Blood As Blood or Blood As Food?
The majority in the JW community surmise that the No Blood doctrine is a biblical teaching, yet few comprehend what holding this position requires. To hold that the doctrine is biblical requires us to accept the premise that a transfusion is a form of food and nutrition as scientific fact. We must believe that God views an intravenous injection of plasma and packed RBC’s into our bloodstream the same as if we gulped down whole blood from a glass. Do you honestly believe this? If not, should you not rethink your position regarding the doctrine that relies on such an assumption?
In the previous two articles, evidence was presented confirming that blood acts as blood when injected into our bloodstream. It functions as Jehovah so designed it to. However, blood does not function as blood when ingested. Raw uncooked blood is toxic and could even be fatal, if consumed in large quantity. Whether slaughterhouse obtained or home collected, contamination with infectious coliform bacteria is far too easy, and exposure to parasites and other circulating microbes are real threats.
It is crucial that we use our God given thinking ability and wisdom in this matter (Pr 3:13). Our survival (or that of a loved one) may someday hang in the balance. To reiterate, the kingpin of the doctrine (which has remained constant since the doctrine was enacted in 1945) is found in the following statement in the 1958 Watchtower:
“Each time the prohibition of blood is mentioned in the Scriptures it is in connection with taking it as food, and so it is as a nutrient that we are concerned with its being forbidden.” (Watchtower 1958 p. 575)
From this we discern that from 1945 to the present, leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been concerned with blood being a nutrient used as food. Though published some 58 years ago, this position remains the official position of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We can make this statement because the words above have never been renounced in print. Further in this article, facts and reasoning are presented that indicate the GB maintain a very different position unofficially. Down to this day, members have hung their hats on the notion that a transfusion is a form of food and nutrition for the body, because the GB has not said otherwise. These men are viewed to be at all times directed by God’s holy spirit, so their judgment in this very serious matter must represent God’s view. Those holding such conviction are reluctant to research beyond the pages of Watchtower publications. To the vast majority, learning about a substance which God has forbidden would be somewhat a waste of time. In my own case, prior to 2005 I knew very little about blood and viewed it as a dirty subject.
An argument making the claim that blood used as food contains a small measure of nutrition would be largely without merit. Anyone who would drink raw blood for its nutritional value would be taking great risk for virtually no benefit. Studies have shown that isolated red blood cells contain no nutritional value. Red blood cells and water constitute roughly 95% of whole blood volume. Hemoglobin (96% of the red cell dry weight) transports oxygen throughout the body. We could say definitively that the person that adheres to the No Blood doctrine views red blood cells as the most forbidden component in blood. Ironically, these blood cells contain no nutrition. So, if it was as a nutrient that leadership was concerned, the red blood cell should never have been prohibited.
How does the medical community view blood? Do they view raw blood as food? Do they use blood as a therapy to treat malnutrition? Or do they view blood as blood, with all its sustaining characteristics essential to maintaining life in cellular tissues? Modern medical science does not view blood as a nutrient, so why should we? To view it as food and a nutrient, we are endorsing a discredited centuries-old notion.
Consider someone from the Jewish community. As sensitive as they are regarding strict kosher dietary laws (which involve total abstinence from eating blood), according to Jewish belief, saving a life is one of the most important mitzvot (commandments), overriding nearly all of the others. (The exceptions are murder, certain sexual offenses, and idol-worship—these cannot be transgressed even to save a life.) Therefore, if a blood transfusion is deemed medically necessary, to the Jew it is not only permissible but obligatory.
Leadership Did Know Better
In her book Flesh and Blood: Organ Transplantation and Blood Transfusion In Twentieth-Century America (see Part 1 of this series) Dr. Lederer states that by 1945, contemporary modern medicine had long abandoned the notion that a transfusion was a form of nutrition. She stated that the current medical thinking (in 1945) did not appear to “trouble” the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This of course would refer to the leadership responsible for the doctrine. So, leadership was not troubled with rejecting modern medical science in favor of supporting a centuries-old notion? How could they have been so irresponsible and negligent?
There are two factors influencing their decision. First, leadership was paranoid over the patriotism surrounding the blood drive of the American Red Cross. In leadership’s view, donating blood would be an act of support for the war effort. If members were told they must refuse to donate their blood, how is it they could be allowed to accept donated blood? Secondly, we must remember that leadership imagined Armageddon was imminent, perhaps only a year or two in the future. Factoring these two elements into the equation, we can see how leadership could be so shortsighted and indifferent to the long range consequences. We could say that not in their worst nightmare might they have imagined that their teaching would have impacted millions of human beings. Armageddon would surely not delay. Yet here we are, seven decades later.
From the 1950’s to the end of the century, advancements in transfusion therapy and organ transplantation were highly publicized. To claim ignorance of these facts would have required that one had joined the Andaman tribe off the coast of Africa. We can be assured leadership kept themselves abreast of each and every advancement in medical science. Why can we say this? The No Blood doctrine compelled that leadership make a determination on each and every new therapy. Would they allow members to accept the new advancement, or not?
Just as we asked regarding their predecessors: How could leadership have continued to endorse an absolute myth? The fervor of patriotism (and Red Cross blood drive) surrounding WW2 was long past. Of course, Armageddon has remained imminent, but why not dictate that accepting blood is a conscience matter? Why perform such convoluted somersaults attempting to defend the premise? To name just two, recall the view that an organ transplant was akin to cannibalism? Also the view that a heart transplant could cause the recipient to take on personality traits of the donor?
The only logical conclusion is that they were in fear of the consequences; of the impact it would have on the organization if they took responsibility for such a tragic error in judgment. Fearing the consequences to the organization (and their personal situation) they chose not to upset the apple cart and instead, maintain the status quo. Loyalty to organizational interests took precedence over the interests of members. Generations of leadership prayed fervently for Armageddon to arrive, or for the discovery of a viable blood substitute (either of which would resolve the issue), while they effectively kicked the No Blood can down the street for their successors to deal with. As organization membership has grown, the consequences have grown exponentially. For decades, members (including parents of infants and children) have taken their stand, assured that the No Blood doctrine is biblical. Refusing to accept a potentially life-saving intervention resulted in the untimely deaths of an unknown number. Only Jehovah knows how many souls have been lost prematurely and unnecessarily. 
A Sweeping Shift In Policy
The position as expressed in the 1958 Watchtower remained unchanged for decades. In fact, it remains the official position to this day. However, in the year 2000 the JW community (and medical professionals) witnessed dramatic reform in the No Blood policy. For decades, leadership had ruled that since blood fractions (serums) were produced from blood, they were prohibited. The year 2000 brought an about-face in this position. The GB ruled that blood fractions (though produced only from blood) were not…… “blood.” In 2004, hemoglobin was added to the list of “minor” blood fractions, so that from that year to the present, all blood ingredients have been acceptable to members.
Discerning JW’s (including this writer) saw this “new light” as a prodigious reversal of policy, given the fact that blood fractions constitute 100% of whole blood after fractionation and dissection. I asked myself: Do not the fractions themselves contain the very “nutrients” the 1958 Watchtower described as being the concern? I found myself scratching my head. To illustrate: It was as if the GB had for decades prohibited members from eating apple pie and all its ingredients, out of concern over nutritional value. Now they say the ingredients of apple pie are not apple pie. Wait, do not the ingredients of apple pie contain ALL the nutrition found in apple pie?
This is the new unofficial position of the current GB. They now acknowledge that a member can accept 100% of the ingredients of blood (including all nutritional value) transfused through intravenous injection, and they would not be breaking God’s law at Acts 15:29. So then we ask: What was prohibited in the Apostolic Decree? Drinking whole animal blood mixed with wine in an idol temple? By simply connecting the dots, one can see the position held in the 1958 Watchtower was reversed in 2004. Yet officially, what was stated in the 1958 Watchtower remains current; and members are making life-and-death decisions based upon this. How does Jehovah view the GB holding an unofficial position that contradicts the official position? Can the GB have it both ways? So far the answer is yes. But it is a race against time. Armageddon or a viable blood substitute needs to arrive before the rank and file awaken to what has happened.
In support of the new unofficial position, the August 6, 2006 edition of Awake! magazine portrayed blood (and all its ingredients) as precious and an incredibly wonderful and unique “organ.” The timing of this article suggests the GB had an agenda. Only eight months previously, the The Tort of Misrepresentation essay was published in Baylor University’s prestigious Journal of Church and State (December 13, 2005). In response, the GB went the extra mile in explaining the complexity of blood and portraying it in a very positive light, including detailed information about HBOC’s (blood substitutes in FDA trials). The articles served to achieve two objectives: First, to defend that leadership had been diligent in educating members (not misrepresenting blood as the essay asserted). The second objective was to clear the path for the HBOC blood substitute (which at that time was assumed soon to be approved by the FDA) to be accepted in the JW community. Unfortunately, the HBOC’s failed and were pulled from FDA trials in 2009. The following are excerpts from the August 6 articles:
“Because of its amazing complexity, blood is often likened to an organ of the body. ‘Blood is one of the many organs—incredibly wonderful and unique,’ Dr. Bruce Lenes told Awake! Unique indeed! One textbook describes blood as ‘the only organ in the body that’s a fluid.’”
Some manufacturers now process hemoglobin, releasing it from human or bovine red blood cells. The extracted hemoglobin is then filtered to remove impurities, chemically modified and purified, mixed with a solution, and packaged. The end product—not yet approved for use in most lands is called a hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier, or HBOC. Since the heme is responsible for the rich red color of blood, a unit of HBOC looks just like a unit of red blood cells, the primary component from which it is taken. Unlike red blood cells, which must be refrigerated and discarded after a few weeks, the HBOC can be stored at room temperature and used months later. And since the cell membrane with its unique antigens is gone, severe reactions due to mismatched blood types pose no threat.
“Without question, blood performs functions that are essential to life. That is why the medical community has made a practice of transfusing blood into patients who have lost blood. Many doctors would say that this medical use is what makes blood so precious. However, things have been changing in the medical field. In a sense, a quiet revolution has been underway. Many doctors and surgeons are not so quick to transfuse blood as they once were. Why?”
This is an intriguing statement and question we will next address.
Why Doctors And Surgeons Can Treat Without Transfusing Blood
As mentioned previously, the JW community at large feels that adherence to the doctrine has resulted in God’s divine blessing. They point to the many advancements in bloodless surgery, perhaps noting that many lives have been spared. This would seemingly support the concept that abstaining from blood brings God’s blessing, allowing many doctors and surgeons to treat without transfusing blood. It is a fact that many are choosing to refrain from transfusion therapy. But the underlying question is, what gave them this option?
The No Blood Doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses can be credited for playing a pivotal role in the advancement of blood conservation techniques. JW patients have unwittingly participated in what could be considered clinical trials. Doctors and surgeons have been afforded the opportunity to practice revolutionary techniques and procedures that involve high risk. What was effectively trial and error surgery has resulted in major medical breakthroughs. So, we can say that Jehovah’s Witness patients have contributed to major advancements in bloodless surgery. But what was the price paid in exchange for such medical breakthroughs? Does the end justify the means? Do the lives of those that were lost (over decades) while complying with the No Blood doctrine offset the many that now benefit from bloodless surgery?
I am in no way suggesting that the medical profession has acted unethically or unscrupulously. They should be recognized for having done all that they possibly can to preserve life. Essentially, they were handed a lemon, so they made lemonade. Either they operate on JW patients without blood, or allow the patient to deteriorate and suffer an untimely death. This has inadvertently proved to be the silver lining of the No Blood doctrine. Doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, hospitals, and the medical community at large have had the opportunity to practice and perfect bloodless surgery and blood conservation without fear of malpractice in the event of major complications (even death). In fact, the No Blood directive works as a release that protects all involved from liability should the patient suffer harm during the treatment or procedure. Think of how over many decades, the JW community has provided a never-ending stream of participants willing to volunteer to be “practiced on” all over the world. My, but what a Godsend for the medical community!
Still, what about the victims?
Bloodless Surgery – A Clinical Research Trial?
A clinical trial is defined as:
“Any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes.”
The FDA typically regulates clinical trials, but in the case of bloodless surgery, a clinical trial would be highly unlikely due to the ethical challenge it presents. If preserving life underlies any medical treatment, the patient involved in bloodless surgery would receive an intervention in the event of a complication during surgery. This being said, data from case studies would be skewed. For case study history to be accurate, there could be no end-of-life intervention; no parachute. The patient (and medical team) would have to commit to non-intervention and allow one of the following to occur:
- The patient survives the procedure or therapy and stabilizes.
- The patient does not survive.
This writer cannot imagine the FDA participating in clinical trials that do not allow end-of-life intervention to save the patient. The phrase, “first do no harm”, is the creed of doctors and surgeons as well as officials of the FDA. Life must be preserved first, if intervention has a chance of preserving it. In my opinion, if not for JW patients acting as clinical trial volunteers (with no compensation I might add), advancements in bloodless surgery would likely be 20 years behind where they are today.
Does The End Justify The Means?
Do the lives of the many who have benefited from bloodless surgery in recent years, offset the lives of those whose chance of survival was dramatically reduced due to refusing transfusion intervention since 1945? Is it trade off; a wash? We have the utmost compassion for families who have lost a family member who refused blood. We also acknowledge the emotional and ethical challenges faced by their medical team as they stood by, helpless to intervene with a therapy that could have preserved life. Some may feel comforted knowing that Jehovah can rectify any injustice through the resurrection. Still, does the end justify the means?
If the means reflects honesty and is scriptural, then yes, we could say that the end also reflects honesty and is scriptural. But this expression is generally used as an excuse someone gives to achieve their goals by any means necessary, no matter how immoral, illegal, or unpleasant the means may be. The “end justifying the means” statement usually involves doing something wrong to achieve a positive outcome, then justifying the wrong by pointing to the positive result. Two examples come to mind:
Lying on a resume. One might rationalize that embellishing one’s resume could result in a higher paying job, thus they’ll be better able to support themselves and their family. While providing well for one’s family is morally honorable, does the end justify the means? How is lying viewed in the eyes of God? (Pr 12:22; 13:5; 14:5) In this case the means were dishonest and unethical, therefore the end is dishonest and unethical.
Receiving an abortion. One might rationalize that the abortion can save the life of the mother. While saving the life of the mother is morally right, does the end justify the means? How is the unborn child viewed in the eyes of God? (Psalm 139:13-16; Job 31:15) In this case the means involve murder, therefore the end is murder to save life.
Both of these examples have a positive outcome. A great job that pays well, and a mother that is saved and can live out the rest of her life. The No Blood doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses now has a positive outcome. But does the end justify the means?
What’s At Stake
The purpose of Part 1, 2 and 3 of this series of articles is to share secular facts and reasoning. Then each can make their own decision based upon their conscience. I hope that the information provided helps all to step back and see the forest, away from the trees. We should be aware that in an emergency situation, should we or our loved one even whisper to ambulance or ER personnel the words “Jehovah’s Witness”, or should they see our No Blood card, we will set in motion a legal and ethical protocol that could be very difficult to stop. Even should one advise that they no longer adhere to the teaching; the mere mention could cause those treating us to hesitate; to not be certain, to not act instinctively to preserve our life during the all-important “golden hour.”
In Parts 4 and 5 we delve into scripture. We will consider Noachian law, the Mosaic law, and finally the Apostolic Decree. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood – Part 4I examine only a few key texts with references to avoid redundancy with the excellent and comprehensive work of Apollos (See Jehovah’s Witnesses and the No Blood Doctrine) regarding the scriptural view.
 It would be impossible to accurately account for the number of deaths that might have been avoidable had the medical teams caring for JW patients been permitted to intervene with a potentially life-saving intervention. Much case history is available that strongly suggests that, in the opinion of medical personnel, the percentage for patient survival would have increased dramatically had such intervention been available.
[…] Part 3 of this series examines how it is that medical professionals could view their Jehovah’s Witness patients as a godsend. It is not because they view the doctrine as biblical nor that adherence to the doctrine brings God’s blessing. (Download this file: Jehovahs Witnesses – Blood & Vaccines, to view a visual chart prepared by a member in England. It documents the slippery slope JW leadership has been on in attempting to defend the No Blood doctrine over the years. It includes references to doctrinal interpretations regarding both transfusion and organ transplants.) […]
I read an interesting commentry by david guzik on acts 15 the other day he seems to think that the prohobition on blood and things strangled was imposed mainly as a concessions so as not to stumble many of the jews . This view actually makes alot of sense when we read 1 corinthians 8 and romans 14 .
FJ, I agree it was a concession. Jewish Christians in the Antioch congregation were previously Pharisees, so they still held to many precepts in the law. Two things that really aggravated them were that the new Gentile converts were not circumcised, and they had awful dietary habits regarding meat (compared to the strict kosher laws of the Jewish brothers). The decision came down “not to burden” the Gentile converts with circumcision. But as if to appease the Jewish brothers in some way, they did address the nasty habits in Gentile culture involving eating bloody meat used in conjunction with idol… Read more »
Oh so sorry mate . I was thinking after the comment that it may be your point . I should have waited . It was just a revelation to me i just had to blurt it out . Looking forward to your article though well done . Apologies FJ
No problem. I do wonder why someone voted my comment thumbs down.
Oh sorry again . I must have touched the wrong one . O made the comment from a phone .
Interesting ray franz qoute we have followers leading followers .Jesus said something similar when he said the blind leading the blind .paul also said about those who mislead and are being misled .
the scriptures make it very clear that the life is in the blood, Jehovah said to me all the souls belong, our life with its blood belong to God, to take a life is murder, to take or give blood is stealing from Jehovah , where we are told to abstain from blood, does not mention eating blood, or using it as food,….to abstain means to avoid any connection with it in any form what so ever
Hi Irene, If the Apostolic Decree to abstain from blood (Acts 15) is not stated within the context of some particular act or acts then I don’t see how it would be possible for Christians of the era to abide by it. They wouldn’t know WHAT abstention from blood was required. It would have been a practical impossibility for them to abstain from thinking of blood, touching blood, looking at blood, talking about blood, etc… Hence the statement “abstain from blood” had to be said with some act or acts in mind. Since Christ released Jewish Christians from bondage to… Read more »
I highly recommend a careful reading of Marvin Shilmer’s post. Take each point, read the appropriate scriptures, and mull it over. Not necessarily to be convinced of the argument but at least to understand it.
Your active brother,
I’m sorry my sister but you are mistaken. Please re-read the following:
“Each time the prohibition of blood is mentioned in the Scriptures it is in connection with taking it as food, and so it is as a nutrient that we are concerned with its being forbidden.” (Watchtower 1958 p. 575)
The prohibition to “abstain” from blood was about taking animal blood in as food.
Leadership at that time believed that a transfusion provided nutrition. This is what they based the blood doctrine upon.
To “abstain” means to not EAT blood. That is all it means.
Thanks Sopater, I had no idea, that this is the rational behind our abstaining from blood! I appreciate you building this case slowly as a JW, my mind needs to read and re-read these articles. Its interesting to have it presented this way. A bit of an eye opener. Looking forward to your Final parts to this subject.
Thank you AR. Your kind words express what I have hoped to accomplish. The first sentence of the article says: “The majority in the JW community surmise that the No Blood doctrine is a biblical teaching, yet few comprehend what holding this position requires.” Just as is shown in your case, precious few are aware of the “rational” behind the teaching. I feel the majority in the JW community would be shocked to learn this. Then to attempt to rationalize this with the GB’s new position allowing 100% of blood fractions. So, let me get this straight: The official position… Read more »
Hi Sopater, The question you’d love to ask Watchtower’s leadership is one they’ve been asked. In year 2007 Watchtower went on record in a letter. A writer asked this question to Watchtower’s leadership: — “Will you please explain the basis for refusing blood fractions such as platelets and leukocytes when the Bible is just as silent about these as it is about hemoglobin and albumin from blood?” Watchtower’s answer was this: — “As to blood’s medical uses, a careful examination of what has been published by Jehovah’s Witnesses will reveal that our consistent position has been that whole blood or… Read more »
Hi Sopater, I’ve enjoyed this series of articles. You’ve clearly researched this subject well and have presented your information plainly and unpretentiously. Thank you. Without wanting to detract from your good work, I did want to point out an aspect of this particular essay that could potentially be misconstrued by your audience. Discussing the history of the blood doctrine and its early formation within the context of WWII might be counted by some as evidence against the soundness of the doctrine itself. However, arguing against a position by showing how people have come to hold it is to commit the… Read more »
Vox, I appreciate your comment and observation regarding potential for this to be misconstrued as a genetic fallacy. It was good to point this out. That said, when it comes to Watchtower’s underlying premise Sopater has emphasized (i.e., transfused blood is providing nutrition) there is nothing in the development of the blood policy we see today versus it’s original form that supports that premise. That premise was known to be false long before 1944 and since then that finding has only been underscored with additional lab experiments and clinical observations all of which is documented. Honestly, I don’t really see… Read more »
Vox, Thank you brother. I appreciate your observation. My purpose in devoting much time to the historical narrative is not to attempt to prove the doctrine unsound by this alone. I hope that the readers haven’t viewed I was arguing as such. The WW2 backdrop and context was provided to allow the reader to get inside the minds of those who invented the doctrine. The average JW (and lurking JW) has absolutely no idea of where and how the teaching originated. Secular historical fact surrounding the birth of the doctrine will force the reader (lurking JW) to research outside the… Read more »
Please don’t stop meandering, Sopater. Unless, of course, your readership are just “out for blood”. 😉
Clever Vox 🙂
I second that!!!
Quote “Also the view that a heart transplant could cause the recipient to take on personality traits of the donor?” I watched a TV program (positive about transplants) that demonstrated that this is clearly so. A guy that never climbed a hill became a mountain climber. A guy who couldn’t get his body off the couch became a mad cyclist, riding in all sorts of inclement weather. I personally knew of a young lady who got a heart lung from a man…messed her up like you wouldn’t believe. Through the ’60s and ’70s the amount of people that died from… Read more »
Greg, Welcome. You said: “I watched a TV program (positive about transplants) that demonstrated that this is clearly so. A guy that never climbed a hill became a mountain climber. A guy who couldn’t get his body off the couch became a mad cyclist, riding in all sorts of inclement weather. I personally knew of a young lady who got a heart lung from a man…messed her up like you wouldn’t believe. Perhaps you could be more specific, I prefer quotations from references, not just anecdotal stories. The following is a quote from a reputable article in Discover magazine dated… Read more »
One last comment on your post.
“The fact is the industry has caused more deaths than lives saved by blood transfusions.”
Can you please provide reputable reference for this claim?
Just google “iatrogenic death rate” plenty of info there. Just remember the profession is self reporting.
Greg, There are plenty of premature deaths caused by medical mistakes and unforeseen lethal reactions to otherwise appropriate medical treatment. This is a part of the history of medical advancement. To me the single most important statistic about whether as a whole medical science and practice is advancing is the calculated average life span. In the last century life expectancy in the United States increased by decades. Medical science is for the purpose of prolonging life and maintaining a higher quality of life, human life in this instance. To what do you attribute the increase in longevity over the past… Read more »
I would venture forth the opinion that a massive reduction in accidents in industry and on the farm is the major reason for the average increase in lifespan. The greater availability of medical care along with great strides in trauma care has certainly played its part. Anyway my point still stands. Best to prove it’s doctrinally wrong by the use of the scriptures and exclude opinion pieces by the provider or somehow portray the industry truly cares for its customers. I casually follow the stock market, I can assure you the business answers first to its stockholders. I was with… Read more »
A primary tool making the “great strides in trauma care” you speak of includes the tremendous progress in hematological medicine over the past 100-years.
Marvin, You make an excellent visual in your scenario: “If, for instance, we have an otherwise healthy child and that child is suddenly bleeding out from a traumatic laceration and facing multiple organ failures unless oxygen delivery can be immediately established, what precisely do you suggest other than transfusion of packed red cells, or even whole blood if necessary? Would you have physicians stand by and withhold probably the only therapy that would prevent that patient from dying?” I’d like to add one additional detail: Let’s say the child involved is Greg’s child or grandchild? I wonder how hostile he… Read more »
Thanks for the counsel Bro. Sopater. Yes quite right I’m not a journalist or writer but I know what is easy to read and what a leading question is. There were 2 entire paragraphs almost filled with questions in the above article, I was exhausted at the end of it. The TV show was journalistic of course, so half of it was probably rubbish, but nevertheless it was compelling. Here is a quote from Dr. Copeland, the University of Arizona transplant surgeon, Although he has serious doubts that they may also inherit memories and tastes from their donors, Copeland says… Read more »
Greg, You mentioned earlier that you felt my use of questions is similar to Watchtower. Well that it may be. Consider this: There are more than 8 million humans on this planet going through everyday activities who at any moment could be faced with an emergency. A car accident, industrial accident, gunshot wound, deep laceration, a heart attack, a stroke (there are of course many other scenarios). Basically, any medical situation where the patient is losing blood and may be facing hemorrhagic shock. Writing for our “regular” audience here at BP is like preaching to the choir. Many already reject… Read more »
Lot of questions again. I’ve got to admit you love lots of words and questions. The question of blood for most lurkers is probably the last thing a JW would look at. 1914 is was difficult enough to come to terms with. By the time a new apostate or potential apostate looks at blood he is well along his journey. I’m sure someone out there will say blood was the thing that changed them but it would be relatively rare. The thought of whole blood transfusion turns my stomach as it would most JWs and many exJWs. Doctrinally I’ve come… Read more »
Greg, I couldn’t disagree with your more. Hemoglobin being allowed in 2004 began my awakening process. I feel I am not alone. To challenge the No Blood teaching doctrinally is much like a he said she said. The lurking JW can readily bring up the WT CD Library and find a rebuttal to any scripture or reasoning that challenges the doctrine. Hands down. They move on content the No Blood teaching is scriptural. On the other hand, to present historical, secular, and scientific facts present a dilemma for the JW. They can not refute this information using the WT CD… Read more »
Greg, One last thought (if you still hold your view then I’m spinning my wheels). One of the reasons I see this as a “glass half full” situation (judging the performance of the medical profession) is that to attack them (as you have) only serves to create further angst than already exists. As your story noted, the anesthesiologist HATED JW’s. I don’t know about you, but when I go to a restaurant, I don’t want the waiter or cook to hate me. It’s not been a perfect world. Many mistakes have happened, mostly due to lack of knowledge. This can… Read more »
Dear Greg, I appreciate your perspective, but mine differs when it comes to Watchtower’s blood doctrine. This particular doctrinal position has led many a person to examine why the religion teaches things it does, only to find out many of its teachings are just as man-devised as a lot of other new religious movement. On the subject of medical intervention, I think you miss an important point. No one here that I know of advocates transfusion of blood as a medical elixir. The point is, I believe, that Watchtower’s blood taboo wrongly impedes the Jehovah’s Witness patient population from accepting… Read more »
Have you read Part 1 on Blood?
Your thoughts are strikingly similar to Clayton J Woodworth, the architect of the No Blood doctrine. He had a big issue with modern medicine and doctors and surgeons in general.
So what’s your beef with the medical profession? Are you a malpractice attorney, or do you work in the field?
Never heard of Clayton Woodworth.
What I’m saying, if you feel ( probably quite rightly as you have done all the research) that the Watchtower is doctrinally wrong, don’t going looking for support for your view from opinions from the medical industry. That industry is no more righteous than religious, political or commercial entities.
Its either doctrinally wrong or not.
Greg, thanks for your reply. If you read Parts 1 and 2….. then Part 3 will make more sense to you. I’m slowly building a case. Also, at the end of this article (Part 3), you will note a link to the comprehensive work of Apollos (one of the principals involved in BP and DTT). There you will find much reasoning that tackles the doctrine doctrinally. This may be what you feel is lacking in my articles in Parts 1-3. This is by design my brother. First to avoid redundancy, and secondly, the historical narrative in the backdrop of WW2… Read more »
Really? Maybe the preface to “The Finished Mystery” will refresh your memory?
“It seemed pleasing to the Lord that Brothers C. J. Woodworth and George H. Fisher should prepare the Seventh Volume, under the direction of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY.”
I really would not waste your time reading it though. Getting the truth out of that book would be like trying to get blood out of a stone 😉
Sopater, Everything that could be wrong with the blood policy is most certainly found within it. There is one fact rarely mentioned, you may have touched on it, and if so, I apologize for missing it. I can make no claim to understanding the human mind and the human heart even less so. Raymond Franz once quoted Ed Dunlap as saying that what we have are followers of followers. I take that to mean there was a follow the leader mentality which was circular. My point brother is that many in the leadership, we ourselves once followed, themselves believed the… Read more »
Thank you Joshua. Yes, I recall Ray saying in CoC that leadership has been “victims of victims”. Can we honestly feel the originators (back in 1945) were victims? I do believe they were victims of to the never ending “imminence of Armageddon” teaching handed them from Rutherford at the beginning of WW2. As far as the blood doctrine itself, I feel there’s enough reliable history to show that they knew better. I think they had knowledge of current medical science, but felt the need to keep JW’s in the limelight and courts as being “separate from the world.” Their conviction… Read more »
Sopator, I leave all things in Jehovah’s hands recognizing that since the fall of Adam and Eve men have had a propensity toward disregarding God’s word and to push ahead. Israel went wrong many times but Christ came to them nonetheless. Christianity has exercised more evil than ancient Israel yet Christians hope for Christ’s return. Who among us can claim to know the heart of every man in a responsible position at Bethel? King Manasseh practiced idolatry and made his children pass through the fire. He was punished, he repented, and was forgiven. Surely, for the sake of the 8… Read more »
Sopater, There is reason to believe Watchtower leadership was, at the time, willing to assert a doctrinal position knowing that position was false at a fundamental level because of a potential benefit to be had for the organization. The period that saw birth Watchtower’s blood doctrine also saw the birth of Watchtower’s neutrality doctrine in relation to pledging allegiance to national entities. Something very peculiar happened in year 1941. Bear with me through the next long paragraph, there is a point… In 1941 the Watchtower organization offered to Jehovah’s Witnesses an a pledge of allegiance statement as an alternative to… Read more »
Marvin, You are correct my brother. It is first and foremost, what is expedient for the organization isn’t it? I’m reminded of what Ray said about Mexico back in the 60’s and 70’s….. the GB turning the other way while brothers in Mexico bribed military officials (and lied that they had performed the obligatory one year military service to avoid going to prison) which placed them in the National Reserves….. the first to be called in the event of a war…… all because the GB wanted and needed them to remain elders and CO’s. This same GB forced the Malawi… Read more »
There are many things telling me that top leadership inside Watchtower has not believed in its own blood doctrine for years, but one thing is very telling and is, in my view, conclusive. Let me explain… When we humans introduce material into our digestive tract the very first thing that happens is fractionation. Most foods are not like alcohol, which can be immediately absorbed and distributed as is and then used as fuel by the body. Most foods must be broken down first. There are commercial operations whose specialty is taking materials (e.g., various vegetation) and fractionating them to isolate… Read more »
The real test would be if the leadership desperatly needed a transfusion , but no doubt if that was the case it would be kept secret at all costs ,
Think about this: When children of Jehovah’s Witnesses were being brutally persecuted in the United States over refusing to pledge allegiance to the United States, top Watchtower leadership were behind the scenes pledging the national Oath of Allegiance to the United States in order to secure passports make their international travel more efficient. Someone neglected to inform the general community of Jehovah’s Witnesses that it was entirely appropriate to pledge the national Oath of Allegiance to the United States, and to do so with no mental reservation whatsoever as though it could possibly be wrong. No. Children of Jehovah’s Witnesses… Read more »
Can you post here the allegiance oath on passports of the time?
And, here: http://marvinshilmer.blogspot.com/2010/05/oath-of-allegiance_11.html
Thank you, Marvin. We all have had our personal experiences in the Organization. With regard to national oaths of allegiance, which you have brought up, my experience has been as follows: I did not pledge allegiance to the FLAG because it was regarded as an object of worship with all the required traditions and rules applied to objects of worship. A flag should not touch the ground, it must be destroyed in the approved manner etc. So as a child I did not pledge allegiance to the FLAG. As an adult I did swear/affirm loyalty to the government meaning I… Read more »
Joshua, I don’t want to run the subject off course, but just a tab bit more about my experience I’ll add. I agree with you on the symbol thing. Saluting a symbol is arguably an act of idolatry and that part I get. In my case the thing that caused problems was the national allegiance. From classmates and school authorities I’d be confronted with things like, “If you don’t want to salute the flag why not just pledge allegiance to the country?” Or, “We understand the objection based on a symbol, but can you stand here and just tell us… Read more »
Reading your account left me saddened, but also made me reflect on the great joy ahead of us. You bore the brunt of a cruel and ignorant world and stood fast for what you then believed in. Even if you suffered needlessly, your heart suffered for Christ – and that is a treasure that no-one can take from you now (1 Pet. 2:19). The heavens have chronicled your stance, and as you well know, our Father never forgets an act of true loyalty and love for him (Heb. 6:10). May God grant you peace, my brother.
Dear Marvin, as I read your reply to Joshua, Your story brought tears to my eyes, and I say amen to the reply Vox Ratio gave you. He hit the nail right on the head., and may God and his Christ gives us all peace in our hearts.
Kind regards your sister Willy
I’m sorry to hear of your bad experience, Marvin. During the war some Witnesses were beaten and even worse, a time of heightened nationalism, and naturally so. After the war that same fervent patriotism continued to mistakenly cause trouble for some. In my case, and that of school age JWs in my area, as far as I know, we had little more than bad looks turned our way. Most of that in the beginning of the year, many of them soon ignored it afterwards. But I’m talking late 50’s and 60’s a time far different than during the war and… Read more »
Thank for the research and effort to make this difficult subject more easy to read and understand.
Your sister in Christ
Thank you Willy, I realize its a lengthy article,but this doctrine permeates the very fabric of JW culture. The No Blood doctrine is the most peculiar of all the teachings that separate us from other faiths. The No Blood cards and tags are like a badge of honor and millions are willing become martyrs in support of this man made tradition.
To demolish deeply entrenched speculation and presumption raised against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:4,5) requires many facts and much sound reasoning. I pray this information will save lives.
I agree the No Blood doctrine is among the most peculiar. The more I’ve learned about this doctrine (and in particular how Watchtower has behaved when questioned over it) the more the No Blood symbol reminds of the purple triangle forced on honest JWs under German Nazism. It’s a symbol of needless death brought on by an authoritarian rule.
I agree, Marvin.
What a great exposé! You have shown that the teaching that the advancements in bloodless medicine are a blessing from Jehovah is sheer propaganda. The Bible condemns child sacrifice. Jehovah wouldn’t have us sacrifice our children on the altar of medical science. He is a God of love.