[From ws1/18 p. 22 – March 19-25]
“Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah.” Psalm 144:15
This can be summed up as yet another attempt to imply that one cannot be truly happy unless one is totally compliant with all the directions from the Organization—particularly, by giving up any semblance of a normal life and practicing self-denial so that we can propagate the teachings of the Organization by pioneering and relying on others to help us make ends meet.
That having been said we will now examine the detail of the article.
The opening paragraph starts with the usual claim of being God’s people based on circular reasoning. It runs thus: We are God’s people because he foretold he would gather a great crowd. We as an Organization are a great crowd, therefore we fulfill this prophecy. Because we as an Organization fulfill this prophecy, we therefore must be God’s people.
Did you spot the logic flaw? What proof is there that:
- the prophecy was intended to be fulfilled in the 21st century?
- the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the group (great crowd) that God views as fulfilling the prophecy, as opposed to the Organization claiming it does. As discussed in previous articles, there are other religions which also started around the same time as the Organization, yet currently have grown to be considerably larger “great crowds” than have Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Paragraph 5 describes self-love with these words:
“People who love themselves excessively think more of themselves than it is necessary for them to think. (Read Romans 12:3.) Their main interest in life is themselves. They care little about others. When things go wrong, they tend to blame others rather than accept responsibility. One Bible commentary likens those who are lovers of themselves to “the hedgehog which . . . rolls itself up in a ball, keeping the soft, warm wool for itself . . . and . . . presents the sharp spines to those without.” Such self-centered people are not truly happy.”
Is there a group of men within the Organization to whom these words might aptly apply?
When doctrinal points have been changed, did the leadership of the Organization accept responsibility? Some now-abandoned doctrinal teachings had severe, adverse effects on the lives of others—teachings such as our old prohibition against organ transplants, or the prohibition of certain blood treatments, or the condemnation of vaccinations. Then there is the great harm caused by failed prophetic interpretations such as 1925, 1975, and the “this generation” calculation. The faith of many was damaged, even destroyed.
When you have caused great harm to your brothers and sisters, love for others will compel you to apologize; to accept responsibility for your mistakes; to repent; and where possible, to make amends? Historically, has the Governing Body ever—EVER—done this?
Paragraph 6 says:
“Bible scholars suggest that love of self is put at the top of the apostle Paul’s list of negative qualities that would be prevalent during the last days because the other qualities result from it. In contrast, people who love God produce a much different kind of fruitage. The Bible associates godly love with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control.”
Look around you in the congregation. Does joy abound? Do you feel free of judgment, or are you compelled to explain yourself constantly? Why did you miss the last meeting? Why were your hours in field service down? Can joy truly exist in such a controlling atmosphere? What about kindness and goodness? When we hear of so many bringing and winning lawsuits against the Organization for abuses and negligence suffered when they were being sexually abused as children, do we feel that these fruits of the spirit have been missing?
As you consider paragraphs 6 thru 8 of the study, you will likely agree with the sentiments expressed. That is fine, but what about the application? Is it valid?
Paragraph 7 says:
“How can we determine if our love of God is being eclipsed by love of self? Consider the admonition found at Philippians 2:3, 4: “Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you, as you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
We know that Jehovah and Jesus always look out for our best interests, but does the Organization that bears God’s name follow suit?
Recently, we are learning that kingdom halls are being sold without any consultation with or permission from the local congregation members.The LDCs (Local Design Committees) act unilaterally. They have been directed to consolidate congregations so that halls can be freed up for sale. All the money goes into headquarters. This has resulted in great inconvenience and cost, both in travel time and gasoline, for many as they must now travel greater distances to get to meetings. How does this demonstrate a loving attitude that “always looks out for the best interests” of others?
While we will agree with the expressions from paragraph 7, it is the application that is questionable. After all, we are all in agreement that a Christian should do nothing out of contentiousness nor egotism, but rather always look for the best interests of others. But having made this point, the article immediately makes a self-serving application from the Organization’s standpoint.
“Do I reach out to help others, both in the congregation and in the field ministry?’ Giving of ourselves is not always easy. It requires effort and self-sacrifice.” (par. 7)
“Love of God has moved some to give up potentially lucrative careers to serve Jehovah [the Organization] more fully. Ericka, who lives in the United States, is a physician. But instead of pursuing a prestigious position in medicine, she became a regular pioneer and has served in several countries with her husband.” (par. 8)
As we’ve explained in many articles on the Beroean Pickets sites, our core doctrines as Jehovah’s Witnesses—overlapping generations, 1914, the great crowd as friends of God—do not constitute the Good News of the Christ. So teaching these cannot represent ‘serving Jehovah’ as paragraph 7 claims. One cannot serve God and knowingly teach falsehoods. Even acting in ignorance has its consequences. (Luke 12:47)
The writer of the article wants us to accept the truth that giving out of love is praiseworthy, but have us then apply that truth to the Organization. They can do this, because to Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Jehovah” and “Organization” are interchangeable concepts.
If the Leadership of the Organization were to follow its own counsel, it would do the following:
- Stop dictating to people’s conscience; instead promote by teaching the right heart condition.
- Admit their errors, apologize, repent, and make amends.
- Remove what Gerrit Losch calls the ecclesiastical hierarchy[i] of the organization, and return to the first century model.
- Admit what it knows about our false teachings and restore truth.
- Repent for its breach of neutrality by joining the United Nations from 1992 to 2001, by having all those involved removed from their positions of oversight.
- Make proper restitution to all those harmed by its failure to protect the most vulnerable among us from the ravages of child sexual abuse.
Riches in Heaven or Riches on Earth?
Paragraph 10 then discusses the Organization’s view of riches. “But can a person be truly happy if he has only enough for his basic needs? Absolutely! (Read Ecclesiastes 5:12.)”
Now this is where we get into semantics and discussions as to what is a reasonable view. But let us review this scripture and the statement by the Organization by considering the next scripture discussed in this paragraph Proverbs 30:8-9.
Notice A’gur was trying to avoid the extremes of poverty and riches because they could cause him to affect his relationship with God. Just as A’gur knew that riches could lead him to trust in them instead of God, he also knew being poor could tempt him to be a thief or spend vast amounts of time trying to get out of poverty. The message given, or at least the message understood by Witnesses, is that all one needs are the bare basics. Now that is true, but having just the bare basics of a roof over one’s head and just enough food to eat, so that one can pioneer, is not in the spirit of A’gur’s proverb. Furthermore, most, if not all, living on the basics, desire more or even envy those who are more comfortable. If the shelter is rented and income is either patchy or seasonal, this economic state would come with a lot of extra worries. Simply eliminating most distractions does not ensure one will live comfortably. Living this frugally means one can quickly and easily descend into poverty, the state that none of us would like to be in, as was A’gur’s prayer.
Following up on this distorted view of economic needs, we are then wrongly asked to judge people when the final sentence suggests: ”Likely you can think of people who trust in their wealth rather than in God.”
Unless we know someone extremely well (and even then we cannot read hearts), how can we be sure someone trusts in wealth instead of God? Yet, this kind of statement leads Witnesses to automatically judge someone better off materially as not spiritual but materialistic; it causes divisions between “The Haves” and “The Have Not’s”.
We are then told “Those who love money cannot please God.” While that is true, do you see the subtle link the Organization has made? First, we are told to identify in our minds those whom we think (in other words, “suspect”) of trusting in their wealth and then we are told these ones “cannot please God”. What the average Witness will take from this is the ‘the poor love God, but the better off cannot love God’. Nothing is further from the truth than this conclusion. Examples in the Bible clearly show wealthier individuals can love God, (such as Abraham, Job, and David) whereas poor ones may not. It also seems to be designed to potentially lead humble ones who are better off, to the decision that they should divest themselves of their material possessions and in doing so think: “Who better to give it to than the Organization (especially with last week’s Watchtower study on giving to the Organization still ringing in their ears).
At this point, you may say, that’s a lot of conjecture. Is it? The rest of this paragraph is quoting Matthew 6:19-24 about where we should store up treasures. In the Organization’s literature, treasures in heaven are always equated with serving the Organization well. Then the next paragraph discusses yet another unverifiable experience of where a brother decided to ‘simplify his life’ by selling his large home and business, just so he could pioneer with his wife. Supposedly, all his problems disappeared. Sure, his business problems went away, but are Christians to expect a life free of problems? Is that the message Jesus imparted at Mark 10:30? As Job 5:7 reminds us “man is born for trouble” with the same certainty as the sparks from a fire go upwards.
Again, while giving to the needy is laudable when we can, that is not the application the article wishes us to accept. Observe:
The caption under this illustration read: “How can we avoid becoming lovers of money? (See paragraph 13)”
Seeking Jehovah or seeking pleasure
Paragraph 18 states:
“How might we analyze how much we love pleasures? We do well to ask ourselves: ‘Do meetings and field service take second place to entertainment? Am I willing to practice self-denial because I want to serve God? In seeking pleasurable activities, do I consider how Jehovah will view my choices?’”
While it is good to consider how Jehovah will view our choices of activities, and to go without things in order to serve God, the real question discussed many times before on this site, is whether attending meetings and going out in field service really constitute true service to God. We would never want 2 Timothy 3:5 to apply to us. We would never want to be those “having a form of Godly devotion, but proving false to its power.” Paul tells Timothy, “…and from these turn away.”
“The love of God flourishes among Jehovah’s people, and our ranks are growing every year. This is evidence that God’s Kingdom reigns and will soon bring to earth unimaginable blessings.” (par. 20)
Many people in many Christian religions have a love of God. There are also many Christian religions which are growing every year. So is this really “evidence that God’s Kingdom reigns and will soon” bring a paradise earth? Witnesses would answer with an emphatic “No”. So surely the same conclusion must apply to the Organization, especially when the Organization is growing by a lower rate than the world population, and the love of God seems to be diminishing rather than flourishing due to previously concealed problems now coming to light in the media.
In summary the real question is: Are we serving Jehovah and Jesus Christ, or are we merely serving a man-made Organization that is disapproved of by our Father. We have to evaluate the answer to this question on an individual basis, and then take the appropriate action if we want God’s favour.