Bible Study – Chapter 2 Par. 13-22
The study opens up with this line of reasoning.
“Consider this: Would people have been prepared for the beginning of Christ’s presence if they were not able to distinguish Jesus from his Father, Jehovah?” – par. 1
Do you see the flaw? This logic can’t work unless we first accept the premise that Christ’s presence began in 1914 in the first place. That has yet to be proven in the study, but it is just assumed that all the readers of this book accept that as historical fact. Fair enough. Let’s go with that just to show how sloppy they are in their reasoning.
According to Studies in the Scriptures II, “The date of our Lord’s second advent, and the dawn of the Times of Restitution, we have already shown to be A.D. 1874.” So the presence they were initially preparing God’s people for began in 1874. Thus, preparations had to precede that date, or they would not have been preparations. Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence was first published in 1879, five years after the alleged “second coming” of Christ. So how exactly would “people have been prepared for the beginning of Christ’s presence” when these wonderful truths about the relationship between Jesus and his Father had yet to be revealed in the pages of The Watchtower? Yet we are told that “without doubt, the ‘messenger’ prepared the way for the Messianic King!”
Paragraph 14 gives us this exhortation:
“And what about us today? What can we learn from our brothers of more than a century ago? We likewise need to be avid readers and students of God’s Word. (John 17:3) As this materialistic world becomes emaciated, spiritually speaking, may our appetite for spiritual food grow ever stronger!” – par. 14
Yes, oh yes, please! I would wish that all who attend the weekly CLAM would become not just avid readers, but real students of God’s Word. A good student listens to the teacher, but an exceptional student questions the teacher so that his understanding may be based on fact and real knowledge, and not just trust in men.
“Get Out of Her, My People”
From paragraph 15, we have this lesson:
“The Bible Students taught that it was necessary to break away from worldly churches…the Bible Students gradually came to the realization that all the churches of Christendom were included in modern-day ‘Babylon.’ Why? Because they all taught doctrinal lies such as those discussed above.” – par. 15
Since we are talking about reasons to leave “Babylon”, there’s an interesting scripture in Jeremiah to dwell on:
“. . .And I will turn my attention upon Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth what he has swallowed. And to him nations will stream no more. Also, the wall itself of Babylon must fall.” (Jer 51:44)
As Witnesses, we have swallowed down the teaching that one should exit the churches of Christendom because they teach “doctrinal lies”. Well, it is now time to ‘bring forth out of our mouth that which we have swallowed.’
Here is a partial list of doctrinal lies which are taught by our religion.
1914 is the start of Christ’s invisible presence.
1919 is when Christ named the Governing Body as his appointed faithful and discreet slave.
There was no faithful and discreet slave from 33 C.E. to 1919.
The other sheep of John 10:16 are not spirit-anointed children of God.
One must be dedicated before one is baptized.
The last days began in 1914.
Armageddon will come within the lifespan of two overlapping generations of anointed Christians.
Since the criteria established by Jehovah’s Witnesses for getting out of Babylon the great is to flee from any religion that teaches false doctrine, would that not mean we must flee from our own Organization? There seems to be no provision in the publications nor in the Bible for giving any religious group a free pass on the question of “doctrinal lies”.
Of course, if we identify our religion as a teacher of doctrinal lies, it would seem unwise to accept its counsel on any subject, especially one as sensitive as when to leave Babylon the Great. It would be far wiser to base our decision on the Word of God, would it not? Let’s try that.
The purpose of fleeing is to avoid being caught up in the punishment meted out to the great harlot by her political lovers. (Re 17:15-18; Re 18:4-5) So there will come a time when undeniably we will have to flee. Does that mean we are required to flee prior to that time of distress and destruction? The parable of the Wheat and Weeds indicates that both grow together and are only separated by the angels at harvest time. (Mt 13:24-30; Mt 13:36-43) So it would seem that rather than laying down some hard and fast rule, we should respect the conscience of each one to determine the best course of action to take based on individual circumstances.
We Condemn Ourselves
The condemnation espoused in paragraph 18 is laughable in hindsight.
“If such warnings to get out of Babylon the Great had not been sounded regularly, would Christ as the newly installed King have had a body of prepared, anointed servants on earth? Surely not, for only Christians who are free from Babylon’s grip can worship Jehovah “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Are we today likewise determined to keep free from false religion? Let us keep obeying the command: “Get out of her, my people”!—Read Revelation 18:4.” – par. 18
Why does the Organization consider the churches of Christendom to be in the grip of Babylon? What does Babylon have to do with Christianity? The belief is that just as ancient Babylon had captured God’s people Israel, the religious practices of Babylon hold sway over Christianity today. The Trinity, Hellfire, and immortal soul doctrines epitomize false worship. Babylon, being built on the site of the original city devoted to false worship, Babel (under Nimrod), represents pagan influence on God’s people—originally, on the Israelites, and after Christ, over the Israel of God. (Ge 10:9-10; Ga 6:16)
So for the reasoning that paragraph 18 applies to work, Russell and his associates would have had to free themselves from the grip of false religion, of pagan beliefs, of Babylonish influence. This they did, in part, by abandoning the aforementioned core doctrines. However, was that enough? The Bible says that a little leaven ferments the entire mass. (1Co 5:6) We know that Russell and his associates celebrated Christmas, a holiday Witnesses now proclaim to be steeped in paganism. We saw in last week’s review the profound influence Russell’s fascination with Egyptian pyramidology had on the Bible Students. We also saw that he wasn’t above openly promoting a blatant pagan symbol on the cover of some of his publications. (The winged symbol of the Egyptian Sun God, Horus) This influence followed him to the grave. The shape of his grave marker and the crown and cross symbol are of Masonic origins.
We are not accusing Russell of being a free mason; nor are we suggesting that he was knowingly promoting paganism when he used the Pyramid of Giza as his “Bible in Stone”. His character is not in question here. Jesus is the judge of a man. What we have a right to judge is the allegation made by our Bible study aid that Russell cleared the way for Jesus to return to the temple. (Mal 3:1) How could he fill that role if he was still not “free from Babylon’s grip”?
Given the evidence, that hardly seems to be the case.
There is good counsel in the study about meetings.
“The Bible Students taught that fellow believers should gather together for worship, where that was possible. For genuine Christians, it is not enough to get out of false religion. It is vital to take part in pure worship as well. From its early issues, the Watch Tower encouraged readers to gather together for worship.” – par. 19
“In 1882, an article called “Assembling Together” appeared in the Watch Tower. The article exhorted Christians to hold meetings “for mutual edification, encouragement and strengthening.” It noted: “It matters not whether there is any one learned or talented among you. Let each one bring his own Bible, paper, and pencil, and avail yourselves of as many helps in the way of a Concordance, . . . as possible. Choose your subject; ask for the Spirit’s guidance in the understanding of it; then read, think, compare scripture with scripture and you will assuredly be guided into truth.”” – par. 20
This has all changed, of course. If today, some congregation members were to hold meetings using concordances and other Bible study aids outside of the rigidly controlled arrangement laid down by the Governing Body, they would be suspected of apostasy and strongly discouraged from continuing.
Often, when a former witness admits to friends or family that they don’t agree with some of the doctrines taught in the Organization, they are discouraged with words like, “But where else will you go? What other religion is there that doesn’t teach the Trinity or Hellfire?” The problem with the question is that it is based on a faulty premise. To a witness, there is no salvation outside of an Organization. However, to one who has studied God’s word unencumbered by the influence of men, there is no need to belong to an organized religion to please God. In fact, the opposite proves to be true, since by definition, all organized religion is based to some degree on the teachings of men.
But doesn’t the Bible tell us to meet together? (He 10:24-25) Indeed it does. But it doesn’t tell us to join an organization. Just as was the case with the early Bible students before they were hauled under the Watchtower umbrella of central government, we can meet with like-minded fellow Christians at will. Where two or three are gathered, Jesus is there. (Mt 18:20) For example, a number of us on this site have a regular on-line meeting on Sundays. It’s a simple format. We read a chapter of the Bible, pausing at every paragraph, and inviting anyone who wishes to offer their thoughts. What a joy it is after decades of repetitive, boring meetings to learn something new each week, to be able to ask questions without fear of being judged, and to be able to freely express one’s faith in Jesus.
This is far easier to do than it was in the 19th century. If we can’t meet together physically, we can do it virtually using any number of free tools on the internet. We can also research a Bible text almost instantly with the search tools and resources open to us on-line. If I might be so bold as to paraphrase the advice from the aforementioned 1882 Watch Tower article, “hold regular meetings, even if only with one other family or individual, even if only on-line, and avail yourselves of the many aids readily available on the internet. Choose your subject, or just read directly from the Bible, compare scripture with scripture and let the Bible speak for itself.”
If You Say It Often Enough, It Must Be True
How often have you heard it said, with considerable pride I might add, that there is no clergy/laity distinction in the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses? This belief is again reinforced in this week’s study.
“The Bible Students had their headquarters in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. There they set a fine example by gathering together in obedience to the inspired counsel recorded at Hebrews 10:24, 25. (Read.) Much later, an elderly brother named Charles Capen recalled attending those meetings as a boy. He wrote: ‘I still remember one of the scripture texts painted on the wall of the Society’s assembly hall. “One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.” That text has always stood out in my mind—there is no clergy-laity distinction among Jehovah’s people.’” – par. 21
In the days of Russell, and the early years of Rutherford’s tenure, this might have been true to some extent. However, Rutherford did away with that in 1934 with his creation of a subclass of Christian called “the other sheep”.
“Be it noted that the obligation is laid upon the priestly class [the anointed] to do the leading or reading of the law of instruction to the people. Therefore, where there is a company of Jehovah’s witnesses…the leader of a study should be selected from amongst the anointed, and likewise those of the service committee should be taken from the anointed….Jonadab [a non-Israelite representing the other sheep] was there as one to learn, and not one who was to teach….The official organization of Jehovah on earth consists of his anointed remnant, and the Jonadabs [other sheep] who walk with the anointed are to be taught, but not to be leaders. This appearing to be God’s arrangement, all should gladly abide thereby.” (w34 8/15 p. 250 par. 32)
While this arrangement passed away when the end didn’t come quickly and the number of anointed dwindled to a point that made it impossible to oversee the ever-growing number of “other sheep”, we continue to have a clergy/laity distinction today, evident in the ecclesiastical hierarchy where authority flows from the Governing Body to the branch committees, to the traveling overseers to local elders. If you doubt that there is a clergy/laity distinction, just try offering a comment which contradicts something taught by the Governing Body. It won’t be your average congregation publisher who pulls you into the Kingdom Hall library for a ‘chat’ after the meeting.
One of the tests to determine whether or not one is in a cult is whether they rewrite their history. One of the things Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for was their hypocrisy. As we continue our study of JW history through the lens of this book, we do well to ponder these things.
I answered in paragraph 20/21 about how the meetings before were organized – when there was really an in-depth bible study using the bible and concordance. Guess what? I found a way to use Micah 3:1 and how it relates to Matthew 10:11 using our NWT version to show that messenger refers to John the Baptist. It was such a quickie but I felt good. Not sure though if the brothers realized the real message behind my comment. 🙂
I’ve made some comments that I thought would land me in trouble, and they just went over everyone’s head. I wonder sometimes if most of the brothers are really listening. I recall before I awakened that I would spend the meetings thinking of other things. Even when I dutifully tried to “pay more than the accustomed attention” I found I could not. I’d try, but soon my mind would wander. That fact is that the meetings have been so repetitive and superficial for so many decades that we’ve heard it all before many times and so our mind gets bored… Read more »
I blame this book for giving me the worst headaches in my life and how disappointing to think it is supposed to be an unbiased history lesson of our organisation but now I find out it is not! I am reading the cross references given on this and links to the older publications and honestly I don’t know how I missed all bits that don’t make sense and how I had been ‘reading between the lines’ such as the ‘preparing for christ’s presence’ etc. You’re right Meleti, I said before the mid week meeting is not very spiritual anymore, apart… Read more »
Not sure if any one noticed this but I found it very humerous & Ironic that Russel died on Halloween Oct 31. I know it’s just a day like any other, coincidental, I don’t know.
As we know he was quite fascinated in the Egyptian pyramids, culture & religion, who knows maybe he got to meet the sun-god Ra or Horus after his Resurrection.The Halloween death would be. quite fitting lol lol..
Meliti. Would be happy for you to exchange addresses with Deo ac veritati (God is truth ?) as per his posting to me.
I wonder how many others are in the same boat.
I’m on board with giving Leonardo my email.
With regards to getting out of false religion, the knowledge book (kl chap. 5 p. 47 par. 10) actually had some good advice for those that have been able to identify false doctrines through a deep study of God’s word. Here’s what it says: “If you knew that someone had deliberately poisoned your water supply, would you go on drinking from it? Surely, you would take immediate action to find a source of safe, pure water. Well, an accurate knowledge of God’s Word equips us to identify true religion and to reject impurities that make worship unacceptable to God.” That… Read more »
[…] this week’s Bible Study (part of “Our Christian Life and Ministry” meeting) we are told that the early Bible Students […]
My .02 cents, …
Regarding trying to help husbands/wife’s/friends “see it”, … you may consider pointing out similar speaking fallacies the candidates/pundits and newscasters are using to misdirect/obfuscate the listener from the truth.
Really stress the errors and get them deeply involved in the discussion. Something that would never and I mean never go well with any of our lessons. When the same techniques come up during our lessons, and they will, …the “light” will slowly turn on.
I’m starting to see some natural progress with my spouse in this regard.
Thanks Drifty, appreciate your insights. Trust me, I’ve tried numerous different ways to bring things like this up, but he/she is pretty indoctrinated – one time, he/she actually covered her ears and started saying “la, la, la, la…) so as not to hear me – pretty immature, I know, but then I fully know what I’m dealing with – someone who thinks that if he/she so much as questions the GB, he/she loses everlasting life.
Been there, …done that, …with my spouse as well.
What gives me hope Deo, is that I truly believe Holy Spirit will direct those, (such as ourselves), that it wishes, to help “see”
I do however, think we should carefully do our part but always under the pretext of “do no harm”, “destroy no hope.”
“just try offering a comment which contradicts something taught by the Governing Body.” This should be interesting giving a comment at tonight’s CLAM. I gave a comment yesterday at the Watchtower study, (I won’t say which question I answered to protect my identity) – and received a phone call this morning from an elder. Apparently my recent comments have caused “concern” (although the elder mentioned he really likes my comments) among the congregation. As such, he has to protect the “Christian conscience” of the congregation, so from here on out, my comment must be vetted by the WT conductor first,… Read more »
Yikes! Pre-authorized comments! They are concerned for the “Christian conscience” of the congregation? Fascinating how good words can be pressed into service for a bad cause, i.e., hiding the truth, preserving the lie. Hang in there, my brother.
Thank you Meleti; I’m doing my best to hang in there (despite my spouse repeatedly telling me “just obey”). I’ve temporarily agreed to let him look at my comments pre-meeting, but with the warning that if I feel I am being overly-censored, I will cease commenting entirely. I think this is a reasonable position to take – I’m not going to give comments that are not in MY good Christian conscience! As always, love your work and your posts – keep on keeping on! Your articles are truly faith-strengthening and please know (speaking for all of us) that we truly… Read more »
Thank you, Deo_ac_veritati!
I call that more of a sanitized one bro. Looks like censorship is the way to go.
Hello. I don’t know if you mean a grave marker to mean the same as a head stone but they Pyramid is not his grave. His grave is about 50ft behind it. The Pyramid was Rutherfords doing and was first mentioned in the 1919 convention sermons report. As for the “pagan” symbol on the Studies in the Scriptures: he believed it to represent Malachi 4:2 “But unto you that fear my name shall the SUN of righteousness arise with healing in his WINGs; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” He also used it… Read more »
The book brings up just 3 false doctrines, the trinity, hellfire and immortal soul, as criteria for bible students back then to distinguish themselves from “all the churches of Christendom”. However, Bible Students were by no means alone. If there is a good moment, I’ll try a little quiz with some of my fellow JWs. Q1. Name as many Christian religious movements as you can, originated in 19th century US that never accepted doctrines like trinity, hellfire, or immortal soul, always actively opposed war and military service, and always believed that the saving truth can be found by studying Bible.… Read more »
Everybody should download Studies In the Scriptures Thy Kingdom Come from archive.org and read pages 84-91. Here Russell in his own words gives the direct link between William Miller and the Bible Students. Nearly all of Russell’s study group were ex-Millerites. To know where you are going you have to know where you came from. I would be interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on what they read in this section of Russell’s book, which without reading you would go back into darkness after 2 years apparently.
If anybody can’t download the book, maybe this link will work:
The book is typed out so you can search for the word Miller.
Also word searchable, but pages 84-91 is the ones to read.
Hi Deo ac veritati. My wife knows nothing about this site, but she is picking up many of the points Meliti makes in the Watchtoweras well as making the point about these unknown updates. I guess if we are alert, we may just notice them when comparing the hard copy of the study book. Time will tell. If she is spotting them, and she is no great student, how many others are ? No wonder there are silent pauses during parts of the meeting.
Hey Leonardo, thanks for the reply. We should PM sometime, sounds like you are in a similar situation as me. My spouse also knows nothing of this site – unfortunately, I can’t say he/she is picking up any of the points Meleti brings out – he’s/she’s hardcore. I’m not sure how many others are noticing this – my guess is that most of the congregants will do the update without even thinking about it. Not to sound too negative, but my perception is that JWs do very little critical thinking about things, and this is no exception. I will have… Read more »
Our site doesn’t have a PM feature like http://www.discussthetruth, but if you want to exchange e-mail addresses without publishing them, just let me know and I’ll forward them to you.
Mileti, you said: “If today, some congregation members were to hold meetings using concordances and other Bible study aids outside of the rigidly controlled arrangement laid down by the Governing Body, they would be suspected of apostasy and strongly discouraged from continuing.” There was a time that private Bible study was not regarded as apostasy. The April 1, 1973, Watchtower had two study articles. The first one was called “Happy Is He Who Reads Aloud (page 201).” Page 206, on paragraph 18, says, “To illustrate an advantage in reading aloud perhaps in a family or among friends, and then giving… Read more »
“One of the tests to determine whether or not one is in a cult is whether they rewrite their history.” Rather ironic. After reading your article, Meleti, I immediately sailed on over to my JW.org app to read the paragraphs for tomorrow nights CLAM (especially in the context of your post). Upon trying to open the “Gods Kingdom Rules” book, i was informed an “update” had been made, and asked if i wanted to install it. I did, but there was no information made available as to what the update consisted of, and i suspect there never will be. The… Read more »