[From ws15/07 p. 22 for Sep. 14-20]
The very first thing that should strike us with this week’s study is the title. Using the Watchtower Library[i] with “loyal* kingdom” as the search parameters (sans quotes, of course), one finds not a single match in the entire Bible.
Loyalty to God is a common theme, but nothing is said about loyalty to his kingdom. A kingdom is the realm of a king. It is, as the name implies, the KING’s DOMain, his KINGDOM. So we are being asked to be loyal to the domain of the King. We are taught that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the earthly part of Jehovah’s Universal Organization. Therefore, the article is asking us to be loyal to the Organization. Since the Organization is run by the Governing Body, it follows that the article is really asking us to be loyal to the Governing Body.
Paragraph 1 starts with the statement, “… All who are dedicated to Jehovah have promised him their love, loyalty, and obedience.” The actual word “dedicate” appears very rarely in Scripture. Three times to be exact. When it does, it is always in a negative context.
“. . .They themselves went in to Baʹal of Peʹor, and they proceeded to dedicate themselves to the shameful thing, and they came to be disgusting like [the thing of] their love.” (Ho 9:10)
“. . .But YOU say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother: “Whatever I have by which you might get benefit from me is a gift dedicated to God,” 6 he must not honor his father at all.’ And so YOU have made the word of God invalid because of YOUR tradition.” (Mt 15:5, 6) – See also Mr 7:11-13)
“. . .Later, as certain ones were speaking concerning the temple, how it was adorned with fine stones and dedicated things, 6 he said: “As for these things that YOU are beholding, the days will come in which not a stone upon a stone will be left here and not be thrown down.”” (Lu 21:5, 6)
Why, therefore, do we not rephrase this sentence using the more scriptural term “baptized in the Lord” as found that Acts 8:16 and 19:5? Would that not be more accurate, biblically?
“All who are baptized in the Lord have promised him their love, loyalty, and obedience.”
Yes, that seems better. Perhaps the reason we prefer dedication over baptism is that the latter is a “request made to God for a good conscience.” In other words, it involves getting something from God, specifically, the assurance of his forgiveness. On the other hand, dedication implies sacrifice, giving something to God. We are all about sacrifice in the organization. We are constantly asked to sacrifice our time, money, and skills for the benefit of the Organization.
Still, there is something very odd here.
For example, any Jehovah’s Witness will tell you that one of the main reasons we do not celebrate birthdays is that the only two mentioned in the Bible are presented in a negative light. So, it is not curious that we do not apply the same reasoning to the use of “dedication” given that the three occurrences of the word are all negatively associated with false worship? Why is it that we so embrace the word? If you think I’m overstating the case, just consider that Jesus only used the word twice and even then, only in a negative context. In contrast the Governing Body makes it a prerequisite for baptism. Jesus began preaching in 29 C.E. The final Bible book was written around 96 C.E. In all the writing covering that time period, “dedication” is mentioned twice in a negative context. Over a similar time period, the writings of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has used the word 12,000 times! That speaks to its agenda.
(For a well written and well researched treatise on the JW teaching of dedication, see this article.)
And now, back to the article.
There is a problem in paragraph 9. Most Christians within the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses will not see it right away. They will focus only on the main thought expressed at the end of the paragraph:
“Neither should there be divisions of any kind in the Christian congregation today.”
The important thing for Jehovah’s Witnesses is that we speak with one mind. This thought was conveyed in a talk from the 2012 circuit assembly program.
To “think in agreement,” we cannot harbor ideas contrary to God’s Word or our publications. (CA-tk13-E No. 8 1/12)
Do you think this statement is consistent with Paul’s words as quoted in the paragraph 9?
“Individuals in Corinth were saying: “‘I belong to Paul,’ ‘But I to Apollos,’ ‘But I to Cephas,’ ‘But I to Christ.’” Whatever the underlying issue, the apostle Paul was indignant about its effect. “Is the Christ divided?” he asked.”
If you think the circuit assembly talk outline is consistent with Paul’s thought, why not try a little experiment. Let’s reword the statement from the 2012 circuit assembly like this:
“To “think in agreement,” we cannot harbor ideas contrary to Christ’s Word or Paul’s words.”
Paul, even though an inspired Bible writer, knew that he was not infallible. Every word out of his mouth and every word he put on paper was not from God. Therefore, he was indignant even with those in Corinth who claimed him as their leader. Therefore, had everyone in the Corinthian congregation resolved to think in agreement by choosing to follow only Paul, would he have been happy? Of course not. True, there would no longer have been any division, but at what cost? The congregation, in following Paul, would have become divided from Christ. Is unity of thought worth separation from the Christ?
Paragraph 9 concludes by requiring the study conductor to have Romans 16:17, 18 read.
“Now I urge you, brothers, to keep your eye on those who create divisions and causes for stumbling contrary to the teaching that you have learned, and avoid them. 18 For men of that sort are slaves, not of our Lord Christ, but of their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattering speech they seduce the hearts of unsuspecting ones.” (Ro 16:17, 18)
This text is surely intended to elicit anti-apostate comments from the audience.
What an interesting turn of phrase Paul uses by saying, “they seduce the hearts of unsuspecting ones.” One might think of a betrothed or married woman who is seduced by smooth talk and flattery to give herself to another man. Christians are the bride of Christ, they must be loyal to their husbandly head and not become the property of another. (Re 21:2; Eph 5:23-27)
A man who would tempt a women to be unfaithful does so by making her feel special and beautiful, one of a kind. He wants her to believe he can offer her something she cannot get elsewhere. If seduced by smooth speech, she will want more of it. She will follow the man; cling to him; do whatever he wants.
In like manner, the men Paul refers to would have us follow their commandments rather than Christ’s; believe they alone have the truth; that we have special knowledge denied the world because of what they teach us; that only by sticking with them will we be saved; that by following them, we can enter into a spiritual paradise.
And now we have come to paragraph 10. My first impression is that in their desire to have us be loyal to God’s kingdom, the writers have taken away two of the primary motivations for us to do just that.
- Paul urged anointed Christians to focus on their heavenly citizenship rather than on earthly things.
- They were to act as ambassadors substituting for Christ. Ambassadors do not meddle in the affairs of the nations to which they are assigned. Their loyalties lie elsewhere.
These are indeed powerful motivations for us to maintain neutrality, but these motivations have been stripped away from 99.9% of all Jehovah’s Witnesses by virtue of the erroneous teaching that the other sheep form an earthly class. Hence, they have invalidated God’s word by their teaching. (Mt 15:6)
Overall, this article teaches us to remain neutral politically and to avoid prejudice. To that extent it is beneficial. No country would expect the ambassador of another country to become involved in its conflicts. Additionally, for ambassadors to do their job they must be diplomatic. Any display of prejudice would hinder their work. Christ’s call was for all Christians to become workers with him in the kingdom of the heavens. All Christians were to serve as ambassadors while he was absent. There is absolutely no provision in the Bible for a class of Christian that would become subservient or inferior to another ruling class. While telling us to remain neutral to the affairs of the kingdoms of this earth, the Governing Body has set up a kingdom of its own in which they rule and we serve. They instruct us. We do not instruct them. They have divided us away from the Christ, minimizing his role while aggrandizing their own. Those who would take exception to this analysis have only to listen to the teachings of the Governing Body sounded down in the Caleb and Sofia videos – teachings aimed at the most vulnerable of the flock. Count, if you will, the number of times Jesus is mentioned in those children’s videos. Now compare that with the number of times the Governing Body is referred to. Who are these little hearts being seduced to serve?
[i] Active Jehovah’s Witnesses can acquire the Watchtower Library of publications on CD-ROM, which includes Watchtower Volumes going back to the 50s and awakes back to the 70s as well as many books, brochures, and pamphlets.