“Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.”—ACTS 8:38
[From ws 3/19 Study Article 10: p.2 May 6 -12, 2019]
From the outset, the author would like to make clear that water baptism is supported by scripture. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
What is not supported by the scriptures nor by the author is baptism identifying one with any particular organization rather than directly with God and Christ. This particularly includes the baptism of Jehovah’s Witnesses which identifies one as part of their particular brand of Religion, and makes one part of their ‘club’ from which it is difficult to leave without emotionally costly decisions that should not have to be made.
Also, dedication to Jehovah is not a scriptural requirement although it is a requirement of the Organization before baptism can take place. (See comment below on Paragraph 12)
A “lack of confidence” in oneself is one of the reasons supplied in paragraphs 4 & 5 as to why some may hold back from baptism.
The fact that two experiences are given about lack of confidence due to different causes, suggests that a lack of confidence among Witnesses or Witness youths is a common problem. Many adult Witnesses born to Witness parents often still suffer from a lack of confidence for most, if not all, of their lives.
In the author’s experience, it is caused by the type of negative teaching received at meetings, whereby one is conditioned to think of oneself as a sinner unworthy of life and that everlasting life will only be possible by being the very best witness one can be according to the Organization’s standards. These standards (as opposed to Christ’s standards, of course) include pioneering at any personal cost, not missing any meetings, not getting an education (that would allow one to have an enjoyable job and fulfilling job such as a doctor or nurse or engineer). It causes most sincere Witnesses to get on a treadmill from which it is difficult to leave.
Paragraph 6 then touches on another perceived issue: “influence of friends”. This is definitely an issue cause by the Organization. The article takes the opportunity to reinforce subtly the encouragement for baptised Witnesses not to have associations or friendships with non-baptised persons. It says, “I had a really good friend whom I had known for almost a decade.” However, Vanessa’s friend did not support Vanessa in her goal of getting baptized. That hurt Vanessa, and she says, “I find it hard to make friends, and I was worried that if I ended that relationship, I would never have another close friend.”
Scripturally, there is no requirement to ditch friends who do not desire to do everything you do. If one’s friends are not bad association right now, then why would they suddenly become bad association after getting baptised. The issue with this view from the Organization’s standpoint, of course, is that an unbaptised person may discourage the now baptised Witness from following all of the Organization’s rules and instructions. The Organization wants people’s whole allegiance.
Paragraph 7 highlights “fear of failure” which is really fear of punishment by the Organization in the form of disfellowshipping because of falling fowl of the myriads of Pharisaical rules enforced by the elders on behalf of the Organization.
Today, there is no way of being even 95% sure that one has a correct understanding of all the original teachings of the Bible. Therefore, how can anyone classify any other Christian as an apostate. Neither Christ nor the Apostles gave a long list of circumstances in which one should be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation. Nor was the first century withdrawing of fellowship draconian like that of the Organization today, which is like punishment, rather than a protection of the congregation.[i]
“Fear of opposition” is highlighted in paragraph 8 as another issue. The Organization should not be surprised when non-Witness family and friends oppose their friend or relative from committing their life to the Organization rather than to God. Most Witnesses cut themselves off from or have very limited contact with non-Witness relatives or friends. Only when the Witness wakes up wholeheartedly regretting this attitude as a very unChristian action is it possible to try to repair such relationships. Repairing these relationships might take a long time or indeed never be fully repairable and never become as close as they could have been.
Paragraphs 9-16 cover suggestions as to how to overcome the highlighted issues in the article.
Paragraph 10 suggests, “Continue learning about Jehovah. The more you learn about Jehovah, the more confident you will become that you can serve him successfully”. Certainly, this is commendable, but there is nothing about learning about Christ. As John 14:6 reminds us “Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We cannot learn about Jehovah if we do not learn about his son Jesus.
Paragraph 11 confirms that the young woman dropped her friend who did not want to commit her own life to the Organization. This makes it much more difficult to leave in the future when she may awaken to the lies she has been taught by the Organization as she will have no one outside the Organization and all those staying within it will surely drop her as their friend even as she did her friend on becoming a baptised Witness.
Paragraph 12 continues to promote the unscriptural requirement of dedication when it says “A primary way we show faith is by dedicating our life to God and getting baptized. 1 Peter 3:21”. As you will see 1 Peter 3 only talks about baptism.
In fact, in the NWT Reference Bible the word “dedication” can only be found 5 times. 4 times are in relation to the high priest of Israel and once relating to the festival of dedication which was a festival introduced less than 200 years before. It was not a festival commanded by Jehovah in the Mosaic Law. The word “dedicate” is used once in Hosea in relation to dedicating themselves to false worship.
The majority of the remaining paragraphs are devoted to how those with the feelings discussed in the initial paragraphs made the decision to be baptised as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The penultimate paragraph (18) slips in the claim that the Organization is Jehovah’s Organization and as such that we should always listen to the advice given through it, when it says, “When you make decisions, listen to the advice Jehovah gives you through his Word and his organization. (Isaiah 30:21) Then all you do will be successful. Proverbs 16:3, 20.”
However, in the experience of the author while listening to Jehovah’s advice through his word has always helped make wise decisions, the same cannot be said about listening to the advice of the Organization. For instance, not getting a higher education qualification makes it very stressful when raising a family. Putting off doing things because of being advised by the Organization as to how close Armageddon allegedly was, also causes unnecessary stress and in the long run, more time consuming problems.
What does the fact that belatedly ignoring the advice of the Organization on further education enables a reduction in stress and increased ability to care reasonably for one’s family, actually being able to work less hours secularly than before, tell one about the Organization’s claim that following their advice will make one successful in everything one does? Or that taking the decisions when required rather than putting them off because, according to the Organization, Armageddon is imminent, also reduces stress and ensures that the effects of those decisions is timely?
Yes, we do want to “continue to recognize how much you benefit from Jehovah’s guidance,” and that “your love for him and his standards will grow”.
However, whether we will achieve these goals fully will likely not be greatly assisted by being baptised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
By all means, be “baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, but in no way, be baptized to be recognised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[i] Please see other articles on the site that deal more comprehensively with the subject of disfellowshipping.
Thanks, Tadua for this review. I have been harping on about the dedication vow to Jehovah/baptism doctrine for a while now. It was the first crack in the dam for me as a witness. I left the org mid last year. It sickens me how they tie “dedication to Jehovah” in with baptism. As I’ve said before, not on this forum, but that there’s nothing wrong with dedicating/devoting yourself to something. The scriptures encourage us to follow Christ and to obey his and God’s commandments (same thing, as in, same commandments) but saying that “dedication” is interchangeable with baptism is… Read more »
Matthew 28:19 says to baptise people “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Interestingly, in this WT article Jehovah’s name is mentioned 48 times, Jesus’ name is mentioned only 4 times (3 times in the first 3 paragraphs then only once more in paragraph 16). The Holy Spirit isn’t mentioned at all in the entire article, yet the organisation is mentioned. This might explain why the baptism questions for candidates has been changed, effective this Monday 13 May, to the following: (1) “Have you repented of your sins, dedicated yourself to Jehovah,… Read more »
Hello all. Thanks for the review Tadua. The Org has a long history and in my experience never miss an opportunity to publicly name and shame as a means to pressure and “herd” people in the direction they want them to go. The bad old Judge used the same technique and wrote plenty about the “sifting work,” Jehovah ridding the Org of lazy and proud ones when the numbers fell by about 75% because of the failed Russell predictions, and when he issued incredibly difficult task of witnessing hours that each publisher should perform. I remember in the 60s when… Read more »
As for me and my 12 and 15 yr old PIMI family , we will be leaving the hall after the public talk. I do not want them or myself to be sharers to the evil class gb propaganda insidiously brought thyough in this WT article messages. The reasons addressed as to why children don’t baptised are abhorrent. ACTS 5 and ACTS 8…” Men and women who heard were baptised”.
PiMO not pimi so Physically in, Mentality Out). That’s us currently ?
Not sure how to edit on this site. Sorry
Goodness! Hello fellow Australian Alithia. I was baptised at 21 in 1989, after contact with winesses in 1988?. I have heard many stories by those older than me about those “bad old days” of 1960s and 1970s. Blame, shame, fear and guilt are powerful weapons. My elders-wife PIMI mother in law uses these regularly on my family and others regularly. Taught well, I see?
Can you please explain what you mean by:
Today, there is no way of being even 95% sure that one has a correct understanding of all the original teachings of the Bible.
95% is a figure used in maths, 95% percentile, which means except in rare cases, or in legal terms beyond reasonable doubt. This was the meaning behind my comment. With the biased translations and subtle textual changes my view is it is difficult to be certain that we have a 100% understanding on everything. What the more important thing is, is that we can ascertain the most important teachings and apply them. This would include the resurrection, and showing love to one another.
I was baptized in the early ‘70s, so my baptism did not include identifying myself as part of an organization. In fact, they stated that I was being baptized as a non-denominational Christian, which was fine with me, even when I was an adolescent. I NEVER thought that I was joining an organization, not for a moment. Let me elaborate. I had “grown up in the Truth” and had always been taught that WT publications were truthful. However, I never thought that they were infallible, inspired, or the specific leadings of God’s Holy Spirit. What I DID think is that… Read more »
My husband, now POMO since Feb, was baptised at 16 in 1989 for same reasons. He now feels lied to and betrayed. And is now at home a spiritual giant!!! Loving Jesus as well now.
Interesting change is coming. Baptism question 2 changes “God’s spirit directed organisation” to “Jehovah’s organisation”.
What does this mean ?
Just another example of the relentless creep towards ever more controlling language.
The word “spirit” is finally eliminated from baptism questions. This is rude distortion of clear Jesus’ command in Matt. 28:19.
Agreed. In my opinion this change moves the baptism questions further away from the whole process as described in scripture. The questions bear no resemblance to the command to baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Notice also that the first question asks if you have dedicated (only) yourself to Jehovah, and the second refers only to baptism and this to confirm that you are getting baptised as a JW under the organisation. So the organisation hijacks the only legitimate action of baptism for themselves. The more changes they make, the more I see… Read more »
And WHY did “they”, the great 8 gb do it????
Do what, Lost? Change the question? I would love to know why. Is it possible that they are distancing themselves from the claim to be led by spirit? I’ve noticed some GB speakers esp AMIII is now referring to themselves as “The Channel”. What that means is anyone’s guess. Special hot line from heaven? Is that not the same as spirit directed? If they did renounce the claim to be spirit directed, would that make people think? Would it make a difference? Will anyone even notice that the question has changed? I despair of it all. What with Eric’s experience… Read more »
I appreciated your sagacious words Martha, in both your comments.
IMO, it’s just another play on words and sounds, to reimage, reintroduce and/or re-identify themselves. Very similar to how a snake sheds it’s skin when it needs a fresh look and a sense of regenerating itself.
BTW, they don’t care if you have to change your beliefs (channels), that have been rooted from and stemmed together with “overlapping generations” that have stood still, while the World has kept turning.
Well said, Martha. “Will anyone even notice that the question has changed?”. It seems to be only a subtle change in baptism questions. But … IMO this little change of words could result in serious consequences for Warwick leaders. I think of Matt. 12:24-33. Our Lord defined there “the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” (in v. 24 and 31). And in v. 32: “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to… Read more »