[From ws5/17 p. 8 – July 10 – 16]
“No greater joy do I have than this: that I should hear that my children go on walking in the truth.” – 3 John 4
In the theme text, John is not speaking to his biological children, nor to children in general, but to Christians that he in his old age looks upon as his spiritual children. Nevertheless, whether we are speaking about children in the literal or the spiritual sense, it is our desire that all should “go on walking in the truth.”
Now, there is a difference between the impartial concept of “truth” and the way most Jehovah’s Witnesses use the term in the expression “in the truth”. JWs view that phrase as synonymous with “in the Organization”. This fact can be seen when a Witness comes upon a Bible truth that conflicts with an Organization teaching. Sadly, in the majority of cases, the Organization teaching will win out. I have actually had friends use the phrase, “I love the Organization” when defending their position.
However, there was no JW organization in John’s day, so he meant “walking in the truth” to be taken literally.
With that in mind, let us examine what JWs are teaching their children and cross reference that with what the Bible actually teaches. We’ll do this by extracting key phrases and thoughts from the article and commenting on each. The results will be quite illuminating.
Walking in the Truth
One cannot train one’s children—nor oneself for that matter—to walk in the truth if one ignores Jesus Christ. He told us “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) So any article that tries to teach us to draw closer to God, must speak of the “way” to do that, Jesus Christ. Any article that proposes to help us to “go on walking in the truth” must point to Jesus as the truth. Does this article do that? Does it even mention Jesus? Even once?
Sacrifice material things for spiritual benefits—not the other way around. Strive to stay out of debt. Seek “treasure in heaven”—Jehovah’s approval—and not riches or “the glory of men.”—Read Mark 10:21, 22; John 12:43. – par. 3
John adds an important element not revealed in this paragraph: “you will have treasure in heaven; and come be my follower.” (Mr 10:21)
Why is no attention given to this all-important detail?
As foretold, people “out of all the languages of the nations” are flocking to Jehovah’s organization. (Zech. 8:23) – par. 5
It should be noted that the word, “organization”, does not appear in the Bible, even in the NWT version. So it is hard to see how Zechariah was applying this to the modern-day organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses; especially given that these words were fulfilled in the first century when men of the nations (gentiles) were first gathered into the Christian congregation which began with the Jews.
Your children are the most important Bible students you will ever have, and their “coming to know” Jehovah means their eternal life. (John 17:3) – par. 5
Again, why is Jesus left out? John 17:3 says, “This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (Joh 17:3) Why eliminate him from the equation if we are truly interested in having our children reach out for everlasting life?
As the study progresses, Jesus continues to be left out of the picture. For example:
“If that is your situation, you can still help your children to come to know and love Jehovah.” [but not Jesus?] – par. 8
“Some children may need to learn about Jehovah [but not Jesus?] in two languages…” – par. 9
“Clearly, immigrant parents must devote more time and show more initiative in order to help their children develop a strong relationship with Jehovah [but not Jesus?].” – par. 9
There is a conflicting message in paragraph 13.
“All of this helped our children to get to know the brothers and to get to know Jehovah, not only as their God but also as their Father and Friend.” – par. 13
First, we again have an exhortation “to know Jehovah”, but nothing about knowing Jesus, yet we cannot get the mind of God so as to know him, unless we first get the mind of Jesus.
“For ‘who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?’ But we do have the mind of Christ.” (1Co 2:16)
The conflicting message comes in the last part of the sentence where children are to view God as both Friend and Father. Christians are never referred to as God’s friends, but rather as his children. Yet, the teaching of JW.org is that the other sheep are not the children of God, but only his friends. (w08 1/15 p. 25 par. 3) So why is it urging parents and children to think of Jehovah as their Father? Just as one cannot have one’s cake and eat it too, one cannot be denied adoption, yet still be a son.
“But we thank Jehovah for blessing our efforts and sacrifices. Our three children are all serving Jehovah in the full-time ministry.” – par. 14
“Adult children may come to realize that they could better serve Jehovah…” – par. 15
Jehovah is shown to be blessing our sacrifices when in fact Jesus says that he wants mercy and not sacrifice. (Mt 9:13) Additionally, the children are spoken of as serving Jehovah, but what of Jesus? We are also slaves of Jesus. (Ro 1:1) We serve the Lord because we belong to him. (Ro 1:6)
“Learning about Jehovah in my school language moved me to action.” – par. 15
Again, all Jehovah, no Jesus.
“Would moving to such a congregation help you draw closer to Jehovah?…It has enriched our lives and broadened our opportunities to help others get to know Jehovah.” (Jas. 4:8) – par. 16
Drawing closer to Jehovah; getting to know Jehovah—laudable goals, but impossible to achieve except through the one who continues to go unmentioned.
“Arranging for such help need not mean abdicating their spiritual responsibility; rather, it can be part of bringing up their children ‘in the discipline and admonition of Jehovah.’” (Eph. 6:4) – par. 17
Ephesians doesn’t say “Jehovah”. In the original manuscript text, Paul is referring to the Lord. Consider the context and decide for yourself of whom the Apostle is speaking:
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3“that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
5Bondservants,a obey your earthly mastersb with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Masterc and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
(Ephesians 6:1-9 ESV)
Inserting Jehovah here actually changes the meaning by taking Jesus out of the picture. Yet, we are told that ‘one is our teacher’, the Christ. We have one Father, Jehovah, and one leader, Jesus, and one teacher, the Christ. Yet if someone from outside the organization were to read this Watchtower study article, they could hardly be blamed for coming to the conclusion that we do not believe in Jesus at all.
The name “Jehovah” appears 29 times in this article while the name of the King, Teacher, Leader, and Savior whom Jehovah himself has appointed; the one to whom all authority has been given; and to whom every knee in heaven and on earth must bend—this one is not given a single mention. (Mt 28:18; Phil 2:9, 10)
What conclusion would our children come to? Would they feel drawn to know and love Jesus after studying this article?
A Worrisome Note
When I was at the five-day elder school, we were instructed on how to handle a situation where a known (but allegedly repentant) pedophile had moved into the congregation. We were to monitor him, but were not allowed to go to all the parents beforehand to give them a heads-up as to the potential danger. To the best of my knowledge, this policy remains in place. So paragraph 19 raises a concern.
“Of course, those whom the parents choose to help their children should always build up the young ones’ respect for their parents, speaking positively about them, not taking over their responsibility. Moreover, those who help should avoid any conduct that could be misinterpreted by some inside or outside the congregation as morally questionable. (1 Pet. 2:12) Parents must not merely turn their children over to others for spiritual training. They must monitor the help given by companions and continue to teach their children themselves.” – par. 19
Here, parents are getting the green light to turn over their children to others in the congregation for spiritual training. However, if they cannot be informed about the presence of a child abuser in their midst, then there is nothing preventing them from inadvertently handing their children off to a predator. The elders are not equipped to police such things. Why not equip the parents with the foreknowledge they need to do their jobs? The long-standing policies of the Governing Body regarding the treatment of those accused (and those found guilty) of pedophilia are what are now costing the Organization many millions of dollars in punitive damages and court costs.
While no warning is given in the article, parents are well advised to check with several elders first before handing their child off to the care (spiritual or otherwise) of a responsible adult in the congregation—even an appointed elder.