By now, you all must know starting on November 1st of this year, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has dropped the requirement that congregation publishers report their monthly preaching activity. This announcement was part of the 2023 annual meeting program this October attended only by privileged JWs. Normally, the information released at the annual meeting doesn’t make its way into the hands of the rank-and-file of the JW community until the January Broadcast on JW.org, but this year, a few talks from the annual meeting program were released in the November Broadcast.
In case you haven’t actually seen Samuel Herd making this announcement, here it is:
We are pleased to announce that beginning November the 1st, 2023, congregation publishers will no longer be asked to report the amount of time they spend in the ministry. Nor will publishers be asked to report their placements, the videos they show, or their return visits. Instead, the field service report will simply have a box that will allow each publisher to indicate that he or she shared in any form of the ministry.
Herd’s announcement is not some minor administrative change such as often occurs in the policies and procedures of any large multinational corporation. This is a big deal to the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a very big deal as evinced by the audience reaction to the news.
Well, brothers and sisters hasn’t this been an amazing program? This is truly a historic day in the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“An amazing program”? “A historic day in the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses”?
Why? Why is this so amazing? Why is it so historic?
Based on the exuberant applause, the audience is incredibly happy with this announcement, but why?
Have you ever had a persistent headache or some other chronic pain that just won’t let up? But then, out of the blue, it goes away. How do you feel? You weren’t happy with the pain, but you’re sure happy it’s gone, aren’t you?
For most Jehovah’s Witnesses, this announcement will be greeted with joy because a burdensome aspect of their worship has finally been removed and it only took more than a century for it to happen.
Someone who has never lived as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses will likely not understand the significance of this change. To an outsider, it might seem like a minor administrative policy change. After all, it’s just a simple report made once a month. So why all the hoopla? In answer, let me take you on a short trip down memory lane.
When I was 10 years old, my family attended the 24th street Kingdom hall in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. On the wall near the platform there was a board like this one on which was posted the monthly report for the congregation detailing hours, placements, and congregation averages. If memory serves, in the late 1950s, the monthly goal for every publisher was to log 12 hours in the preaching work, to place 12 magazines, to make 6 back calls (“return visits” now) and to conduct 1 bible study. At some point, the hourly requirement was dropped to 10 hours a month.
One thing you should take note of from these charts is that they both start in September, not January. That’s because the fiscal year of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania goes from September to August. That is why the annual meeting is held in October of each year. The board of directors is required to meet once a year by decree of the corporate charter. The religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses is, at its core, a product of a corporation.
The importance of keeping track of placements, hours spent, and compliance with corporate procedures is and has been enforced for decades by a semi-annual visit from the Circuit Overseer—though in the 1950s, they were called “Circuit Servants.” They would come to audit the congregation accounts and evaluate the “spiritual” condition of the congregations which was based on whether it was meeting its quota of hours in the preaching work and number of publication placements and Bible studies conducted. If it wasn’t—and it usually wasn’t—the congregation would be subjected to an “encouraging” talk based on or designed to make everyone feel guilty that they weren’t doing enough to save lives.
Of course, we were always reminded that the end was very near, and lives were at stake. If we didn’t get out and preach, people who might have been saved from eternal death at Armageddon would miss out and their blood would be on our hands. (w81 2/1 20-22) We were pushed to reach out for greater “privileges” in “Jehovah’s service”. We were “encouraged” to be self-sacrificing in our service to Jehovah. All of this was not based on the loving Christian model Jesus introduced, but rather the corporate model of the Watchtower Society.
First-century Christians preached out of love. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the preaching work is all about self-sacrifice. The term “self-sacrifice” occurs over a thousand times in Watch Tower publications dating back to 1950, but it doesn’t occur once in the Bible, not even in the New World Translation. Think about that!
I was in my mid-twenties when I was appointed as an elder. We were expected to set an example by putting in more hours in the preaching work than the congregation average. If an elder were to drop below the congregation average, the Circuit Overseer might recommend his removal. I got sick back in the 80s and was removed as an elder until I got better and got my monthly average back up.
Hours and placements were kept on a Publisher’s Record Card for years on end. To show the importance of these long-term records of preaching activity, I’ll take you to my final years as an elder of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Canada branch had appointed me to the position of COBE—the Coordinator of the Body of Elders. As such, it was my job to chair the elders’ meetings.
Twice a year, before the visit of the Circuit Overseer, we would meet to consider candidates for appointment as either ministerial servants or elders. Various elders would put up the name of some brother whom they felt met the qualifications. Inevitably, someone would pull out their Bible to review the candidate’s qualifications based on 1 Timothy 3:1-10 and Titus 1:5-9.
I used to do the same thing when I was younger and naïve, but by this point, I’d been on the merry-go-round long enough to know that it was a waste of time to start with a brother’s spiritual qualifications. I’d stop the brothers and tell them to look at the man’s publisher record cards first. I knew from hard-won experience that if his hours were below par, it wouldn’t matter what his spiritual qualifications were. The Circuit Overseer would simply not recommend a below average publisher. In fact, even if his hours were good, he would likely not be recommended unless his wife and children also were active publishers with good hours.
It is hard to imagine the psychological burden that such a competitive, works-based form of worship places on an individual. Congregation members are continually made to feel like they are not doing enough. That they should simplify their life so that they can do more for Jehovah, which really means, doing more for the Organization.
If they tire out from all the stress and fall back, they are viewed as weak and not spiritual. They are made to feel like they are in danger of losing out on eternal life. If they decide to leave the Organization, they will be cut off from their entire support community. Since the Governing Body teaches the false doctrine that all non-JWs will die forever at Armageddon, sincere Christian publishers are led to believe that if they don’t do all they can and more, they will be judged as blood guilty for not saving souls that could otherwise have been spared if only someone had preached to them.
The irony is that we were concurrently told that we were following Jesus who said “…my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” (Matthew 11:30)
We were told this so often that we failed to see that the burden and load we carried was not from Christ, but from men who acted like the Jewish leaders, the scribes and Pharisees, whom Jesus criticized saying: “They bind up heavy loads and put them on the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4)
The Governing Body has loaded the average Jehovah’s Witness with this heavy load for over a century, so it is puzzling why now, after all this time, they are removing it?!
They must realize how bad this looks. They implemented this requirement back in 1920, a year after they claim to have been appointed as Christ’s Faithful and Discreet Slave. So, if they are truly guided by Jehovah, why has it taken them 103 years to realize they were burdening the flock with a heavy load like the Pharisees did?
The Governing Body has to blame someone else. They can’t acknowledge the truth that they are the only ones responsible for this exacting and oppressive burden. But there is no one else to blame, except Jehovah God, is there?
First, we are told by Gage Fleegle in the preceding talk that we covered in our last video that this change is really being done out of love, because Jehovah God loves us, and provides lovingly and abundantly for his Organization. Now, in this video, we are going to consider the next talk, given by Gerrit Losch, who will try to show us how the door-to-door preaching work is still a Bible provision based on the law of tithing under the Mosaic Law Covenant.
Their idea is that if we accept all that, then we won’t think badly of them for imposing this heavy load on us for our entire lifetime, because it was “from Jehovah”. So, there’s no need for them to apologize. They did nothing wrong.
We are not embarrassed by adjustments that are made, nor do… is an apology needed for not getting it exactly right previously.
If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you will likely welcome this change, as I would have, had it come during the time I was still convinced I was in the one true religion on earth. But don’t be fooled. The hypocrisy this change reveals is everywhere to behold. Let’s consider Gerrit Losch’s talk which leads up to this so-called “amazing, historic event”.
Later in human history Jehovah created the nation of Israel and gave them a beautiful land full of good things. How could the Israelites show their appreciation? Jehovah again provided an opportunity for his people to give, in this case he gave them a command to tithe. What is that? To tithe means to give a tenth of something. Israelites were to give Jehovah a tenth of all their produce and animals.
So let’s ask an important question: What does tithing in Israel have to do with the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Ah, funny you should ask. This goes to my point about being hypocritical. Losch is about to employ a tried-and-true technique that has been used by religious leaders down through the centuries to justify their policies in the name of God. The formal term for what he is about to create is a type/antitype relationship. He’s about to pick something from the Bible and claim that it corresponds to something that Jehovah’s Witnesses are told to do. The type is the Israelite law on tithing. Giving 10% of your earnings. The antitype is the time Witnesses spend in preaching. You see: Type and Antitype.
Of course, he doesn’t use those terms because back in the annual meeting of 2014, David Splane told everyone that Witnesses no longer do that. He said that if such a type/antitype relationship isn’t expressly declared in the Bible, then making one is “going beyond what it written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). That’s a bad thing, right?
It appears they still need to do this to try to claim that what they require Witnesses to do is really what God requires them to do. So, they still need to go back to the type/antitype well to draw water, but they hope you won’t notice, because they don’t use antitype terminology anymore.
But hypocrisy doesn’t stop there.
It seems the Israelites were also required to set aside an additional tenth to cover the expense of attending the three national festivals to Jehovah. Every third and sixth year, these funds were given to the Levites, alien residents, widows, and fatherless boys in the local community.
Imagine also how those who were disadvantaged, the alien residents, the widows, and fatherless boys also appreciated this loving provision.
Wow! A formal arrangement established by Jehovah God to provide for the needs of the poor, the widows, and fatherless children. So, we are to believe that there is a relationship between tithing and the JW preaching work, but where is their relationship between tithing and providing for the poor? Jehovah’s Witnesses pride themselves on being organized. They don’t call themselves a church, but rather, they are Jehovah’s Organization. So why is there no organized arrangement to provide for the widows, the fatherless boys (orphans) and the poor? In fact, why are congregation elder bodies strongly discouraged from setting up organized charities?
You may have heard of the practice of cherry-picking verses. It refers to the technique of picking one verse out of context and claiming it means something it does not mean. Here, they are cherry-picking something from the law code and claiming it prefigures something they practice today. But they ignore the context. If tithing does prefigure the preaching work, then shouldn’t the tithe for the poor, the widows, and the fatherless children also prefigure some practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Tithing was a formalized and organized rule of law. The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses brags about its being organized. So, what organized procedure does it have to provide charity for those in need, the poor, the needy widows and the orphans?
If tithing corresponds to the organized preaching work, then shouldn’t the tithing arrangement correspond to some organized charitable arrangement of the Watch Tower Society?
Even though Losch’s main point is to liken tithing under the Mosaic Law to devoting time to the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he’s certainly not going to pass up an opportunity to remind the flock about the need to donate money.
Today, of course, we are no longer under the Mosaic law with its tithing requirement. Rather than being commanded to give a 10th of our income, 2 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 7 says, “Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
This was the case at one time in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Donations were not made under compulsion. That changed in 2014 when the Organization began asking for monthly pledges, asking each publisher to donate a minimum amount that had been worked out country by country. Currently, in the United States, that amount is $8.25 per publisher per month. So, parents with three children who are publishers would be asked to pay at least $41.25 each month.
But let’s not get distracted from our main theme which is that Losch is trying to find a foundation in the Mosaic law about tithing to explain why they are going to drop the requirement to report time. I know that’s a stretch, but it’s all he’s got to work with. To make matters more difficult for him, he has another JW preaching practice to explain from Scripture. You see, for reasons we’ll explain later, he needs to keep the reporting requirement in place for pioneers.
That’s a problem because if he’s claiming that something involving tithing removes the requirement to report time in field service, then wouldn’t that apply to everyone counting time, whether they do so as a congregation publisher or a congregation pioneer? Why would it apply to one, and not the other? It wouldn’t, but he needs it to for reasons that he doesn’t want to reveal. He just needs to justify his position, so he returns to the type/antitype theology and draws upon the Nazarite Vow arrangement. If you’re not sure what a Nazarite is, Losch explains:
But is there more we can learn from Jehovah’s dealings with ancient Israel? Yes, we can learn from the Nazarite arrangement. What was that? The Nazarite arrangement is described in Numbers, chapter six. Let’s read chapter six, verses one and two. It says: “Jehovah spoke further to Moses and said, speak to the Israelites and tell them if a man or a woman takes a special vow to live as a Nazarite to Jehovah…”
This involved taking a vow to God for some purpose. It could be for any purpose, and it was for a specific length of time, but Jesus abolished the making of vows for his disciples. In fact, he commanded them not to make vows:
“Again YOU heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You must not swear without performing, but you must pay your vows to Jehovah.’ However, I say to YOU: Do not swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne; nor by earth, because it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Nor by your head must you swear, because you cannot turn one hair white or black. Just let YOUR word Yes mean Yes, YOUR No, No; for what is in excess of these is from the wicked one.” (Matthew 5:33-37)
From Jesus’ words we see that there is no corresponding arrangement in the Christian congregation for taking a Nazarite Vow, and indeed one thing is certain, the pioneer arrangement established by the Organization with its fixed hour requirement and need to report to the elders has no foundation in Scripture, neither under the Mosaic law nor afterwards within the Christian congregation. The Organization is trying yet again to find a Bible basis for their made-up rule using a type/antitype relationship not applied in Scripture.
Why? Ah, well, that is an interesting question, one that might find its answer in rules established internationally through the United Nations. Curious? Well, you’ll have to wait till our next and final video in this series.
But for now, we have come to the focal point of all this Organizational self-justification. The talk where Samuel Herd applies the fabricated antitypical application introduced by his associate, Gerrit Losch.
As you listened to Brother Losch discuss the arrangements for tithing and Nazariteship, did you try to make a connection with arrangements that we have for modern day worship? Maybe you were wondering what corresponds to tithing today. But the Tithing arrangement illustrates something that Jehovah still expects of his people today. Remember, the tithe was to be not just a 10th, but the best 10th of a person’s produce and his animals. Jehovah deserves nothing less than our very best. With that in mind, how can we give Jehovah our very best?
Can you now see how they’ve worked to get you, the listener, to accept that what was recorded in the law of Moses now applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses in a special way? Jehovah wanted the Israelites to give their very best. But who represents Jehovah today? What group of men claim that their religion constitutes “pure worship” today? We all know the answer to that one, don’t we?
They have taken God’s words and now they are presumptuously applying them to policies and practices that they have instituted themselves. Are these men competent and qualified to make such a claim? Do they really understand the Scriptures as they claim to so that we can trust their interpretation?
That’s a good question, isn’t it? Let’s put them to the test, and you know what? We won’t have to go any farther than what Samuel Herd says next:
Of course, we try hard to obey all of Jehovah’s commands. But there is one command that stands out as an identifying mark of true Christians today. What is it?
He says there is a special commandment, one that in particular identifies true Christians today. Herd asks us if we know what it is? If David Splaine were giving this talk, he’d probably follow that question up with one of his pat phrases like, “I’ll give you a moment.”
But we don’t need a moment, because we know that there is a special commandment that serves as the identifying mark of true Christians. We know who gave that commandment and we know just where to find it in the Bible. I’m going to read it to you from Samuel Herd’s favorite Bible, the New World Translation:
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”” (John 13:34, 35)
To repeat: “By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”
So, there you have the identifying mark of true Christians that is visible to all: They exhibit the love of Christ to one another.
But that’s not the commandment Herd has in mind. He’s not really asking about the identifying mark for true Christians. He’s asking for the identifying mark for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Guess what that is?
But there is one command that stands out as an identifying mark of true Christians today. What is it? Let’s read it together on screen. At Matthew, chapter 28, verses 19 and 20, it says, “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look, I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” Were you surprised that we read that verse?
Speaking for many of us out here, Samuel, we’re not surprised that you read that verse. We expected you to get it wrong. How can you be expected to know the real identifying mark of true Christians when you can’t even identify who’s speaking in that verse? You stated “Of course we try hard to obey all of Jehovah’s commands.” But this isn’t Jehovah speaking. It is Jesus who is speaking, having just told us that all authority in heaven and earth has been granted to him. So, it is clearly Jesus’ commandment, not Jehovah’s commandment. How could you miss that, Samuel?
If the Governing Body cannot correctly answer the question, “What is the identifying mark of Christ’s disciples, of true Christians?” then how are we to believe their claim that tithing, and the Nazarite vow represent the JW preaching work and pioneer service?
It’s all made up, people! It has been all along; long before I was born.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Christians should not make disciples or baptize them in the name of Jesus Christ. Not at all!
We find multiple references in the book of Acts of the Apostles to disciples being baptized in the name of Jesus. (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 19:5) But there is no verse stating that the apostles performed baptisms in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And they certainly didn’t baptize anyone in the name of an organization. That would constitute blasphemy, would it not?
As we look back on all the changes that we’ve discussed in this six-part series covering the annual meeting, can we honestly say that we are seeing the hand of God in any of it?
Whenever the Organization has made changes that seem to contradict a previous understanding, they have always claimed that it was done under the direction from Jehovah. Do you buy that?
Samuel Herd wants you to believe that this change is a loving provision from Jehovah God.
But Jehovah is realistic. He knows that many of our brothers and sisters are limited by circumstances such as advancing age or serious health issues. Others cope with the rising costs of living, civil strife, war, or opposition to our work.
“Jehovah is realistic”?! Did he actually just say that? The Almighty God of the universe is realistic? Herd would have us believe that Jehovah has just realized that after imposing a burden on his people for over hundred years, that it’s now time to lift it off their bent backs and sagging shoulders? Has Jehovah only now realized, as Herd says, that “many of our brothers and sisters are limited by circumstances such as advancing age or serious health issues, the rising cost of living, civil strife, war, or opposition to the work.” Seriously?! Wasn’t Jehovah around in the 20th century with its first and second world wars, the cold war, the nuclear age, the civil strife of the sixties, the inflation of the seventies? Was there little to no illness back then? Are people only now starting to get old?
If removing the hourly requirement is an act of love from Jehovah God, then how are we to justify imposing that requirement on Jehovah’s Witnesses for more than a century? Surely that can’t also be considered an act of love!? Of course not, and that is the fact that is so obvious that the Governing Body needs to persuade its flock that this is all Jehovah’s doing. They’re not willing to accept any responsibility for their actions.
Well, knowing this, then we are not embarrassed about adjustments that are made, nor do…is an apology needed for not getting it exactly right previously. We understand this is how Jehovah operates. He reveals matters gradually when it is needed.
And what about that announcement about our Field Service reporting? Jehovah is dignifying us. He has confidence in us.
If you had any doubt before, can you now see the hypocrisy in what they claim? Mark Sanderson is telling you that the announcement about no longer reporting field service is from God, because Jehovah is “dignifying us” and “he has confidence in us.” But if the change were truly from Jehovah, then the men revealing the change are doing so under inspiration. They cannot claim truthfully to be fallible and uninspired while claiming, at the very same time, that the changes they’ve just introduced are from Jehovah.
Hypocrisy is a specialized form of lying. Religious hypocrisy, like the hypocrisy Jesus condemned in the Pharisees, is pretending to speak for God when in fact you are seeking your own interests.
Like a wolf dressed as a sheep, you are pretending to be something you are not so that you can devour what belongs to another. Christians belong to Jesus Christ, not to men.
“But the one who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ and the one who anointed us is God. He has also put his seal on us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.” (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22)
But if you do not have the spirit of Christ, then you do not belong to him.
“However, you are in harmony, not with the flesh, but with the spirit, if God’s spirit truly dwells in you. But if anyone does not have Christ’s spirit, this person does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:9)
If Christ’s spirit dwells in us, then we obey Jesus. We are willing to give him our time, our resources, our whole being, our devotion. Because by doing all that, we worship our heavenly Father.
Wolflike men seek to devour what we are offering to our Lord. They want our obedience, loyalty, and all that we have. We may think we are offering these valuable things to God, but in fact, we are serving men.
Once such men have acquired such vast authority and control over others, they are loathe to give it up and will go to almost any length to keep it if they feel threatened.
As evidence of this, consider the lengths to which the governing body of Israel was willing to go when they felt threatened.
“And the Chief Priests and the Pharisees were gathered, and they were saying, “What shall we do? This man is doing great miracles. And if we allow him to do so, all the people will believe in him and the Romans will come and take away our position and our nation.” (John 11:47, 48)
Jesus had just performed the resurrection of his friend, Lazarus, yet these wicked men only saw the threat to their wealth and position that Jesus’ miracles presented. So they sought to kill him, and in the end, they did kill him. How remarkable!
The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses wants its flock to believe that these annual meeting doctrinal and policy changes are from God, but does that make sense to you, or is their hypocrisy wearing thin?
Let’s review these changes.
The first one, introduced by Geoffrey Jackson, concerns the end of the system of things which he believes starts with the attack on Babylon the Great.
For my entire lifetime, I was told that when the attack on Babylon the Great broke out, it would be too late for any of my friends or family members who had left the Organization to be saved. Now, that has changed. Jackson explained that those who have left the Organization will still have a last-minute chance to repent and return. Why this change of heart on the part of the Governing Body? It is clearly not from Jehovah because God doesn’t mislead his children for decades with false teachings, then jump in at the last minute with a flip-flop.
The second change, introduced by Samuel Herd, concerns the removal of the mandatory field service report that’s been required for over a hundred years.
We showed that there is nothing in the Bible supporting the idea of Christians reporting their time and placements every month as if they were salespeople working for a large publishing corporation. Yet, the Governing Body told their flock that they were obeying Jehovah by reporting every month. Now, Sanderson contradicts that teaching, claiming that Jehovah has lovingly removed that requirement. What nonsense!
Both these changes affect teachings that allowed the Governing Body to exercise strict control over their flock. We must remember that a false prophet controls his flock by fear. So, why would they abandon winning tactics that have served them for over 100 years? They wouldn’t do so unless those tactics are no longer working. Like the Sanhedrin, the Governing Body will not consider any course of action to be too extreme to preserve “their place and their nation,” (John 11:48) which is the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Is the Organization going mainstream? Is the Governing Body being compelled into these changes by outside political and secular forces?
These are the questions we will try to answer in our next and final video of this series covering the 2023 annual meeting.