[From ws6/16 p. 23 for August 22-28]
“Continue…forgiving one another freely.”—Col 3:13
There are several trump cards that all Jehovah’s Witnesses carry up their sleeves to be used when someone makes them doubt the legitimacy of the Organization as God’s approved channel. You can bring up the decade-long UN membership of the Organization; you can talk about the growing scandal involving the mishandling of thousands of cases of child abuse; you can prove that many of our core teachings are unscriptural—it all amounts to nothing once they pull out their trump cards. They read like this:
“Even if all you say is true, we are still the Organization Jehovah is using. Where did you first learn the truth? Look at our growth. Who else is preaching the good news in all the earth? Look at the love of the worldwide brotherhood. Is there any organization like this one on the earth? If there are problems, Jehovah will fix them in his good time. You must be patient.”
This is the win-by-default approach to salvation. Apparently, they feel that Jehovah is willing to settle for the lesser of evils, having given up on any hope of finding a truly holy people for his name. (1Pe 2:9)
Of course, this type of trump-card reasoning is counterfeit. It is easy to show that each of these defensive points is bogus. Yet, most JWs will ignore all the evidence and hold tenaciously to this superficial line of reasoning. One can’t really blame them, however. It is the end result of years of consuming a steady diet of indoctrination in the publications. This week’s Watchtower study is a case in point.
Look at the Numbers!
The first two paragraphs offer “proof” of the special status of “God’s Organization” based on our “outstanding growth”.
“JEHOVAH’S…Witnesses make up an organization that is indeed exceptional….God’s holy spirit has been moving his global congregation to grow and prosper.” – Par. 1
“When the last days of the present system began back in 1914, God’s servants on earth were relatively few in number. But Jehovah blessed their preaching work. During the following decades, millions of new ones learned Bible truths and became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah actually pointed forward to this outstanding growth, saying: “The little one will become a thousand and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, will speed it up in its own time.” (Isa. 60:22) That prophetic statement has certainly come true in these last days. Thus, the number of God’s people on earth is now greater than the entire population of many nations.” – Par. 2
It is amazing that even the evidence of JW-compiled statistics can be ignored. Scan the last ten years of Yearbook stats, factor in population growth, and particularly in the Developed World, you will not see growth, but decline.
As for Jehovah making his Organization prosper, we’ve just seen a 25% downsizing in all Bethel staff worldwide. The ranks of special pioneers have been decimated. Most construction projects have been halted indefinitely. How is this evidence that Jehovah is making his Organization “grow and prosper”?
True, the little one has become a thousand, but is that fact a fulfillment of Isaiah 60:22? If so, then we had better include other religions in the mix. For example, the Seventh Day Adventists began only 15 years before Russell started publishing. They now number 18 million, and are preaching in over 200 lands.
A Witness would counter that they preach false doctrines like the Trinity and Hellfire, so they can’t be counted. Let’s overlook the elephant in the room, the false teachings of Witnesses, and submit that if doctrinal purity is the factor, then the worldwide Iglesia ni Cristo that began in the Philippines in 1914 is a candidate for God’s blessing.. They do not teach the Trinity, nor Hellfire, and use God’s name Jehovah. They also do house-to-house preaching and number five million worldwide. Has Jehovah been blessing them?
The thing Witnesses forget is that Jesus never gave numeric growth as a measure of God’s blessing. Quite the opposite. He said that small numbers would typify those being saved. (Mt 7:13-14)
Jesus also said that his disciples would be like wheat among weeds. So rather than foretell a global organization, set apart from all others, his disciples would be found everywhere mixed in with the seeds which Satan sowed. At some point, they’d have to get out, so as not to be found guilty of sin by association. – Mt 13:25-43; Re 18:4
Look at the Love!
Another “trump card” is the love in the Organization. The claim is that only in the Organization will you find “real love”. (ws6/16 p. 8 par. 8)
“For instance, some 55 million people were killed in World War II alone. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses did not participate in that global slaughter.” – Par. 3
This is both true and laudable, but it’s not enough. This is love by abstention. “I love you, because I refuse to kill you.” True Christian love goes way beyond simply not doing evil to others. The article actually quotes John 13:34-35 which defines Christian love, but it leaves out a key element. Can you spot it?
“Jesus, who imitated God’s love, said to his followers: ‘I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another . . . By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.’” – Par. 3
The ellipsis (three dots) indicates that some text is missing. The missing text is: “just as I have loved you, you also love one another”. This isn’t superfluous text. Omitting these words changes the meaning of the verses. Without those words, we can experience the love any other group experiences and fool ourselves into thinking we have the identifying mark of Christianity! Jesus warned us against such self-deceptive thinking:
“. . .For if YOU love those loving YOU, what reward do YOU have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? 47 And if YOU greet YOUR brothers only, what extraordinary thing are YOU doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing?” (Mt 5:46, 47)
Sobering words for all Witnesses to bear in mind: “if you love those loving you, what reward to you have?”
Why would the writer of this article drop this key portion? Why would no Governing Body member—for we are told that all review and vet every Watchtower study article—not catch and correct such a vital omission?
Could it be that by that measuring stick, Witnesses fail to score?
It is important to make Witnesses feel good about themselves. The first review question for the study is: “Why is God’s organization special?” If they were really made to think about the impact of those missing words in John 13:34, they might come to see that they are not special at all, but just like every other group and maybe worse.
Many have found that when they stop going to meetings, the love they experienced evaporates. No one calls. No one visits. Then rumors start to fly. The next thing, the elders want to visit to see if the rumors are true.
The fact is that we do greet only our brothers. Our love stops there.
“. . .Because YOU do not continue running with them in this course…they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of YOU.” (1Pe 4:4)
The course may not be one of debauchery, but everything else about this Scripture tallies with how JWs treat anyone who isn’t fully committed to the cause.
Look at the Preaching Work
“[Satan] cannot stop the preaching of the good news.” – Par. 4
Trump Card: “Only Jehovah’s Witnesses are preaching the good news in fulfillment of Matthew 24:14
This trump card is a counterfeit. Since JWs are preaching as good news a hope which is not found in the Bible, they are simply not preaching the good news. They are preaching a fantasy. It is as if they are selling tickets at a high price for a concert than anyone could get into free of charge. A Witness who dies, expects to be resurrected in the New World. He pays a high cost in personal sacrifice, money, and time to attain to this hope of salvation. He also believes that all the unrighteous who have died will also be resurrected. They pay nothing to get the same eventuality as the Witness. They both get resurrected as imperfect sinners who must grow toward perfection over the course of a thousand years.
Under Jesus’ loving attention, the entire human family—Armageddon survivors, their offspring, and the thousands of millions of resurrected dead who obey him—will grow toward human perfection. (w91 6/1 p. 8)
This is what Witnesses are taught. There are no Scriptures which teach this. This is most certainly not the good news which Christ taught and told us to preach.
Since Jehovah’s Witnesses preach a counterfeit good news, they cannot be fulfilling Matthew 24:14.
Look at the Persecution!
“The progress of God’s people is taking place in a very hostile world, which the Bible says is controlled by Satan, “the god of this system of things.” (2 Cor. 4:4) He manipulates the political elements of this world, as he does the world’s mass media. But he cannot stop the preaching of the good news. However, knowing that he has only a short time left, Satan tries to turn people away from true worship, and he uses various means to do so.” – Par. 4
What the eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world seem collectively to overlook is that in most countries, they enjoy freedom of expression and have for the past 70 years! Where there is hostility, they are not the only ones being persecuted. Most evangelical and fundamentalist Christian groups are also being oppressed. The reason the magazines never fess up to this reality is that to ensure the loyalty of Witnesses, they need to feel special—the chosen of God.
A Test of Loyalty
Having reinforced the feeling of privilege that all Witnesses enjoy, the article moves on to the question of loyalty. Under this subtitle, we are given three examples of prominent men who failed: High Priest Eli, King David, and the Apostle Peter.
(In the mind of JWs, who would hold a position equivalent to that of any of these men?)
In each paragraph we are asked if we would have allowed the conduct of this servant of God to stumble us and stop us from serving Jehovah?
Sadly, the conduct and false teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses have caused thousands to be stumbled to the point of turning agnostic and even atheist.
Paragraph 9 says: “In such situations, will you have confidence that Jehovah will in time judge such wrongdoers, perhaps removing them from the congregation?”
Surely he will, though mere removal from the congregation isn’t what Mark 9:42 warns of for those causing the stumbling.
All that being said, we need to realize that when the article speaks about a cause for stumbling causing one to “stop serving Jehovah”, it really means, “leave the Organization.” These two thoughts are synonymous in the JW mindset.
We are taught that the only way to serve Jehovah is through the organization. This is yet another way in which Christ has been replaced. (John 14:6) Now, the only way to the Father is through JW.org.
Of course, this line of reasoning only works internally. A witness would never discourage a Catholic from leaving his church because he had been stumbled by the antics of the church hierarchy. No, the behavior of the clergy of Christendom are works that identify them as lawless men in line with Matthew 7:20-23. Nevertheless, we are led to believe that Jesus’ words, “by their works you will know these men”, do not apply to the clergy class of JW.org.
Are we to believe that Jehovah is violating one of his own principles? In playing their trump cards, loyal-to-the-Org Witnesses are expecting Jehovah to turn a blind eye to works which these same Witnesses often point to in condemning all the other churches in Christendom!
Why the double standard? As paragraph 13 states:
“An even greater mistake would be to allow the faults of others to stumble us and cause us to leave Jehovah’s organization. Were that to happen, we would lose not only the privilege of doing God’s will but also the hope of life in God’s new world.” – Par. 13
We cannot do God’s will if we leave the Organization. We cannot be saved if we leave the Organization.
So no matter what falsehoods the Organization teaches, we must teach them as well. No matter how badly they handle judicial matters, including child abusers, we have to support and defend their decisions. No matter how they compromise their neutrality, we have to overlook it. Why? Because that is the will of God and our salvation depends on it.
Again, we are being taught that ‘no one comes to the Father except through JW.org.’
“. . .Even if he sins seven times a day against you and he comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”” (Lu 17:4)
I think we’d all be happy to forgive the leaders of the Organization their sins if only they were to come back to us saying, ‘We repent!’ Failing that, we have no more obligation to forgive them than we have to forgive the leaders in any other Church in Christendom.
Looking back over the study articles in this magazine, it seems that whatever subject the title promises to address, the article itself turns out to be just another vehicle to bolster loyalty and support for the Organization. Consider this one as an example: What did we really learn from the Scriptures about dealing with the faults of others?
Paragraphs 1 thru 4 made us believe the Organization is special and unique. Paragraphs 5 thru 9 challenged us not to leave the Organization even when we see faults in those at the top. Paragraphs 10 thru 12 called upon us to remain loyal to the Organization because Jehovah is guiding and supporting it. The concluding paragraphs—13 thru 17—urged us to remain in the organization even when we see faults in our local congregation, and to forgive all transgressions even when no repentance is shown.
We will never be free of this controlling mindset until we realize that the only way to do God’s will and the only path toward salvation is through Jesus. (John 14:6)
There is a growing community of brothers and sisters who are returning to Christ, freeing themselves from false doctrine and finally calling Jehovah, Father. It takes courage to do this, because you will be persecuted, and you will lose so-called friends, and perhaps even family. Let Jesus’ words be a comfort to you. I have certainly found them to be true.
“Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, no one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news 30 who will not get 100 times more now in this period of time—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the coming system of things, everlasting life.” (Mr 10:29, 30)