When Apollos and I first discussed the creation of this site, we laid down some ground rules. The purpose of the site was to serve as a virtual gathering place for like-minded Jehovah’s Witnesses interested in deeper Bible study than was being provided at the congregation meetings. We were not concerned at the possibility that this might lead us to conclusions that contradicted established organizational doctrine because we both love truth and truth must prevail. (Romans 3:4)
To that end, we decided to constrain our research to the Bible itself, only going to other web sites if they offered research material, such as alternate Bible translations or denomination-neutral Bible commentaries and historical research. Our feeling was that if we could not find the truth from God’s Word, we were not going to find it from the mouths and pens of other men like ourselves. This should not be taken as a rebuke of the research of others, nor are we suggesting that it is wrong to listen to others in an effort to understand the Bible. The Ethiopian eunuch clearly benefited from Phillip’s help. (Acts 8:31) However, both of us started with a pre-existing and quite extensive knowledge of Scripture obtained through a lifetime of Bible instruction. Granted, our understanding of Scripture had been acquired through the lens filter of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society’s publications. Having already been influenced by the opinions and teachings of men, our goal was to get at the truth of Scripture by stripping away all things manmade, and that we felt we could not do unless we made the Bible our sole authority.
Simply put, we did not want to build on the foundation of others. (Romans 15:20)
We were soon joined by Hezekiah, Anderestimme, Urbanus and many others who have contributed and continue to contribute to our joint understanding. Through it all, the Bible remains the sole and ultimate authority upon which we base everything we believe. Where it leads, we will follow. Indeed, it has led us to some uncomfortable truths. We had to abandon the sheltered existence of a lifetime and the delightful illusion that we were special and saved simply because we belonged to an Organization. But, as I said, we loved truth, not “the truth”—as synonymous with the teachings of the Organization—so we wanted to go wherever it would take us, secure in the knowledge that while feeling “cut loose” initially, our Lord would not abandon us and our God would be with us as a “terrible mighty one.” (Jer. 20:11)
As a result of all this research and collaboration, we have come to some amazing and exciting conclusions. Secure with this foundation and in the full realization that our Bible-based beliefs would brand us as apostates to the vast majority of our Jehovah’s Witnesses brethren, we began to question the whole idea of what constitutes apostasy.
Why would we be considered apostates if our beliefs are based solely on what can be proven from Scripture?
The publications have long been telling us to avoid apostasy as one would avoid pornography. Any true blue JW visiting this site should have turned away immediately if he were blindly following this direction. We are discouraged from looking at any site featuring JW material that isn’t jw.org itself.
We began to question this “theocratic direction” as we had questioned so many other things before. We came to see that to not question would be grant another human the right to think for us and decide for us. That is something that even Jehovah does not demand of his servants, so from what source would such direction come, do you think?
Is Apostasy Like Pornography?
We have been warned for decades to give no place nor listening ear to the slander of apostates. We are told not even to say hello to such ones. 2 John 11 is given as support of this position. Is that an accurate application of Scripture? We are taught that other Christian religions are part of apostate Christianity. Yet, we go forth to defend our faith before Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, and Mormon. Given that, why should we fear discussing things with an apostate as defined by the Governing Body: i.e., a former brother who now holds a different viewpoint or belief?
Here is how we reason ourselves into this position:
(w86 3/15 p. 13 pars. 11-12 ‘Do Not Be Quickly Shaken From Your Reason’)
Let us illustrate matters in this way: Suppose your teenage son received some pornographic material in the mail. What would you do? If he was inclined to read it out of curiosity, would you say: ‘Yes, son, go ahead and read it. It won’t hurt you. From infancy we’ve taught you that immorality is bad. Besides, you need to know what’s going on in the world in order to see that it’s truly bad’? Would you reason that way? Absolutely not! Rather, you would surely point out the dangers of reading pornographic literature and would require that it be destroyed. Why? Because no matter how strong a person may be in the truth, if he feeds his mind on the perverted ideas found in such literature, his mind and heart will be affected. A lingering wrong desire planted in the recesses of the heart can eventually create a perverted sexual appetite. The result? James says that when wrong desire becomes fertile, it gives birth to sin, and sin leads to death. (James 1:15) So why start the chain reaction?
12 Well, if we would act so decisively to protect our children from exposure to pornography, should we not expect that our loving heavenly Father would similarly warn us and protect us from spiritual fornication, including apostasy? He says, Keep away from it!
The above reasoning is a practical example of the logical fallacy known as “The False Analogy”. Put simply is reasons that: “A is like B. If B is bad, then A must be bad as well”. Apostasy is A; pornography is B. You don’t need to research B to know it is wrong. Even a casual viewing of B is harmful. Therefore, since B = A, just viewing and give a listening ear to A will hurt you.
This is a false analogy because the two things are not the same, but it takes a willingness to think for oneself to see that. This is why we condemn independent thinking.[i] Publishers who think for themselves will see through such specious reasoning. They will understand that we are all born with the sex drive which becomes active around puberty. The imperfect human is drawn to anything that excites these feelings, and pornography can do that. Its sole purpose is to entice us. Our best defense is to turn away at once. However, the independent thinker will also know that we were not born with a desire to listen to and believe lies. There is no biochemical process at work in the brain that draws us to falsehood. The way the apostate works is by enticing us with meretricious reasoning. He appeals to our desire to be special, protected, saved. He tells us that if we listen to him, we are better than everyone else in the world. He tells us that only he has the truth and if we believe him, then we can have it too. He tells us that God speaks through him and we shouldn’t doubt what he says, or we will die. He tells us to stick by him because as long as we are in his group, we are safe.
Unlike the way we would deal with the temptation presented by pornography, the best way to deal with the apostate is to confront him. Do we not consider the teachings of the Catholic Church to be apostate? Yet we have no problem spending hours upon hours in the door-to-door witnessing work speaking with Catholics. Should it be any different if the source of the false teaching is an associate in the congregation, a brother or sister?
Let’s say you are out in field service and the household tries to convince you that there is a Hell. Would you turn away or break out your Bible? The latter, obviously. Why? Because you are not defenseless. With the Bible in your hand, you come well-armed.
“For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit,. . .” (Hebrews 4:12)
So why would things be any different if the one promoting the false doctrine is a brother, a close associate in the congregation?
Really, who is the greatest apostate of all time? Is it not the Devil? And what does the Bible counsel we do when confronted by him? Turn away? Run? It says to “oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) We don’t run away from the Devil, he runs away from us. So it is with the human apostate. We oppose him and he flees from us.
So why is the Governing Body telling us to run from apostates?
Over the past two years on this site, we have uncovered many truths from Scripture. These understandings, new to us, though old as the hills, brand us as apostates to the average Jehovah’s Witness. Yet, personally, I don’t feel like an apostate. The word means “a standing away” and I truly don’t feel like I’m standing away from the Christ. If anything, these newfound truths have brought me closer to my Lord than I have ever been in my life. Many of you have expressed similar feelings. With this it becomes clear what the Organization is really afraid of, and why it is stepping up the “beware of apostates” campaign lately. However, before we get into that, let’s look at the source of all the apostasy and heresy the church has feared and supressed from the second century down to our day.
The Greatest Piece of Apostate Literature
With the realization that I was now an apostate from the viewpoint of my own brothers and sisters in the Organization, I had to re-evaluate those I had long considered as apostates. Were they truly apostates or was I blindly accepting the facile label the Organization slaps on anyone it doesn’t want us listening to?
The first name that came to mind was Raymond Franz. I had long believed that this former member of the Governing Body was an apostate and that he had been disfellowshipped for apostasy. This was all based on rumor, of course, and turned out to be false. In any case, I didn’t know that then and simply decided to determine for myself whether or not what I’d heard about him was true. So I got hold of his book, Crisis of Conscience, and read the whole thing. I found it noteworthy that a man that had suffered so much at the hands of the Governing Body did not use this book to strike back at them. There was none of the anger, rancor and vilification common on many anti-JW web sites. What I found instead was a respectful, well-reasoned and well-documented account of the events surrounding the formation and early history of the Governing Body. It was a real eye-opener. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until I reached page 316 that I had what I would call a “eureka” moment.
That page contains a reprint of a list of “wrong teachings being spread as emanating from Bethel.” It was compiled by the Chairman’s Committee on April 28, 1980, following interviews with some prominent Bethel brothers who were subsequently dismissed from Bethel and eventually disfellowshipped.
There were eight bullet points, listing their doctrinal deviation from official organizational teaching.
Here are the points listed in the document.
- That Jehovah does not have an organization on earth today and its Governing Body is not being directed by Jehovah.
- Everyone baptized from Christ’s time (C.E. 33) forward to the end should have the heavenly hope. All these should be partaking of the emblems at Memorial time and not just those who claim to be of the anointed remnant.
- There is no proper arrangement as a “faithful and discreet slave” class made up of the anointed ones and their Governing Body to direct affairs of Jehovah’s people. At Matt. 24;45 Jesus used this expression only as an illustration of faithfulness of individuals. Rules are not needed only follow the Bible.
- There are not two classes today, the heavenly class and those of the earthly class also called “other sheep” at John 10:16.
- That the number 144,000 mentioned at Rev. 7:4 and 14:1 is symbolic and not to be taken as literal. Those of the “great crowd” mentioned at Rev. 7:9 also serve in heaven as indicated in vs. 15 where it is claimed that such crowd serves “day and night in his temple (nao)” or K. Int says: “in the divine habitation of him.”
- That we are not now living in a special period of “last days” but that the “last days” started 1900 years ago C.E. 33 as indicated by Peter at Acts 2:17 when he quoted from the Prophet Joel.
- That 1914 is not an established date. Christ Jesus was not enthroned then but has been ruling in his kingdom since C.E. 33. That Christ’s presence (parousia) is not yet but when the “sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven” (Matt. 24;30) in the future.
- That Abraham, David and other faithful men of old will also have heavenly life basing such view on Heb. 11:16
As you can see from the many hyperlinks, the conclusions which this group of faithful Christians arrived at on their own using the Bible and the hardcopy literature available to them at Bethel back in the 1970s, match up with the findings of our own Biblical research now, some 35 years later. Most, if not all of those brothers are dead, yet here we are at the same place they were. We got here the say way they arrived at their understanding, using God’s holy Word the Bible.
This tells me that the real danger to the Organization, the really subversive piece of apostate literature, is the Bible itself.
I should have realized this before, of course. For centuries, the church banned the Bible and kept it only in languages unknown to the general populous. They threatened with torture and ignominious death anyone caught with a Bible or trying to produce it in a language of the common people. Eventually, such tactics failed and the Bible’s message spread to the common folk, bringing about a new age of enlightenment. Many new religions sprang up. How could the Devil stop the hemorrhaging of divine teaching? It would take time and stealth, but he accomplished in by and large. Now everyone has a Bible but nobody reads it. It’s largely irrelevant. For those who do read it, its truth is blocked by powerful religious hierarchies bent on keeping their flocks in ignorance to ensure compliance. And for those who disobey, there is still punishment to be meted out.
In our Organization, elders are now directed to only use the 2013 revision of the New World Translation and individual Christians, while encouraged to read it daily, are also encouraged to study it using only the publications of the Watch Tower Bible & Track society as their guide.
It is now painfully obvious to us that the reason the Governing Body doesn’t want its followers to listen to the talk of those they label as apostates is because they have no real defense against them. The apostates they fear are the same the church has always feared: men and women who can use the Bible to ‘overturn strongly entrenched things’. (2 Cor. 10:4)
We cannot burn dissenters and heretics at the stake anymore, but we can cut them off from everyone they hold near and dear.
This is what was done back in 1980 as the footnote of this documents shows:
Notes: The above Biblical viewpoints have become accepted by some and now being passed on to others as “new understandings.” Such views are contrary to the basic Biblical “framework” of the Society’s Christian beliefs. (Rom. 2:20; 3:2) They also are contrary to the “pattern of healthful words” that have come to be Biblically accepted by Jehovah’s People over the years. (2 Tim. 1:13) Such “changes” are condemned at Prov. 24:21,22. Hence the above are ‘deviations from the truth that are subverting the faith of some.’ (2 Tim. 2:18) All considered is this not APOSTASY and actionable for congregational discipline. See ks 77 page 58.
Chairman’s Committee 4/28/80
But something else was also done in 1980. Something unscriptural and insidious. We will discuss that in subsequent posts on this topic. We will also look into the following:
- How does 2 John 11 apply to the issue of apostasy?
- Are we abusing the disfellowshipping arrangement?
- What kind of apostasy does the Bible really warn us about?
- When did apostasy first arise and what form did it take?
- Is the informant system we use scriptural?
- Does our stand on apostasy protect the flock or harm it?
- Does our policy on apostasy exalt Jehovah’s name or bring reproach?
- How can we answer the accusation that we are a cult?
[i] Be Obedient to Those Taking the Lead, w89 9/15 p. 23 par. 13