“Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be readjusted.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
[Study 47 from ws 11/20 p.18 January 18 – January 24, 2021]
Before we begin our review, it would be good to examine the context of the scripture chosen for the theme by the Organization. When we read 2 Corinthians 13:1-14 we see the following:
In 2 Corinthians 13:2, the Apostle Paul writes: ”… I give my warning in advance to those who sinned previously and to all the rest, that if ever I come again I will not spare them …”.
What were the sins that those early Corinthian Christians needed to be readjusted from?
2 Corinthians 12:21b tells us it was the case that “many of those who previously sinned but have not repented of their uncleanness and sexual immorality and brazen conduct that they have practiced.”. When we look back to 1 Corinthians 5:1 we find that “Actually fornication is reported among YOU, and such fornication as is not even among the nations, that a wife a certain man has of his father.”
Note: It was fornication that was not even found among the (immoral) nations.
Certainly, readjustment was necessary on behalf of not only those sinning but those who accepted such practices in the Corinthian congregation.
There were other issues such as taking one another to court over trivial matters, which should have been settled among themselves in a scriptural manner. There was also counsel to marry rather than commit fornication.
With this in mind, what kind of readjustment is the study article about?
Is it about stopping fraud, abuse of authority, potential child abuse, immorality, or other serious sins within the congregation? If you thought so, you would be disappointed.
Paragraph 2 says “we will discuss how the Bible can help us to adjust our steps and how mature friends can help us to stay on the path to life. We will also consider when it might be a challenge to follow direction given by Jehovah’s organization. We will see how humility can help us to change our course without losing our joy in serving Jehovah.”.
Notice how the article is nothing about stopping serious wrongdoing, rather it is about remaining Witnesses (viewed as the only path to life), obeying the Organization (and its constantly changing direction), and being humble by accepting whatever we are told by the Organization (because serving the Organization is serving Jehovah).
It is quite worrying to see the arrogance of the Organization coming through in the article when it says: “But we must be humble if we are to benefit from the counsel we receive from the Bible or from God’s representatives.” (Bold ours) (paragraph 3). By mentioning “God’s representatives” they are expecting you to think or read “Governing Body” and the local elders.
Is this claim any different from the following statement, from the Catholic Church? “The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church. He is God’s representative on Earth.”. [i]
What about structure?
The Catholic Church has the following structure:
- Laity\ People
The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is different only in names! But there is still a hierarchical structure.
- Governing Body (Pope)
- Governing Body Helpers (Cardinals)
- Branch Committees (Archbishops)
- Circuit Overseers (Bishops)
- Elders (Priests)
- Ministerial Servants (Deacons)
- Congregation Members (Laity)
The first section of the Watchtower study article is entitled “Allow God’s word to correct you”. “Physician, heal thyself” comes to mind. The Governing Body should allow God’s word to correct them, instead of corruptly interpreting the Bible and making false prophecies as to when Armageddon is coming.
The second section is entitled “Listen to mature friends”. This is mostly good advice both as a recipient and as a mature friend giving advice. However, the Organization could not resist a dig at those they view as an apostate because, in their view, some “turn away from listening to the truth. 2 Timothy 4:3-4)”. The real issue here though is how would you define “false stories” and “truth”. Is a false story, a false story because someone says to us, ‘do not read that story, it is false’, or because someone says that story is false because it claims x, y, z and here is evidence that x, y, and z is incorrect? Is something “truth” because someone claims it is true, or because they have evidence to back up their claim?
For example, is it a false story that the way the Organization handles child sexual abuse claims is less caring about both the victim and the accused than the manner in which most other religious and secular organizations handle such cases?[ii]
Is it a false story that Jerusalem was not destroyed by the Babylonians in 607BCE? The basis for the claim for the Governing Body being “God’s representatives” is ultimately based on 1914CE being the year of Christ’s invisible return, which is in turn based on the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians being 2,520 years earlier in 607BCE. Why not check out this subject for yourself? After all, if this so-called false story is actually true, then the Organization cannot be God’s Organization or “God’s representatives” on earth, can they? To assist your own personal investigation why not check out the in-depth scriptural examination of the evidence in the following series “A Journey of Discovery Through Time” [iii].
The third section is entitled “Follow direction given by God’s Organization”.
Paragraph 14 makes the following unsubstantiated claims: “Jehovah guides us on the road to life by means of the earthly part of his organization, which provides videos, publications, and meetings that help all of us apply the counsel contained in God’s Word. This material is solidly based on the Scriptures. When deciding how the preaching work can best be accomplished, the Governing Body relies on holy spirit. Still, the Governing Body regularly reviews its own decisions about how the work is organized. Why? Because “the scene of this world is changing,” and God’s organization must adapt to new circumstances. – 1 Corinthians 7:31”.
To claim that the material in the Organization’s videos, publications, and meetings are solidly based on the Scriptures rings hollow, to say the least. “Partially based on the scriptures” would be far more truthful.
Somehow the Governing Body relies on holy spirit to make decisions about how the preaching work can be best accomplished, but note, they review their own decisions about how the work is organized. So, does the holy spirit guide them to make the right decisions or do they make their own decisions? Which is it?
Additional food for thought is, is there any record that the apostles and first-century Christians reviewed how the preaching work was organized? Or did Jesus give the apostles sufficient instructions to deal with any circumstances that came upon them? What do you think? More importantly, what do the scriptures show?
Kingdom Halls: Paragraph 15. You decide: True or False Story?
“For example, in recent years the cost of building and maintaining places of worship has increased dramatically. So the Governing Body has directed that Kingdom Halls be used to capacity. As a result of this adjustment, congregations have been merged and some Kingdom Halls have been sold. The funds are being used to help build halls in areas that need them the most.”
It may be true that the cost of building has increased dramatically, but surely only in some places, not everywhere. But how has the cost of maintenance increased dramatically? Using free labor and only needing limited materials to maintain a good structure, how is that costly? Furthermore, how does that justify selling off Kingdom Halls, especially those fully paid for? Also, is the collective cost of maintaining a hall, even if expensive as alleged, more expensive than the collective extra costs and inconvenience for members of congregations who have now had their kingdom halls sold and now have to travel considerable distances. After all, travel costs are relatively expensive nearly everywhere in the world and consume precious time.
Neither can we leave this subject without asking: Where have the monies from the sold Kingdom Halls gone? There are no accounts given with a listing of the income from the individual halls sold and the total costs per hall on building halls in other areas. Where is the openness and honesty and transparency expected of true Christians? Instead, we are just told to trust the Organization. Who are telling false stories and hiding the truth? Is it not the Organization?
Yes, “to stay on the cramped road to life”, we may “have to adjust” our steps. But not in the way the Organization wants us to. If we love truth, we will have to consider to leave, first in mind, then in body, an Organization that practices deceit and misinformation.
[ii] Watchtower Articles reviews:
Love and Justice – Part 1 https://beroeans.net/2019/04/28/love-and-justice-in-ancient-israel-part-1-of-4/
Love and Justice – Part 2 https://beroeans.net/2019/06/30/love-and-justice-in-the-christian-congregation-part-2-of-4/
Love and Justice – Part 3 https://beroeans.net/2019/07/07/love-and-justice-in-the-face-of-wickedness-part-3-of-4/
Providing Comfort for Victims of Abuse – Part 4 https://beroeans.net/2019/07/14/providing-comfort-for-victims-of-abuse-part-4-of-4/
[iii] 607BCE True or Not True? Part 1: https://beroeans.net/2019/06/12/a-journey-of-discovery-through-time-an-introduction-part-1/