“I take pleasure in weaknesses, in insults, in times of need, in persecutions and difficulties, for Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10
[Study 29 From ws 07/20 p.14 September 14 – September 20, 2020]
There are a number of claims made in this week’s study article.
The first is in paragraph 3 where it says “Like Paul, we can ‘take pleasure … in insults’.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) Why? Because insults and opposition are signals that we are genuine disciples of Jesus. (1 Peter 4:14)”.
This is a misleading statement. 1 Peter 4:14 says “If you are being reproached for the name of Christ …”. That means, is the reproach because we are true Christians? This is completely the opposite way round to the Watchtower’s statement that if we are reproached it is because we are true Christians.
Perhaps a way to explain the difference is as follows:
- Let us say that you support a wildlife rescue charity. Now someone could insult you or oppose you because they hate animals and you believe in protecting them. Therefore, you could say they oppose what you stand for, the saving of animals. That is the meaning of 1 Peter 4:14.
- On the other hand, there could be protests against the wildlife rescue charity and you, because you support them. The reason for the protests is that the protestors are aware of corruption within the charity’s organization, that the money donated is being used not to save animals lives, but to pay legal bills because some of the volunteers have been hurting others and the charity has done nothing or little to stop it. There may also be strong suspicions and some evidence that the money donated is being siphoned off in a clever money-laundering scheme for purposes other than that which it was intended for.
- These insults and protests do not prove that the wildlife rescue charity is genuine, rather the opposite, it is corrupt and not fit for purpose. Imagine then that the corrupt wildlife rescue center management makes a press release claiming that the cause of the protests and opposition is because they are a real genuine wildlife center and people do not like them because of that. It would be ridiculous, yet that is what the Watchtower article is claiming. Contrary to the claim the Organization makes, that “Because insults and opposition are signals that we are genuine disciples of Jesus”, it is the very opposite. It is because the Organization is not fit-for-purpose and is going against the very ideas it claims to promote that such sites as Beroean pickets oppose and criticize the Organization and its misleading propaganda.
There are a few other claims that also need a spotlight on them.
Paragraph 6 claims “Despite what the world thinks of us, Jehovah is achieving extraordinary things with us. He is accomplishing the greatest preaching campaign in human history.”
Is the preaching campaign the greatest in human history? Arguably, it depends on how you define a preaching campaign. Does one judge it:
- by the number of preachers?
- Or by the number of people preached too?
- Or by the number of hours spent preaching?
- Or by the number of non-Christians preached to?
- Or by the percentage of truth that is being preached?
In terms of the number of not-at-homes called at, Jehovah’s Witnesses win that hands down! Maybe even by the number of individual preachers, but the number of people actually preached too, not necessarily. The same with the number of hours spent, if one counts the actual time of productive conversations or of people actually listening with interest, arguably it would not be the greatest campaign. What about the number of non-Christians preached to? Jehovah’s Witnesses may have witnessed to many who already profess Christianity (is that not preaching to the converted?), but when one examines the preaching done to those who are Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist, Communist, etc, etc, the amount of preaching is very small. We would also argue that on a percentage of truth basis they fail badly.
That is all about numbers, but since when has Jehovah been interested in the numbers game? True, he wants all to repent and be saved, but he is interested in results, and the genuine heartedness of people, not the self-aggrandizement contained in the statement “the greatest preaching campaign in human history”.
Let us be honest with ourselves, probably 95% of Witnesses, including ourselves, would not have chosen to go from door to door if we had not effectively been coerced into it. Preach privately about our faith, yes, but not from door to door. On this basis, the missionaries of almost all other Christian denominations outshine the Organization, because these missionaries go preaching because their love for God and Christ moves them to do so, not because of continual psychological pressure received from their religious meetings.
Finally, how does the preaching campaign of Jehovah’s Witnesses compare with the first Century disciples? Early Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire. Given it became the dominant religion within 300 years, I do not think anyone would forecast that this would or could happen with Jehovah’s Witnesses. The current alleged growth of the Organization percentage-wise is barely keeping up with the world population growth percentage-wise, let alone making great gains to become anything near the dominant world religion.
One final comment on this point, I struggle to understand how directing people to a website and not engaging the public in conversation when asked questions, constitutes a preaching campaign.
Paragraphs 7-9 discusses the subject “Do not rely on your own strength”.
This section highlights Paul’s words in Philippians 3:8 and the wording here implies that Paul treated his former accomplishments and education as a lot of garbage and hence we should do the same. But what did Paul really say? “For his [Christ’s] sake I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse …”. In other words, he had accepted the loss of his former status and position, and he was not going to make an effort to get them back. However, it does not mean that his prior education was not useful to him. He had not lost that! In addition, it allowed him to write a large portion of the Greek scriptures in which his training shows through. It also allowed him to give powerful arguments backed up by the scripture he had learned, on many occasions as he preached and in writing his letters. Furthermore, not relying on our own strength is very different from not having any strength to rely on. We can end up with no strength because we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that we do not need an education or a good secular job, and we are afraid to think for ourselves and meekly follow everything self-appointed men at the head of the Organization tell us to do, or we avoid speaking to and being friendly with ‘worldly people’ in case somehow some of their views will contaminate us like Co-vid 19!
The concluding sentence of paragraph 15 certainly deserves highlighting when we see how some commentators on the internet are treated by those claiming to be Witnesses and defending the Organization. The Watchtower article says “You can achieve that goal by relying on the Bible to answer people’s questions, by being respectful and kind to those who treat you badly, and by doing good to all, even your enemies.”
Yes, there is never any justification for some of the threats and language used by a small but increasing number of brothers and sisters against those they view as opposers.