In this latest video, Anthony Morris III is not really talking about obedience to Jehovah, but rather, obedience to the Governing Body. He claims that if we obey the Governing Body, Jehovah will bless us. That means that Jehovah approves of the decisions coming down from the Governing Body, because Jehovah would never bless wrongdoing.
Is this truly the case?
The theme text is John 21:17 which doesn’t mention “obedience” nor “Jehovah”, and which is never referenced in the talk. It reads:
“He said to him a third time: “Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?” Peter became grieved that he asked him the third time: “Do you have affection for me?” So he said to him: “Lord, you are aware of all things; you know that I have affection for you.” Jesus said to him: “Feed my little sheep.” (Joh 21:17)
What does this have to do with the theme? Some might suggest that the allusion is to the Faithful and Discreet slave, AKA the Governing Body. This seems to be the tack that Anthony Morris III is taking. However, there are two problems with this. First, Jesus told Simon Peter to feed his little sheep, not command them, not govern them, not rule over them. The sheep were expected to eat the food provided, but there is nothing that extends the authority of the feeding program to require those being fed to also obey their feeders. Only one is our leader, the Christ. We no longer listen to prophets, but to the Christ. (Mt 23:10; He 1:1, 2)
Second, this command was only given to Peter. At one time, we believed that there was a first-century faithful and discreet slave, so an argument used to be made for a succession of the authority-to-feed from the first-century faithful slave extending down to the present day. However, we no longer believe that. We’ve recently received “new light” that there was no first century faithful and discreet slave, so Jesus’ words to Peter cannot relate to the Governing Body if we stick with JW doctrine. The feeding Jesus commanded Simon Peter to perform had nothing to do with being the faithful and discreet slave—again, if we are to accept the new light from the Governing Body as truth.
Before we get into the talk, we should be mindful that often a speaker reveals much about his intentions by what he doesn’t say, or by what he omits. In this talk dealing with obedience, repeated reference is made to Jehovah and even more reference is made to the Governing Body; but there is no reference made to the Lord and Master and King to whom all obedience is due, Jesus Christ. No mention at all! (Heb 1:6; 5:8; Ro 16:18, 19, 26, 27; 2 Co 10:5) Jesus is the Greater Moses. (Acts 3:19-23) By repeatedly excluding the Greater Moses from discussions where he belongs, is someone fulfilling the role of the Greater Korah?
A Faulty Premise
Morris starts off from a faulty premise by referring to Acts 16:4, 5 because he believes there was a first-century governing body directing the work. If he can establish there was a governing body in the first century, it helps him support the idea of a modern-day one. However, this verse refers to the resolution of a specific dispute that originated in Jerusalem and therefore had to be resolved by Jerusalem. In other words, hardliners from the Judeo-Christian congregation caused the problem and only the Jewish congregation in Jerusalem could resolve it. This single incident does not prove the existence of a centralized governing body in the first century. If there was such a governing body, what happened to it after Jerusalem was destroyed? Why is there no evidence for it in the latter part of the first century nor throughout the second and third century? (See A First Century Governing Body – Examining the Scriptural Basis)
The directive coming from the apostles and older men of Jerusalem was arrived at by holy spirit. (Acts 15:28) Thus, it was from God. However, our Governing Body admits that they are fallible and that they can (and have) made mistakes.[i] History proves that they have erred on numerous occasions in their direction. Can we honestly say that these mistakes came about because Jehovah was guiding them? If not, then why should we obey them unconditionally expecting Jehovah to bless us for it, unless there were some way to know that we were obeying God and not men?
We’re not guilty of dogma!
Morris then refers to the word for “decrees” in Acts 16:4 which in Greek is dogmata. He states that we don’t want to say that the faithful slave is guilty of dogma. He then quotes from some unnamed dictionaries saying:
“If you refer to a belief or a system of beliefs as a dogma, you disapprove of it because people are expected to accept that it is true without questioning it. A dogmatic view is obviously undesirable, and one other dictionary says, ‘If you say someone is dogmatic, you are critical of them because they are convinced they are right and refuse to consider that other opinions might also be justified.’ Well, I don’t think we would want to apply this to decisions that come out from the faithful slave in our time.
Fascinating! He provides us with an accurate definition of what it means to be dogmatic, yet claims that this definition does not describe the actions of the Governing Body as dogmatic. If this is true, then we are safe to conclude that the Governing Body does not expect us to accept its beliefs without question. Moreover, the Governing Body is not convinced it is right and does not refuse to consider that other opinions might be justified.
Is this the Governing Body you’ve come to know? Here is the official position stated in the publications as well as from the convention and assembly platform:
To “think in agreement,” we cannot harbor ideas contrary to God’s Word or our publications (CA-tk13-E No. 8 1/12)
We could still be testing Jehovah in our heart by secretly doubting the organization’s position on higher education. (Avoid Testing God in Your Heart, 2012 District Convention part, Friday afternoon sessions)
“Persons who make themselves ‘not of our sort’ by deliberately rejecting the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses should appropriately be viewed and treated as are those who have been disfellowshipped for wrongdoing.” (w81 9/15 p. 23)
If you believe that Anthony Morris III is telling the truth, if you believe he is not lying in this video, why not put it to the test. Go to your next meeting and tell the elders that you don’t believe in 1914, or that you don’t want to report your time anymore. A person who is not dogmatic will allow you to have your own opinions. A person who is not dogmatic will not punish you for having your own opinions or for doing things your own way. A person who is not dogmatic will not threaten you with a life-altering punishment like shunning if you choose to disagree with him. Go ahead. Try it. Make my day.
Now we have apostates and opposers who would like God’s people to think that the faithful slave is dogmatic and they expect you to accept everything that comes out from headquarters as if it’s dogma, arbitrarily decided. Well, this does not apply and that’s why it’s properly translated decrees, and in our day, like brother Komers prayed and often the brothers do…about decisions that are being made not just by the Governing Body but branch committees…ah…this is a theocratic arrangement…Jehovah is blessing the faithful slave.
At this point, he is starting to lose his way. He has no valid defense other then to make a pile of unfounded assertions and then try to discredit the opposition. The organization sure is talking about apostates a lot these days, isn’t it? It seems a talk hardly goes by where the epithet isn’t bandied about. And it’s such a convenient label. It’s like calling somebody a Nazi.
“You don’t need to listen to them. They’re all apostates. We hate apostates, don’t we? They’re like Nazis. Nasty little people; mentally diseased; full of hate and venom.”
(You many notice that Morris mentions branch committees several times in his talk. One wonders if there is discontent at the upper echelons of the Organization.)
Having dogmatically stated his baseless claim that the Governing Body is not dogmatic, Morris says:
“And the thing to keep in mind, we’ve made this point, but keep your place here in Acts 16, but look again in Matthew 24—and we’ve made this point in the past—on verse 45—when the question was raised and now it’s been answered in our day—Acts 24:45: [he meant Matthew] ‘Who really is the faithful and discreet slave—singular, see—whom his master appointed over his domestics to give them their food at the proper time?’ So it’s obvious that this slave is a composite slave.”
Hold on! He’s just stated that “slave” is in the singular and now he jumps to the conclusion that this obviously refers to a composite slave. No proof offered, but we are obviously expected to accept this as truth. Hmm, but the Governing Body is not dogmatic. He continues:
“The decisions that are made by the faithful slave today are made collectively. No one is a making these decisions. These decisions—if you want to call them a decree—are made collectively. So when that direction comes out to branch committee members or when it comes out to the congregations, if you want Jehovah’s blessing on you as an individual or a family, certainly as an elder or a congregation, it’d be best to ask Jehovah to help you understand it, but obey the decision.”
If you don’t get it, ask Jehovah to help you understand? And how exactly does Jehovah “help you understand”? He doesn’t talk to you, does he? No voices in the night? No, Jehovah helps us by giving us his holy spirit and opening up Scripture to us. (John 16:12, 13) So if he does that and we see that some direction is wrong, then what? According to Morris, we’re supposed to obey the men of the Governing Body in any case. But make no mistake: They are not dogmatic!
He ends his talk with these words:
“See, that’s the same thing’s going to happen today happened in the first century. Notice in verse 4 and 5 of Acts 16—I asked you to keep your place there—so when circuit overseers visit and they’ve brought information from the faithful slave, or when branch committee members meet to discuss things and go by the guidelines, well, what’s the result? According to verse five, “Then”…see, when these are obeyed…‘then indeed you’re going to be made firm in the faith.’ Congregations will increase. Branch territories will increase day by day. Why? Because as we mentioned at the beginning, Jehovah blesses obedience. This is a theocracy, ruled by God; not a collection of man-made decisions. This is governed from heaven.”
Oops! Morris has actually given us the proof we need to know that Jehovah isn’t blessing the obedience of the flock to the direction of the Governing Body. According to Acts 16:4, 5, the Organization should be increasing, but it is declining. Congregations are not increasing. Numbers are shrinking. Halls are being sold. Branch territories are reporting negative numbers across the developed world. Morris has unwittingly proven that obedience to men rather than God does not result in His blessing. (Ps 146:3)
[i] w17 February p. 26 par. 12 Who Is Leading God’s People Today? “The Governing Body is neither inspired nor infallible. Therefore, it can err in doctrinal matters or in organizational direction.”