Saturday, 19 June 2010

"The Governing Body Do Not Elevate Themselves"

Mike Felker has been challenged on his blog via this post. In particular Jehovah's Witness apologist Henrik has stated the following in defence of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses;
We are being Reborn when we are taking stand for Jehovah and getting baptised.
The GB [note: Governing Body] has NOT elevated themselves to and high authority, they has the same value as everyone else. For example: If they of some reason should tell us all to gather for a mass suicide, NO ONE with good faith would show up. The Bible clearly says that we have to study and test all that we are being tought with his own word THE BIBLE. And if we canot find evidence to do such a thing we cant do it.

Henrik, you say the Governing Body have not elevated themselves, yet they have written the following in the Study Edition of the Sept 2010 Watchtower (available from here (link to site));
"In this time of the end, Christ has committed “all his belongings”—all the earthly interests of the Kingdom to his “faithful and discreet slave” and its representative Governing Body, a group of anointed Christian men. (Matt. 24:45-47) The anointed and their other sheep companions recognize that by following the lead of the modern-day Governing Body, they are in fact following their Leader, Christ." [emphasis added]
So, you as a Jehovah's Witness are following the Governing Body who are, by proxy, Jesus Christ. That's what the paragraph is saying. In black and white.

Isn't that elevating themselves above the rest of the Witnesses, likening themselves to Jesus Christ?

Here's another;
"Similarly today, a Governing Body composed of spirit-anointed Christians contributes to the unity of the worldwide congregation. The Governing Body publishes spiritually encouraging literature in many languages. This spiritual food is based on God’s Word. Thus, what is taught is not from men but from Jehovah.—Isa. 54:1" [emphasis added]
What do we make of this one? Whenever a new Watchtower magazine comes out, you've to view what the Governing Body have written in at as coming from the mouth of God himself. Mistakes and all. Isn't that elevating themselves?

And lastly, from the same magazine;
"We cannot hope to acquire a good relationship with Jehovah if we ignore those whom Jesus has appointed to care for his belongings. Without the assistance of “the faithful and discreet slave,” we would neither understand the full import of what we read in God’s Word nor know how to apply it. (Matt. 24:45-47)" [emphasis added]
So, when Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach us and lead us into all truth, actually Jehovah's Witnesses need the "faithful and discreet slave", who we know are represented by the Governing Body. And when the Bible tells us that we're reconciled to God through Christ alone, the Governing Body have decided that, actually, you need them too.

Look how important the Governing Body are making themselves; without them you can't understand the Bible. Without them you can't have a relationship with God.

Isn't that elevating themselves?

With respect and compassion, I'd ask you to reconsider your statement that the Governing Body do not elevate themselves. In the above quotes we've seen them putting themselves on the same level as;
- the Father in heaven
- the Son, Jesus Christ
- the Holy Spirit

Henrik, you say you've to study and test what you're being taught. I'd urge to do follow your own advice and get back to me on these quotes; do they stand up to Biblical scrutiny or are the Governing Body putting themselves in the place of God?

Friday, 18 June 2010

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses - What Happened to the Biblical Truths?

Jehovah's Witnesses are very proud of their heritage, as manifested in such publications as the "Proclaimers" book wherein the history of the Watch Tower Society is presented. The Governing Body also publishes articles in the Watchtower magazine that promote the idea that the Witnesses have been fed "spiritual food" of the highest quality, "food" that contains only Biblical "truths". For example, the study Edition of the Watchtower magazine (not distributed to the public via the door-to-door work), September 15th 2010, page 26, paragraph 4 states (available as a PDF download);
Christ found these same faithful anointed Christians doing their utmost to provide timely spiritual food for the household of faith. From 1879 onward, through thick and thin, they had been publishing Biblical truths about God’s Kingdom in the pages of this magazine.
So, the claim is that from 1879 onwards, the "faithful and discreet slave" (at that time believed to be Charles Russell, who composed his "Divine Plan of the Ages" by measuring the Great Pyramid of Giza), via Watch Tower Society, published Biblical truths in the Watchtower magazine (at that time known as "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence).

These "Biblical truths", here described as "timely spiritual food" included such teachings as;

  • Christ had returned invisibly in 1874
  • the recently revised teaching that the rapture would take place in 1878 
  • Armageddon would start in 1914
However, were these teachings
  1. Biblical
  2. true
The answer, of course, is no. It's puzzling, then, that the Governing Body is choosing to describe them as "Biblical truths" and "timely spiritual food" when it should be obvious to even the most loyal-to-the-Watchtower Jehovah's Witness that they aren't. It's also curious that these "timely", "Biblical truths", as published by the Watch Tower Society, are no longer available; can you find these publications and Watchtower articles from the 1800s in your Kingdom Hall library? What about on the Watch Tower CD-Rom Library? Again, the answer is no; these teachings are no longer current*.

So, my question for Jehovah's Witnesses is this; if the food in 1879 was spiritual, timely and Biblical, why have the Governing Body so significantly changed the menu?

*Jehovah's Witnesses are trained to view such wholesale rejections of previous "timely" "Biblical truths" as the "light getting brighter". However, if the "timely" "Biblical truths" published by the Watch Tower Society during the late 1800s were of such a high quality that Jesus Christ appointed the corporation as his "faithful and discreet slave", why would they need to be abandoned at a later date? Didn't Jesus know that the "timely" "Biblical truths" published in the Watchtower magazine in the late 1800s were neither timely nor true?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Jehovah's Witnesses; Wrong, But is it Their Fault?

StandFirm continues in his efforts to defend the Watch Tower Society, Governing Body and world-wide congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, on this occasion, against the accusation that Jehovah's Witnesses are not approved by God - or in God's favour - due to their "making mistakes" "in the past".
From his blog;

Was Nathan a False Prophet?

Israelite King David wanted to build a house (temple) for the ark of the covenant. 1 Chronicles 17:1, 2 read:

"After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent."

Nathan replied to David, "Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.""

But then, Nathan changes his message in verses 3 and 4:

"That night the word of God came to Nathan, saying:

"Go and tell my servant David, 'This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in.""

Nathan was a true prophet of God and yet, he gave David the wrong information. He even credited God! Did he therefore become a false prophet and receive God's great displeasure? No. Rather, he continued to serve as God's prophet. Why? Because he allowed God to correct him.

If Nathan, as an inspired prophet, was able to give David false information, then how much more so would it be possible for the modern-day congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses be able to make mistakes and yet be corrected and continue in God's favor! Surely, then, mistakes prove nothing about spirit-direction or the lack thereof. If Nathan can make mistakes and have God's spirit then so can Jehovah's Witnesses.
What in Nathan's statement was wrong?

  • were David's plans dishonourable and therefore obviously not part of YHWH's plans?
  • was YHWH with David?

David makes known to Nathan that he plans to build a house for YHWH's presence. Nathan replies, "sounds good, God is with you." Was it wrong for Nathan to encourage David's honourable goal of providing the Ark of the Covenant with a temple? Nathan's role as prophet, or spokesman for YHWH, would include offering words of encouragement to the King. And this is what he did.

Was it wrong for Nathan to say "God is with you"? Is it not true that David was anointed by YHWH and carried the Lord's favour?

So what, precisely did Nathan say that was "wrong information" that could be considered making him a "false prophet"?

If Nathan, as an inspired prophet, was able to give David false information, then how much more so would it be possible for the modern-day congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses be able to make mistakes and yet be corrected and continue in God's favor!
But he didn't give David false information. He merely encouraged David to act on his plans as God was with him. YHWH correct Nathan by saying, "actually, David isn't the one to build me a temple".

I assume you're tactily admitting that Jehovah's Witnesses are in no way, shape or form inspired or prophets? If so, good. Sadly, though, the Watch Tower Society publishing content which states, officially, that Jehovah's Witnesses are prophets[1]!

Also, it isn't the "modern-day congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses" who make - and publish via hundreds of thousands of pieces of literature distributed throughout the entire planet - mistakes, but rather the men who make up the Governing Body, who claim to represent the allegorical group referred to as "the faithful and discreet slave" class [2]. Therefore, the spotlight should be placed on these men alone, rather than 7 million Jehovah's Witnesses who merely obediently follow and submit to these mistakes.

You're also making the assumption - and working from the presupposition - that the Governing Body and Jehovah's Witnesses are in "God's favour" in order for them to "continue in" it. I've previously asked you for proof that the Watch Tower Society/Governing Body/Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses or whatever semantic term you wish to use were chosen at any point in history by Jesus Christ to be the only ones on the planet operating within "God's favour". You have supplied no such evidence to back up your assumption and presupposition.

Therefore your statement "how much more so would it be possible for the modern-day congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses be able to make mistakes and yet be corrected and continue in God's favour" is a false assumption.
Surely, then, mistakes prove nothing about spirit-direction or the lack thereof. If Nathan can make mistakes and have God's spirit then so can Jehovah's Witnesses.
I remain to be convinced that Nathan's "mistake" of saying "good idea, God is with you" to David's plans to build a temple is on the same level as the Governing Body stating, in God's name, that organ transplants are tantamount to cannibalism[3], that some parts of blood are forbidden for medical use, that the generation alive at 1914 would be alive when Armageddon broke out[4], that millions living in the 1920s would never die[5], that the "preaching work" would be completed by the end of the 20th century[6] and so on.

I have to conclude, StandFirm, that your apologetic "juices" are running dry if this is the argumentation you're relying on to "prove" that the Governing Body via the Watch Tower Society are not false prophets.

Also, when are you going to reply to the  questions on my blog?

[1]"So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come?
These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? ... This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian witnesses. ... Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a "prophet" of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record.… Thus this group of anointed followers of Jesus Christ, doing a work in Christendom paralleling Ezekiel's work among the Jews, were manifestly the modern-day Ezekiel, the "prophet" commissioned by Jehovah to declare the good news of God's Messianic kingdom and to give warning to Christendom." Watchtower 1972 Apr. 1 p.197-199 'They Shall Know that a Prophet Was Among Them'

[2]"Today, Jehovah provides instruction by means of "the faithful steward." Pay Attention to Yourself and to All The Flock p.13

[3]"Sustaining one's life by means of the body or part of the body of another human...would be cannibalism, a practice abhorrent to all civilized people… It is not our place to decide whether such operations are advisable from a scientific or medical standpoint… Christians who have been enlightened by God's Word do not need to make these decisions based simply on the basis of personal whim or emotion. They can consider the divine principles and use these in making personal decisions as they look to God for direction, trusting him and putting their confidence in the future that he has in store for those who love him" Watchtower 1967 November 15 pp.702-704

[4]"The countdown that has proceeded for some six millenniums now nears its zero hour. So close is it that people who were alive in 1914, and who are now well along in years, will not all pass off the scene before the thrilling events marking the vindication of Jehovah's sovereignty come to pass"… The early members of this group are now in their 60's or 70's or older. Jehovah did not allow the ingathering of this group to begin too soon. The "great crowd," including many of the earliest members thereof, will survive into the "new earth." Survival into a New Earth (1984) p.184-185

[5]"What an exciting message they proclaimed--"Millions now living will never die!" Brother Rutherford had given a discourse on this subject in 1918. It was also the title of a 128-page booklet published in 1920. From 1920 through 1925, that same subject was featured again and again around the world in public meetings in all areas where speakers were available and in upwards of 30 languages." Jehovah's Witnesses - Proclaimers of God's Kingdom p.425

[6] Quote found in the January 1st 1989 Watchtower, page 12 paragraph 8. However, this quote was changed by the time the 1989 Watchtower bound volume was released. Why did the Governing Body decide to change what they'd written in the magazine version of the Watchtower article, when it was "supplied by Jehovah"? See images below;

The Watchtower and it's Duplicity Regarding the Abuse of Children

From the May 21, 2010 Watchtower magazine ... "Among "the disgusting things" that false religion bears responsibility for ... acts of pedophilia and other forms of sexual immorality committed by clergymen and tolerated by the church authorities."

What's remarkable about this statement in the Watchtower magazine is the fact that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society paid out roughly $36 million an undisclosed amount in damages to victims of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of "appointed men" within the corporation. Oh, and the payouts came with a gagging order, so that the alleged victims are not allowed to talk about what happened to them. It also means the WTBTS did not feel confident enough to go into an open court room to have the cases heard and tried. Why not, if they were completely innocent and "above board" in the way they handle cases of alleged sexual abuse*?

Yet very few adherents of the WTBTS, Jehovah's Witnesses, know about these cases and the damages which were paid for by contributions made by Jehovah's Witnesses to the "World Wide Work".

Shocking double-tongued deceit.

* the WTBTS had a published standard for how cases of alleged sexual abuse should be handled, which included allegations of abuse against "appointed men" within the corporation such as "elders", "ministerial servant", "Circuit Overseers", etc. This standard had to be adhered to by all congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses. Firstly, the accuser was asked if there were any witnesses to the sexual molestation. If there were, then a judicial proceedings could be initiated against the accused**. If not, the accuser would find no judicial justice. The Watchtower magazine warned accusers not to speak out against their alleged abuser, otherwise they would be guilty of "slander", an "offense" itself dealt with judicially. There are anecdotal (i.e. not published in any Watch Tower publication) cases of accusers being disfellowshipped for "slander" for refusing to be silent about their alleged abuse.

The WTBTS did not always have an official policy require the elders in congregations where molestation had been alleged to alert the authorities. Nowadays the policy is that the elders should alert the authorities, if it is a requirement of the State or country where they live.

The WTBTS officially published guidelines in the Watchtower magazine stating that a person guilty of child molestation would not ever be allowed to hold a position of authority within the congregation again. However, private letters sent to each congregation's "body of elders" states something different, namely that the person - if a number of years had passed since their molestation of the child/children - may be considered for appointment to a position of authority, but that the elders should contact the local "Branch office" of the corporation for further instructions.

In other words, some men who serve as  as "elders", "ministerial servant", "Circuit Overseers", etc, may in fact be convicted pedophiles. Of course, the congregations where they serve will not be informed of their past.

Anecdotal evidence (i.e. not published in any Watch Tower publication) cites examples of "elders" being accused of child molestation, but due to the lack of multiple witnesses to the abuse, being allowed to move to a different congregation, where they are again accused of molestation, again without multiple witnesses. They would then be allowed to move to another congregation and repeat the cycle. 

"Appointed men" who move from one congregation to another have a letter sent separately from their old congregation to their new by means of introduction and to recommend their re-appointment. The WTBTS has published written instructions to "bodies of elders" whereby no mention of the alleged sexual abuse of children is to be mention in the letters of introduction. Therefore, it's possible for an "appointed man" to move from congregation to congregation abusing children and as long as there are no witnesses to the abuse, he can remain in a position of trust, authority and respect.

If anyone wishes to see scans of these letters sent to the "bodies of elders" re. how to handle alleged child abuse, please let me know.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Can Apostates Be Trusted

StandFirm has once again argued himself into a corner in his efforts to defend the Watch Tower Society and it's adherents, Jehovah's Witnesses.

His latest post states;

Apostates Are Not to Be Trusted

The Internet abounds with apostates on discussion forums talking about their congregation, what Bethel was like, their elders, or any of their experiences while Jehovah's Witnesses. These stories are without fail negative and discouraging. Are these stories accurate? Notice what Bryan Ronald Wilson, Ph.D. at the University of Oxford, says about apostates from the so-called new religious movements:

"Neither the objective sociological researcher nor the court of law can readily regard the apostate as a creditable or reliable source of evidence. He must always be seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to both his previous religious commitment and affiliations, the suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim but subsequently to have become a redeemed crusader. As various instances have indicated, he is likely to be suggestible and ready to enlarge or embellish his grievances to satisfy that species of journalist whose interest is more in sensational copy than in a objective statement of the truth." [1]
What StandFirm is doing is called "poisoning the well", and it's a often-used tactic of the Watch Tower Society. Here's how it works;

A poisoned-well "argument" has the following form:
1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A (the target) is presented by another. ("Before you listen to my opponent, may I remind you that he has been in jail.")
2. Any claims person A then makes will be regarded as false, or taken less seriously.

A subcategory of this form is the application of an unfavorable attribute to any future opponents, in an attempt to discourage debate. ("That's my stance on funding the public education system, and anyone who disagrees with me hates children.") Any person who steps forward to dispute the claim will then apply the tag to him/herself in the process.

A poisoned-well "argument" can also be in this form:
1. Unfavorable definitions (be it true or false) which prevent disagreement (or enforce affirmative position)
2. Any claims without first agreeing with above definitions are automatically dismissed.

This logical fallacy, however, can be used against the very people StandFirm is endeavouring to defend on his blog. For example;

- a Muslim becomes a Christian, making him an apostate of Islam; does this mean that everything he says about Islam is to be viewed with suspicion? Can his views be trusted?
- a Roman Catholic becomes a Jehovah's Witnesses, making him an apostate of Catholicism; should Catholics dismiss what he has to say as being necessarily untrustworthy?

Alternatively, what if a Jehovah's Witness through honest study and research of God's Word concludes that there is no way to know when Christ will return, let alone set the year of 1914 as the commencement of the Lord's parousia and heeds the advice of the June 2009 Awake! magazine article "Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?" and changes his religion, becoming a Christian?

Are all of his opinions of the teachings of the Watch Tower Society to be viewed as unreliable?

Once again, StandFirm, you've argued yourself into a corner.  As a large percentage of Jehovah's Witnesses evangelists are, by definition, apostates of the religion of their birth (whether Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, etc), how can you expect them to be taken seriously when they proselytise to those who still hold those religious beliefs?

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Question for Jehovah's Witnesses: Do You Own a Dictionary?

generation |ˌjenəˈrā sh ən|
1 all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively : one of his generation's finest songwriters.
• the average period, generally considered to be about thirty years, during which children are born and grow up, become adults, and begin to have children of their own.
• a set of members of a family regarded as a single step or stage in descent : [as adj., in combination ] a third-generation Canadian.
• a single stage in the development of a type of product : a new generation of rear-engined sports cars
I have a dictionary built into my computer. Technology is wonderful. But even for those who don't have this function, dictionaries are available in every library and school. When the word "generation" is consulted in the dictionary, it renders several definitions such as those outlined above. It's made fairly clear to us that the word "generation" in the English language means, when applied to a group of people,  all of the people born and living at about the same time.

In simple terms, a generation of people would be all of those born around the years 1970-1975, for example. They become a generation, and as they grow up and get married and have children of their own, a new generation is born.

Consider, however, the definition the Governing Body give to the word "generation" in the April 15th 2010 Watchtower magazine;
How, then, are we to
understand Jesus’ words about “this generation”?
He evidently meant that the lives of the anointed
who were on hand when the sign began to become
evident in 1914 would overlap with the lives of other
anointed ones who would see the start of the great
 Perhaps it's not the Governing Body that's confused about the definition of "generation", but rather Jesus himself. After all, in this paragraph, the Governing Body tells readers of the Watchtower that Jesus "evidently meant" something completely different to how "generation" is actually defined and understood. In this case, when Jesus said "generation" he "evidently meant" groups of people living several decades apart who lives "overlap".

One has to wonder how gullible Jehovah's Witnesses are that they will willingly consume this "spiritual food" when it flies so fast and loose with the truth.

My question for Jehovah's Witnesses is this; do you own a dictionary?