separation. But the GB says it is Christians who will do so – what difference does it make if they directly disagree with what the Bible says?
You write: “So, if one has come to be convinced that they are in the time of the harvest, they would naturally expect there to be the existence of this FDS.” But, of course, this is only true if they share the interpretation of the parable that the GB has advanced. Unless you already accepted their authority, you would be unlikely to just pick up the Bible and conclude from Jesus’ words that the F&DS was a class to be given authority to interpret God’s Word for all Christians and to govern all congregations of Christians during the time of the end. All of that flows only from the GB itself, which is very convenient for them, since their interpretation tends to cement their own power over the organization.
You ask, “Was there a first century centralized authority in regard to teachings in the first century? Did not the Apostles constitute that at that time in history?” Yes, I agree that the Apostles did constitute such an authority, but there is no evidence in Scripture that their authority was ever passed on to anyone else. We are told at Ephesians 2:20 that the church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.” Once a foundation has been laid, one builds on it, but does not continue to add foundation. Elders and deacons were appointed in individual churches, but little is said about any centralized authority structure after the Apostles. Your suggestion that their authority was somehow continued in the form of a GB is not to be found in Scripture, and sounds remarkably like a form of the Roman Catholic doctrine of apostolic succession through the popes.
Again, you assert, “Disfellowshipping only occurs when one insists on a view that the GB does not agree with. Why, not because the view is inherently wrong, (the FDS might even come to appreciate later that it was correct) but because it causes division in the congregation, which God condemns.” And again, I need to point out that you are saying that unity of belief among all members is actually more important than teaching truth. Clearly, the teaching of the GB trumps everything else, even the Bible. I’m sure that the GB would claim that they do not “lord it over” the faith of JWs (2 Cor. 1:24), but I have to ask the question, if they wanted to “lord it” over the faith of JWs, what more could they possibly do than they are already doing by enforcing every detail of their teachings under pain of disfellowshipping?
With regard to the GB not endorsing private studies by JWs, you write that “Not ENDORSING something is not the same thing as preventing something.” But it really is in this case. When “God’s organization” writes an article with the tone of the one I cited from the September 2007 Kingdom Ministry, it is pretty evident that the intention is that Witnesses should not be doing it. Local elders have long been known to break up any private Bible studies; it happened to me when I was young and used to meet with several other young folks every week to go over the week’s Watchtower study. It was made known to me and my friends that such private study arrangements were not acceptable, unless it was an individual family study. For a bunch of single young people to have such an arrangement was not going to be tolerated. Anyone who has been a Witness for very long knows that when an article says something like “the F&DS suggests…” – it isn’t a suggestion.
You say, “While it is true that the organization is providing all that is necessary, it in no way condemns personal and independent research.” If you re-read that same KM article, they strongly suggest that anyone wanting to “go deeper” should stick to the WT publications and not look outside of what the F&DS has provided.
Finally, you state that “The FDS quotes numerous outside sources.” And indeed they do, though not always honestly. See, for example, http://home.comcast.net/~docbob1/misquotes.htm and http://www.searchingthescriptures.net/main_pages/answering_cults/jehovahs%20witnesses/examining-should_you_believe_in_the_trinity.htm. Nonetheless, even when they do quote outside sources, they are very selective about what they use. You may see a quotation from, say Justin Martyr in a publication if it seems to help the GB’s argument, but you are not encouraged to simply read Justin’s own writings for yourself. Any outside material needs to be filtered through the approval of the GB for Witness consumption.
Again, I understand your reasons for not responding to any of this, though I think your doing so stands in itself as a testimony as to how little freedom JWs really have. I was not disfellowshipped from the organization for any misconduct, but left because of disagreement with the GB. Nonetheless, you are required to shun me as if I were the vilest of sinners. All the same, I wish you the best and hope you will one day come to the point of trusting in, not mere men, but Jesus Christ, who IS “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
If one who was baptised too soon before actually making the truth their own, that is unfortunate and I know it can happen. If later they reject the teachings, they would be handled in the same manner as anyone else would be handled. They would be admonished more than once and attempts would be made to turn them around. If they insisted we would have to follow the Biblical injuntion to reject them after sufficient admonition.
However, Jehovah is the one who knows the true heart condition of anyone, including those we might consider to be apostate. He knows WHY they are the way they are and he knows if they are solely responsible for their decisions or if someone else was instrumental to their demise or other mental and emotional factors that could be involved. In the end, Jehovah is the judge of every person and any injustice carried out by man, even if that injustice came from a believer or an elder, Jehovah will compensate for and judge accordingly.
Because the one was convinced as a child to be immersed in a tank of water they should be shunned by family and friends for the rest of their life? You don’t find the org at all at fault for allowing and even encouraging ones to do it at a young age when almost nobody at that age has the ability to determine whether it is truly the truth? How does this not strike you as a way to trap people in? -Fire of Mox
As I said, the circumstance is an unfortunate one, but we must abide by what we are told to do via the scriptures. God is responsible for the rest as to what he will do with the individual. Now fortunately if this child is still at home, they are not shunned by the immediate family but continue to be instructed and taught.
And as I mentioned, whatever injustice that came into this, and I mean even if the source of that injustice came from the GB, Jehovah will compensate and judge accordingly.
I don’t think it was by any means some devious way to trap people because firstly, I don’t believe that what they are involved in is a trap, but rather a means of salvation. I think any encouragement to be baptised when at a younger age, was presented as means to not try and dictate how old someone should be before they can actually decide to dedicate their lives to God.
Of course this would not be a situation unique to JWs. I am sure there are many “Christians” who have suffered similar demises outside the JW organization.
We leave these “confusions” to our God, whom we trust will always do the proper thing in the end.
Where is membership in leaving an organization a biblical basis for shunning? If I were a JW and came to reject certain teachings and no longer be a member, even if I were not publicly advocating those different views, I would be shunned. Can you defend this? – Fire of Mox
If one simply leaves and does not return, they are not disfellowshipped nor disassociated. They are simply inactive and can return when and if they feel ready. If one does not accept certain views and doesn’t promote contrary views, they are not disfellowshipped.
Let me give you a scenario and you tell me what should we do.
Let’s say there is a young man who was baptised and remained faithful up until the time that he was involved in a car accident that caused some head trauma. After that time he became extremely immoral and his reaskining abilities became severely affected. Now the elders in the congregation believed that his unrepentant actions were most likely due to his head trauma. he was no longer the person he once was due to the injury. If he remains an unrepentant sinner, what should be done?
If you say he should be disfellowshipped as the scriptures instruct, would that really be fair to do so because he had a terrible accident? But then, how does one hold up the responsibility to keep the congregation clean and to remove the sinner from among them?
Point being, we have to follow through with what the Biblical instuction would be, and realize that God will judge him fairly in the end. We might very well see him in the new order with full opportunity for salvation. The same thing would go for the scenario you present. One thing though, we would feel confident that in the case you present we would be able to convince him that he should not reject the teachings, as most of them are readily discernable from reading the scriptures without any special assistance.
The answer is very easy. Don’t allow him to participate in the congregation and treat him as if he were never a member. Why? Because the person he became as a result of the injury was never a member. – Fire of Mox
But where would the proof be that he was actually only acting out something due to the injury? Or where would the proof be that the “split” was as decisive as one might think? What if he even acknowledged that what he is doing is not Christian behavior. It’s not as though he has lost all cognition of who and what he was. It has simply affected him morally. Where the Biblical precedent be presented to handle it in the way you mention?
We are dealing with a situation not discussed in scripture, so common sense and logic are required. If the person was not like this before and became this way only subsequent to the accident, logic suggests the accident would be the cause.
What I’ve said, however, does correspond with a truly biblical “disfellowshipping”, which the Watchtower goes far beyond. Paul said one should be handed over to Satan, meaning they would be treated as an outsider. He provides the extent to which they should be shunned, “not even eating” with them. Jesus said they should be treated as a gentile and tax collector, which was basically to the same extent. There is no precedent for total shunning other than if a person denies Christ. -Fire of Mox
If the person is totally aware of their past, it could hardly be said that they area different person. For all intents and purposes they are the same person, and their breach in morality doesn’t constitute them being a different person. But this is an area where we have to leave them inthehands of God but we have the responsibility to keep the congregation clean because as we are admonished, a little leaven ferments the whole lump.
In regards to the extent shunning should take place when it comes to those who are not apostate in nature, admittedly, it is a judgment call between what the verses tell us. But the position and policy that is current is not out of harmony with what the scriptures say. It might be argued that it is too rigid, but it can’t be argued that it is unscriptural.
No judgement call required. Paul is clear and John is clear. Paul writes about immorality and the extent to which such ones should be shunned. John writes the same concerning those who deny Jesus. The Watchtower takes the latter and applies it to the former, resulting in the unjustified treatment of many. – Fire of Mox
Well here’s the problem as I see it. First, one is disfellowshipped for an unrepentant attitude. We know that is correct.
As ar as 2 John is concerned, the GB seems to be reasoning in this manner. If they are disfellowshipped due to an unrepentant view of sin, it means that they are promoting, by their example and their actions, a contradictory view against Christianity. No matter what the specific sin would be, unrepentance can be viewed as a promotion of a view contradictory to Christianity. Therefore, 2 John could be applied to all unrepentant sinners, for they are promoting, by their actions and their practice, non-Christian behavior.
Paul defines the specific extent to which one should be shunned, “not even eating with such a person.” The Watchtower’s reasoning ignores Paul and says we should go further, “Not even speaking with such a person.” Who should we follow? 2 John isn’t dealing with one who simply brings any old false teaching. They were denying Christ came in the flesh, which was to deny him, his death and the resurrection. Specifically, they were antichrist. – Fire of Mox
The verse says if they do not abide in the “doctrine of the Christ”. Surely, the doctrine of Christ could include far more than just having come in the flesh. If they do not ABIDE in it would mean that they were once in it and left.
Question for Fire
From your view, why do you suppose God wants us to limit our association with unrepentant sinners, such as not even eating with them?
Paul tells us. We hand them over to Satan so that they might be saved. Additionally, it keeps the church clean. But why is not speaking at all going too far? Paul was concerned in that the one punished would be overwhelmed by excessive grief by just doing what he said. How much more were he completely cut off, so not to hear words of encouragement to repent and return from friends and family? – Fire of Mox
But these ones can hear words of encouragment when they are at Christian meetings. And when the elders see them making efforts they speak to them and encourage them and encourage them to continue. They can call on them at their homes and encourage them there as well to continue.
It doesn’t change the fact that the Watchtower is going beyond what is written and causing grief to people that God never intended. Yes, it is speaking, or the lack of it, I have an issue with. It is just rude and discouraging, I can only imagine. – Fire of Mox
I understand your concern, but as I mentioned, we surely do not see us going beyond the things written. True, it is an interpretation of the available evidence, but it is not going beyond what’s written. The doctrine of Christ could be seen to include more than just the part about the flesh. To limit it to Docetism is not in the text.
It would appear that your objection is simply in the not speaking to them. Is that it?
The reply button isn’t appearing for your other question. The doctrine of Christ is the doctrine concerning him. John is writing against Docetism, which taught Christ only seemed to be flesh. It is to take great liberty with the text to go beyond this, but it also contradicts Paul. – Fire of Mox
I replied above. The formatting on this blogport is designed rather poorly.
Here is some information that might be beneficial to some of the readers here. It was not compiled by me, but I surely appreciate the points made. Mike, if this violates your stance about quotations being used from our literature, I apologize in advance, but I thought it was very relevant within this discussion. If you don’t want it here, I imagine you have means available to delete it. Again, if I’m out of bounds with this, I apologize.
*** Benefit From Theocratic Ministry School Education – How to do Research (pg 33-38)
Before running in search of information, consider your audience. What will they already know? What do they need to know? Then identify your objective. Is it to explain? to convince? to refute? or to motivate? Explaining requires providing further information to make a matter clear. Although the basic facts may be understood, you may need to expand on when or how to do what is stated. Convincing calls for giving reasons outlining why a thing is so, including presentation of evidence. Refuting requires a thorough knowledge of both sides of an issue along with a careful analysis of evidence used. Of course, we seek not simply strong arguments but ways to present facts in a kindly manner. Motivating involves reaching the heart. It means giving your audience incentive and building up their desire to act on what is being discussed. Real-life examples of those who have taken such action, even in the face of difficulty, can help to reach the heart.
Are you now ready to begin? Not quite. Consider how much information you need. Time may be an important factor. If you are going to present the information to others, how much time will be available for you to do it? Five minutes? Forty-five minutes? Is the time fixed, such as at a congregation meeting, or is it flexible, such as on a Bible study or a shepherding call?
Finally, what research tools are available to you? In addition to what you have at home, are there more in the library at your Kingdom Hall? Would brothers who have been serving Jehovah for many years be willing to let you consult their research tools? Is there a public library in your area where reference books can be used if necessary?
Ryan: This clearly shows that they don’t think there’s anything wrong with gaining a thorough knowledge of an opponent’s perspective and carefully analyzing the available evidence so that you can effectively refute their erroneous beliefs. That this will almost certainly be time-consuming is not presented negatively. Entering a deep discussion with the premeditated intention of refuting error and false belief, a discussion that will almost always take the form of some kind of debate, is clearly not wrong according to this. All this makes sense since not all deep and time-consuming discussions and issues are foolish and fail to result in a building up in the faith. But SOME are, and THOSE are the type that are addressed near the end of the
(Also, the last question speaks to the issue of independent research in secular sources. Would they really suggest this as a method of gaining information if they were trying to tell us it was wrong to do so?)
Maintain Personal Files
Keep alert to items of interest that you can use when you are speaking and teaching. If you find in a newspaper or a magazine a news item, statistic, or example that you can use in your ministry, clip it out or copy the information. Include the date, the title of the periodical, and perhaps the name of the author or publisher. At congregation meetings, jot down reasoning points and illustrations that may help you to explain the truth to others. Have you ever thought of a good illustration but did not have an opportunity to use it right away? Write it down, and keep it in a file. After you have been in the Theocratic Ministry School for some time, you will have prepared a number of presentations. Instead of throwing away your notes from these talks, save them. The research you have done may prove useful later.
Ryan: This clearly shows that there is nothing wrong with using information from secular sources in our ministry. We are not bound to use only facts and arguments that have specifically appeared in our publications.
After wheat is harvested, the grain needs to be removed from the chaff. So it is with the fruitage of your research. Before it is ready for use, you need to separate what is valuable from what is superfluous.
If you are going to use the information in a talk, ask yourself: ‘Does the point I plan to use really contribute something worthwhile to my presentation of the subject? Or, even though it is interesting material, does it tend to divert attention from the subject that I ought to be talking about?’ If you are considering using current events or material from the ever-changing fields of science or medicine, make sure that the information is up-to-date. Realize, too, that some points in older publications of ours may have been updated, so consider what has most recently been published on the topic.
There is a special need to be cautious if you choose to compile information from secular sources. Never forget that God’s Word is truth. (John 17:17) Jesus occupies the key role in the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Therefore, Colossians 2:3 says: “Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” Evaluate the fruits of your research from that perspective. With regard to secular research, ask yourself: ‘Is this material exaggerated, speculative, or shortsighted? Was it written with a selfish or commercial motive? Do other authoritative sources agree with it? Above all, does it harmonize with Bible truth?’
Proverbs 2:1-5 encourages us to keep searching for knowledge, understanding, and discernment “as for silver, and as for hid treasures.” That implies both exertion and rich rewards. Research takes effort, but doing it will help you to find God’s thoughts on matters, to correct mistaken ideas, and to make firm your grasp of the truth. It will also add substance and life to your presentations, making them a pleasure to deliver and a delight to hear.
Ryan: Could it be any clearer that the FDS does not condemn research in secular material not published by the WTS? It even mentions the use of scientific information which is touched on in the Question Box but the meaning of which is misapplied by many. Yes, there is a need for caution and they mention that caution, but what may be most noteworthy of all is that they show their trust in their fellow Christians to be able to discern what is valuable for use from secular sources and what is not. They do not tell us what is valuable and what is not or what we can and cannot use.
*** Theocratic Ministry School Review 2003 ***
9. What factors should we keep in mind when deciding what points to use after doing research for a talk? [be p. 38] Use only points that contribute something worthwhile to the presentation of the subject. Make sure that the information is up-to-date and in line with the latest publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Be cautious when using information from secular sources, remembering that God’s Word is truth and that Jesus occupies the key role in the fulfillment of God’s purpose. (John 17:17; Col. 2:3) Our endeavor is to reflect God’s thinking. (Prov. 2:1-5)
Ryan: Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with researching secular sources and even using that information in our talks. We simply need to exercise caution.
*** g80 4/8 27-28 – A Catholic Priest Makes a Change ***
At the “Living Hope” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Giants Stadium, New Jersey, this past summer, it was related how Janet Jones became acquainted with this priest. She explained:
“Last year I worked as a secretary at Seton Hall University. With patient witnessing I was able to start a Bible study with a young student, a woman who at one time had contemplated suicide. She progressed rapidly in her studies. Soon she advised me she would resign from her church. All along, unknown to me, she had been giving her priest photocopies of the material we were covering each week.
“The priest was very upset when he learned she had resigned from the church, and tried his best to persuade her to change her mind. Shortly thereafter, she returned to her family’s home in Florida, where she continued progressing spiritually. Meanwhile, the priest found out that I was the person with whom she had studied and requested to see me. He asked for copies of the books from which our study material had come—The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life and Is This Life All There Is? He told me that I had committed a grave sin by turning the young woman away from the Catholic Church.
“When I saw him a few times after that, he said that he knew there were many flaws in these books and that he would bring them all to my attention as soon as he finished going
over the material. His many questions required much research on my part to answer him. Without telling me, he began visiting several Kingdom Halls and speaking with Witnesses who were in the preaching work, asking them the same questions he had asked me. He would receive the same responses again and again.
Ryan: The person profiled in this positive story spoke with a priest and did lots of research to answer conflicting religious views. Are we to understand that what this person did is inappropriate and that we should not waste our time as they did? Well, nothing in the article suggests any such thing.
*** Awake 05 – Libraries—Gateways to Knowledge ***
Especially relevant today, then, is the observation of the ancient scholar, writer, and king—Solomon. He wrote: “To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) When used discerningly, though, libraries continue to be what the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization calls a “local gateway to knowledge.”
Ryan: Now, why on earth would they make this statement if the hard-nosed interpretation of the Question Box is correct? Don’t we have everything we need in our publications and isn’t it inappropriate to look for knowledge in secular sources? What are we going to gain knowledge in at these libraries? History? Science? Ancient languages? According to the interpretation of some, any such research and exploration would be inappropriate and contrary to the rules of the organization based on the Question Box.
The article then goes on to give a description of the Dewey Decimal system used in most libraries and then gives a detailed description of how to find books within the various religious categories based on this numbering system. Are we supposed to understand that they gave us this information but condemn us from using it to read any such books at the library? That seems pretty strange to me.
*** g87 3/22 – How Knowing Greek Led Me to Know God ***
The year before this, a publication was released by the Watch Tower Society entitled The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures. It proved to be crucial for me. Perhaps more than any other single thing, it was instrumental in causing me to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the left-hand column on each page is the original koine Greek text, and under each line is a literal translation of the Greek. In the right-hand column of each page, in modern-day English, is the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures.
The quality of Greek scholarship in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures … is very good. It’s the kind of thing that a person who really wants to work with the Greek, even though not knowing much Greek, can do a lot with. I feel it’s one of the greatly underappreciated jewels of the Watch Tower Society’s publications.
Ryan: Why on earth would they have this article and present it in such a positive way and include the comment about the KIT being a greatly underappreciated jewel if they thought it was improper to learn or know the Biblical languages and then read the Bible directly in those languages? It makes no sense.
*** g00 1/22 p. 21 How Can I Avoid Dangers on the Internet? ***
A more subtle danger, though, lies in getting caught up in improper fellowship with strangers who do not respect Bible principles*.
*Such dangers can exist in public chat rooms established by well-meaning Christians for the purpose of discussing spiritual issues. Dishonest people and apostates have sometimes joined these discussions and insidiously attempted to persuade others to accept their unscriptural ideas.
Ryan: Note that this footnote does not in any way condemn “chat rooms established by well-meaning Christians for the purpose of discussing spiritual issues.” Rather, it wisely points out the potential danger that CAN (rather than DOES) exist on such sites and that we need to be aware of by expressing what has happened in some cases. The best way to guard against this danger is to be well aware of the greater pattern of healthful words rather than to avoid internet discussion.
Some who make blanket condemnation of internet discussion because of the danger of apostates seem to have this rather strange idea that apostates can be magically identified if only you can see what they look like. Perhaps they are all supposed to come with a big hairy factory-issued mole on their nose. Apostates are recognized by what they say and try to teach and promote insistently. What better way to keep track of that than if you have it all in writing? It can be much harder to recognize an apostate in person who you may meet in service and who may simply try to slyly slip apostate reasoning into a discussion rather than being upfront about it.
I know someone who said we should avoid internet discussion because you never know if you’re talking to an apostate and then, oddly, in the same discussion, mentioned that they had come across an apostate in service but didn’t realize it until they were inside the person’s home and was then stuck there having a discussion with the person for an hour and a half. So does that mean we should avoid the door-to-door ministry because we never know when we might meet an apostate at the door without realizing it and get roped into talking to them? Once you recognize an apostate online it’s a heck of a lot easier to stop talking to them than it is in person, as is evidenced by the example of this person just mentioned.
*** g97 7/22 10-13 – The Internet—Why Be Cautious? ***
Some discussion groups debate religious or controversial matters. Be careful about posting comments to such discussions; likely your E-mail address and name will be broadcast to all in the group. This often results in time-consuming and unwanted correspondence. Indeed, there are some newsgroups that are unfit to read, let alone interact with.
What about creating a discussion group, or newsgroup, for fellow Christians? This may present greater problems and dangers than initially expected. For example, individuals with ulterior motives have been known to misrepresent themselves on the Internet. Currently, the Internet itself does not enable individuals appearing on it to confirm identities. Furthermore, such a group can be compared in some ways to a large, ongoing social gathering, taxing the time and ability of its host to provide necessary and responsible supervision.—Compare Proverbs 27:12.
Ryan: Notice that in the first paragraph, the reason mentioned for being careful about posting to discussion groups that debate religious matters is because your email address and name may be broadcast to the whole group, which might result in unwanted correspondence outside of the group. It is not because posting to such boards is wrong.
In the second paragraph it again addresses the issue of discussion groups set up by Witnesses for other Witnesses. Again it cautions that there may be some unexpected dangers, such as people with ulterior motives who misrepresent themselves, and points out the difficulty of confirming identities on the internet. While it’s true that you may face such problems at times and so should be cautious, it doesn’t mean you will face those problems, and that article doesn’t say you necessarily will, but that you may. It also doesn’t state that this possible risk makes the whole venture wrong. Also, this article was written in 1997 and it has since become significantly easier to track down a person’s identity on the internet … especially if you own the site, because you have access to all users’ IP addresses.
It also mentions the potential difficulty of providing responsible supervision over what is happening on the site. Fortunately, this problem can be seriously reduced or eliminated by putting a discussion board on moderated status (so nothing appears on the board without approval) and by sharing the oversight responsibilities with other responsible people.
In the end, the internet is a tool like anything else. Whether it is used or misused depends on the individual, and as is the case with anything, you must use caution.
A sampling of the usage within our publications.
*** w93 8/15 p. 24 Succeeding in the Struggle With Alcoholism *** There are many treatment centers, hospitals, and other recovery programs that can provide help. The Watchtower does not endorse any particular treatment. Care must be exercised so that one does not become involved in activities that would compromise Scriptural principles. In the final analysis, however, each will have to decide for himself what type of treatment is needed.
Ryan: “Does not endorse” does not mean condemn.
*** w64 5/15 p. 307 par. 18 Maintaining Unity in Difficult Times ***
The Scriptures do not recommend the appointing of newly converted men to offices in the Christian congregation. “Not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil.” (1 Tim. 3:6) Especially in times of persecution this principle may not be ignored. Newly converted men may be zealous in the service for the Kingdom, but they may lack maturity. Under normal conditions such persons can better be watched and helped. In the underground work of preaching God’s kingdom this is more difficult. A newly converted man can cause dissensions if he starts to act independently. He may not yet have learned to trust in the lead of the trustworthy “faithful and discreet slave.” He trusts too much in himself. He has his own ideas instead of God’s. He does not see that his action may bring about undesirable consequences for himself and others. He may be ready to compromise or have extreme views and be inclined to be fanatical. If he were an overseer in a congregation, he could be a cause of disunity. Therefore in the underground work careful attention has to be paid that well-proved and reliable persons are appointed to service positions. “Also, let these be tested as to fitness first, then let them serve as ministers, as they are free from accusation.” (1 Tim. 3:10) This is true in all cases of overseers, especially of circuit and district servants, who maintain the connections with the congregations in a land.
Ryan: Note the bolded part. There are, in fact, some situations where newly converted men are appointed without negative results. Often this happens in developing countries where experienced brothers are in extremely short supply. It is true that this course is not generally recommended for certain obvious reasons, but not being recommended does not here mean absolutely prohibited without regard for circumstances.
*** w03 2/1 p. 5 How to Cultivate a Balanced View of Work ***
Some people are workaholics, putting their job before all else. Others live for day’s end when they can quit work and go home. What is the balanced view? The Bible answers: “Better is a handful of rest than a double handful of hard work and striving after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6) Working too hard or too long is, in fact,
counterproductive—a vain “striving after the wind.” Why so? Because we may well do injury to the very things that are responsible for our greatest happiness: our relationship with family and friends, our spirituality, our health, and even our longevity. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) The balanced view is to be content with less material gain along with a reasonable measure of peace rather than be loaded down with a double dose of work along with strife and misery.
In encouraging such a balanced view, the Bible does not endorse laziness. (Proverbs 20:4) Laziness corrodes self-respect and the respect others may have for us. Worse still, it damages our relationship with God. The Bible frankly states that the person who refuses to work does not deserve to eat at the expense of others. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Rather, he should change his ways and work hard, thus providing honorably for himself and his dependents. Through hard work he may even be able to help those who are truly in need—a practice God’s Word encourages.—Proverbs 21:25, 26; Ephesians 4:28.
Ryan: The point of saying the Bible “does not endorse laziness” is not the method by which they are saying that the Bible condemns it. Rather, they are saying it to counter the perspective some might have that Ecclesiastes 4:6 DOES ENDORSE laziness. This is an important distinction, because it shows that contextually they are not simply using the term “does not endorse” to signify condemnation but to contextually address what might be considered as endorsement and say it is not an endorsement.
*** w99 4/15 p. 29 Questions From Readers ***
Some of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been offered employment involving religious buildings or property. What is the Scriptural view of such work?
If the Christian is an employee without the deciding voice over what jobs are accepted, other factors ought to be considered, such as the location and the extent of involvement. Is the employee asked simply to deliver or put in place new chairs on an occasion or to render human service, such as a fireman’s putting out a fire in a church before it spreads? Many would see this as different from an employee of a business spending a long time painting the church or regularly doing gardening to make it attractive. Such regular or extended contact would increase the likelihood that many would link the Christian with a religion that he claims he does not endorse, potentially stumbling them.—Matthew 13:41; 18:6, 7.
We have brought up a number of important considerations as to employment. These were presented in the context of a specific question involving false religion. Yet, they
can equally be considered in connection with other types of employment. In each case, a prayerful analysis should be made, taking into consideration the specific—and probably unique—aspects of the situation at hand. The factors presented above have already helped many sincere Christians to make conscientious decisions that reflect their desire to walk straight and upright before Jehovah.—Proverbs 3:5, 6; Isaiah 2:3; Hebrews 12:12-14.
Ryan: If someone were constantly seen working along with Jehovah’s Witnesses, it would likely be assumed by viewers that that person either IS one of Jehovah’s Witnesses or that they at least ENDORSE Jehovah’s Witnesses in some way. The same would be true of any Witness who has regular employment at a church of Christendom. Whether correct or not, viewers would begin to link the person with that church, as the article mentions, and in doing so they would likely assume that he belongs to the church or at least endorses them in some way, when in fact he does not. The point being made was not a Witness’ condemnation of the church but the need to counter the opinion that they endorse that church when they do not endorse it.
So, again, the point being made contextually was not that “does not endorse” was being used to mean “condemn” but that it was being used in opposition to the idea that endorsement is actually suggested.
*** w82 7/15 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***
Is it all right to break God’s law in order to save a life, as has been reasoned from Matthew 12:1-8?
Consequently, the Scriptures do not endorse the view that divine commands can be broken in a difficult situation. Rather, we are told: “By this we gain the knowledge that we are loving the children of God, when we are loving God and doing his commandments.”—1 John 5:2.
Ryan: The viewpoint being addressed is the idea that Matt 12:1-8 actually DOES ENDORSE the view that divine commands can be broken in a difficult situation. The article reasons that such scriptures DO NOT ENDORSE that view. That such a view is condemned may be true, but that is not the reason for using the term “does not endorse” and condemnation is again not what is being conveyed by this usage.
So, in the final analysis (at least of the examples that have been offered thus far), the term “does not endorse” has not been used to denote condemnation but to signify a refusal to put one’s stamp of approval on something and stand behind it. This, of course, does not mean that you are making some blanket statement that it is wrong or condemning it. Only that you aren’t going to unequivocally stand behind it.
TAKING CAUTIONS TOO FAR
*** w96 9/1 p. 21 par. 8 Living by the Law of the Christ *** 8 In the congregation it is likewise our goal to build one another up in the spirit of love. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) So all Christians should be careful not to add to the burdens of others by taking it upon themselves to impose their own ideas in matters of personal choice. At times, some write to the Watch Tower Society asking for rulings on such matters as what view they should have of specific films, books, and even toys. Yet, the Society is not authorized to scrutinize such things and to issue judgments on them. In most cases, these are matters that each individual or family head should decide, based on his love of Bible principles. Others tend to turn the Society’s suggestions and guidelines into rules. For example, in the March 15, 1996, issue of The Watchtower, there was a fine article encouraging elders to make regular shepherding calls on congregation members. Was the purpose to establish rules? No. Although those who are able to follow the suggestions find many benefits, some elders are not in a position to do so. Similarly, the article “Questions From Readers” in the April 1, 1995, issue of The Watchtower cautioned against detracting from the dignity of the occasion of baptism by going to extremes, such as wild partying or staging victory parades. Some have carried this mature counsel to extremes, even making a rule that sending an encouraging card on this occasion would be wrong!
*** w94 7/1 p. 27 par. 13 Joyful Submission to Authority *** 13 An elder could think that in order to be theocratic, the brothers should obey all sorts of rules. Some elders have made rules out of suggestions given from time to time by “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) For instance, it was once suggested that for the sake of more readily getting to know the brothers in the congregation, it might be good not always to sit in the same seat in the Kingdom Hall. This was meant to be a practical suggestion, not a hard-and-fast rule. But some elders may be inclined to convert it into a rule and to feel that those who do not follow it are not theocratic. Yet, there may be many good reasons why a brother or a sister might prefer to sit in a certain area. If an elder does not lovingly take such things into account, is he himself being truly theocratic? To be theocratic, “let all your affairs take place with love.”—1 Corinthians 16:14.
*** km 4/92 p. 7 Question Box *** The elders should assign either the Theocratic Ministry School overseer or a qualified ministerial servant to make sure that this file is kept up-to-date month by month. While the information presented in Our Kingdom Ministry is in the form of suggestions and not rigid rules, it is still a fine source of reference material that should be a part of each congregation Kingdom Hall library. Back issues of Our Kingdom Ministry cannot be ordered from Brooklyn, however.
Responding here now. I have given specific evidence of the Watchtower going beyond what is written, with Paul providing the extent to which one should not associated with such ones. We see a specific context in 2 John. Rather than tell me you don’t see it that way, why don’t you show from the Bible that you aren’t going beyond what is written? It seems by your passive response that you personally see the point, but your ties to the organization require you to follow the company line. – Fire of Mox
Regardless of my personal feelings on the matter, I understand the need to, as you say, follow the company line. That’s what most of this thread has been about.
But as I mentioned before, 2 John says that those who do not remain in the “doctrine of Christ”. Yes, although the context mentions the “flesh” issue, the phrase “doctrine of the Christ” can not be limited to that. It could clearly involve the entire scope of Christ’s teachings. I don’t see how one could limit the “doctrine of the Christ” to just the part about him appearing in the flesh. Nor can I see how one can make the statement that he was only dealing with Docetism. Because of that, I do not see where it can be said that the GB has gone beyond the things written. It may not be properly adjusted in every aspect, but it can’t be said that they are violating what the text says.
If we do as your you say Paul contradicts John, because Paul gives a much lesser extent to which we would not associated with such ones. The doctrine of Christ, again, would be those specifically concerning him. For example, would how to treat immoral ones be such a doctrine? No, because in 2 Corinthians 2 Paul says it was the majority who followed what he said concerning the treatment of the fornicatot, meaning some didn’t. Were those who didn’t unable to be spoken to? Not at all. So different sins are treated differently, including those involving expulsion from the church. – Fire of Mox
It doesn’t have to be viewed as John contradicting Paul. It could be viewed that John simply adds to what Paul stated.
The majority in 2 Corinthians could refer to those who have necessary dealings with disfellowshipped ones. Family ties still exist with disfellowshipped ones and have no issue with what we have referred to as “necessary” dealings with such ones. It is at the families discretion, to a reasonable degree, to determine what is necessary, not the elders. Others could be those who have business dealings with disfellowshipped ones, or for that matter, believers with disfellowshipped mates, or children still within the home, or the elders themselves who will call upon disfellowshipped ones to encourage them to come back. That could constitute the minority inferred by the text.
It would be a contradiction because Paul provides the extent to avoid them. John would be moving the bar. So whom do we follow, John or Paul?
Everything else you’ve provided is conjecture, and simply doesn’t fit. If they were only having necessary dealings then they would still have been following Paul’s words, so it would have been all, not a majority. Instead, a minority did not follow what he said. Were they wrong? Yes. Sufficiently to result in their own expulsion? No. – Fire of Mox
I meant to say the “minority” in 2 Corinthians, not the majority.
I don’t believe one can say that it is a contradiction. Surely you believe that scripture can add to scripture for the sake of greater clarity.
Not everyone would have necessary dealings with a disfellowshipped one. I’m hoping you’re able to see that. Your point was a little hard to follow. The minority were not wrong because the scripture creates an allowance of certain dealings with them by saying the action of the majority was sufficient.
But the inspired standard does not change. Either you can soak to such one or you can’t. For Paul, you could. Don’t expect me to believe John suddenly changed that our if the blue. Clearly the two contexts are different.
My point is simple. There is no reason to add your conjecture into the text. Necessary business would naturally fall outside of what Paul said, so the majority would mean a minority didn’t listen to him, because those who followed what he said apart from necessary business would have been part of the majority. – Fire of Mox
I agree that they MIGHT be different, but for you to claim that one can’t be adding to the other, is to claim more than the evidence will allow.
How do you know that Paul was simply not sanctioning “necesarry business” at 2 Cor.? It is indeed interpretational. I am sure different views are possible without one or the other being in violation of the text.
So you’re saying at first it was ok to talk to them and a few years later it wasn’t?
Nothing Paul commanded precluded necessary business, so it had to be something else. – Fire of Mox
It is possible that clarification was in order and John clarified it. Prior to his clarification, there may have been too much communication taking place with disfellowshipped ones.
As far as what Paul commanded, again, clarification may have been needed and it was given. Clearly clarification was needed as to how long the wrongdoer should be shunned. It’s possible that clarification was also needed to help the congregation understand that some relationships would require normal communication, constituting a minority of ones who would not practice complete shunning. People have a tendency to take things a certain way which were not intended initially and clarification is often necessary.
There was evidently only around 5-8 months between the two letters sent to the Corinthians.
You speculate a lot rather than just sticking with the text. I’d rather follow the text and realize it says what it says and there are in fact two different contexts than offer conjecture to fit a modern day teaching. – Fire of Mox
As mentioned, your take on this might be right, but then again, it might not. The decision lies with the “gifts in men” for the time being, to which we should yield for now.
Thanks for the exchange, I’ve enjoyed it.
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My apologies for the absence. I read through these exchanges quickly but I think I caught most of the main points. I’m still very tied up being newly married, moving, etc. so I’ll need some time to decide where to go from here; whether continuing this topic or moving on to something else.
Rotherham, if you feel that there is more to discuss with Eph. 4 I’m fine with continuing but I’m also open to other suggestions.
No problem here with waiting until you have the time to continue.
By the way, Congratulations!
Thanks! I appreciate that!
There are a host of issues that I’d like to proceed with not necessarily related to Eph. 4 or our discussions. But I don’t want to cut our discussion off if you feel some important aspects of the passage have not been touched. Let me know what you think.
Of course, in subsequent posts you’re welcome to interact. I plan on tackling more in relation to 1919 and the new FDS understanding.
If you are comfortable with proceeding from issues related to Eph. 4, then that is OK with me, although I am sure there will be things to revisit. I can pretty much guarantee you that I will use it where I see it having a bearing on the FDS discussion. I actually think we have enough agreement about what it says to proceed without getting too bogged down with it again. I guess we’ll see how it goes.
I would really enjoy having a discussion about the new FDS understanding. Ivan and I were supposed to do that over on truetheology.net but it doesn’t appear that will happen, at least not for a long time anyway.
Depending on how my writing goes on the new FDS, I may take you up on doing a written debate on this topic. I know you don’t do audio debates, but I think it would be very valuable since the WT’s explanations have been extremely lacking and disappointing.
Once I’ve reviewed the new articles, maybe we can discuss some debate plans if you’re up for it.
Sure, Mike, that would be good. If you are interested, we could carry out the discussion on truetheology.net. The reason I suggest that is because the formatting here seems extremely inadequate for long posts. Everytime I try to type a long post into the response box it jumps all over the place and drives me crazy. I’ve tried a couple of different browsers and they both do the same thing. I think WordPress needs to do an update or something.
Also I am disappointed in the fact that those who challenge the views really don’t get equal billing as far as what is immediately seen by the readers. The original blog gets published for the immediate observer but any following comments are rather obscured by the way this is set up. Even on Ivan’s board he has a list show up of the most immediate responses, but then the whole debate gets buried under a heap of subsequent blogs and comments. It doesn’t seem like a good format for discussion and being able to access that discussion with ease in the future.
Those are my concerns about doing it here.
I definitely can sympathize with your concerns, which is one of the reasons why I didn’t respond to all your comments when I made that flurry of posts a while back. The comment section just doesn’t get noticed, so it’s difficult to justify spending a whole lot of our valuable time on it.
With that said, I’m completely fine with debating on your forum. However, once the debate is completely, I will want to put it in a PDF and post it in the “debate” section of my site as well as link to the forum.
As long as that’s ok with you, we can discuss the specifics down the road after I’ve made a few posts on this subject. Who knows, by then maybe the WT will have said more on the subject.
That all sounds good to me, Mike. Let me know when you would like me to set up truetheology.net for our debate/discussion.
I’m not trying to bother you or anything, just wanted to know the status of progress, if any, toward the debate we mentioned above.
I would still love to do the debate eventually but it’s currently very difficult to determine when that will happen. It’s really just a matter of balancing life with being newly married.
Thanks for checking in though. This is definitely in the back of my mind and would love to do it once the time is right. I’ll definitely let you know when that’ll be; preferably before the end of the year if I can help it.
OK, Thanks Mike. No hurry.
Interestingly, Joseph Rutherford taught, contrary to the Bible, that the great crowd can’t partake in the Lord’s supper since 1935, and in 1931 he said that the Holy Spirit was no longer our helper (paracletos). It is clearly a signal of apostasy, nevertheless, he is still being considered by the Watchtower as the appointed channel of God in 1919.
I was an active witness. So I know that if a witness shows publicly that he disagrees with some unscriptural teaching of the governing body, he will be considered as a dangerous element. Of course, you can send a letter to the governing body to ask about your doubts,…however, you must accept the official answer. You have no room to publicly disagree with it wthout being considered as a dangerous element. For instance, the majority of witnesses do not know the past of the Watchtower organization. They do not know the lunacy of the writings of Clayton Woodworth and Joseph Rutherford. So, they are being baptized with a limited knowledge. They even accept an apostate formula for the baptism, because they are baptized in the name of a “visible organization”. However, some of them get the past information of the Society, then they understand that they were baptized in a lie. However, they can’t protest without being shunned. This is the same as you buy a product where the salesman told you that it is a wonderful product. Then, you noticed that the product doesn’t work and is dangerous to your health, but now you can’t sue the store because it has a clause which says that you can’t protest. It is a double standard that witnesses can discuss with opposers but they are forbidden to do it with ex;witnesses.