[Review of ws 11/18 p. 3 December 31 – January 6]
“Buy truth and never sell it, also wisdom and discipline and understanding.”—Pr 23:23
Paragraph 1 contains a comment with which most, if not all, will agree: “Our most precious possession is our relationship with Jehovah, and we would not trade it for anything.”
That sums up the writer’s position. That is why I am here and writing such reviews. I was brought up as a JW and developed a love for truth. I always said to householders that if someone could prove from the Scriptures that some of what I believed was wrong, then I would change my beliefs, as I wanted to serve Jehovah and Jesus Christ in truth. That someone proved to be myself. Hence my presence here. I am not prepared to trade my relationship with Jehovah and Jesus for believing and teaching falsehood. No doubt most, if not all of you, our dear readers, are in a similar situation.
Paragraph 2 highlights some ‘truths’ taught by the Organization, but sadly not all are really taught by Jehovah in his word.
- “He reveals the truth about his meaningful name and his appealing qualities.”
- “He informs us about the outstanding provision of the ransom, which he lovingly provided for us by means of his Son, Jesus.”
- “Jehovah also informs us about the Messianic Kingdom,” (All above, true)
- “and he sets before the anointed the heavenly hope and before the “other sheep” the hope of the earthly Paradise.” The Organization does, but Jehovah and Jesus do not. A short summary showing this to be wrong is as follows:
- There are only two types of resurrection mentioned, that of the righteous and the unrighteous. Not the super righteous, the righteous and the unrighteous. (Acts 24:15)
- We can all be “sons of God” not just a small group. (Galatians 3:26-29)
- Lack of clear Scriptural evidence for a heavenly hope.[i]
- The little flock was natural Israel becoming one flock with the greater flock of Gentiles.
- “He teaches us how we should conduct ourselves” (true)
What does it mean “to buy truth” (Par.4-6)
“The Hebrew word translated “buy” at Proverbs 23:23 can also mean “acquire.” Both words imply making an effort or exchanging something for an item of value” (Par. 5)
Paragraph 6 sets the scene for the next section as it says “let us consider five things that we may have to pay to buy truth.”. We shall examine these 5 things carefully, after all they may be fake goods or unnecessarily expensive from the JW market stall as compared to the producer’s stall, that of Jehovah and Christ Jesus.
What have you given up to buy truth? (Par.7-17)
Clearly the focus of this entire article is not what efforts we should make to acquire truth, but reminding us how much we have given up to become and remain Witnesses. It could be argued that this is a cynical way of blackmailing us into remaining Witnesses as we may have invested so much.
When people are reminded of how much they have invested in something that promised so much and now serious questions about its true value are being asked, for many it is too much to contemplate accepting the losses and moving on. Investors have held on to a stock all the way down to zero rather than get out and take a partial lost, all in the vain hope of a rally that never came.
It is likewise with the Organization’s offer of truth. It is very expensive, and it needs careful examination to see if it should be purchased at all. If we have purchased it, as most of us here have, are we prepared to cut our losses now that we are seeing it has been greatly overvalued?
Paragraph 7 discusses Time.
“Time. This is a price everyone who buys truth must pay. It takes time to listen to the Kingdom message, read the Bible and Bible literature, have a personal Bible study, and prepare for and attend congregation meetings.”
This is true as far as it goes. It does take time to do these things.
However, reading Bible literature is not a scriptural requirement nor a necessity, although the right literature can definitely help. Furthermore, one has to be very careful what the Bible literature contains, and how much of it is interpretation.
In addition, the same applies to a personal Bible study. It is not a Scriptural requirement, and again it would depend very much on the accuracy of teaching of the study conductor. What is very important is to study the Bible personally, which is not what is suggested in the paragraph, but which is strongly recommended by those who love truth.
Finally, similar principles affect attending meetings. Currently the meetings arranged by the Organization are usually bereft of any meaty spiritual food; but they are full of the Organization’s view of truth, rather than the Bible’s. Therefore they cannot be recommended as they are selling counterfeit truth.
Paragraph 8 gives the almost obligatory experience of how someone sacrificed a normal life to learn the Organization’s version of “truth” and go pioneering to preach this so-called “truth”.
Paragraphs 9 and 10 discuss material advantages. By promoting the experience of a former professional golfer who gave up this occupation and went, yes you guessed it, pioneering, you are given the impression that having material advantages is wrong. The article claims “Maria realized that it would be difficult for her to pursue both spiritual and material riches. (Matt. 6:24) (Par.10).” Yes that is very true, but spending a balanced amount of time as a golfer could have enabled her to care for her necessities, while doing something she enjoyed, and being in a financial position to help others, yet without taking time away from spiritual needs. But, as usual the message the Organization wants to portray is that having any sort of career is incompatible with being a Witness unless you have existing responsibilities to care for.
Paragraphs 11 and 12 highlight Personal Relationships.
The article says, “We live by the standards of Bible truth. Though we do not want to cause division, some friends and close family members may distance themselves from us or even oppose our newfound faith”. This again is a distorted view of “truth” and what would happen if we become true Christians, as opposed to the Organization’s version of Christianity.
I had only one school friend because I kept away from “worldly schoolchildren” as a child. I also had little contact with my “worldly relatives”, not because of them distancing themselves, but because my family and I distanced ourselves from our “worldly relatives”. All because of an irrational fear that somehow they could contaminate our thinking, just by seeing them a few times a year. None of them ever opposed us being Witnesses, but they were not too happy about how we effectively shunned them. Looking back, I now realize how contrary to true Christianity that attitude was.
Paragraph 12 gives the unverifiable experience of Aaron. When he learnt something new about Jehovah, in this case the pronunciation of God’s personal name, he naturally wanted to share what he had learnt with those with whom he had associated and had shared interests, thinking they too would want to know.
“Excitedly, he went to the synagogue to share his wonderful discovery with the rabbis. Their reaction was not what Aaron expected. Instead of sharing his joy of learning the truth about God’s name, they spit on him and treated him as an outcast. His family bonds became strained.”
Does this sound like a familiar story to you? Have you suffered similarly for sharing something with fellow Witnesses that you found in the Bible, but which does not totally agree with the “truth” as determined by the Governing Body? What if you share with fellow Witnesses that Christ did not start ruling in 1914, or that we can all be ‘sons of God’ and that there is not a “little flock with a heavenly hope” which is different to the “great crowd with an earthly hope”? Maybe they won’t literally spit on you, but it is very likely you would henceforth be ignored—as a bare minimum. You are also just as likely to be disfellowshipped leading to your family disowning you and strained relations. So much for a gulf between other religions and “the truth” the Organization wants you to buy from them!
Paragraphs 13 and 14 are about ungodly thinking and conduct. As quoted the Apostle Peter wrote “As obedient children, stop being molded by the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but . . . become holy yourselves in all your conduct.” (1 Pet. 1:14, 15)”
This is the Bible’s message and we do not need to buy any particular brand of religious “truth”, we just need to accept the Bible’s direction.
There is yet another experience of how a couple changed their morals, but again most religions could show just as many good examples. Therefore this does not prove that the Organization is the only religion that teaches truth.
Unscriptural practices are covered in paragraphs 15 and 16. Now, here is an area where in terms of religious practices based on pagan rites and practices the Organization is generally correct, but there are plenty of others where they are behind. The following areas such as caring for widows and orphans and preventing sexual abuse of minors come to mind. Hardly a glowing recommendation to buy the Organization’s “truth”.
The final paragraph (17) states “Whatever the cost, we are convinced that Bible truth is well worth any price we have to pay. It gives us our most precious possession, a close relationship with Jehovah.”
Perhaps that statement is the final irony about the “truth” according to the Organization. Indeed, we should be endeavoring to have a close relationship with our Father Jehovah. To do that we need to obey our Father. However the Organization teaches that if we do not accept and teach everything the Governing Body/Organization teaches, we cannot be loving Jehovah and it will enforce that rule with disfellowshippings.[ii] They thereby demand obedience that rightly only belongs to Jehovah.
To that “truth” we answer as did the Apostles to the Sanhedrin, recorded in Acts 5:29 “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”
[i] Subject of a forthcoming series of articles examining this topic in depth.
[ii] “Shepherd the Flock of God” Elders handbook, p 65-66 under Apostasy. This is a section under the heading of “Offenses Requiring Judicial Decisions” in chapter 5.
”Deliberately spreading teachings contrary to Bible truth as taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses: (Acts 21:21, ftn.; 2 John 7, 9, 10) Any with sincere doubts should be helped. Firm, loving counsel should be given. (2 Tim. 2:16-19, 23-26; Jude 22, 23) If one obstinately is speaking about or deliberately spreading false teachings, this may be or may lead to apostasy. If there is no response after a first and a second admonition, a judicial committee should be formed. —Titus 3:10, 11; w89 10/1 p. 19; w86 4/1 pp. 30- 31; w86 3/15 p. 15.
Causing divisions and promoting sects: This would be deliberate action disrupting the unity of the congregation or undermining the confidence of the brothers in Jehovah’s arrangement. It may involve or lead to apostasy.—Rom. 16:17, 18; Titus 3:10, 11; it-2 p. 886.”