In a recent video, which I’ll reference above as well as in the description field of this video, we were able to show how the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has come to a crossroads with its donation arrangement, and sadly, taken the wrong path. Why do we claim that this was a crossroads? Because for over a century, the Watch Tower has said that when voluntary donations no longer provide the means to do the publishing work, the leadership would take it as an indication that Jehovah God was telling them it was time to suspend operations. Well, that time has come because leaving it up to the publishers to decide if they want to give and how much they want to give is no longer providing them with the funds they need.
And here’s the problem. They are now asking for pledged monthly donations but back in August, 1879, Zion’s Watch Tower magazine had this to say:
“‘Zion’s Watch Tower’ has, we believe, JEHOVAH for its backer, and while this is the case it will never beg nor petition men for support. When He who says: ‘All the gold and silver of the mountains are mine,’ fails to provide necessary funds, we will understand it to be time to suspend the publication.” (w59, 5/1, Pg. 285) [Boldface added]
So, there you have it. The Watch Tower, Bible & Tract Society said in 1879 (and ever since) that it doesn’t stoop to gentle coercion using devices like petitioning men for support or soliciting pledges to fund the work. If the Society cannot fund itself on the basis of voluntary donations, as it has for more than a century, then that would indicate it is time to fold the tents, because it is no longer with the backing of God who owns all the silver and gold in the mountains. That is and always has been their official position on money, on funding. So, according to the publications, Jehovah God is calling off the work since there are not enough voluntary donations being given, but the Governing Body is refusing to get the message, to see the writing on the wall. They could simply wind things down and close up the organization because clearly Jehovah is not backing it and sustaining it with the donations they need but instead, they have decided to do the thing they have condemned other churches for doing: They are demanding pledges! These pledges take the form of a monthly donation which every congregation in the world is required to make after passing a resolution based on a per-publisher amount determined by the local branch office. In the US, the amount is $8.25.
In my aforementioned previous video titled The Governing Body’s New Donation Arrangement Proves Jehovah is not Backing the Organization, we were able to show that this arrangement is not a voluntary donation as they claim, but matches with the idea of asking for or demanding a pledge—something they duplicitously continue to condemn. How can they do one thing, while at the same time denying they are doing it?
I was not alone in publicly exposing the hypocrisy of this new donation arrangement and it would seem that the exposure is having an effect, because in the September broadcast, they appear to have hastily arranged to insert a rebuttal, yet another attempt at damage control. Governing Body member, Anthony Morris III takes up a full ten minutes to try to convince his audience that they aren’t begging, soliciting nor coercing anyone for money. Let’s listen in:
[Anthony Morris] We are going to talk about money. Now the fact is that we never beg for money. So it is long-standing. There is a balance here and going back to the watchtower is a very long time ago. We have never considered it proper to solicit money for the Lord’s cause, after the common custom referring to Christendom. It is our judgment that money raised by the various begging devices in the name of our Lord is offensive, unacceptable to him and does not bring his blessing, either upon the givers of the work accomplished or the work accomplished. So we do not need to be coerced into giving. We gladly use our money to support Kingdom activities.
Anthony Morris III denies that they are begging in the manner of other churches, nor are they soliciting funds, nor are they coercing the brothers for money. But is he being honest?
The elders are required to make a resolution and have it passed. This is not an option. If they fail to do this, the circuit overseer will have words with them. If they still refuse to cooperate, they will be removed and replaced with more compliant elders. This has been done before when elders chose to stand their ground on principle. That doesn’t seem like a voluntary donation. It’s not even solicitation. It’s coercion. But what about when we take it down to the level of the common publisher, as Jehovah’s Witnesses are called within the congregation?
Let’s say a congregation of 100 publishers resolves to send in $825 per month in the United States, but after taking funds to cover local utilities like electricity, telephone, gas and water, they can’t meet the $825 obligation. What then? Well, in all likelihood, there will be a special needs part at the next mid-week meeting. The publishers will be “lovingly” reminded of their promised commitment to Jehovah. Of course, this plays on your guilt, because you were there and you raised your hand to vote for the resolution—because you always have to raise your hand in favor, and heaven help the poor soul that raises his or her hand to object. Anyway, because you were there, you are now made to feel obligated to contribute personally. It doesn’t matter whether you lost your job. It doesn’t matter if you are a father of four, all publishers, meaning a monthly payment of close to $50. You are expected to contribute…let’s be honest…you are expected to PAY your share every month.
I remember just a few years back that they doubled the rent that the congregations paid when using the local assembly hall. The reason for doubling the rent was that the local branch needed the excess to go to them. Well, the publishers didn’t come through and there was a shortfall of $3000. The Assembly Hall committee then informed the ten congregations that used the hall for that weekend that they each had an obligation to make up the shortfall, to the tune of $300 each.
Anthony Morris III is denying the reality of enforced payment amounts by implying the donation is voluntary. Anthony, we’re not stupid. We know that if it walks like a duck, and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it isn’t an eagle no matter how hard you try to convince us it is.
Anthony is now going to give us three scriptural reasons to donate. Let’s hear the first one:
[Anthony Morris] I thought we should take some thoughts from the kingdom book, 3 reasons why we’re willing, and so willing to give. Some beautiful thoughts. Well, the first one is connected with doing what’s pleasing in Jehovah’s eyes.
He is being very presumptuous by saying that the money that is donated to the organization pleases Jehovah. If you were to say to Anthony Morris, “Hey, I’m going to do what pleases Jehovah by donating money to the Catholic Church,” what do you suppose he would say? Perhaps he would reason with you that donating money to the Catholic Church doesn’t please Jehovah, because they teach false doctrine, and they are affiliated with the United Nations, the image of the Wild Beast of Revelation, and they are paying millions of dollars in damages because of having covered over child sexual abuse for years. I think we might agree with him, but then we have the problem that all of that actually applies to the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses as well.
Anthony next quotes from the book of Corinthians to show that our giving should be cheerful and free.
[Anthony Morris] Second Corinthians 9:7. Let each one do just as he is resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. So there we have it. We’re happy to give to Jehovah when needs arise and the organization brings it to our attention. For example, disasters and such like we had at the annual meeting, the report about the increase in disasters and the millions of dollars of God’s kingdom money was used to help our brothers.
So, the brothers cheerfully gave when they knew there was a specific need for disaster relief, even to the tune of millions of dollars. What happens, though, when they learn that millions of dollars are being spent to pay off victims of child sexual abuse? Why doesn’t the Governing Body come clean about that use of dedicated funds? Gerrit Losch said in the 2016 November broadcast that it is a lie to hide information from someone who is entitled to know the truth. Wouldn’t you agree that the contributor to a cause is entitled to know whether his or her money is being used for that cause and will not be diverted to pay for things the contributor would not approve of?
[Anthony Morris] But when it comes to giving it’s an individual responsibility as the verse says, is resolved in his heart or her heart not grudgingly. And the footnote addresses the word reluctantly, so it’s not like we embarrass people, beg em. Look you’re well-off why aren’t you giving more? Well, that’s not their business and that’s not our business. We have to resolve in our own heart. So while we’ve discussed money, we never come across like we’re putting people in ahh, trying to get them to even grudgingly give just so we get the money. That’s not this organization. Course Christendom, they are experts at begging for money.
He keeps saying that they don’t beg for money. That’s true, but irrelevant. It is a strawman argument. No one is accusing them of “begging” for money, so claiming that to be the objection which they can easily overcome is building a strawman they can easily burn down. Rather than begging, they are acting more like a bill collector. To illustrate, let’s go back to 2014 when this all started. Do you remember the March 2014 letter when they “magnanimously” announced they were cancelling all Kingdom Hall loans? Why would they do that? It wasn’t clear at the time. All we knew was that page two of that letter, which wasn’t read out to the congregations, stated that the elders of a hall with an outstanding loan were to pass a resolution for a so-called voluntary donation in the same amount or greater of the loan. Here’s the actual text from the letter that went out in Canada: Letter to all Congregations, March 29, 2014, Re: Adjustment to financing Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction worldwide (I will provide a link to that letter in the description field of this video.)
What amount should be used for this new resolved monthly donation?
The elders in congregations currently making loan repayments would likely propose a resolution that is at least the same amount as the current monthly loan repayment… [notice “least” was in italics]
I’m going to stop there for a moment and you can take that in. In the congregation in which I served as the coordinator of the body of elders, we had a loan payment, if memory serves, of $1,836 per month. By the time this letter came out, I had been removed for not being willing to mindlessly submit to the Governing Body. Nevertheless, I was there when the elders dutifully read out the resolution for a monthly donation of $1,800. So, it was a misdirection. All they did was rename the mortgage loan. Now it was no longer a mortgage, but a donation. They were still getting their money, but with the difference that a loan gets paid off eventually, but a resolution has no time limit.
It didn’t take many years before the reason behind this policy became clear. Since there were no more mortgage loans, the Governing Body could claim they owned all the halls and were merely leasing them to the congregations for their use. With that, the big sell-off began.
Let’s read the entire paragraph of that 2014 letter because it relates to what is currently happening in the Organization.
The elders in congregations currently making loan repayments would likely propose a resolution that is at least the same amount as the current monthly loan repayment keeping in mind that donations will no longer be received from the “Kingdom Hall Construction Worldwide” contribution box. The elders in congregations without loans or those having standing resolutions to support Kingdom Hall construction worldwide should take a confidential survey of all publishers to determine the amount of the new resolution. This can be done by passing out slips of paper to be filled out anonymously by the publishers indicating how much they are able to contribute monthly toward local congregation expenses, including the resolution to support Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction worldwide. (Letter to all Congregations, March 29, 2014, Re: Adjustment to financing Kingdom Hall and Assembly Hall construction worldwide)
So, while the Governing Body teaches rank and file Witnesses to disdain Christendom’s churches for passing the collection plate, they pass out pieces of paper and get people to make a personal pledge for a monthly donation. Apparently, and we can all see this for ourselves, the anonymous pledges on pieces of paper weren’t getting the job done, so now they are just requiring everyone to contribute a pre-set amount. Can you see that?
Anthony now gives us reason number 2 for donating to JW.org.
[Anthony Morris] Now the second one. This is interesting, a heart-searching principle found back in the Mosaic Law. Turn to Deuteronomy chapter 16 if you would please and Deuteronomy 16 and you’ll see the connection while this applied to the Jews at that time, you’ll see how it applies to us in our day.
Why does Anthony Morris have to go back to the nation of Israel for his second reason to donate? Israel was a nation. They had to give 10% to the tribe of Levi. It was essentially an obligatory tax. Their whole form of worship was based on the temple and the need to offer up animal sacrifices. Why can’t Anthony Morris find a second reason from within the Christian arrangement? The answer is because there is nothing (nothing!) in the Christian Scriptures that supports the point he is about to make? And what point is that? He wants us to believe that unless everyone of his listeners (everyone of his listeners!) donates regularly, they will lose God’s approval.
[Anthony Morris] We’re going to read verse 16 and then verse 17 of Deuteronomy 16: “Three times a year all your males should appear before Jehovah your God in the place that he chooses at the festival of unleavened bread, the festival of weeks and the festival of booths.” Now notice “and none of them should appear before Jehovah empty-handed. The gifts that each one brings should be in proportion to the blessing that Jehovah your God has given you.” So let that sink in and this is what Jehovah wanted to be conveyed to the Israelites who attended these festivals. None…he didn’t say if you’re well-off, if you’ve had a great year as opposed to some that were poor, you still had issues back at that time, even though it was Jehovah’s nation. But he said none should appear empty-handed, so that takes in all of us. Whatever our circumstances are whether in Bethel or in the field, Jehovah doesn’t approve coming empty-handed, see.
What was the offering that each male was supposed to bring, not every month, but three times a year? It was not a monetary offering. It was an animal sacrifice. They were coming before Jehovah to atone for their sins and offer thanks for their blessings and they did it with animal sacrifices. They were offering back to God a small portion of the material blessings he had bestowed upon them.
However, the Sacrifice that Christians offer is the fruit of the lips. We worship God, not by offering up animals on an altar, but by praising God by our preaching and by means of an exemplary life style focused on acts of mercy toward others. There is nothing in the Christian Scriptures that states we are to praise Jehovah by giving our money to an organization run by men.
When Paul left Jerusalem after speaking with James, John, and Peter, the only direction he took with him was that “we should go to the nations [Gentiles] but they the other apostles in Jerusalem to those who are circumcised [Jews]. They asked only that we keep the poor in mind, and this I have also earnestly endeavored to do.” (Galatians 2:10 NWT 1984)
Any extra money they had went to helping the poor among them. Does the organization have arrangements to care for the poor in the congregation? Is that something they have “earnestly endeavored to do”? In the first century, there was a formal arrangement to care for widows. Paul directed Timothy in this as we see at 1 Timothy 5:9, 10. Do Witnesses have a similar arrangement given the direction we just read in two places in the Christian Scriptures? Not only do they not practice this giving, they actively discourage it. I know from my time as an elder that if a body of elders choses to set up a formal arrangement in the local congregation, they will be instructed by the circuit overseer to take it down. I know this because it actually happened to me when I was the coordinator of the Congregation in Alliston Ontario, Canada.
[Anthony Morris] The gift each one brings should be in proportion the blessings- so adding up these blessings then we’re happy to give out of our material possessions. So profound a thought there, and something to reflect on so we don’t find ourselves when it comes to contributions on a monthly basis of whatever, empty-handed. While I’m doing so much here and there– money meets a response in all things, and you have to take that into account, even if we are in the poor range.
In English, Tony actually makes reference to “monthly donations,” though in the Spanish translation, it just says “regular donations.” This is obviously an appeal for all Jehovah’s Witnesses, even the poorest ones, to donate something. Everyone is expected to donate. He actually says the poor are expected to donate, though again in Spanish, instead of calling them poor, the translator softens it by saying “even if you don’t have much money”. So, while Paul was told to keep the poor in mind with a view to providing for them, the Governing Body keeps the poor in mind as a source of revenue.
Anthony Morris finally goes to the Christian Scriptures to provide his third reason for you to give your money to the Organization. This should be the knock-out punch in his reasoning — positive scriptural proof for Christians to show why an organization needs and should expect to get their money. But it is nothing of the sort.
[Anthony Morris] The third one is connected with our love for Jesus, let’s turn to John chapter 14 if you would please. John chapter 14 –we give voluntary contributions because we love our Lord Jesus, and notice what he stated here. John chapter 14 and verse 23. “’In answer, Jesus said to him. ‘If anyone loves me, he will observe my word and my father will love him and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.’” So appreciate how Jesus put it– if so, it’s a responsibility that falls on us individually, but if we say we love Jesus and when, unlike Christendom with this proclamation of their love for Jesus, they really don’t even know the real Jesus frankly till you get an accurate knowledge of the truth. But if we are in the truth and dedicated baptized servants of him, if we really love him we’re going to observe his word. That means not just carrying out the kingdom, putting our time and energy into it. It also means money.
Where does it say that? Where…does…it…say…that, Tony? You’re making this up. Just like you guys made up the overlapping generation doctrine, and 1914, and the other sheep as a secondary class of Christian. There is no connection between what Jesus says at John 14:23 and what the Governing Body wants you to believe. Jesus isn’t even hinting at giving your money to an organization so as to show that you love him.
In an aside, I had to laugh when I got to the part where Anthony Morris disses the churches of Christendom saying they do not understand who Jesus is. That is so the-pot-calling-the-kettle-black. For instance, Witnesses are taught that Jesus is merely an archangel. I now know that to be totally false and unscriptural.
But I’m getting off topic. The question is, should JW Publishers be giving their hard-earned cash to the organization? The Bible tells us to use excess funds to help the poor. First century Christians provided for the poor among them, especially widows and orphans. The organization has no programs whatsoever to help widows, orphans, or the poor. Do they? Have you ever heard a call to help the widows and the orphans financially from the platform? They do have disaster relief, but believe it or not that results in a revenue stream for them. Brothers and sisters donate their time and resources, often donating the materials for reconstruction, and when the insurance cheques roll in, the witnesses who benefitted are expected to send the money in to headquarters. It’s a win-win for the organization. It’s great PR. They get to play the benefactor, and it brings in additional funds from the insurance payments.
Morris now tries to justify the need for these funds.
[Anthony Morris] We are willing to donate money to support the worldwide work and we’re not ashamed to admit that this takes money to have these things operate –branches in supporting all of the preaching work, the kingdom work, all these other initiatives that we’ve had in recent years. It takes money.
Unfortunately, something doesn’t ring true. Back in 2016, they decimated the ranks of the special pioneers. These are individuals willing to go into difficult territories where they cannot get work. These are territories where few, if any, Jehovah’s Witnesses live to do the preaching which they hold to be of utmost importance. The special pioneers are supported by a very modest allowance. So why, if the preaching work is the most important thing, do they not use the millions contributed to continue to support the special pioneers? They didn’t cut the circuit overseers. They all have cars and homes to live in. They cost a lot more than the Special pioneers do. Do Witnesses even need circuit overseers? There were no circuit overseers in the first century. They try to make Paul into a circuit overseer, but he wasn’t. He was a missionary. The only reason for the institution of the circuit overseer is to maintain centralized control. Likewise, the main reason for a branch office is to maintain centralized control. What do we really need the organization to do? Why do we need a multibillion-dollar organization? Jesus Christ doesn’t need a multibillion-dollar organization to do the preaching work. The first multi-billion-dollar corporation set up in the name of Christ was the Catholic Church. She has spawned many children. But do true Christians really need an organization?
I think that Anthony Morris’s closing comments really show the flaw in the entire arrangement. Let’s listen now:
[Anthony Morris] But keep in mind sometimes if you are poor remember, the widow, so she didn’t come there to the temple empty-handed. She didn’t have much, but Jehovah loved her. Jesus loved her for giving what she had. So, even when we’re poor we’re expected to give monetarily and it’s because we love Jehovah, love Jesus and we appreciate all the blessings we receive during the year and are grateful.
Anthony Morris would have approved this picture taken from the January 2017 Study Edition of The Watchtower that depicts a widow with nothing to eat in the fridge, giving out of her need. He thinks this is praiseworthy. I can say this with confidence, because that Watchtower stated:
Think, too, of the needy widow in Jesus’ day. (Read Luke 21:1-4.) She could hardly do anything about the corrupt practices being carried on at the temple. (Matt. 21:12, 13) And there was likely little she could do to improve her financial situation. Yet, she voluntarily contributed those “two small coins,” which were “all the means of living she had.” That faithful woman demonstrated wholehearted trust in Jehovah, knowing that if she put spiritual things first, he would provide for her physical needs. The widow’s trust moved her to support the existing arrangement for true worship. Likewise, we trust that if we seek first the Kingdom, Jehovah will make sure that we have what we need.—Matt. 6:33.
(w17 January p. 11 par. 17)
This single paragraph is a gold mine, truly!
Let’s begin with the quote from Luke 21:1-4 which they use to justify asking widows and the poor to donate. Remember that the Greek Scriptures were not written with chapter divisions. One cannot help but wonder if the reason the copyists and translators chose to put a chapter division at what is now verse one rather than verse five was due to that fact they had to please their masters in the church. It would have been far more logical to have started chapter 21 at what is now verse 5, since that opens up with a whole new topic—the answer to the question concerning the destruction of the city and temple, the last days of the Jewish system of things. The account of the widow’s tiny donation has nothing to do with that, so why make it part of that chapter? Could it be that they wanted to distance that from what came just before? Consider that if we put the chapter division at 21:5 and transfer the first four verses of chapter 21 to the end of chapter 20, the account of the widow takes on a very different meaning.
Let’s do that now and see what we get. We’re going to re-write the chapter and verse designations for this exercise.
(Luke 20:45-51) 45 Then, while all the people were listening, he said to his disciples: 46 “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in robes and who love greetings in the marketplaces and front seats in the synagogues and the most prominent places at evening meals, 47 and who devour the houses of the widows and for show make long prayers. These will receive a more severe judgment.” 48 Now as he looked up, he saw the rich dropping their gifts into the treasury chests. 49 Then he saw a needy widow drop in two small coins of very little value, 50 and he said: “Truly I say to you that this poor widow put in more than they all did. 51 For all of these put in gifts out of their surplus, but she, out of her want, put in all the means of living she had.”
Suddenly, we see that Jesus wasn’t saying that the widow was a wonderful example of giving, using it as a means to encourage others to donate as well. This is how the churches use it, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, but Jesus had something else in mind which becomes obvious from the context. He was exposing the greed of the scribes and the religious leaders. They found ways to oblige a widow like the one Jesus pointed out to give. This was just part of their sin in “devouring the houses of the widows”.
So, Anthony Morris and the rest of the Governing Body are imitating the course of the avaricious Jewish leaders and requiring everyone to give them money, even the poorest of the poor. But they are also imitating modern-day religious exploiters. Now you may think I’m exaggerating with the comparison I’m about to make, but bear with me just a little and see if there isn’t a correlation. Televangelists get money by preaching the prosperity gospel. They call this “seed faith”. If you donate to them, you are planting a seed that God will make grow.
[Evangelical Preachers] The size of your seed will determine the size of your harvest. I don’t understand why, but there’s something happens at a level where people step in the faith and give $1000 that don’t happen at other levels. You’re going to have a breakthrough through this $273 seed; all you’ve got is $1000 listen, that’s not enough money anyway to buy the house; you’re trying to get in the apartment, but you’re trying to buy the house. That’s not enough money anyway. You get to that phone and you put that seed in the ground and watch God work it out!
“Wait a minute,” you say. “Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t do that. You’re misrepresenting them.”
Agreed, they don’t go to such blatant extremes as those reprehensible men, wolves in sheep’s clothing, but consider the application of their words. Again, from that Watchtower article January 2017 Study Edition of The Watchtower
That faithful woman demonstrated wholehearted trust in Jehovah, knowing that if she put spiritual things first, he would provide for her physical needs. The widow’s trust moved her to support the existing arrangement for true worship. Likewise, we trust that if we seek first the Kingdom, Jehovah will make sure that we have what we need. (par. 17)
They are misapplying Jesus’ words found in the book of Matthew.
So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to wear?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Each day has enough of its own troubles. (Matthew 6:31-34)
Jesus isn’t saying, give me money or give the apostles money, or contribute to the worldwide work, and Father will provide for you. He’s saying seek the kingdom and God’s righteousness, and don’t worry, because your Father in heaven will not let you down. Do you believe that sending money to a televangelist like Kenneth Copeland is seeking first the Kingdom? If I send money to the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses so they can build a new video center, or fund more circuit overseers, or pay off another settled-out-of-court child sexual abuse lawsuit, does that mean that I’m seeking first the kingdom?
As I said, paragraph 17 from the January 2017 Watchtower is a gold mine. There is still more to mine here. It also declared, “Think, too, of the needy widow in Jesus’ day. (Read Luke 21:1-4.) She could hardly do anything about the corrupt practices being carried on at the temple. (Matt. 21:12, 13)”
That isn’t exactly true. She could, in her small way, do something about those corrupt practices. She could stop donating. And what if all the widows stopped donating? And what if the average Jew also stopped donating. What if the rich leaders of the temple suddenly started to run low on funds?
It has been said that the best way to punish rich people is to turn them into poor people. The organization is super rich, worth billions. Yet, we have seen the hypocrisy of it and the corrupt practices, just as existed in the first century nation of Israel. By being aware of these practices and yet continuing to donate, we could become complicit in their sin. But what if everyone stopped donating? If something is wrong and you willingly give your money to it, you become an accomplice, don’t you? But if you stop giving, you’re free of guilt.
J. F. Rutherford claimed that religion was a snare and a racket. What is a racket? What is racketeering?
Racketeering is a genre of organized crime in which the perpetrators set up a coercive, fraudulent, extortionary, or otherwise illegal coordinated scheme or operation to repeatedly and consistently collect money or other profit.
Now, what if even a few of the congregations that have had their halls sold out from under them, decide to challenge the organization in court, claiming racketeering. After all, did they not build the hall themselves with their own hands, and did they not pay for it with their own money? How can the organization justify the takeover that came about in 2014 as anything other than the very definition of racketeering?
Still, witnesses will reason that they need the organization to survive Armageddon, but in speaking to his fellow Christians, Paul said:
Hence let no one be boasting in men; for all things belong to YOU, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things now here or things to come, all things belong to YOU; in turn YOU belong to Christ; Christ, in turn, belongs to God. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)
If they didn’t belong to Apollos, nor to the Apostles Paul and Peter (also known as Cephas) who were chosen directly by Jesus, then it can hardly be argued that Christians today should belong to any church or organization. The Jewish nation was destroyed by God for its infidelity, and likewise, Christendom’s churches and organizations are going to be swept away. Just as the Christians in the first century didn’t need the temple in Jerusalem nor any centralized, controlling organization to get the preaching work accomplished, why do we think we need that today?
Jesus told the Samaritan woman:
. . .“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation begins with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for indeed, the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him. (John 4:21-23)
A geographical location was no longer necessary for true worship. Nor was membership in some group needed, since the only one we belong to is Jesus himself. Why do we think we can only preach the good news if there is a multibillion-dollar organization controlling our lives? What do they really offer that we can’t get for ourselves? We don’t need them to provide places of meeting, do we? We can meet in homes like they did in the first century. Printed materials? We can do that ourselves quite cheaply? Travelling overseers? In my 40 years as an elder, I can assure you that we would all be better off without them. Legal matters? Like what? Fighting child abuse civil suits? Forcing doctors to not administer blood? Without a need for the bureaucracy of these things we would have no need for costly branch offices either.
“But without the organization, there would be chaos,” some will argue. “Everyone would do whatever they wanted to do, believe whatever they wanted to believe.”
That is simply not true. I’ve been attending online meetings for almost four years now outside of any organized religion, and I find that harmony is a natural outcropping when one worships in spirit and in truth.
Still, some will continue to reason, “Even if there are flaws and serious problems, it is still better to stay in the organization, the organization I know than to leave and have nowhere else to go.”
Patrick Lafranca, from this month’s broadcast, actually gives us some good advice, albeit unwittingly, in answer to that concern Witnesses that often express.
[Patrick Lafranca] Now imagine yourself getting on a literal railroad or subway train. Soon you realize that you’re on the wrong train. It’s taking you to a place you do not want to go to, what do you do? Do you stay on the train all the way to the wrong destination. Of course not! No, you get off that train at the very next station, but what do you do next? You switch to the right train.
If you know you are on the wrong train, the first thing you do is get off as soon as possible, because the longer you wait, the farther you are taken from your destination. If you don’t yet know what train is the right one to take you where you want to go, you still want to get off the wrong train, so that you can figure out where to go next.
Christians only need Jesus Christ as their leader, the Bible as their instruction manual, and the holy spirit as their guide. Anytime you put men between yourself and Jesus Christ, even if things may seem organized, they will always go wrong. There’s a reason it is called disdainfully, “organized religion”.
The Governing Body, like every other religion out there—Christian or non-Christian—wants you to think that the only way to gain God’s favor is by doing what the men at the head of the church tell you to do, whether it be a church, synagogue, mosque, or organization they want you to listen to them and they want you to support them with your money which inevitably makes them rich. All you have to do is to stop giving them your money and you will watch them crumble. Perhaps this is what it means in Revelation when it speaks of the waters of the river Euphrates drying up in preparation for the invasion by the kings from the rising of the sun to attack Babylon the Great.
And I heard another voice out of heaven say: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
I am not saying that it is wrong to use your funds to help others who are suffering in poverty, or are needy due to a challenging situation, such as an illness or a tragedy. Nor am I suggesting it is wrong to help those who are spreading the good news, as the apostle Paul and Barnabas were helped by the wealthy congregation in Antioch to go on three missionary trips. It would be hypocritical for me to suggest the latter since I am helped to pay for my expenses by the kind contributions of others. This money is being used to cover expenses as well as help those in need where possible.
All I’m saying is that if you are going to help anyone out, make sure your donations, whether of time or funds, are not going to support liars and wolves dressed like sheep who are spreading a false, self-serving “good news”.
Thank you so much for listening.