[From ws3/18 p. 8 – May 07 – May 13]
“Why are you delaying? Rise, get baptized.” Acts 22:16
[Mentions of Jehovah:18, Jesus:4]
In earlier reviews, we recently dealt with this troubling aspect of current organization teaching in which children of current witnesses are pushed to get baptized at earlier and earlier ages. (Please see Young Ones – Keep Working Out Your Own Salvation and Parents, Help Your Children Become Wise for Salvation.)
The theme sounds innocent enough. Any true Christian would want to help their children to progress in their understanding of the Bible and faith in Jesus Christ to the point that, when they are an adult, they have the desire to serve God and Christ. However, that is not the aim of this article. Its aim is to get children baptized as soon as possible. This builds better year-end statistics and ties the young ones to the organization, since leaving after baptism is automatic shunning. The first paragraph makes this clear when it says “Today, Christian parents have a similar interest in helping their children make wise decisions” after referring to the experience recounted of the decision of a child to get baptized in 1934.
As previously discussed with scriptural proof, in the first century there is no record of any children being baptized. It was mature adults (by definition, youths are immature) who made the decision.
Just to make sure parents get the point the organization wants to make, the first paragraph then brings in James 4:17 as the proof for its claim that “postponing baptism or delaying it needlessly could invite spiritual problems.” This scripture is taken out of context (as are so many). It says “Therefore, if one knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” What had James been talking about in the previous verses? Baptism? No.
- Fights among them;
- Cravings for sensual pleasure;
- Coveting what others had;
- Murdering others (perhaps not literally, but likely character assassination);
- Praying for things, but not receiving it because they were asking for a wrong purpose;
- Being haughty instead of humble;
- Ignoring God’s will in their day-to-day plans;
- Pride in self-assuming brags.
He was speaking to baptized Christians who knew what was right, and how to do what was right, but they were not doing it, they were doing the opposite. Hence it was a sin for them.
James was not speaking to immature youths about baptism, the very large majority of whom even as late as 18 years of age don’t know what job they want to do in life. They also rarely know what kind of personality in a marriage mate they would like. Both of these are life affecting decisions, yet parents are told to ”be sure that before their children get baptized, they are ready to shoulder the responsibility of Christian discipleship.” If children cannot choose a marriage mate and a career wisely, how can they choose to shoulder the responsibility of Christian discipleship at such a young age? If they don’t know what is right, let alone being capable of doing what is right because “foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy”, how can they “know how to do what is right”? (Proverbs 22:15).
Romans 7:21-25 gives us food for thought. If an adult like the Apostle Paul struggled to do what is right even when he wanted to, how can a youth who doesn’t know what is right, and sometimes doesn’t want to do right (being foolish) be ready for baptism?
The second paragraph continues in this theme attempting to set the standard for the age one should get baptized by mentioning the circuit overseers were concerned because there were some in their late teens and early twenties who had grown up in the organization but were not yet baptized. In stating this, additional pressure is put on parents and young ones in the organization so that they will get baptized before they reach their late teens. All this is based on the personal opinions of some circuit overseers.
The rest of the article is then used to attempt to destroy any reservations parents may have in helping (pushing) their child to get baptized.
Statements such as the following are made:
|Heading: Is my child old enough?||No child is old enough until they are an adult as per previous baptism article reviews.|
|“Granted, an infant would not qualify for baptism.”||An infant is a child up to 1 or 2 years old depending on the culture. All this statement does is make the minimum age for baptism as say 2 years old.|
|“However, the Bible shows that even relatively young children can grasp and appreciate Bible truths.”||So this statement will likely be taken by witness parents as open season for baptism on children ages 2 to 12 (13 to 19 = teenager). Why do we say this? Because there are plenty of super-righteous parents who will want to try and get kudos by having their child as the youngest baptized in the congregation, the circuit, etc., as they blindly follow every word the Governing Body publishes instead of using common sense.
Even if some young children can grasp and appreciate certain Bible truths, that hardly means they are capable of putting faith in Jehovah and Jesus Christ so that they can get baptized.
|“Timothy was a disciple who made the truth his own at a young age.”||How does one define young age? In the context in which it is used it could mean anything between Age 2 and Age 12. This is total conjecture and totally unsupported or even suggested by scripture. (Also see next comment below.)|
|“By the time he was in his late teens or early 20’s, Timothy was a Christian disciple who could be considered for special privileges in the congregation. Acts 16:1-3.”||This is likely accurate. Roman men (at least the rich) tended to be considered ‘men’, or ‘adults’ (for different tasks) at age 17 for the Army, and early 20’s for other things. According to Acts 16:1-3 Timothy was a ‘man’ when Paul first got to know him, not a teenager or a child.|
|“Some have a good measure of mental and emotional maturity at a young age and express a desire to get baptized”||Here I would ask our readers, in your experience has any youngster ever expressed a desire to get baptized unprompted by parents or elders? (1 Corinthians 13:11) Do Acts 2:37-41, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 8:35-38, Acts 9:17-20, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:27-33, Acts 18:7-8, Acts 19:1-5 give any suggestion that any other than adults got baptized? Either someone is mature or immature. If immature in any amount then how can they take a mature decision? It is twisting the English language to say otherwise.|
|Heading: Does my Child have adequate Knowledge?||Last week’s Watchtower Study article talked about accurate knowledge, not adequate knowledge, being a pre-requisite for baptism. Which one is it?|
|“Does my child have sufficient knowledge to make a dedication to God and get baptized?”||The question should be ‘Does my child have sufficient knowledge and understanding to get baptized? For example, a police detective may have all the clues to solve a crime, but unless he understands how to link the clues and understands how it occurred and how to prove who committed the crime, he can do very little with the information.|
|Heading: Is my child being educated for success?||The real question should be: Is my child being educated properly for its future needs, both spiritually and secularly? Success both spiritually and secularly depends on many things, and many times is affected by events out of our control.|
|“Some parents have concluded that it would be best for their son or daughter to delay baptism in order first to obtain some advanced education and become secure in a career. Such reasoning may be well-intentioned, but will it help their child to achieve genuine success? More important, is it in harmony with the Scriptures? What course does Jehovah’s Word encourage?—Read Ecclesiastes 12:1”||Here again we have interference by others, in this case parents restraining their nearly adult children. The problem is that the focus is on the result rather than the underlying cause of the problem.
As the organization has laid heavy unscriptural burdens on those baptised in the organization so parents have sought to minimise or avoid them for their offspring. We highlighted some of the unnecessary burdens placed on one’s desiring to get baptized last week. The burden only increases after baptism. Yet Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 that his yoke was kindly (didn’t chafe) and his load was light. Is it a heavy burden working on and displaying Christian qualities of the spirit? It may take some hard work but we get much joy with the result. Contrast that with the treadmill of life under the organization.
Finally what does serving God in your youth have to do with advanced education and a career? The writer King Solomon had a career and advanced education and served God in his youth. His problem came later in life.
|“For a parent to place high priority on secular pursuits could confuse a child and jeopardize his best interests.”||Again this sounds reasonable, but what it should say is ‘For a parent to place a higher priority on secular pursuits rather than developing spiritual qualities could confuse a child and jeopardise his best interests, remembering Jesus words at Matthew 5:3.|
|Heading: What if my child were to sin?||This is guaranteed as we are all imperfect. However, what they really mean is ‘What if my child were to commit serious sin?’|
|“Explaining her reasons for discouraging her daughter from getting baptized, one Christian mother stated, “I am ashamed to say that the major reason was the disfellowshipping arrangement.”||She shouldn’t be ashamed. The disfellowshipping arrangement as practiced by the organization is unscriptural, unchristian and against basic human rights as acknowledged by ‘worldly governments’. As for the current state of practice in particular with regarding for strict shunning this did not start until 1952. Up till then there were strongly worded articles against other religions who practiced shunning and the like.|
|“Accountability to Jehovah is not founded on the act of getting baptized. Rather, a child is accountable to God when the child knows what is right and what is wrong in Jehovah’s eyes. (Read James 4:17.)”||We are all accountable for our actions before God and Christ regardless of whether we are baptized or not. As in the first paragraph discussed above, James 4:17 is appealed to as backing for the inference that a child is accountable once it knows what is right and wrong in Jehovah’s eyes.|
|Use of James 4:17||The Watchtower article writer either has a misunderstanding of the meaning of “knows” used here (or is deliberately misusing “knows”). The Greek word for “knows” means “to know how, to be skilled in” (Thayers Lexicon II, 2c) This word therefore carries the thought of having had much practice and being an expert. Children can rarely be called skilled at anything. Calling children skilled at knowing and doing what is right is amusing.|
|Heading: Others can help||To help we need to be setting the right example ourselves in teaching and practicing truth.|
|“Paragraph 14 cites an experience of Bro Russell taking 15 minutes to talk to a youngster about spiritual goals.”||Why use an example of Bro Russell? According to current teachings by the organization, Bro Russell did not know how to do what is right. He taught all would go to heaven, he celebrated Christmas and Easter, used the Cross, Pyramids, Ancient Egyptian symbol of the winged sun disk on the publications, taught 1874 as the beginning of Jesus invisible presence, and so forth. Or could it be because the present Governing Body have never done this?|
|Heading: Help your child to Baptism||To baptize in the name of whom? Jehovah and the organization or as Matthew 28:19 says “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the holy spirit”?|
|“After all, it is each individual’s dedication, baptism, and faithful service to God that will bring him in line for being marked for salvation during the coming great tribulation.—Matt. 24:13”||As discussed before, dedication is not a scriptural requirement. Baptism in itself means nothing unless accompanied by faith in God, Jesus and his ransom sacrifice. Faithful service can be done without one’s heart being in it. Also the faithful service being referred to is the organizations definition which is at variance with the scriptural definition. The scripture cited Matthew 24:13 referred to the tribulation experienced in the 1st Century with the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem. There is no scriptural basis for an anti-typical fulfilment.|
|“From the day of their child’s birth, parents should have the intent to make a disciple, assisting their child to become a dedicated, baptized servant of Jehovah”||Disciples of whom? In John 13:35 amongst other scriptures Jesus says “By this all will know that you are my disciples …”. (Acts 9:1, Acts 11:26) As well as being disciples of Christ we are also slaves (servants) of Christ, yet as usual he is barely mentioned. (see heading)|
|“May you parents experience the joy and satisfaction that result from seeing your children become dedicated, baptized servant of Jehovah”||For the final paragraph they return to the experience of a young girl called Blossom getting baptised. This experience does not have the maths adding up correctly. If Blossom got baptised in 1935, then today if age 5 at baptism she would currently be 88 years old. This year (2018) is 83 years later than the baptism date, yet paragraph 17 says “more than 60 years later”, when it should be “more than 80 years later”. The only other explanation is that they are quoting from an experience given at least 20 years ago or more. If this is so then they should indicated that. Do they not have a more recent experience, or do they just not take the care to check things, despite their claims to do so thoroughly in a recent monthly broadcast?|
Note, however, what this quote from w14 12/15 12-13 par. 6-8 says:
”What can we learn from this illustration? First of all, we have to admit that we have no control over the spiritual growth of a Bible student. Modesty on our part will help us to avoid the temptation to pressure or force a student to get baptized. We do all we can to assist and support the person, but we humbly admit that ultimately the decision to make a dedication belongs to that person. Dedication is something that must spring from a willing heart motivated by love for God. Anything less would not be acceptable to Jehovah.—Psalms 51:12; Psalms 54:6; Psalms 110:3.”
How do these sentiments fit in with the overt and subtle pressure contained in this week’s article? We will let you the reader decide.
In summary, a very confusing article in its presentation. Open to misunderstanding by the super-righteous, it is a real mix of truth and misleading statements.