Watchtower Study Review – “Parents, Are You Helping Your Child Progress to Baptism?” May 7-13, 2018

Reviewing the Study Article, “Parents, Are You Helping Your Child Progress to Baptism?” in the March 2018 Watchtower Study Edition.

Topics of discussion: JW.org online library update (go HERE for my written article on the topic), baptism, disfellowshipping/shunning, second chance doctrine.

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11 thoughts on “Watchtower Study Review – “Parents, Are You Helping Your Child Progress to Baptism?” May 7-13, 2018

  1. Juan Rivera (@_JuanJRivera) says:

    Mike,

    I’m glad that your approach at least grants that you don’t know why they have made this decision.  Personally when I have tried to understand  and examine and investigate some of the governing body’s actions having to do with prudential judgments, policy and dicipline (I’m not talking about doctrine) in various countries and time periods. More often than not, I’ve come to admire and applaud their wisdom and prudence and zeal and vigilance on them.

    This decision is a good thing in my opinion..Anyone can claim to have the correct teaching.
    Poorly instructed Witnesses do not need false interpretations of the Bible from oppossers. They don’t need to be led into division outside of the congregation. They need correct doctrine and divinely authorized and appointed sheppards. On the internet, falsehood  and false doctrine can’t stand up to the light of truth, they only flourish when hidden, not when exposed.

    I think the internet is changing the Organization. It is hard to underestimate the influence our broadcast and  our current internet approach is having on the young.  My hope and prayer is that in this younger generation we will pull together and talk about our beliefs more openly and how to resolve what still divides us from other christians.

    Now,  this doesn’t change how you approach scripture nor does it change how we Witnesses understand the scriptures.  But it can help us all see why we approach Scripture differently.  Many people now use Bible and language software that allows them to better understand exegetical points. And greater access to our publications through our sites is introducing many people to our Congregation and allowing them to search through our history and doctrines. Most people, I presume, do not read our past history thru our site online, but perhaps encountering it through the library they will be prompted to.

    I think our reasoning here shouldn’t be a bit too quick. It is easy and uncharitable to bring suspicion and speculate publicly, without any evidence. Witnesses are not blind, but we dont presume the worst.When the Governing Body departs from or changes some prudential measure observed previously I don’t believe they are necessarily saying that they were wrong before. They can be saying that this is what they believe God is calling them to do in this present time for some particular reason.  Even if it were to turn out that they are wrong that God is calling them to these actions or that it is prudential for them to take these actions at this time. It does not mean that the way things were handled before are wrong or incompatible with the way we share the good news now. Such measures can be for a particular person, or a particular season, because of what it is needed for a particular time or circumstance.

    Love believes all things and the best about others, assuming and choosing the better of two or more possible motives or interpretations if there is something ambiguous.

    Regards,

    Juan Rivera

  2. Juan Rivera (@_JuanJRivera) says:

    Mike, let me briefly comment about the first point you mention about delaying/postponing baptism and James 1:20, 4:17, from a Witness perspective.

    Do you believe willful,voluntary doubt or incredulity is a sin?…We believe it is, because by our will we are choosing to reject or neglect what we know to be divine or divinely authorized… in this case baptism. That person is culpable because faith presupposes some degree of knowledge. That person has knowledge about the divine authority of the doctrine of baptism and the governing body as the divine teaching authority to interpret scripture(as Witnesses and that person holds). Just to emphasize, the person is doubting  what in their heart they know to be true. This is at the level of faith and its a spiritual condition and the solution is repentance. The person struggling with this problem needs help from Jehovah by praying for the gift of faith, from family and elders. Also, it can be helped by increasing their knowledge to strenghten their faith.

  3. Juan Rivera (@_JuanJRivera) says:

    If Jehovah’s Witnesses are the Congregation Christ established, then there is nowhere else to go. The Congregation is the means Jehovah and Jesus are using for people to be saved.

    The Witness who chooses to separate, rather than submit to the Governing Body of the Congregation is never justified in doing so.  Even in the  hypothetical example of the innocent Witness who is wrongly disfellowshipped, he is not justified in separating as a way of helping God prevent the abuse of power within the Congregation.

    There is no doubt that elders can make poor judgements and show insensitivity and that can contribute to a person’s decision to leave the Congregation, or to make choices that lead to disfellowshipping. But two wrongs don’t make a right. The purpose of disfellowshipping is medicinal, the intention of discipline is  to reconcile the person with the Congregation and with Jehovah and Christ (1 Timothy 1:20,1 Corinthians 5:5).Those taking the lead will have to answer to God for their sins, just as I if I were to choose to separate. Christ only established one Congregation, and I am called to suffer in and with that Congregation even in the shame of the sins of her members.

     We all have a responsibility to do what is right, even if our friends and family do not go along with us. To be a Christian is to give oneself up completely to God and Christ, just as Christ gave Himself up completely to His Father. We are not called to make any lesser sacrifice.

    As for our children, if we do not do what is right, then we are not being the proper example to our children. The best examples they can have are adults who are willing to sacrifice courageously for what they know to be true.  If we have to choose between separating from the Congregation and suffering, which path did Christ take? He chose the way of suffering.

    Its better to be disfellowshipped by the Congregation if it were to come to that, than to remain separated. Because if we would be willing to give up our life for Christ , then for the same reason we should be willing to give up our life for the Congregation which is Christ’s Body. Its not about us, or what we want, or what fullfil us, rather is  about being faithful to God and Jesus and his Congregation and sacrificing for their sake.

    The authority of the Congregation is genuine, but it remains subordinate to the authority of God. The Congregation’s judgment does not replace  nor is Jesus and Jehovah’s Final Judgment. Only God  and Jesus who perfectly knows the human heart can decide. Now, Jesus didn’t give authority to the Governing Body for no reason. (Luke 10:16) The Witness who receives discipline from the Congregation should treat it as the discipline from Christ. If the person responds to this discipline by hardening their heart against Jehovah and Jesus with full knowledge and full consent, they are making a sinful choice. He should not expect to be reconciled to Jesus and Jehovah on that Day if he refuses to be reconciled to His Congregation at the present.

  4. Juan Rivera (@_JuanJRivera) says:

    Mike, you have to examine higher education from the Witness perspective.

    Higher education is not an intrinsic evil or an evil distraction, but not every Witness is in the condition to pursue higher education, nor every Witness should. It requires the resources and guidance and equipping…  but in principle higher education  can be done if they choose to.The danger is in us, in our tendency to let other things become our primary pursuit, to let the values and priorities of our popular culture to become our values and priorities.

    Faith is public. It involves a public yes to the Good News, and that public yes means  receiving baptism and becoming part of the Congregation, the body of Christ.

    So tell me, a person who has attained to the Jehovah’s Witness faith and  knows this is Christ congregation, do you think they can have a just reason for suspending their Jehovah’s Witness faith  and baptism until they have the time or get around to dedicate their lives to God. Remember, at this point they already know the truth in their heart, and every Witness should reflect if he will find himself pressured in making this decision(suspending their faith) by pursuing higher education.

    You ask,what would baptism have to do with your career? The relevant question, is where does the importance of pursuing the kingdom ranks in relation to other pursuits. Our time is short Mike. It seems to me that the goal of evangelism is so important, that a good deal of our energy should be devoted to and focused on precisely that. This is all we are saying. There is much work to be done for the Kingdom, and many of us waste so much of our lives away with trivial meaningless things. This life and this present moment is our opportunity to serve God and His Congregation.

  5. Juan Rivera (@_JuanJRivera) says:

    If your criticism about the requirements for  baptism is that they are more complex than you find in scripture , then of course I grant your point, but complexity or simplicity is not the test for right doctrine

    The answer of Paul to the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16 on how to be saved is very simple and plain enough, believe in the lord Jesus.  If we take the verse at face value then we are saved because we believe in the Lord Jesus. The next question is, what constitutes  belief in the Lord Jesus. What did Paul really mean by those words? What is it about Jesus we are supposed to believe? Are we required to do anything else?

    Jehovah’s Witness will say that the answer is believing everything that Jesus is, did, and commands us to do. One can only know what belief really is if he reads the rest of the Bible to find out. So, right away, we see that belief requires an additional action. Hence, it is not just belief,  that saves us, but a particular kind of belief… a belief that believes everything about Jesus and what he wants us to do. Since it incorporates all knowledge about Jehovah and his dealings with man, on another level it is indeed very complex.

  6. Juan Rivera (@_JuanJRivera) says:

    Elmer,

    I don’t think the article on page 30 is directly related to Mike’s post or video in question and and I want to stay on topic and discuss the corresponding post.

    I’ll  give you my understanding here in one post but, realize that if I am misrepresenting our postion I am willing to be corrected. It is easy to unintentionally equivocate in these matters. Neither I nor Rotherham or any witness claim to be your authority nor do we claim that our interpretation is synonymous to what the governing body has declared. Only obey what they teach, not what some purport that the Congregation teaches. We so to speak only play the role of a John the baptist in preparing the way for the Congregation which is the Body of Christ to be your ultimate guide to Jehovah and Jesus.

    To follow what is stated in article and be in harmony with the Governing Body’s directives, I invite you to dialogue about the meaning of the Questions from Readers..that is, instead of debating the topic we can simply discuss it. Let’s mutually pursue the truth in understanding what they are telling us.

    Do apostates and others try to use our publications to lure Witness and truth seekers?
     
    Yes. How do we know?…. Well, if in the course of trying to dialogue the other person is showing  to be intending only to advance their own position or if they are incapable of evaluating the evidence and argumentation, then they are  showing themselves to be incapable of entering into dialogue.

    This happens every day. The governing body is not telling us Witnesses that they are dismissing the claims or positions of critics,opposers and apostates  because of their source. An argument is not refuted, nor is a position falsified merely by its source. Nor is the Governing body labeling them as opposers, critics and apostates and then dismissing them on account of this label. This article is addresing those opposers and apostates that engage in sophistry, and this is why their arguments or claims are flawed. To understand the article you have to examine it in light of the context of  what Witness have said in other documents and the arguments they have put forth. The point of the article assumes the Jehovah’s Witness already knows  the difference between sophistry and genuine dialogue when engaging people in different settings (ministry, internet, daily interactions). So this is not a stance of suspicion or distrust in the opposer or critic that they are only out to convert us.

    Until shown otherwise, we assume the best about others. As Witnesses our official position is that we should never assume malice when another explanation is available as to why our opposers, critics and even Witnesses who are weak, confused  and uncertain and don’t know whether Jehovah’s Witnesses are the Congregation Christ established are saying what they are saying.Those  persons are doing the best they can, with the information and formation available to them.

    The Governing body is quite used to the media,internet and Witness who are not well instructed in their faith who misunderstand and distort what they are saying and this is true in large part because they don’t take the time or have the patience to understand what the Governing Body is saying. A Witness who is weak in his faith and not well instructed, should not read material that makes him doubt what in his heart he knows to be true. Especially for a new JW, their approach should not  be one of attempting to criticize and correct the Congregation. Rather it should be one of humble inquiry and seeking understanding.

    Now, does this mean that that person cannot criticize the Congregation? No, criticisms can be edifying if they can help us out of error. But, not all criticisms are edifying, because they have to be  communicated in the right way, time, context, and right spirit. Otherwise these discussions can bring reproach on Jehovah’s name and decend into something ugly and spiritually harmful..That is why we avoid these type of debates. It is crucial to be careful what mode of broadcast we are entering. There is a difference between critical evaluation and being quarresolme or approaching people   in a spirit of hostility or combativeness or debate.

    I agree that an online forum is not an appropriate setting for “instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed.”

    Why?…Well, it is very easy to criticize in the third person and from a distance. It is easy to misunderstand and set up straw men of those we are criticizing. If a forum is not commited to dialogue but rather in defending its own position, then genuine exchange and evaluations and  genuine disagreements cannot take place.
     
    That person is not open or interested in genuine dialogue, and engaging persons in such a state is not fruitful and possibly even harmful. We can either remain silent or adopt a defensive stance. If a person is sinning against the truth in their words and unwilling to listen, its imprudent engaging them  and we could be participating in their sin, or at least give them further occasion to sin with their words. Its not the time to attempt to persuade them by posting publications or making a positive case for our position because they are not open to dialogue or interested in examining the evidence.

  7. michaeljfelker says:

    All-

    Regarding the April 2018 WT article on pg. 30-32, I did a full review: https://michaeljfelker.com/2018/01/22/is-the-governing-body-the-one-true-source-of-spiritual-food-april-2018-watchtower-study-review/

    I’m ok with the conversation starting here, but I would ask that it continue on that post as it would be more relevant there and more beneficial to any readers.

    Juan-

    Thank you for your earlier posts. I’m extremely behind on my comments interaction, but I will do my best to get to it.

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