[A Review of the September 15, 2014 Watchtower article on page 17]
“You should know well the appearance of your flock.”-Prov. 27:23
I twice read through this article and each time it left me feeling unsettled; something about it bothered me, but I couldn’t seem to put my finger on it. After all, it presents fine counsel on how parents can relate to their children better; on how they can provide needed guidance and instruction; on how they can safeguard them and prepare them for adulthood. It is not a deep article and much of the advice is practical, albeit pretty much what you can find in any of a dozen self-help guides for parents available at the local bookstore. I had even entertained the thought of taking a pass on the review this week so as to concentrate on the next post about the nature of the Christ, but something kept nagging at the back of my mind.
Then it hit me.
The parental goal is never stated. It is implied; and a careful reading of the article reveals it is not what it ought to be.
The title paints parents as shepherds over their flock, their own children. A shepherd cares for and protects his sheep; but from what? He feed and nurtures them; but from whence comes the food? He leads them and they follow; but to which destination does he guide them?
In short, where does the article instruct us to take our children?
Also, what standard does the article provide by which parents can measure their success or failure in this vital task?
According to paragraph 17: “They [your children] must make the truth their own…Show yourself to be a good shepherd by patiently guiding your child or children in proving that Jehovah’s way is the best way of life.” Paragraph 12 states: “Clearly, feeding by means of family worship is a primary way that you can be a good shepherd.” Paragraph 11 asks if we are taking advantage of the Organization’s “loving provision” of the Family Worship arrangement “to shepherd your children”? Paragraph 13 encourages us that “young ones who develop such appreciation will dedicate their life to Jehovah and get baptized.”
What do these words reveal?
- “Make the truth their own” is a phrase that means accept the Organization’s doctrines and dedicate yourself to it and get baptized. (The Bible speaks nothing of dedicating oneself prior to taking the step of baptism.)
- “This is the best way of life.” Young ones are encouraged to join our way of life. (Variations of the phrase are popping up more and more, and Apollos points out that we are well on the way to making this our JW.ORG catch phrase.)
- “Family Worship Arrangement.” The Bible instructs parents to teach their children, but says nothing about a formal arrangement that involves studying the teachings of an earthly Organization.
Given this and the whole tone of the article, it is clear that what we are looking to do is to get parents to shepherd their children into the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Is this the Bible’s message? When Jesus came to the earth, did he preach “the best way of life”? Is that the message of the Good News? Did he call us to be dedicated to an Organization? Did he ask us to put faith in the Christian Congregation?
A Faulty Premise
If the premise upon which one bases an argument is flawed, then the conclusion will be flawed. Our premise is that parents must be shepherds by imitating Jehovah. We even coin a new term in the final paragraph: “All true Christians want to be imitators of the Supreme Shepherd.” (par. 18) In doing so, we quote 1 Peter 2:25 which is the only verse in the whole of the Christian Greek Scriptures which might possibly refer to Jehovah as our Shepherd. An argument can be made that it applies to Jesus, but rather than dwell on one ambiguous text, let’s see whom God is endorsing as our shepherd?
“for out of you will come forth a governing one, who will shepherd my people, Israel.’”” (Mt 2:6)
“And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Mt 25:32)
“‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered about.’” (Mt 26:31)
“But he that enters through the door is shepherd of the sheep.” (Joh 10:2)
“I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.” (Joh 10:11)
“ I am the fine shepherd, and I know my sheep and my sheep know me,” (Joh 10:14)
“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (Joh 10:16)
“He said to him: “Shepherd my little sheep.”” (Joh 21:16)
“Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep” (Heb 13:20)
“And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, YOU will receive the unfadable crown of glory.” (1Pe 5:4)
“because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life .” (Re 7:17)
“And she gave birth to a son, a male, who is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod .” (Re 12:5)
“And out of his mouth there protrudes a sharp long sword, that he may strike the nations with it, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron .” (Re 19:15)
While the title for God of “Supreme Shepherd” is our invention, the Bible gives Jesus the titles of “Fine Shepherd”, “Great Shepherd”, and “Chief Shepherd”.
Why do we make no mention—not a single one—of the Great Shepherd whom God has placed for all of us to follow and imitate? Jesus’ name is nowhere to be found in the entire article. This must be seen as an egregious omission.
Should we be training our children to become subjects of an organization, or subjects of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ?
We speak of getting our children to “dedicate their life to Jehovah and get baptised.” (par. 13) But Jehovah tells us: “For all of YOU who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Ga 3:27) How can parents shepherd their sheep—their children—by leading them to baptism if they overlook the truth that they must be baptised into Christ?
“. . .as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. . . .” (Heb 12:2)
Turning Away From Jesus
Jesus is the “Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith.” Or is there another, perchance? Is it the Organization?
Apollos made the point in his article “Our Christian Foundation” that of the 163 videos on jw.org that target children, there are none that focus on the role, position, nor person of Jesus. Children need a role model. Who better than Jesus?
Since this Watchtower study article seems to focus more on teenagers, let’s scan jw.org under the Videos -> Teenagers link. There are over 50 videos, but not a single one is designed to help the adolescent contemplating baptism to understand, put faith in, and love Jesus. They are all designed to build appreciation for the Organization. I have heard Witnesses say that they love Jehovah and the Organization. However, in fifty years, I can’t recall ever hearing a Witness say that he loves Jesus Christ.
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1Jo 4:20)
The principle expressed by John shows that it is a challenge to love God since we cannot see him nor interact with him as we would a human. Thus a truly loving provision—in contrast to the Family Worship arrangement—was when Jehovah sent a man to us who is His perfect reflection. He did this in part so that we could better understand our Father and learn to love him. Jesus was in so many ways, the most wonderful gift God has ever given to sinful mankind. Why do we treat Jehovah’s gift as of little value? Here is an article designed to help parents to shepherd their own flock—their children—yet it makes no use whatsoever of the very best means God has given us to accomplish that difficult and serious task.
That, I realize now, is what troubles me about this article.
[…] must be dedicated before one is […]
It all boils down to one question, do you believe this is still God’s organization? Jehovah rejected the Israelite nation as his people because of their apostasy, but there were always individuals that remained faithful to Jehovah, and were outcasts because of it. The brotherhood is fine and there are many wonderful elders to. But its all conditional if one was to say they don’t agree with this teaching and can prove it from God’s word makes not difference. That brotherly love will just disappear in a flash, thing is they are where we were not to long ago, they… Read more »
For many of us we live in countries where we have freedom of religion, which means we can follow any form of religion we choose, and we are happy about that. But for Christians, God’s Word says differently, “God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 (NIV) Therefore, it is God who chooses how we worship Him, and not us.
Jannai40,I agree with you..God has all the rights to choose how we worship Him.After all,He’s our Creator.A human father has the right to tell his children what they must do in order to be beneficiaries of his will. If God has determined that Jesus is the way,the truth & the life……no one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14 :6),so be it.We don’t get to change the equation. But God is merciful & full of grace.J.W.s,Catholics,Baptists,etc will always have differences in doctrinal interpretations.Perhaps,only in the endtime will God & Jesus sort it all out.There are really many,many good… Read more »
I guess there is no organisation that can claim being GOD’s approved organisation. NOne of them in this world are fully correct, without incorrect doctrines or house rules or impeccable reputation. People can become believers, develop faith in Jesus and follow him and as such, honor the Father. Once a Christian, through you behaviors and actual teaching, you can help others. Christians can come together (Jesus will be there, he promised) to support and encourage one another. They can form a congregation for that purpose. All under the rulership of the Master. Not through a self-appointed leadership,blocking the access to… Read more »
The GB/Society has often been described as pharasaical. And although we can see a principle in Matthew 23:3 “So practice and obey whatever they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” – the GB/Society are not “the” Pharisees, therefore JWs would not apply that scripture to them (that is the GB/Society.)
there is not none organisation that applies wrong examples from the bible to themselves. Not the JW’s nor any other. Unlike the prophets and servants we can read about in the bible.
So, it does not surprise me that the example of the pharisees and how to deal with them, is not applied by the JW to themselves.
Paragraph 14 and 15 get me .your son will be able to mqke a personal decision to serve god when older .thats a nice concept . What if they decide not to . I know of a young man that decided not to and has been ostracised by his family and most dont talk to him . Paragraph 15 my son didnt have a problem with agreeing with bible principles at all .it was the watchtower rules he baulked at . And was told he had to follow them or get out . I used to believe that as long… Read more »
I recently attended one day assembly. Jesus’ name was mentioned only twice (apart from some read scriptures) during opening and closing prayer.
It has made me very sad. The words such an organisation, obedience, loyalty were mentioned in almost every talk.
I think we need to remind ourselves of the basic truths of Christianity.
With brotherly love
Thank you Meleti. Good observations.
The distinct lack of Jesus in the societies publications and talks is annoying.I remember a public talk where the brother compared Jehovahs visible organisation to a chariot. If we kept up with it. It would see us through to the new system.Not once was Jesus Christ mentioned! Sadly, this is typical. Makes me wonder where that chariot is heading.
Meleti, May I just clarify something for the benefit of the readers here. When you refer to yourself as “we” – you are referring to yourself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Is this correct? The reason I would like clarification of this is because when I (and some others) use the word “we” it is to refer to ourselves and others as Christians/people in general. It may be a bit confusing for people because there are those here who are Jehovah’s Witnesses and others, like myself, who are not. Thank you.
There is no one answer to that question, Jannai40. I use the first person plural contextually. So there is no single group I refer to in all instances. For instance, in this comment I refer to the web site administration. In this comment, I refer to the web site community. In this latest article, I use “we” to refer at times to the organization, to all Jehovah’s Witnesses, and to all who claim to be Christians. Again, the context should make that clear.
“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NIV) It is our responsibility to love and protect our children. We keep them safe and would never knowingly take them to a place of spiritual or physical harm. “He answered, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbour as yourself. You have answered correctly, Jesus replied. Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:27,28 (NIV) Because we love our neighbour we would never direct them… Read more »
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy chapter 6 verses 6 – 9. (NIV) How do parents teach their children the truth from God’s Word? First of all they have to learn the truth themselves. “To the Jews who… Read more »
I like the way you collated all of those scriptural references to Jesus as our shepherd. For something you could not quite put your finger on, when you see ALL of those scriptures one afte another and your well reasoned observations on the paragraphs themselves, it makes something that was grey seem so black and white. It makes me appreciate just how many times I must have told myself “maybe it is just me” and “probably not a big deal”, but when presented like this in the context of the other “messages”, you can see far off the mark it… Read more »
Thanks Meleti for the observation. I think it is safe to say that virtually anything the Society writes is (i) a subtle rejection of Christ (b) serves the Society and not God. I have come to realise that the Society simply is not Christian. It merely pays lip service to Christ and they ‘wear’ the label of Christian when it sounds good to do so, to gain public acceptance. I love your illustration that Jesus is our present. I’ve often thought of our brother in that way as well. However the lack of appreciation and what can only be described… Read more »
I certainly think it would be going too far. Not everyone has had the same experience with the organization, but I still enjoy the brotherhood, the high moral standards, the fact that so many are willing to make sacrifices to serve their God, albeit ‘not according to accurate knowledge’. There is a tendency to, upon identifying some serious problems, go to the extreme of thinking there is nothing good about the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I believe that is simply a reactionary pendulum-swing that does not reflect a balanced viewpoint. I, and several close friends, served in the capacity of… Read more »
Hi anderestimme, I didn’t mean the INDIVIDUALS, because I would have to include myself, and the relatives that I live with, who still go to the meetings, and most definitely are not satanic but deluded. Rather I mean ‘The Society’ the ‘Organisation’ itself. For example if I formed a limited company, even though I was the one who formed it, legally I would be a separate entity from the company itself. Also it is a known fact that as a company grows, it gains a ‘life’ of itself and even those who ‘birthed’ it can become completely alienated from it.… Read more »
I was going to comment, but anderestimme took the words out of my mouth and then some. Well said. I would only add that I’m always more comfortable leaving the judgment in God’s hands.
The three-hour program broadcast to all US Congregations in place of Sunday meetings on the weekend of Nov 8,9 concluded with the talk “Is Your Family a Spiritual Family?” by GB Member Anthony Morris.
It is now posted in poor audio on YouTube at http://youtu.be/omHQs_nDiEE?t=3m
The content was as devoid as this WT Study on the vital issue of making Christian Disciples of our children. Without that focus, the outcome will fall far short of fulfilling Jesus command to make disciples at Matt. 28:19,20.
October ended, the 100 year Kingdom celebration ended with it, Jesus did not come, and this past weekend the Governing Body turned to “beating” their fellow Witnesses.
I like it! 🙂
Tony Morris was right, he does not know Jehovah.
He also dissed every brother who isn’t a ministerial servant. The matrimonial field for Christian sisters is sparse enough. Now it has been reduced to only the servants? Is every non-appointed brother to feel unworthy? That is the message. Then he reiterated his remarks in Rome alleging that homosexuals are designing tight pants to see the brothers walking around in them. To condemn homosexuality as unscriptural is one thing–though why that would be appropriate at a nationally broadcast zone visit is unclear. However, to go beyond what is written and impute nefarious motives to the garment industry gets close to… Read more »
There is an amazing egotism occurring in the Governing Body. They have raised themselves to such heights that one could actually say they have seated themselves in the seat of Moses. (Matthew 23:2-7) . . .“The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses. 3 Therefore all the things they tell YOU, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform. 4 They bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger. 5 All the works they… Read more »
I have seen several news pages reporting on Morris’ remarks. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels his “gay” comments bordered on violating hate crime laws. It’s so distressing to be associated (by extension, of course) with men like this.
Thank you for a nice analysis.
The de-emphasizing of Christ certainly reveals what’s in the heart of these GB-directed articles and website material.
Have you ever met a fiancée who hardly ever talks about her husband to be? Who doesn’t make her wedding day, attire and groom her greatest topic of conversation? Who doesn’t invite others to the wedding?
The GB has become ashamed of Christ, and the Father will take notice. They are providing many powerful works but in that day Christ will say “I do not know you, as you have not known me”.
Now that’s an excellent illustration. Thanks Alex.
I was remarking to my wife today that in our article on tribulations we again missed an excellent opportunity to focus on Jesus. We can take solace in the fact that even our Lord needed encouragement at one point. (Luke 22:43) Yet, the writer never thought to refer to him. He did obliquely refer to the governing body however. By calling Paul both a spiritual giant and a likely member of the [alleged] first century governing body, we are led to believe these men are modern-day spiritual giants.