David Splane of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is about to deliver the second talk of the October 2023 annual meeting program titled, “Trust in the Merciful Judge of all the Earth”.
His attentive audience is about to get the first glimmers of what the Governing Body likes to call “new light” from God, revealed to them by holy spirit. I’m not contesting that a god is involved nor that the spirit he sends forth is guiding them, but how can we tell if they are listening to the one true God?
Well, one thing we know about God Almighty, whether we all him Jehovah, or Yahweh, is that he is the God of truth. So, if someone claiming to be his servant, his voice on earth, his channel of communication with the rest of us…if that person speaks lies, we’ll have our answer as to which god is inspiring them, won’t we?
I’m not going to subject you to the entire talk. If you want to hear it, I’m informed that the annual meeting program will be released in the November broadcast on JW.org. We’ll look at a few revealing clips only.
Have you ever asked, for example, will none of those who died in the flood get a resurrection, even those who may never have heard of Noah? And what about Sodom and Gomorrah? Will everyone who died in Sodom and Gomorrah sleep an everlasting sleep? The women, the children, babies?
We don’t have the answer to those questions. Wait a minute. Did I hear that right? We don’t have the answer to those questions? I thought we did. In the past, our publications have stated that there’s no hope of a resurrection for those who died in the flood or those destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah. Can we say dogmatically, that not one Sodomite would have repented if Jehovah’s requirements had been explained?
David says that they, the Governing Body, don’t have the answer to such questions as, “Will those who died in the Flood or in Sodom and Gomorrah have a resurrection?” Then he treats us to a cute little self-deprecating piece of staged humility.
“Wait a minute. Did I hear that right? We don’t have the answer to those questions? I thought we did.”
Then he shifts focus from the first person “we” to the second person “the publications,” then back to the first person, “we”. He says, “In the past, our publications have stated that there’s no hope of a resurrection for those destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah. But do we really know that?”
Apparently, the blame for this old light falls on others, whoever authored those publications.
I happen to agree with this “new light”, but here’s the thing: It’s not new light. In fact, it’s very old light and we know that because of the very publications he’s referring to. Why is that important? Because if David’s new light is in fact old light, then we’ve been here before and he’s hiding that fact from us.
Why is he hiding that fact? Why is he pretending that they, the Governing Body, only believed one thing and now they are—what’s the word they’re using, oh yeah—now they’re just sharing a “clarified understanding” with us. Hmm, well, here are the facts from those same publications.
Will the people of Sodom be resurrected?
Yes! – July 1879 Watchtower p. 8
No! – June 1952 Watchtower p. 338
Yes! – August 1, 1965 Watchtower p. 479
No! – June 1, 1988 Watchtower p. 31
Yes! – Insight Vol. 2, print edition, p. 985
No! Insight Vol. 2, online edition, p. 985
Yes! – Live Forever 1982 edition p. 179
No! – Live Forever 1989 edition p. 179
So, for the past 144 years, “the publications” have flip-flopped on this issue! Is that how God reveals truth to his beloved servants?
Jeffrey Winder claimed in his opening talk that they receive new light from God as he reveals truth progressively and gradually. Well, it would seem their god is playing games, turning the light on and then off and then on again and then off again. The god of this system of things is very capable of doing that, but our heavenly Father? I don’t think so. Do you?
Why can’t they be honest with us about this? In their defense, you might suggest that maybe they weren’t aware of everything the publications had to say on this or any other subject. We might think that if we hadn’t already been told differently in the first talk of this symposium given by GB member, Jeffrey Winder:
And the question is does this require or warrant additional research? The brothers are not making a final decision on what the new understanding will be, just asking does it warrant additional research? And if the answer is yes, then a research team is assigned to provide recommendations and research for the Governing Body to consider. And this research includes a summary of everything that we have said, the organization has said on the subject since 1879. All the watchtowers, what have we said?
“This research includes a summary of everything we’ve said on the subject since 1879.” So, according to Jeffrey, the first thing they do is to research everything they’ve ever written on a matter going all the way back, 144 years, to 1879.
That means that David Splane is aware of their historical floundering and flip-flopping on the question of whether or not those who died in the flood or in Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected.
Why can’t he be open and honest with us about this muddled history? Why speak in a half-truth when a whole truth is what his listeners deserve.
Sadly, the duplicity doesn’t stop with the hiding of their history. Remember what he said at the end of that clip we just watched? Here it is again.
Can we say dogmatically, that not one Sodomite would have repented if Jehovah’s requirements had been explained?
It is an interesting choice of wording, wouldn’t you say? He asks his audience, “Can we say dogmatically…” He refers to dogmatism four times in his talk:
Can we say dogmatically? We just can’t be dogmatic. So we can’t be dogmatic. Well what’s the take away from this talk so far? What we’re saying is that we shouldn’t be dogmatic about who will and who will not be resurrected. We just don’t know.
Why is this significant? To explain, let’s start with the meaning of the word “dogmatic” which is defined as “inclined to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true” or “asserting opinions in a doctrinaire or arrogant manner; opinionated”.
David’s exhortation to us not to be dogmatic seems balanced and open minded. Hearing him, you’d think that he and the other members of the Governing Body have never been dogmatic. But the reality is that they have gone way beyond dogmatism throughout their history, and so his words have a hollow ring to anyone familiar with the practices and polices of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For instance, if, in 1952, you were to contradict the Organization’s position and teach that the men of Sodom and Gomorrah would be resurrected, you’d be forced to recant, or suffer the penalty of disfellowshipping. Then comes 1965. Suddenly, teaching the old light from 1952 would result in your being shunned. But if you were to teach that 1952 old light in 1988, when it again became new light, all would be well. And now they’ve returned to the old light of 1879 and 1965.
So, why this change? Why are they adopting old light and calling it new again? Why are they saying that they can’t be dogmatic when dogmatism has been the mainstay of their theology, usually cloaked in the pious garment of “preserving unity”.
We all know that all Witnesses have to believe and teach whatever the current truth from the Governing Body happens to be, or they’ll find themselves in the back room of the Kingdom hall facing a judicial committee.
When Kenneth Cook introduced this annual meeting, he called it “historic.” I agree with him, though not for the reasons he would assume. It is historic, truly a landmark event, but it is also a very predictable one.
If you’ve read Ray Franz’s book, Crisis of Conscience, you might remember this quote from British Parliamentarian W. L. Brown.
There are many classifications into which men and women may be divided….
But, as I think, the only categorization which really matters is that which divides men as between the Servants of the Spirit and the Prisoners of the Organization. That classification, which cuts right across all the other classifications, is indeed the fundamental one. The idea, the inspiration, originates in the internal world, the world of the spirit. But, just as the human spirit must incarnate in a body, so must the idea incarnate in an organization….The point is that, the idea having embodied itself in organization, the organization then proceeds gradually to slay the idea which gave it birth.
Before long the principal concern of the church will be to sustain itself as an organization. To this end any departure from the creed must be controverted and if necessary suppressed as heresy. In a few score or few hundred years what was conceived as a vehicle of a new and higher truth has become a prison for the souls of men. And men are murdering each other for the love of God. The thing has become its opposite.
In describing the two fundamental classifications into which humans are divided, Brown employs an interesting choice of words, doesn’t he? Either we are “Servants of the Spirit,” or we are “Prisoners of the Organization”. How true those words have proven to be.
The other takeaway from this insightful quote from W. L. Brown is that “the principal concern of the church will be to sustain itself as an organization.”
I believe that is what we are seeing now in the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it will become more obvious as we move forward in this series covering this year’s Annual Meeting.
But, we must not lose sight of the fact that an organization or church is not a conscious entity. It is run by men. So, when we say that the principal concern of the organization is to sustain itself, we are really saying that the principal concern of the men in charge of the Organization, as well as the men who benefit from the Organization, is the preservation of their power, position, and wealth. This concern is so overwhelming that they are capable of doing almost anything in its interest.
Wasn’t that the case in Israel during the time of Christ? Were not the leaders of that nation, which Witnesses are told was Jehovah’s earthly organization, capable of murdering our Lord Jesus to preserve their Organization?
“So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Sanhedrin together and said: “What are we to do, for this man performs many signs? If we let him go on this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:47, 48)
The tragic irony is that in trying to preserve their Organization, they brought about the very end they most feared, for the Romans did come and did take away their place and their nation.
I’m not suggesting that the men of the Governing Body are going to murder anyone. The point being made is that anything is on the table when it comes to preserving their Organization. No compromise is too much to make; no doctrine, too sacred.
What we are seeing in this year’s Annual Meeting—and I daresay, this is hardly the end of their new light—is the Organization doing what it needs to do to stop the bleeding. Witnesses are leaving the Organization in droves. Some leave completely, while others back away quietly so as to preserve family relationships. But the one thing that really counts in all this is that they stop donating money, the lifeblood of the Organization.
In the next talk, which is given by Geoffrey Jackson of the Governing Body, we’ll see how they slay one of their principal golden calves, the inviolate nature of final judgment at the start of the great tribulation.
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