The thought at Pr 4: 18, (“The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established”) is usually construed to convey the idea of a progressive revelation of Scriptural truth under the direction of holy spirit, and a steadily growing understanding of fulfilled (and yet-to-be- fulfilled) prophecy.
If this view of Pr 4:18 were correct, we might reasonably expect that Scriptural explanations, once published as revealed truth, would, be constructively refined with added detail in the course of time. But we would not expect that Scriptural explanations would need to be revoked and replaced by differing (or even contradictory) interpretations. The numerous instances in which our “official “ interpretations have either changed radically or have turned out to be untrue, lead to the conclusion that we really ought to refrain from asserting that Pr4:18 describes the growth of Bible understanding under the direction of holy spirit.
(Actually, there is nothing in the context of Pr 4:18 justifying its use to encourage the faithful to be patient at the pace with which Scriptural truths are clarified – the verse and the context simply extol the advantages of leading an upright life.)
Where does this leave us? We are asked to believe that the brothers who take the lead in preparing and disseminating Bible understanding are “spirit-directed”. But how can this belief be consistent with their many mistakes? Jehovah never makes a mistake. His holy spirit never makes a mistake. (eg Jo 3:34 “For the one whom God sent forth speaks the sayings of God, for he does not give the spirit by measure.”) But the imperfect men who take the lead in the world-wide congregation have made mistakes – some even leading to needless loss of life for individuals. Are we to believe that Jehovah wishes the faithful occasionally to be misled into believing errors that occasionally prove fatal, for some greater long-term good? Or that Jehovah wishes those with sincerely held doubts to pretend to believe a perceived error, for the sake of a superficial “unity”? I simply cannot bring myself to believe this of the God of truth. There has to be some other explanation.
The evidence that the world-wide congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is – as a body – doing the will of Jehovah is surely incontrovertible. So why have there been so many mistakes and issues giving rise to unease? Why, despite the influence of God’s holy spirit, do the brothers taking the lead not “get it right first time, every time” ?
Perhaps the statement of Jesus at Jo 3:8 may help us come to terms with the paradox:-
“The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone that has been born from the spirit.”
This scripture seems to have its primary application to our human inability to understand how, when and where holy spirit will operate in its choice of individuals to be born again. But Jesus’ simile, likening holy spirit to an unpredictable (to humans) wind, blowing hither and thither, might help us to come to terms with the errors made by humans who, in general terms, are truly operating under the direction of holy spirit.
(Some years ago, there was a suggestion that uneven and contradictory progress toward full understanding of scripture might be likened to the “tacking” of a sailing boat, as it makes progress against a prevailing wind. The analogy is unsatisfactory, because it suggests that progress is made despite the force of holy spirit, rather than as a result of its powerful direction.)
So I suggest a different analogy:-
A steadily blowing wind will blow leaves along – usually in the direction of wind – but occasionally, there will be eddies whereby the leaves blow around in circles, even momentarily moving in a direction opposite to the wind. However, the wind continues to blow steadily, and eventually, most of the leaves will – despite the occasional adverse flurries – finish up being blown away, in the direction of the wind. The errors of imperfect men are like the adverse flurries, that in the end, cannot prevent the wind from blowing all the leaves away. Likewise, the error-free force from Jehovah – his holy spirit – will eventually overcome all problems caused by imperfect men’s occasional failures to recognize the direction in which holy spirit is “blowing.”
Maybe there’s a better analogy, but I’d really appreciate comments on this idea. Moreover, if any brother or sister out there has found a satisfactory way of explaining the paradox of mistakes made by a holy-spirit-directed organization of men, I’d be very glad to learn from them. My mind has been uneasy over this issue for several years, and I have prayed much about it. The line of thought set out above has helped a little.
[This was originally a comment made by Gedalizah. However, given its nature and the call for additional commenting, I have made it into a post, since this will get more traffic and result in an increased interchange in thoughts and ideas. – Meleti ]
“The evidence that the world-wide congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is – as a body – doing the will of Jehovah is surely incontrovertible.”
Meleti, do you really still think so? When so, why do think this? Is it Jehovah’s will to spread a list of phariseeic extra laws and strange doctrines into the world?
No, Kyp, I don’t. Reading the posts from start to present, it’s possible to see my own personal journey of awakening. Doing God’s will in this day and age means proclaiming the good news. It also means submitting to the authority of his appointed king. With our teaching of an earthly hope which replaces that of the “upward call of God” (Phil. 3:14), Jehovah’s Witnesses have corrupted the message of the Good News. In submitting to the absolute authority of the men of the Governing Body, Jehovah’s Witnesses have denied their rightful Lord. So no, I no longer feel that… Read more »
Thanks for taking time for responding. I thought that way considering your newer articles.
Isn’t the transformation kind of fascinating? Once we thought of something as “surely incontrovertible” and one or two ears later we view our past believes as wrong views and misapplications of God’s Word.
Greetings in Lord Jesus
[…] and accept the teachings of the Organization (aka, the Governing Body) without question. We again misapply Proverbs 4:18[ii] to explain away our errors of the past. We are then encouraged to keep up […]
[…] and accept the teachings of the Organization (aka, the Governing Body) without question. We again misapply Proverbs 4:18[ii] to explain away our errors of the past. We are then encouraged to keep up with […]
Hi ApollosOfalexandria, Oh dear, I truly didn’t mean to offend by failing to give credit where due. My comment was intended as a sort of precis of the helpful thoughts offered by eight or nine contributors. As you rightly point out, your views figured prominently. I apologize for the offence to you and others, it was unintentional. I’m very grateful for all the time and thought that you and others have contributed, it has all been very helpful to me. I’m embarrassed also that my observation (on your thoughtful question) looks a bit sanctimonious on re-reading. That was tactless on… Read more »
Absolutely no offence taken. I appreciate your comments, and I didn’t want you to take what I said too seriously. It’s so easy to misconstrue when we are exchanging what in some cases can come across as soundbites.
You gave me the opportunitiy to provide some clarification, and that’s no bad thing.
Hi Apollos, I’ve been thinking some more about the question you posed – “Is there anything we have not been granted knowledge of, that is in accord with his will at that time?” Since the only reliable source of “knowledge that is in accord with (God’s) will” is the Bible, it seems to follow that we have never been deprived of such knowledge. Surely HS gives unmistakeable direction to FDS, to ensure that the faithful are given all the “knowledge” they need. I don’t see any way we could know (or even contemplate the possibility) that FDS had failed to… Read more »
If I might interject a thought to the point you made in your last paragraph, it is true that if we take a stand conscientiously with pure hearts, then even if wrong, we will be made to stand. (Rom. 14:4) So if we die as a consequence, we will be resurrected. However, is this the equivalent of a blank check for the Governing Body? One could argue the same fate for faithful Catholics obeying the directives of their Pope, even if he should be endorsing war–as has been the case in the past. There must be a line where the… Read more »
It seems that a Muslim ex-JW has diverted the discussion away from the main issue. However, I really appreciate the thoughtful observations made by most responders. Directly pertinent were:- if FDS attempts to use the Scriptures to determine matters not yet proper for us to know, (eg specific end-time chronology; efforts to decide who will or will not be resurrected etc), then we cannot expect the results to be flawless. In such matters, HS would not give direction to FDS. there is probably a distinction between activity which is “spirit inspired” (eg the writing of the Scriptures and their preservation)… Read more »
Well put. Thank you. As for the unwanted Islam-promoting intrusion, once it was recognized for what it was, we put a stop to subsequent posts by this individual. We’ve removed the term “present truth” from our publications, and it no longer appears in the new song book. Sad that it took so long for us to realize that truth is timeless. Present understanding of truth may have been what we meant in Russell’s day, but today, though the phrase is gone, the idea of “present truth” is alive and well among many of the flock. Such that, even to raise… Read more »
Hi Gedalizah Well you’ve picked up all my main points without giving me credit, but then only associated my user name with something you took issue with. That’s okay though, you are right that it could have been worded better for those that don’t know me or didn’t appreciate the context. When I said “by rights … but failed” I was of course talking about the human view of things. It would seem that those who have taken it upon themselves to declare that they are God’s channel would consider themselves “by rights” to be given the correct information from… Read more »
When one examines Scriptures such as these regarding the blood issue Deuteronomy 14:21 New Living Translation (NLT) 21 “You must not eat anything that has died a natural death. You may give it to a foreigner living in your town, or you may sell it to a stranger. But do not eat it yourselves, for you are set apart as holy to the Lord your God. “You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. Leviticus 17:15 New Living Translation (NLT) 15 “And if any native-born Israelites or foreigners eat the meat of an animal that died naturally… Read more »
Thank you for sharing these scriptures with us. Reading them has helped me reaffirm my belief that it would be wrong for me to accept a blood transfusion.
By the way, putting an entire statement all in capital letters is considered bad form as it means one is shouting. Just an FYI.
Sorry for the all caps, these scriptures changed my mind on blood transfusions, it showed me that to him life is more valuable then Sacrifice or the Law.
At least here on this forum we can agree to disagree unlike the organization were one must agree with it at all times on all subjects or face disciplinary action.
Yes it does 100%! Deut. 18:15-19 is positive proof of a true Prophet. Whereas 100% failure rate is the mark of a false prophet Deut, 18:20-22….The important thing is to examine everything carefully…..
Apollos, not hard to figure it out and much to discuss. So can we reason closely on the scriptures?…..By the way I became JW in the middle 70s…
vascagase, I can’t seem to respond to your post above. I think it is too far threaded. Regardless, I’m uncertain as to your point in the reference Bible. John used the masculine pronoun for comforter because in Greek parakletos is masculine. He used the neuter for spirit because pneuma is neuter in gender. There is nothing about this to suggest the spirit is a person. Had he wanted to make absolutely clear the spirit is a person he could have used the masculine pronoun for pneuma, but he didn’t. Even Trinitarian Greek grammarian Daniel Wallace admits this, and he believes… Read more »
Steve, I agree its long discussion. I think the key phrase is “another helper” paraclete……….Vascagase
That doesn’t change anything.
“We can’t teach on the one hand that the bible is doctrinally sound because God’s spirit ensured the imperfect writers wrote only truth, then turn around and teach that God’s spirit directed organization at times teaches errors because of the imperfections of the men taking the lead.” Jude makes a fundemental point, the later imperfect Bible writers did not contradict or record doctrines that were in opposition to those previously recorded and believed. This was because as Peter disclosed at 2 Pet 1:21 they “spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit”. True some of the things… Read more »
In Isaiah 29:12, it speaks of a book given to an unlettered man. There are no cross references in this verse, nor in the Isaiah study books nor in the WT library. Who is this unlettered man and what is this book he received?
It is those like the ignorant discussed in the previous verses. As the subsequent verse shows, one would not want counted among such ones.
This man could neither read nor write, yet the book that was given him is in its original form, “Arabic”. Not one letter has been altered in over 1400 years, millions of people worldwide which Arabic is not their first language can recite its 6,226 verses (ayats) by heart. Arabic is the sister tongue of Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The biography of this Man is phenominal. What he said and did (Sunna). See for yourself. He is listed no. 1 as the most influential man in history by western/christian historians. Google what others said about Muhammed….
Now this is getting silly. It is ridiculous to say that Aramaic was the language of Jesus. There is a reason the Jews are called Hebrews. You do your argument and yourself no credit by making such a claim. As I said previously, this discussion has no place in this forum. This is a place for Jehovah’s Witnesses to deepen their appreciation and understanding of the Inspired Word of God. We are not going back to the elementary things, because the foundation of our faith in Jesus as the Son of God is solid and beyond question. There are other… Read more »
At the risk of perpetuating the off-topic tangent, I don’t think we can be quite so quick to dismiss Aramaic as the language of Jesus.
See Matt 27:47, Mark 5:41, Mark 14:16, etc.
Also Mel Gibson actually filmed Jesus speaking Aramaic so it must be true 🙂
Hard facts and joking aside, I think it is irrelevant to the credibility of Islam.
Eddies in wind-blown leaves are, as far as I know, caused by external factors like contours in the land. But, as Apollos points out, the real problem appears to be the leaves themselves. They just don’t go where the Spirit’s blowing. Of course, now we have to reckon with Jude’s Law, that if spirit-directed means eddy-free when applied to Bible writers, it should mean eddy-free for the organization. So, is there a difference between “spirit-directed” and “spirit-inspired”? It would appear there is, based on the inspired record of the first century Christian congregation. There the spirit, on the one hand,… Read more »
I rather liked the “leaves in the wind” illustration. Much better than the one of the sailboat tacking against the wind. Though, given our institutional propensity to stick with a bad interpretation like “this generation” or whether those in Sodom and Gomorrah get resurrected (an 8-time flip-flop) perhaps the boat against the wind is the most accurate description of the true state of affairs. It’s not what they intended. Certainly, not a flattering illustration as it applies to us. But it turns out to accurately describe the tenacity with which we continue to cling to a failed interpretation despite the… Read more »
The word helper in John 14:16, 26 15:26 16:7-13 is paraclete in Koine greek. The word for spirit is pnuema in Koine. NWT reference bible. In 1 John 2:1 Jesus is a “helper” paraclete. The point is they “paraclete” are actual persons, not spirits. Who then was Jesus refering to in Jn 14:16,26 15:26 16: 7 thru 13 who would guide you into all the truth for He will not speak of his own impulse, what He hears He will speak? Holy spirit was in operation before Jesus during His ministry, His miraculous birth his miracles, and after He went… Read more »
I’m not sure what you mean by actual persons in contrast to spirits, since spirits are also called persons in Scripture. (See Ex. 15:3; Mt. 11:11; Acts 3:19; Heb. 9:24) Additionally, the word “helper” can refer to people and things, so using it doesn’t automatically imply an actual person–spiritual or physical–is being referenced. When John wrote his first letter and referred to Jesus as a helper at 1 John 2:1, Jesus was indeed an actual person, being as he was, a spirit in heaven. The helper that Jesus was referring to in John 16:7-13 is clearly identified in vs. 13… Read more »
Thank You for the question. When we look closely at Jn 16:13, “the spirit of truth” notice the it refers to the “helper” in verse 7 (paraclete) in the reference bible NWT. The word pneuma(:koine greek) (ru’ach hebrew) is “spirit or active force”. These are two different greek words, pneuma (spirit) paraclete (helper). In Jn. 1:18-21 John the Baptizer is asked if he is the Messiah/Christ. Elijah or The Prophet, of which he said NO! Cross referenced, it takes us to Deut.18:15-18…. Deut. 33:1,2 Hab. 3:3 and Isaiah 42:11 (Kedar) are long range prophecies that we have seen fulfilled and… Read more »
Correct. John 16:13 refers to the spirit (pneuma) of truth. So the helper mentioned in verse 7 is the spirit of truth. Are you suggesting that the spirit of truth is not the holy spirit, but some spiritual person? An angel, for instance?
Yes! “spirit of truth” can be understood better and clearer as the truthful one! Notice Jn. 14:16,17. “Another helper” “spirit of truth” in the reference bible is one and the same. Not an active force. The word “HE” masculine is mentioned in these chapters 14, 15,16 is (unique) there is no other set of verses like these in the Gospels! Prophetic of another Prophet. What credentials or proof that He is “The Prophet” ? There are many, many biblical prophecies in regard to this one “even by name” e.g. Song of Solomon 5:16 in the Hebrew lanquage! sadly translated “altogether… Read more »
It says he because the noun is masculine, but John used a neuter relative pronoun, so this does not suggest the spirit is a person.
Steve, good question! The NWT reference Bible is good tool to explain it as we put it on the table…Notice where and how it points to with regard “spirit of truth” and “helper” Could you please expound?
Given your breadcrumb trail I am guessing that you might be Islamic. If so it would be better to say it outright in order to have a conversation about that.
If not then it would still be better to spell out your point.
100% Correct! To reason on the scriptures is a breadcrumb trail, pick up the pieces, verify. Make sure of all things….My point is WHY were we not told the whole story?
Well I didn’t guess Muhammad because the scriptures led me there. I just have heard similar use of them before.
I find nothing incomplete about Jesus’ teachings and I can personally find acceptable and fitting applications of all of those scriptures without needing to introduce a new character.
That’s my 2c.
P.S. It is completely off-topic though. Not only for this thread, but really for the whole site.
Thank you for clarifying that. As laid out in the two pages “About this Forum” and “Commenting Etiquette”, this forum is a Jehovah’s Witnesses study area. There are other places on the WWW where one can discuss other religious views and we would warmly recommend you avail yourself of that abundant resource.
I think the mistake is made the moment we surrender our mental powers over to any one else period. History has shown that all religions become dogmatic and polluted with men’s ideas and interpretations of the bible. When Peter said to Jesus “to whom do i go away to” he did not say were or what other organization, he said “whom”. With unscriptural ideals about blood that have killed thousands among other doctrines and understanding that are not scripturally correct. I’m coming to the understanding, that is to Jesus were to look to, And having a personal relationship with him… Read more »
I have to disagree with the idea that ‘unscriptural ideals about blood have killed thousands’. That statement certainly applies to the medical community’s eagerness to give transfusions, but how does it apply to JWs? Can anyone document ‘thousands’ of cases where our stand on blood transfusions have led to unnecessary death? And by ‘document’ I mean something more than just accepting a doctor or hospital’s CYA declarations to the press. The fact is, bloodless surgery is saving lives right now – and will save many thousands more – and the world has, to a significant extent, JWs to thank for… Read more »
I have to agree with Junachin on this. If we are to make such a claim, we need to provide documentation to back it up.
Another hint, Isaiah 29:12 speaks of a book given to an unlettered man. There are no cross references in this verse. Nor is there any commentary in the in the Isaiah study books or anywhere the WT library. Who is this unlettered man and what is this book He is given?
We seem to be getting off topic. What is the point you are making?
He means Muhammed and the Quran
Do you think less then thousands have died from 1945 till present upholding our blood doctrine that is not biblically accurate???
I have no idea how many – if any – died from upholding a blood doctrine that seems perfectly accurate to me. In fact, I don’t see how anyone could know that. Nor can we know how many (thousands?) would have died from transfusion-related complications had our policy been not to abstain from blood transfusions. In any case, time has vindicated us on this issue – and the God we worship – so why would we view this as an example of resisting the direction of the spirit?
I agree that there are no statistics to support this claim. I don’t think it would be even possible to compile such. Nevertheless it does not mean that we can dismiss the loss of life that may have occurred. It’s unquestionably true that bloodless surgery is good practice. However while the medical field is still making progress in that area, it would be disingenuous to deny that many decisions have been made in emergency situations over the past half-century that have ended with loss of life, and that certain decisions were based upon an interpretation of scripture handed down from… Read more »
I concur with the idea of sidelining this until we can have a topic on the subject.
As usual, very insightful comment, Apollos. Meleti, consider it sidelined.
Mark 13, which all of us should be reading this week, sets the matter in clear order regarding what we think we know about the end times, versus Jesus strong admonition to stay alert and awake, and not think we know from dates and seasons.
Acts 15:20 “to abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood” is an such an area where the spirit guidance is open to question.
Is it reasonable to apply this to medical treatments for low platelets? Or hemophilia? Or to change our position?
I don’t have an analogy, but I will offer a general theory. Nobody receives holy spirit automatically. We all need to ask for it (Lu 11:9). We are assured that if we do so then we will receive it provided what we are asking for is according to God’s will (1 Jo 5:14). It is clear from this latter verse that the direction of God’s spirit will be withheld if the matter under consideration is not within the remit of men at this time. It’s not difficult to think of examples as to how that might affect things. First let’s… Read more »
As often as Proverbs 4:18 is highlighted, I have to wonder how verse 19 is so often ignored in cases as you discuss.
Just a thought…? When The Lord warned us to keep on the watch…(Matt 24:42)… wasn’t He really saying that we need to watch our Selves…?… as to our conduct and personal relationship/standing with Jehovah? The reference to Noah’s day, seems to emphasise this…? And as for praying for guidance, and The Spirit not responding…?… my personal experience is that we have to grow into the right way to pray… We learn the truth of the scripture, where it already knows what we need.. and if we pray for understanding of things we dont need to understand, its futile… Imperfect mans’… Read more »
Many thoughts come to mind from your post… The main stumbling block comes from believing that, “the governing body”, has been appointed by Christ…and that there has always been an earthly organisation set up as ours is… Anyone who has done their homework, would know that the early christians, were organised into, self-governing congregations… The Jerusalem congregation may have had Peter, and a remnant of the original disciples…along with James… but they were in no way, “The Governing Body”…! It was Paul who sorted out any of the problems…and in the recorded instance of gentile circumcision, the Jerusalem congregation had… Read more »
I agree wholeheartedly. And I wish to make some additional points. I find it very hard to believe that God would direct an organization of imperfect humans by holy spirit and still permit the human imperfections to result in the organization teaching error. To me this defeats the whole purpose of directing them by holy spirit. Not only that, it contradicts the fact that the bible is error free – despite being penned by imperfect men who were spirit directed. Put another way: how is it that Jehovah was able to use his spirit to direct the imperfect writers of… Read more »