I was visiting friends this week, some I hadn’t seen in a long time. Obviously, I wanted to share the marvelous truths I’ve discovered these past few years, but experience told me to do so with great care. I waited for the right turn in the conversation, then planted a seed. Little by little, we got into deeper topics: The child abuse scandal, the 1914 fiasco, the “other sheep” doctrine. As the conversations (there were several with different ones) drew to an end, I told my friends that I wouldn’t broach the subject again unless they wanted to talk about it more. Over the course of the next few days, we vacationed together, went places, ate out. Things were just like they’d always been between us. It was as if the conversations had never taken place. They never touched on any of the subjects again.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. I have a very close friend of 40 years who gets very disturbed when I bring up anything that might make him question his belief. Yet, he very much wants to remain my friend, and enjoys our time together. We both have an unspoken agreement to simply not venture into the taboo area.
This kind of intentional blindness is a common reaction. I’m no psychologist, but it sure seems like some form of denial. It is by no means the only type of reaction one gets. (Many experience outright opposition, and even ostracism, when speaking about Bible truths to Witness friends.) However, it is common enough to warrant further exploration.
What I see—and I’ve very much appreciated the insight and experiences of others along these lines—is that these ones chose to remain in the life they’ve come to accept and love, the life that gives them a sense of purpose and an assurance of God’s approval. They are convinced they are going to be saved as long as they go to meetings, go out in service, and follow all the rules. They are happy with this status quo, and don’t want to examine it at all. They want nothing to threaten their world view.
Jesus spoke about blind guides leading blind men, but it still is baffling to us when we attempt to restore sight to the blind and they intentionally close their eyes. (Mt 15:14)
This subject came up at a propitious time, because one of our regular readers wrote in about a conversation he is having by email with family members which is very much in this vein. His argument is based on this week’s CLAM Bible Study. There we find Elijah reasoning with the Jews whom he accuses of “limping upon two different opinions”.
“…those people did not realize that they had to choose between the worship of Jehovah and the worship of Baal. They thought that they could have it both ways—that they could appease Baal with their revolting rituals and still ask favors of Jehovah God. Perhaps they reasoned that Baal would bless their crops and herds, while “Jehovah of armies” would protect them in battle. (1 Sam. 17:45) They had forgotten a basic truth—one that still eludes many today. Jehovah does not share his worship with anyone. He demands and is worthy of exclusive devotion. Any worship of him that is mixed with some other form of worship is unacceptable to him, even offensive!” (ia chap. 10, par. 10; emphasis added)
In a previous article, we learned that the most common word for worship in Greek—the one implied here—is proskuneo, which means “to bend the knee” in submission or servitude. So the Israelites were trying to submit to two rival God’s. The false god of Baal, and the true God, Jehovah. Jehovah wouldn’t have it. As the article says with unwitting irony, this is a basic truth “that still eludes many today.”
The irony continues with paragraph 11:
“So those Israelites were “limping” along like a man trying to follow two pathways at once. Many people today make a similar mistake, allowing other “baals” to creep into their life and push aside the worship of God. Heeding Elijah’s clarion call to stop limping can help us to reexamine our own priorities and worship.” (ia chap. 10, par. 11; emphasis added)
The fact is that most Jehovah’s Witnesses do not want to “reexamine [their] own priorities and worship.” Thus, most JWs won’t see the irony in this paragraph. They would never consider the Governing Body to be a type of “baal.” Yet, they will faithfully and unquestioningly obey every teaching and direction from that body of men, and when someone suggests that perhaps submission (worship) to those instructions might conflict with submission to God, these same ones will turn a deaf ear and carry on as if nothing had been said.
Proskuneo (worship) means abject submission, the unquestioning obedience which we should only give to God, through Christ. Adding in a body of men to that chain of command is both unscriptural and damning to us. We may fool ourselves by saying that we are obeying God through them, but do we not think that the Israelites of Elijah’s day also reasoned that they were serving God and putting faith in him?
Faith is not the same thing as belief. Faith is more complex than simple belief. It means firstly to believe in the character of God; i.e., that He will do good, and will keep his promises. That belief in God’s character motivates the man of faith to do works of obedience. Look at the examples of faithful men and women as put forth in Hebrews 11. In each case, we see they believed that God would do good, even when there were no specific promises; and they acted in accordance with that belief. When there were specific promises, together with specific commands, they believed the promises and obeyed the commands. That is essentially what faith is.
This is more than believing that God exists. The Israelites believed in him and even worshipped him to a point, but they hedged their bets by worshipping Baal at the same time. Jehovah promised to protect them and to give them the bounty of the land if they obeyed his commands, but that wasn’t good enough. Obviously, they weren’t fully convinced Jehovah would keep his word. They wanted a “Plan B.”
My friends are like that, I fear. They believe in Jehovah, but in their own way. They don’t want to deal with him directly. They want a Plan B. They want the comfort of a belief structure, with other men to tell them what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, how to please God and what to avoid so as not to displease him.
Their carefully constructed reality provides them with comfort and security. It is a paint-by-numbers form of worship that requires them to attend two meetings a week, go out in the door to door work regularly, attend conventions, and obey whatever the men of the Governing Body tell them to do. If they do all those things, everyone they care about will continue to like them; they can feel superior to the rest of the world; and when Armageddon comes, they will be saved.
Like the Israelites in the time of Elijah, they have a form of worship of which they believe God approves. Like those Israelites, they believe they are putting faith in God, but it is a facade, a pseudo-faith which will prove false when put to the test. Like those Israelites, it will take something truly shocking to break them free of their complacency.
One can only hope that it doesn’t come too late.
Interesting topic and comments. Food for thought: did Jesus guide his followers to a congregation or did He just preach to them? Did Jesus confront the religious leaders or their members? Did Jesus make any distinction regarding who He would heal and who He would not heal? Was their any pre-requisite on Jesus side that was required in order to be healed by Jesus? So, if we are followers of Christ, it is not so much the members we should “challenge” but those in the lead. We should inform all, JW’s, Protestants etc, about wrong doctrines. In the end, it… Read more »
Nicely put, Menrov. You’re right. As content (and even happy) as the brothers and sisters may feel within the confines of JW discipleship, in the long run it will be damaging to their soul. I’m reminded of Jesus words about Pharisee discipleship:
“Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one YOU make him a subject for Ge·henʹna twice as much so as yourselves.” (Mt 23:15)
Joshua has spoken very clearly that it is not enough to expose false teachings. Amen. Some posts only serve to attack the wrong teachings of JW’s or other denominations. That’s why I personally appreciate the posts that briefly show what’s wrong, and then provide ‘something good to chew on.’ The writers/moderators in this website seem to be doing a good job of presenting truths in a concise way. Less time attacking, more time teaching…better! Some of the better posts are those that have just a few well selected scriptures that clearly state the point. Jesus practice was to select just… Read more »
Thank you for your thoughtful post. The WT interpretation is full of contradictions. I wrote about this subject four years ago when just starting up Beroean Pickets. (See here.) However, I was still somewhat influenced by the JW mindset. I’m not convinced that the two witnesses refers to two literal individuals, but time will tell. It could be so. One thing I have no doubt about is this: the fulfillment is yet future. I also appreciate your insight into Jesus’ “eagle/vulture” metaphor. I wonder if it might mean more than simply a sign that the end is near. Could there… Read more »
“In addition to all true Christians shining in one way or another, two prophets will be selected from among his congregation. I suppose some would like to think that Elijah and Moses represent the group of anointed ones. If you are of the body of Christ, then it might be temptation to think that God is using you as a “prophet” like Elijah. Humility would teach you the opposite.” I don’t know how anyone could be tempted to be a true prophet, since it comes with great responsibility and suffering from the examples we have in the bible. Only a… Read more »
You say are disappointed with the response of some Witnesses to your efforts to help. Are you also disappointed with the response from your web site? Are you getting too little response, or response from the wrong kind of people?
The disappointment I feel is with friends of whom I expected more. The web sites are another matter altogether. I started meletivivlon.com merely for research purposes. It has become so much more.
“Like the Israelites in the time of Elijah, they have a form of worship of which they believe God approves … a pseudo-faith …” How true.
When things get difficult the shocking truth is the one mentioned in the shepherding book, page 65: “Apostasy is …Deliberately spreading teachings contrary to Bible truth as taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses: (Acts 21:21, ftn.; 2 John 7, 9, 10)”
The Bible truth as taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses? No need to worry about Jesus or God’s view.
I agree with Joshua, You cannot fight this, but we can help individuals.
“One can only hope that it doesn’t come too late.” Not sure what you mean by that, Meleti. Most Catholics, most Protestants, will not leave their Christian home for another. Jesus searched for, and fed, the minority not the majority. Only a comparative few will come here seeking encouragement, association, and scriptural insight. If you have found one lost sheep but the other 99 do not want to go with you then count your blessings that God has seen fit to deliver that one sheep into your care. In other words, feeding the sheep we are in association with is… Read more »
I was trying to express–albeit poorly–the sentiments expressed here: “But do you suppose, O man, that while you judge those who practice such things and yet you do them, you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, because you do not know that God in his kindness is trying to lead you to repentance?” (Ro 2:3, 4) “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with YOU because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to… Read more »
Brother, On the basis of the two scriptures you quoted the JWs are correct, most people are doomed. How many Christians are blind, even willfully blind, to the religious error taught/practiced in their respective religions? In my opinion, most. When we “preach” our new found knowledge why should most JWs listen and believe? Do we offer a better association? Will their children find friends among us? Will we here ever exchange a warm handshake or all the sisters visit one another? Will the brothers here gather together for a meal or a game? All this first century Christians had, all… Read more »
You are right if we accept the point of view of all organized religion that salvation depends on membership and that when Jesus comes the choices will be between eternal life and eternal death. This is, of course, the view of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Everyone on earth at Armageddon will die eternally unless they are members of the JW faith. Baptists, Adventists, and most other Christian religions believe variations on this theme. I no longer see this as scripturally accurate. I’m working on a detailed analysis of what the Christian hope really is, but I doubt it will be done before… Read more »
The hope Christ preached in the first century is the same hope today:
A little flock called by Christ’s Father to be his brothers and be subordinate rulers during his Kingdom.
I agree with your sentiments, Meleti. We could continue remaining in a complacent state by thinking sincere JWs are NOT lost since they await Christ, as do any who NOW realize that salvation is only through Christ and not the WT. Christ expects us to accept his light completely, not partially. 1 John 1:5,6 Our sincerity in our belief in Christ can be shown by our love for those needing to be snatched out of the fire. Not only is it compassion that would cause us to speak boldly, but fear for the very lives of those “limping on two… Read more »
You’ve given me a lot of food for thought, Sackcloth. I have often wondered about the Eagles metaphor at Mt 24:28. Thank you.
Sackcloth, It feels like the right thing to announce the error of the Watchtower to all we meet in the Organization but with that good feeling comes responsibility. Moses did not lead the Jews out of Egypt merely to drop them in the desert. He worked for them, organized them, taught them, built their Tabernacle, instituted their priesthood etc. He dedicated his life to them. Christ did not just throw out criticisms or expose hypocrisy. He LED, he taught and formed a new Jewish assembly/congregation. Jesus did not take out and abandon, he dedicated himself to teaching and helping his… Read more »
“But rather when we do speak recognizing that we have become a minister to any who hear and as a minister we should be ready to provide a lifetime of physical fellowship and spiritual succor as Jesus himself did.” I absolutely agree with you, Joshua. It is the role of ministering priests to do this, in spirit and truth, which undoubtedly would be in love. Mal 2:7 It couldn’t be accomplished without Holy Spirit backing the endeavor by all of us, as well as pure truth in Christ. “And I will give POWER to my two witnesses, and they will… Read more »
Appreciate your reply, sackcloth.
No, I’m not advocating a Plan C.
I’m just concerned with the spiritual welfare of my brothers and sisters who are falling out of the Watchtower and into atheism/agnosticism.
I’d just like to add a thought to sackcloth’s thought provoking reply. In turning to the example of Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt and subsequently caring for them, it is surely important to keep in mind that no man is the modern day Moses. That position goes to Jesus Christ (Heb 3:1-6). Therefore it is not as if we are as individuals at the helm leading others out of false worship and then need to construct a new tabernacle, etc. We are like fellow men and women who can point out to others that Jesus Christ is our… Read more »
“it will take something truly shocking to break them free of their complacency”
Our Father’s promise:
Malachi 4:5 “Look! I am sending to you E·liʹjah the prophet before the coming of the great and awe-inspiring day of Jehovah. And he will turn the hearts of fathers back toward sons, and the hearts of sons back toward fathers, so that I may not come and strike the earth, devoting it to destruction.”
Have faith in Christ. He will send help and it won’t come too late for the honest-hearted blind ones!