“Your strength will be in keeping calm and showing trust.” Isaiah 30:15
[Study 1 from ws 1/21 p.2, March 1 – March 7, 2021]
The thrust of this week’s Watchtower study article is similar to last week’s about fighting discouragement. The basic message is “Keep calm and carry on”[i], ignoring the realities that are staring the brothers and sisters in the face.
The sub-text is that the Organization is effectively saying “We may be suffering something of an exodus of brothers and sisters at the moment, but that is no reason to start acting sensibly and join them. We may feel misled and disillusioned, but that is no reason to start using your critical thinking and realize that what Jehovah and Jesus have said through the pages of the Bible are not the same as what the Organization keeps on telling you”.
Paragraph 3 under the heading “What may cause us to feel anxious?” suggests the following reasons (split into bullet points by us):
- “We may have little or no control over some things that could cause us to feel anxious.
- For example, we cannot regulate how much the cost of food, clothing, and shelter will rise each year;
- nor can we control how frequently our workmates or schoolmates will try to tempt us to be dishonest or immoral.
- And we cannot stop the crime that happens in our neighborhood.
- We face these challenges because we live in a world where most people’s thinking is not based on Bible principles.”
So, let us examine these points one by one.
- We may not have a lot of control over things that cause us to feel anxious, but as we will see, both we and the Organization, perhaps have more control over this situation than is immediately apparent. How so?
- True, we cannot control rising prices. But we can control to a much bigger extent the ability to have sufficient income to cover these rising prices. The Organization also tries to control your ability to have sufficient income. How so? Its official policy is that children of Witnesses should not get a higher education, especially university education. Typically, higher-paying jobs that will keep pace with inflation require university degrees or professional qualifications. Witnesses are expected to take menial jobs that are low paying, such as window cleaning, home, and office cleaning, laboring, shop work, and the like. This leaves little headroom for savings for the future or inflation. In the current CoVid 19 pandemic, these have been the first jobs to go, or be put on hold, whereas those better paid office jobs have continued for many. Solution: Ignore the Organization’s policy on higher education, in a sensible way, getting your children qualified for jobs they will enjoy, and will likely give the ability for a comfortable standard of living, (though not making you rich). Then the chances of worrying about inflation will certainly be lessened.
- Why would one be anxious about how frequently our workmates or schoolmates try to tempt us to be dishonest or immoral? This is just scaremongering. In reality, how many really do that? The author has worked with hundreds of non-Witness workmates over the years, not one has tried to tempt me to be dishonest or immoral. On the other hand, I know of many Witnesses with whom I have associated with over the years until I realized what kind of people they really were, who have been dishonest or immoral. Solution: Is it not simply just to ignore their suggestions?
- True, unless we are a policeman, we may be unable to stop crime in our neighborhood. But what about closer to home, in the congregation? Here, when a crime is reported to the elders, perhaps the sexual abuse of a child by an adult, the official policy is to contact the countries Bethel headquarters legal desk. The advice given back is almost never to report the allegation of the crime to the local law enforcement authorities. Why? This results in more crime as the criminal rarely has two witnesses to their crime. Romans 13:1-10 makes it clear that if we love our neighbor we would obey the superior authorities, one of whose requirements is that we report a crime, otherwise, we become an accessory to the crime. If you saw a murder and did not report it, you can be charged with being an accessory to murder, even if you had nothing to do with it and disagreed with it. Likewise, you may see or be told first-hand by the victim of a crime. Do you not have a civic and moral and scriptural duty to report it to the authorities, regardless of what the Organization’s legal desk tell you? If someone had sexually abused my son or daughter, I can assure you I would report it to the authorities, to protect others, and to protect my offspring from further harm, and to hopefully see justice done by the authorities meting out punishment to the offender. Solution: Report crime within the congregation to the civil authorities first, then the congregation. If you report it first to the congregation, likely the civil authorities will never get to hear of it.
- It is true that we face challenges because most people are not guided by Bible principles. But this is not just in the world as the study article would want us to believe. Are we truly guided by Bible principles or just what we are taught in the Watchtower, and sometimes not even that? The author knows, just as you the reader likely does, of Witnesses, (including elders) who have defrauded their own brothers and sisters by not paying them for work done, who have ignored the paedophilic grooming antics of their adult Witness son, or the adultery with their best friend’s spouse. Where were the Bible principles when these Witnesses perpetrated these actions? Solution: Just maybe, the number of Witnesses committing these acts would be lessened if the Watchtower concentrated more on Bible principles that make us better Christians, and the benefits of these principles instead of always pushing the preaching work, or telling us to be obedient to the elders.
The Study article then goes on to examine briefly 6 things that could help us to keep calm.
The first suggestion is “Pray often”.
Now as the article suggests “Christians who are under pressure can find relief when they turn to Jehovah in earnest prayer. (1 Pet. 5:7) In answer to your prayers, you can receive “the peace of God that surpasses all [human] understanding.” (Read Philippians 4:6, 7.) Jehovah calms our anxious thoughts by means of his powerful holy spirit.—Gal. 5:22.”
However, do not be misled, except in rare instances to ensure the outworking of God’s purpose (such as in protecting the infant Jesus), there is no evidence that God intervenes personally on our behalf, whether to help us get a job, to get better health, to get a Bible study, or anything else, despite frequent suggestions to the contrary in the Watchtower study articles and JW Broadcasting broadcasts. It is coincidence, time and unforeseen circumstances. None of those things just mentioned require the personal intervention of God to ensure his purpose is not thwarted. Nor is there ever any explanation of the mechanism of how God intervened. This false teaching is akin to the teaching in Christendom derived from pagan religions that we individually have a guardian angel, or that things happen by magic. But, you may say, what about those experiences of someone praying to God that they find the true religion, and answers to their questions, only for Jehovah’s Witnesses to knock on the door, either that day or a day or two later. Given the regularity of Witnesses calling, there is bound to a coincidence with some people’s prayers. Other religions also recount these types of experiences as proof that God is backing them. It is not unique to the Organization, though they would like us to believe that. [ii]
The second suggestion is “Rely on Jehovah’s wisdom, not your own”.
Please do not make the mistake that the Organization wishes you to make and think that the teachings of the Organization reflect Jehovah’s wisdom. They do not. The Apostle Paul was educated at the feet of one of the most renowned Pharisees of his age, Gamaliel, (Acts 22:3) and that along with other attributes made him ideal for the special assignment Jesus gave him to be apostle to the nations. Yet today, Witnesses are frowned upon by the Organization for having anything but the minimum legally required education. Always be Beroean like with any of the Organization’s teachings (Acts 17:11).
The third suggestion is “Learn from good examples and bad ones”.
Provided we learn directly from the Bible rather than the Organization’s publications which usually contain a slanted application as shown so many times in the Watchtower Study article reviews, we will actually benefit from this advice.
The other 3 suggestions only have a few brief sentences each.
In summary, the Organization has within its power the opportunity to reduce the anxiety felt by many of the brotherhood. The question is, will they take this opportunity? Based on their past performance the chances are slim to none. Besides, regardless of what they do or do not do, we individually have both the responsibility and ability to drastically lessen the level of anxiety we may feel, at least in the areas discussed by the Watchtower Study article. Do not be misled.
[i] The phrase originated as a slogan in the spring before World War II. Anticipating the dark days ahead, the British government designed a poster to hang in areas being targeted by German bombers.
[ii] As an example, the Mormon founder Joseph Smith related that “According to the account Smith told in 1838, he went to the woods to pray about which church to join but fell into the grip of an evil power that nearly overcame him. At the last moment, he was rescued by two shining “Personages” (implied to be God the Father and Jesus) who hovered above him. One of the beings told Smith not to join any existing churches because all taught incorrect doctrines.”. This does not mean that God appeared to him and told him to start a new religion. We only have his word for it.