(Jude 9) . . .But when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: “May Jehovah rebuke you.”

This Scripture has always fascinated me. If anyone deserves abuse, it would certainly be the Devil, would it not?  Yet here we find Michael, the foremost of the heavenly princes, refusing to pass judgment in abusive terms upon the original slanderer. Instead, he recognizes that it is not his place to do so; that to do so would be to usurp Jehovah’s unique right to pass judgment.
To speak abusively of another is to revile. Reviling is a sin.

(1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) . . .What! Do YOU not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, 10 nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.

Even if one is being reviled, one has no right to revile in return. Jesus is the best example of this course of conduct.

(1 Peter 2:23) . . .When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return.. . .

This has not always been our way, as is exemplified by the case of Walter Salter. The Golden Age of May 5, 1937 on page 498 carries an article full of invective and quite unbecoming of Jehovah’s people. I found it difficult to read, as did another good friend who was unable to finish it.  It is so foreign to the spirit of Jehovah’s people now that is hard to imagine that it issued forth from the source we now claim was the first faithful and discreet slave appointed by Jesus in 1919.
I have posted the reference (hyperlink) in keeping with our forum directive of providing verifiable references to everything that we state.  However, I do not recommend that you read this article as it is too discouraging for our modern Christian sensibilities.  Instead, allow me to quote just a few excerpts so as to make the point of this post:

“If you are a “goat”, just go right ahead and make all the goat noises and goat odors that you wish.” (p. 500, par. 3)

“The man needs to be pruned.  He should submit himself to the specialists and let them excavate his gall bladder and remove his inordinate self-esteem.” (p. 502, par. 6)

“a man who…is not thinker, not Christian and no real man.” (p. 503, par. 9)

There are those who would rather cover up this unsavory aspect of our history. However, Bible writers do not do that and neither should we. This adage is as true as ever: “Those who will not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
So what can we learn from our own history? Simply this: Besides being a sin before God, reviling demeans us and undermines any argument we might be trying to make.
In this forum we are delving into deep scriptural matters. In doing so we have uncovered a number of aspects of our doctrinal teaching as Jehovah’s Witnesses that are not in line with Scripture. We are also learning that a number of these discoveries which are new to us, have in fact been known for many decades to prominent members of Jehovah’s people—those in a position to affect change. The aforementioned case of Walter Salter is but one example of this, for he wrote back in 1937 to many in the faith about the unscriptural teaching of 1914 as the beginning of Christ’s presence.  Since this was revealed to God’s people some eighty years ago, why, we ask, does the false teaching continue to persist?  The apparent doctrinal intransigence of our leaders[i] may cause us to feel great frustration and even anger.  This may cause us to lash out at them verbally. There are many websites on the Internet where this is done on a regular basis.  However, in this forum we must not give in to this impulse.
We must let the truth speak for itself.
We must resist the temptation to pass judgment, especially with abusive terms.
We respect the opinion of our readers and members. Therefore, if you find that we have departed from the aforementioned standard of conduct in any of the forum posts, please feel free to comment so that we can correct these oversights.  We want to imitate the example of Michael the Archangel. We’re not suggesting that those who would lead us are comparable to the Devil. Rather, if even the Devil cannot be judged abusively, how much more so those are striving to feed us.

[i] I use the term “leaders” in speaking of how they would have us view them, not how we should view them. One is our leader, the Christ. (Mt. 23:10)  However, when someone demands the right to have you accept his teaching unquestioningly and backs that up with the hammer of discipline for those who dissent, it is hard to think of him as acting as anything but a leader, and an absolute one at that.

Meleti Vivlon

Articles by Meleti Vivlon.
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