[From ws1/16 p. 12 for March 21-27]
“We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.” – Zec 8:23
Here at Beroean Pickets, we endorse critical thinking. “Critical” is what we call a semantically loaded word. That means it carries a cultural connotation which colors its general meaning. For example, if you call a man a pig, are you suggesting he’s affectionate? Not likely, even though pigs can make good pets. If you say a woman is like a rose, are you suggesting she’s prickly? Roses do have spines, but the average English speaker will not take that as your meaning. When we say a person is being critical, we usually mean he is fault-finding, and so “critical thinking” is culturally tainted as a pejorative or demeaning term. This is particularly so in the JW culture when critical or independent thinking is seen as a close cousin to apostasy.
What a far cry from the Bible’s use of the concept! The Scriptures encourage—even command—every Christian to be a critical thinker. That makes perfect sense, for only falsehood has something to fear from being examined critically. That is why Paul took no exception to having his teachings examined critically. In fact, he praised the Beroeans as noble minded because they examined all he taught against what the Scriptures had to say.
The Bible tells us to “test the inspired expression” and to “make sure of all things”. All these require us to think critically—not to find fault, but to find truth. (Acts 17:10-11; 1 John 4:1; 1Th 5:21)
How sad then that so many of my brothers and friends have surrendered their thinking abilities to the whims of the Governing Body. Many, I’ve found, go beyond passive submission and have graduated to active intimidation of others who dare to think for themselves.
I repeat: Only falsehood and those who promote it have anything to fear from being examined. The evidence is overwhelming that the Governing Body cannot tolerate critical thinking. They depend on us to simply accept whatever they teach as truth without ever examining what lies behind it. This week’s study is a textbook example of this mindset. In fact, there are so many blanket assertions thrown around that we’d spend all our time addressing them before we could ever get down to the article’s main subject. Therefore, to expedite matters, we’ll simply highlight those we cannot address in this article with a hyperlink to previous Beroean Picket articles that fully cover and disprove these assertions. In this way, we’ll be able to stay on topic and not be distracted.
Assertion 1: “Speaking of the time in which we are living, Jehovah foretold: ““We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.” – Zech. 8:23”
No proof is given that Zechariah 8:23 refers to the time in which we are living. Let’s look at the context. Read the whole chapter 8 of Zechariah. What do you observe? Do not passages like, “Old men and women will again sit in the public squares of Jerusalem, each with his staff in his hand because of his great age. And the public squares of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing there”, indicate that this is a prophecy applying to the restoration of Israel following its captivity in Babylon? (Zec 8:4, 5)
Nevertheless, this prophecy includes features that were not fulfilled prior to the time of Christ. For instance:
“This is what Jehovah of armies says, ‘It will yet come to pass that peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will come; 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to those of another and say: “Let us earnestly go to beg for the favor of Jehovah and to seek Jehovah of armies. I am also going.” 22 And many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek Jehovah of armies in Jerusalem and to beg for the favor of Jehovah.’ 23 “This is what Jehovah of armies says, ‘In those days ten men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will take firm hold of the robe of a Jew, saying: “We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.”’” (Zec 8:20-23)
The Governing Body would have us believe that this was written to foretell events that occurred in the 20th Century. But isn’t it far more likely that Zechariah was still talking about literal Jews? Otherwise, we have to accept a mid-prophecy switch from literal Jews to spiritual Jews. And yet, even if we accept that switch, does it still not make more sense historically that the prophecy was fulfilled by the numerous men of the nations—Gentiles—who joined the Christian congregation which began in the literal Jerusalem with literal Jews taking the lead? Does it not make more sense that the ten men of the nations are literally “men of the nations” and not some made up class of secondary Christian denied spirit anointing?
Assertion 2: “Like the figurative ten men, those with an earthly hope…” Only works if there is a class with an earthly hope. (See Going Beyond What Is Written)
Assertion 3: “They are proud to associate with the “spirit anointed” Israel of God.” Only works if there is a distinct class of Christian that are the “Israel of God” while the rest of Christians are to be considered “men of the nations”. (See Orphans)
Assertion 4: “Do those of the other sheep need to know the names of all those who are anointed today?” Presupposes that the other sheep are only saved by helping the anointed. (Mt 25:31-46) Mt 10:16 works and is consistent within its context if we understand that the other sheep are really anointed Gentile Christians. Considering everything said in that chapter, it is wild speculation to conclude Jesus was talking about a class of Jehovah’s Witnesses that would appear in 1934.
Assertion 5: “…even if someone has received the heavenly calling, that person has received only an invitation….” Presupposes that an invitation—a special calling—is made, but only to selected individuals. (No proof of this is provided.)
“In no way do the Scriptures encourage us to follow an individual. Jesus is our Leader.” So true. Unfortunately, this is one of those instances where the Governing Body fulfills Matthew 15:8: “This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me.”
If Jesus is our leader, why does this illustration from the April15, 2013 Watchtower show identifiable members of the Governing Body in a position of authority just below that of Jehovah, while Christ “our leader” is conspicuously absent?
Paragraphs 5 & 6
The gist of paragraphs 5 and 6 can be summed up this way: “We know we can’t stop you from partaking even though it makes us look bad when so many new ones start, but if you’re going to do it, just be quiet about it. Don’t encourage others to do it, and don’t contradict our teachings.”
To illustrate just how silly the JW teaching of the Other Sheep can get, consider this sentence from paragraph 6: “Modestly, anointed ones acknowledge that they do not necessarily have more holy spirit than those with an earthly hope.” This would indicate that Jehovah has two different ways of pouring out his spirit on Christians. One that constitutes anointing them, and another that doesn’t. The first time the holy spirit was given to Christians, Peter said:
“And in the last days,” God says, “I will pour out some of my spirit on every sort of flesh. . .” (Ac 2:17)
Do you notice that he made no mention of two different outcomes? He didn’t say, “Some of you will be anointed and others not.” In fact, neither Jesus nor any of the Bible writers make mention of two outcomes derived from the same outpouring of spirit. We’re just making this stuff up.
Paragraph 6 continues: “They would also never suggest to others that these too have been anointed and should start partaking; rather, they would humbly acknowledge that it is Jehovah who does the calling of anointed ones.”
So telling others about this joyous hope is a sign of pride?!
This is the gag order, plain and simple; and it is utterly reprehensible.
At this point, it is beneficial for us to jump ahead to paragraph 10 to see that this order has another side.
“We would not ask them personal questions about their anointing. We thus avoid meddling with what does not concern us.” (Par. 10)
So not only is the partaker to refrain from discussing this important feature of Christianity, but the non-partaker is to avoid asking him about it, as that would be “meddling with what does not concern” him. Wow! They really don’t want us talking about this, do they? Why is this most Christian of observances, this public proclamation of Christ’s sacrificial death, being treated like a taboo subject? (1Co 11:26) What are they afraid will happen?
One of the most effect methods the enemy has of combating the truth is to silence the lips of those who would speak it. This published direction from the Governing Body is not simply unscriptural. It is anti-Scriptural.
“. . .But YOU also hoped in him after YOU heard the word of truth, the good news about YOUR salvation. By means of him also, after YOU believed, YOU were sealed with the promised holy spirit, 14 which is a token in advance of our inheritance, for the purpose of releasing by a ransom [God’s] own possession, to his glorious praise.” (Eph 1:13, 14)
“. . .In other generations this [secret] was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by spirit, 6 namely, that people of the nations should be joint heirs and fellow members of the body and partakers with us of the promise in union with Christ Jesus through the good news.” (Eph 3:5, 6)
How can I preach the good news of salvation so that people might believe, and after they believe, get sealed with the promised holy spirit, if I obey the order of the Governing Body? How can I tell people of the nations that they can share my hope and become joint heirs and fellow members of the body of Christ and “partake with us” if I am gagged by GB directives?
Paul might as well be speaking to Jehovah’s Witnesses directly when he says:
“I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from the One who called you with Christ’s undeserved kindness to another sort of good news. 7 Not that there is another good news; but there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to distort the good news about the Christ. 8 However, even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond the good news we declared to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, I now say again, Whoever is declaring to you as good news something beyond what you accepted, let him be accursed.” (Ga 1:6-9)
Judge Rutherford claimed that since Christ arrived in 1914, he didn’t need to send the spirit anymore to guide us into all the truth. From 1914 onward, divine revelation came by the hand of angels. (See Spirit Communication) It was he who instituted this perversion of the good news, denying millions the truth about God’s purpose. Given this, the curse of Galatians 1:8 should now be resounding in our ears.
Assertion 6: “Although it is a wonderful privilege to have the heavenly calling, anointed Christians do not expect any special honor from others.”
The word “privilege” refers to that which is exclusive to an elite group, something which the rest are denied. The Christian Scriptures don’t use the word privilege, though it is all too frequently found in the publications of JW.org.[i] This fits with the JW theology of a privileged and exclusive class of Christian, a cut above the rank and file. Nevertheless, this idea is not to be found in the Christian Scriptures. There, all are anointed; so there is no privileged class. Instead, all look upon their anointing as an undeserved kindness. All are equal.
“Jehovah’s spirit bore witness to them personally. No announcement was made to the world. So they are not surprised if some people do not readily believe that they have truly been anointed by holy spirit. In fact, they realize that the Scriptures advise against quickly believing someone who claims to have a special appointment from God. (Rev. 2:2)”
It would be understandable if the world did “not readily believe” that they are anointed, but their own brothers? So if we see a brother or a sister partake for the first time, we must remember that the “Scriptures advise against quickly believing” them. It seems that doubt in the integrity of a fellow Christian is now our go-to position.
To reinforce this, the Governing Body cites Re 2:2. I guess they are really depending on Witnesses not to use their thinking ability, because that verse doesn’t apply to partaking of the emblems. It applies to men who appoint themselves as apostles over us. Is there a group of men who have taken upon themselves the mantle of leadership over the Christian congregation as if they were the modern-day equivalent of the Twelve whom Jesus appointed? Re 2:2 tells us what to do: “…put to the test those who say they are apostles, but they are not…” It then calls such one “liars.” So there is a Biblical precedent for calling a man a liar if he has exalted himself to a position he never received from Jesus Christ. (Read an analysis of the Governing Body’s position here, then what the Bible really says about the subject here.)
The carefully worded phrasing of paragraph 7 only serves to create a stigma for the sincere and obedient partaker. It makes for a climate of suspicion and mistrust in the congregation
“In addition, anointed Christians do not view themselves as being part of an elite club.”
This made me laugh. If the average JW is inclined to view “the anointed” as part of an elite club, whose fault is that? Who created the whole idea of an elite class of Christian?
“They do not seek out others who claim to have the same calling, hoping to bond with them or endeavoring to form private groups for Bible study. (Gal. 1:15-17) Such efforts would cause divisions within the congregation and work against the holy spirit, which promotes peace and unity.—Read Romans 16:17”
“They do not seek out others who claim to have the same calling…”? How subtly they sow seeds of doubt!
And what is this about condemning private groups for Bible study. Imagine a Christian teacher condemning other Christians for getting together to study the Bible. Oh, the horror!
What they are really afraid of is that such Christians might discover that “the truths” they hold so dear are not truths at all. There is significant irony in the use of Galatians 1:15-17 as a proof text to support the condemnation of private study groups. When Paul was first anointed, he did not “go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before [he] was”. So if we buy the Governing Body’s teaching that the first century Governing Body was in Jerusalem, what we take from Galatians is that after being anointed, Paul didn’t consult with the Governing Body. If we are to follow his example then, neither should we.
I know that once I realized the true nature of Christianity, I began to partake and intensified my study of the Scriptures. I certainly did avoid consulting with the Governing Body for guidance as they became an impediment to my growing understanding of truth. However, like Paul, there came a time when I felt the need to associate. (He 10:24, 25) So I began to congregate with others. This is as it should be; but the Governing Body would stigmatize this as well.
The kicker is the final sentence in their little warning. Apparently, studying the Bible will cause divisions. (This is all beginning to sound very medieval.)
While it is true that the Holy Spirit promotes peace and unity, paradoxically, it causes divisions. Jesus said:
“Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to cause division, . . .” (Mt 10:34, 35)
While the Governing Body claims to want “peace and unity” in reality they want “peaceful uniformity”. They want us all to agree on one thing: They must be obeyed. They want us to accept without question what they teach, and then to go forth and make converts. (Mt 23:15)
They make unity into the cornerstone of our faith, but it isn’t. While important, it hardly identifies the truth faith. After all, Satan is also united. (Lu 11:18) Truth comes first, then unity follows. Unity without truth is worthless. It is a house built on sand.
Paragraphs 9 to 11
I can only suggest that the reader view the monthly broadcasts and convention highlights on tv.jw.org to see if the Governing Body is following their own advice. Do they humbly eschew the spotlight? Here’s another test. Ask one of the elders in your congregation to name all twelve apostles—you know, the pillars of New Jerusalem. Then ask him to name all seven members of the current Governing Body.
Now we get to the heart of the matter.
“In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of those partaking at the Memorial of Christ’s death. That trend contrasts with the decrease in the number of partakers that we saw for many decades. Should this increase trouble us? No.”
If it shouldn’t trouble us, then why have we devoted two study articles to address this issue? Why is it even an issue? Because it undermines one of the core teachings of the Governing Body. Of course, they cannot acknowledge that, so they have to find ways to dismiss the importance of this trend.
“Those taking the count at the Memorial cannot judge who truly have the heavenly hope.”
How fair, how even-handed of the Governing Body to lovingly instruct us not to judge. If only they had left it at that.
“The number of partakers includes those who mistakenly think that they are anointed. Some who at one point started to partake of the emblems later stopped. Others may have mental or emotional problems that lead them to believe that they will rule with Christ in heaven. Therefore, the number of partakers does not accurately indicate the number of anointed ones left on earth.”
When we combine these words with the statements from paragraph 7, we see how the Governing Body has transformed the joyous occasion of symbolically partaking in the life-saving flesh and blood of our Savior into a test of faith. They have created a climate wherein, say, a sister who wishes to partake out of obedience to the Lord must do so realizing that some will suspect her of emotional or mental problems, while others will suspect she is just being presumptuous, acting out of pride. The elders will certainly watch her from that point forward, wondering if she may be turning apostate. Speaking as one who was once deeply immersed in this doctrinal mindset, I know that the first thought that comes to the JW mind is one of doubt and suspicion.
Whose will are we doing in all this? Who doesn’t want Christians to partake? Who doesn’t want Christians to receive the anointing of the holy spirit? Spirit anointed Christians are the true enemies of Satan, because they are part of the seed. For over 6,000 years he has been warring against those who would become that seed. He’s not stopping now. As Paul said, “…we shall judge angels?” (1Co 6:3) Satan and his demons do not want to be judged—certainly not by us lowly humans. So he would nip this in the bud if he could. He can’t, of course, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
He was very successful with the Catholic church. He managed to deny the rank and file the wine (only the priests are permitted that) but more than that, he managed to keep them from getting baptized altogether. Christening an infant with a sprinkle of water is not the baptism in Christ that grants access to the anointing of the spirit. As proof, consider that the first Corinthian believers had already accepted Christ and been baptized in the baptism of John, but it wasn’t until they were baptized in Christ that they got the Holy Spirit. (Acts 19:1-7) Therefore: No baptism in Christ, no Holy Spirit. Satan surely considered this a major victory.
However, the 19th century must have been a particularly worrying time for him. Many groups of independent Bible students took a long, critical look at the teachings of the traditional churches and began to throw off one abominable false doctrine after another. They were on their way. So he sent teachers into their midst to distract and waylay them. In the case of the Bible Students that became Jehovah’s Witnesses, he accomplished something he’d never done before. He actually got them to stop partaking altogether. He got them to publicly deny the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Today, a new awakening is taking place and he cannot stop it, for the Holy Spirit is more powerful than Satan and his demons. In fact, all his machinations only serve God’s purpose, for it is the testing and tribulation that originate from Satan which makes the critical refining process possible; that which molds us into what our Father is looking for. (2Co 4:17; Mark 8:34, 38)
How sad it is though that many of our friends and brothers are becoming—often unwittingly—part of that testing and refining process.
The Governing Body is implying in this paragraph that Jehovah did most of his selection in the first century, then backed off, and is now ramping up the selection process again. They seem to be grasping at any straw to deflect attention away from the real reason for this increase: Many are simply waking up to the truth.
“We must be careful not to react like the disgruntled workers who complained about the way their master dealt with the 11th-hour workers.”
Yet another misapplication of Scripture. In the parable of the 11th-hour workers, in the end, all the workers were hired. If we make that fit with JW theology, we have to change the parable to where master had thousands of workers to choose from, but only picked a handful.
Assertion 8: “Not all who have the heavenly hope are part of “the faithful and discreet slave.”
And we know this because…? Oh, right, because they told us so. Here’s the reasoning from the paragraph:
“As in the first century, Jehovah and Jesus today are feeding many through the hands of a few [the few today making up the FADS is the GB]. Only a few anointed Christians in the first century were used to write the Christian Greek Scriptures. [Right, but they weren’t the FADS, because the present understanding is that there was no FADS in the first century.] Similarly today, only a few anointed Christians have been appointed to provide spiritual “food at the proper time.” [But these are the FADS unlike their first century counterparts because like their first century counterparts who were not the FADS, these ones also provide food at the proper time, thereby qualifying them to be the FADS.]
I hope that’s clear, but if not, I can go over it again. (For more on this, see Identifying the Slave.)
Assertion 9: “Jehovah has chosen to give two separate rewards—heavenly life for spiritual Jews and earthly life for the symbolic ten men.”
All these baseless assertions get tiring after a while. If the Scriptures speak of two rewards for Christians, then please give us the references!
“Both groups must remain humble. Both groups must be united. Both groups must promote peace in the congregation.”
Peace, unity, humble obedience. This mantra is recited whenever the real truth of the matter must be concealed.
“As the last days draw to a close, let all of us be determined to serve as one flock under Christ.”
Just be aware that “Christ” is code for “the Organization”.
Some may object to my tone during this article. (If so, you should have seen the earlier drafts.)
I try to stay detached and analytical, to appeal to the heart through the mind. I don’t always succeed, but my desire is not to alienate anyone. Nevertheless, there are times when there is so much bovine fodder in an article that it just overwhelms my calm. Elijah lost his on one occasion, as did Paul. So I’m in good company at least. (1Ki 18:27; 2Co 11:23) And then, there is the example of our Lord, who twice beat out the money leaders from the temple. Perhaps my British stiff-upper-lip heritage isn’t what Christianity calls for. It’s a learning process.
[i] Though found in six places in the NWT, the word itself is not found in the original text.