[From ws 6/18 p. 3 – August 6 – August 12]
“For this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.”—John 18:37.
This Watchtower article is rare in that there is little mentioned that is clearly scripturally wrong.
That being said there are still points to be discussed. Its thrust according to the conclusion is: “to promote Christian unity in three ways: (1) We put our trust in God’s heavenly Kingdom to correct injustice, (2) we refuse to take sides in political issues, and (3) we reject violence.” (Par.17)
Witnesses as individuals have, by and large, taken these points to heart. But has the Organization itself done so and followed its own council? After all, you would think that an Organization that claims to be God’s one True Organization would have a clean bill of health on all these matters.
In the matter of (3) rejecting violence, the Organization can be given the okay unless you readers know differently.
However, it is not as clear cut with the other elements mentioned.
Has the Organization refused (2) “to take sides in political issues”?
The question really should be: Has the Organization refused to take part in politics? To which we have to state categorically, No. It could also be argued that taking part in politics automatically puts you on one side or another.
In what way have they taken sides? The widely known and documented membership of the United Nations as a N.G.O.[i] (See Identifying True Worship: Part 10 – Christian Neutrality And A thought on the JW.Org / UN Petition letter for a start.)
The other point, (1) “We put our trust in God’s heavenly Kingdom to correct injustice”, also deserves scrutiny.
It can be reasoned that waiting on God’s kingdom to correct injustice does not free us from doing likewise when the power to correct potentially lies within one’s grasp; but the question becomes, “Where does one draw the line?”
One thing we can say for sure is that Jehovah would not approve of using injustice to correct injustice. Refusing to obey the superior authorities when no Bible requirement is in question, would not be a divinely approved method for seeking justice. It follows that being fined for contempt of court for refusing to turn over documents that would help the authorities deal with child sexual abuses can hardly be seen as a fight for justice. Likewise, lying to the judicial authorities, especially after having sworn an oath before God, would not garner divine approval, whatever one’s motives. (See child sexual abuse policies of JW.org and Squandering an inheritance.)
Does the Organization set the right lead in putting trust in Jehovah to correct injustice? On the evidence, we would have to answer in the negative. Not only that they continue to allow injustices to be perpetuated within the Organization. They hypocritically will call the police on peaceful protesters outside Kingdom Halls and assembly venues, but are not prepared to do the same even they have evidence of sexual predators within their ranks. Such actions lead one to the inevitable conclusion that rather than seeking justice, they strive to protect the position and status. (John 11:48)
Jesus’ attitude to independence movements (Par.3-7)
John 6:27 cited in paragraph 5 records Jesus as saying “Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for everlasting life, which the Son of man will give you; for on this one the Father, God himself, has put his seal of approval.”
All food whether literal or spiritual that comes from men perishes. Man’s understanding changes, but God’s word remains unchanged. We should therefore get “the food that remains for everlasting life” directly from its source, God’s Word, heeding Jesus’ commandments since he is the one whom the Father has approved to give us spiritual food. (Matthew 19:16-21, John 15:12-15, Matthew 22:36-40, John 6:53-58)
Paragraph 6 cites Luke 19:11-15 in which Jesus gives a parable about a man of noble birth going away to obtain the kingly power before returning a long time later. He gives no indication that his followers should attempt to hasten that time, or attempt to rule in his name in the meantime. When Peter attempted to protect him against arrest, “Jesus said to him: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” It would therefore be reasonable to conclude that it would be against the words of our Lord Jesus to fight and kill in his name.
How did Jesus face divisive political issues? (Par. 8-11)
Paragraph 8 mentions the case of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector of Jericho, who had become rich by extorting money from the people. (Luke 19:2-8). Notice what he did on becoming a Christian. He recompensed those whom he had wronged, by not only returning what he extorted but paying compensation on top.
What a contrast to the position taken by the Organization in Australia. (See Squandering an inheritance)
At the time of this writing, instead of voluntarily offering compensation to victims of child sexual abuse already reported to the Organization and offering an apology, it appears that money is being sent out of Australia by the Organization, with no plans for compensation being made. It now falls to the victims to launch a legal case. Clearly, no apology has been given and neither have radical steps been taken to minimize the chance of any future victims.
Paragraph 11 highlights an issue that deserves more coverage: that of racial prejudice in people’s hearts. A sister giving her experience says “I did not realize that the causes of racial injustice had to be uprooted from people’s hearts. When I began to study the Bible, however, I realized that I had to start with my own heart”. In my experience brothers and sisters compared with non-Witnesses, do not have a markedly different attitude to others of another race even if they are fellow Witnesses. The vast majority seem to have the same prejudices as the general population. It even extends to elders always blaming a foreign language congregation for problems and breakdowns of Kingdom Hall equipment and fittings without proof.
So what do the Scriptures say about how one should treat a foreigner. Exodus 22:21 says “And you must not maltreat an alien resident or oppress him, for YOU people became alien residents in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 23:9 and Leviticus 19:34 cautions “And you must not oppress an alien resident, as YOU yourselves have known the soul of the alien resident, because YOU became alien residents in the land of Egypt.” Similar words are found in Deuteronomy 10:19, and Deuteronomy 24:14. The Israelites therefore were not meant to copy the attitudes of the nations around them, but rather treat an alien resident as one of their own brothers.
Return your sword to its place (Par.12-17)
Paragraph 12 highlights a problem that was endemic among the Jewish religious rulers and older men of the Jewish nation at the time of Jesus. The problem was the greed and desire for power turned them into politicians and ones who curried favour with the ruling Roman politicians. “Jesus warned his disciples: “Keep your eyes open; look out for the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15)”
Jesus warned those who were to take the lead in the congregation not to be infected by the greed for power and control that had corrupted the minds and hearts of the Pharisees. A sound warning for the men of the Governing Body and the elders who serve under them. Or is it too late? Such ones claim the title of princes for themselves, applying Isaiah 32:1 to the modern day JW authority structure. (See Identifying True Worship: Part 10 – Christian Neutrality And A thought on the JW.Org / UN Petition letter for a start.)
“Interestingly, this conversation took place not long after the occasion when the people wanted to make Jesus king” (Par.12)
Jesus of course refused, but in our modern day not only have people been happy for ‘kings’ to rule over them in the political arena, but also in the religious arena. Who many of these are presumptuous self-appointers? The Organization is a prime example. Recently, a small group of self proclaimed ‘chosen ones’ have elevated themselves to the divine appointment as Jesus’ faithful and discreet slave, and thus claim authority over the flock.
Paragraph 13 highlights what these first century rulers did.
“The chief priests and the Pharisees planned to kill Jesus. They saw him as a political and religious rival who threatened their position. “If we let him go on this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation,” they said. (John 11:48)” (Par.13)
If you are a Jehovah’s Witness preparing for this week’s Watchtower study, as you read this, do you feel safe in believing that the Organization is different from the chief priests and Pharisees of Jesus’ day? Do you think: “Oh, we would never do anything like that!”
Do you believe that if Jesus walked into a kingdom hall clothed as an ordinary man (He was a carpenter’s son, remember?) and began to say that the doctrines of overlapping generations, and 1914, and eternal death for all killed at Armageddon, and the teaching that most Christians should not embrace the calling to be children of God—if he said all this, do you think he would be welcomed? Or, do you believe that this Jesus we depict would be listened to and embraced with open arms if he criticized the policy of shunning child abuse victims just because they no longer want to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Any honest JW knows that if you speak against any teaching of the Governing Body—especially if you are using the Bible to prove your point—you will be brought before a judicial committee who will decline to consider the Scriptural evidence with you, but who will only be interested in knowing if you will change your mind and conform.
Any honest JW can also attest to the fact that if you associate and comfort a shunned (disassociated) child sexual abuse victim, you will be judged as divisive and disobedient to the direction of “the faithful slave” and told to join the rest in shunning the individual, or be disfellowshipped yourself.
We cannot kill people for obeying the Christ instead of the Governing Body. The closest we can come is to kill them socially, and this the Organization does thousands of times every year. And they do this because people who one would consider to be loving in most areas of life, surrender their Bible-trained conscience to the will of a few men and join in the “killing” process.
All witnesses who join in the shunning and persecution of the innocent make themselves culpable before God. They are no different from the crowd stirred up the chief priests and Pharisees who cried out: “Impale him! Impale him!” (Mark 15:10-15)
Let us hope they come to regret their past actions and seek repentance like some of that same crowd did. (Acts 2:36-38)
[i] NGO = Non Governmental Organization.
[ii] See Dubtown – The covert op – secret recording of elders meeting (You Tube video of Lego animation – Kevin McFree). An eye opener! And highly amusing portrayal.