There is a video on JW.org titled “Joel Dellinger: Cooperation Builds Unity (Luke 2:41)”
The theme text reads: “Now his parents were accustomed to go from year to year to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.” (Lu 2:41)
I fail to see what that has to do with building unity through cooperation, so I have to think it was a misprint. After listening to the whole video, Joel makes no mention of this verse. Mind you, he makes no mention of any verse to support the theme directly; but that’s okay, because it’s fairly self-evident that cooperation does build unity.
Unity is a very important thing in the organization. They talk about unity far more than they talk about love. The Bible does say that love is the perfect bond of union, but the organization is telling us that cooperation is what is needed. (Col 3:14)
I don’t know about you, but I’ll stick with love. After all, if you’re doing something wrong, I won’t cooperate with you, but I’ll still love you, and I can still be united with you, even if we have differing views.
Of course, that doesn’t work for the organization because they don’t want us to disagree with them. They want us to do what they tell us to do.
By way of example, Joel sites Hebrews 13:7 which reads:
“Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out, imitate their faith.” (Heb 13:7)
He says that “remember” can also mean “mention”, which he uses to instruct us to keep the elders in our prayers. He then moves directly onto verse 17 of that chapter, where the New World Translation reads, “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive…” He then instructs us to obey the elders and submit to them.
Let’s not jump to any conclusions here. Going back to verse seven, let’s read the part he skipped over. First there’s the phrase, “who have spoken the word of God to you.” So if the elders are teaching false teachings, like 1914 as the beginning of the invisible presence of Christ, or that the other sheep are not God’s children, then they are not speaking the word of God to us. In that case, we shouldn’t “remember” them. Further, the verse continues, “As you contemplate how their conduct turns out, imitate their faith.” This gives us the obligation, not just the right, the obligation—because this is a command—to evaluate the conduct of the elders. If their conduct turns out to be indicative of faith, then we are to imitate it. It follows however that if their conduct shows a lack of faith, we are most certainly not to imitate it. Now, with that in mind, let’s move on to verse 17.
“Be obedient” is a mistranslation which is found in almost every Bible translation, because almost every translation is written or sponsored by an organization that wants its followers to obey its ministers/priests/clergy. But what the writer of Hebrews actually says in Greek is “be persuaded by”. The Greek word is peithó, and it means “to persuade, urge.” So again, personal discretion is involved. We have to evaluate what we’re being told. This is not the message Joel is trying to get across.
Around the 4:15 minute mark, he asks: “But what if some theocratic direction we receive does not make sense, takes us by surprise, or doesn’t suit us personally? In such cases, the latter part of the verse comes into play where we’re directed to be submissive. Because, as the verse implies, in the long run, yielding to theocratic direction is for our own good.”
“Theocratic” means “ruled by God”. It does not mean, “ruled by men”. However, in the mind of the organization as expressed by the speaker, the term can apply equally to Jehovah or the organization. If this were the case, then the writer of Hebrews would have used a different word in verse 17. He would have used the Greek word, peitharcheó, which means “to obey one in authority, obey, follow”. The Bible commands us not to follow men, because if we follow men they become our leaders, and our leader is one, the Christ. (Mt 23:10; Ps 146:3) So what Joel is asking us to do is in direct contradiction of the command of our Lord Jesus. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Joel never mentions Jesus. He wants us to follow men. He masks this by saying that this is theocratic direction from Jehovah, but the theocratic direction from God is to ‘listen to his son’. (Mt 17:5) Besides, if the direction from the organization were really theocratic, then it would never be wrong, because God never gives us false direction. When men tell us to do something, and it turns out bad, they cannot claim the direction was theocratic. The direction that we have from the organization is androcratic. Let’s just call a spade a spade for once.
Let us examine the difference between theocratic rule and androcratic rule.
Under theocratic rule, we have one governing body, Jesus Christ, who was put in place by his Father Jehovah. Jesus is our leader, Jesus is our teacher. We are all brothers. Under Jesus we are all equal. There is no clergy and laity classes. No governing body and rank-and-file. (Mt 23:8, 10) The instruction we get from Jesus covers any and all circumstances that we may face in life. That is because it is based on principles. We are guided by our conscience. You can talk about your One-A-Day vitamins where everything you need is packed into a single pill. God’s word is like that. So much packed into so little space. Take your Bible, find the first chapter of Matthew and the last chapter of Revelation and pinch the pages between your fingers, dangling the Bible from them. There it is! The sum total of everything you need to live a successful and happy life. More than that. Everything you need to get a firm hold on the real life that is everlasting.
In a nutshell, you have the essence of theocratic rule.
Now let’s consider androcratic rule. Joel boasts of hundreds and even thousands of letters going out from headquarters to all the branches and elders around the world. In one year, the paper output of the organization dwarfs the accumulated writing the Christian writers amassed over 70 years during the first century. Why so much? Simply because the conscience is taken out of the equation, replaced by a multitude of rules, regulations, and what Joel likes to mistakenly refer to as “theocratic direction”.
Rather than us all being brothers, we have an ecclesiastical hierarchy that governs us. His closing words say it all: “We have an abundance of clear direction and timely reminders. Jehovah is leading us through the elders who are taking the lead among us. His presence is as clear to us as it was to the Israelites who were following the piller of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. So as we finish up the final leg of our wilderness journey, may we all be resolved to cooperate fully with any theocratic direction we’re given.”
Joel takes the head of the congregation out of the equation. It is not Jesus who is leading us according to Joel, but Jehovah and he doesn’t do this through Jesus; He does it through the elders. If Jehovah is leading us to the elders, then the elders are the channel Jehovah is using. How could we not give the elders absolute and unconditional obedience, if Jehovah is using them to lead us. Apparently, his presence is as clear to us as it was to the Israelites. How odd, since it was Jesus who said that he would be with us until the conclusion of the system of things. Shouldn’t Joel be talking about the clear presence of Jesus? (Mt 28:20; 18:20)
Jesus is the greater Moses, but if you want to replace Moses – that is if you want to sit in the seat of Moses – then you have to replace Jesus. There is no room on that seat for more than one person. (Mt 23:2)
How can any true Christian give a 10-minute talk that emphasizes theocratic direction without making a single mention of Jesus Christ? “He that does not honor the son does not honor the Father who sent him.” (John 5:22)
When you want to sell a falsehood, you dress it up in words that describe how you want it to appear. Joel is selling androcratic direction, but he knows we wouldn’t openly buy into that, so he cloaks it in the guise of theocratic direction. (This technique goes back to the garden.)