February, 2016

In 2010, the Organization came out with the “overlapping generations” doctrine. It was a turning point for me—and for many others, as it turns out.

At the time, I was serving as the coordinator of the body of elders.  I am in my late sixties and was “raised in the truth” (a phrase every JW will understand).  I have spent a significant portion of my adult life serving where the “need is greater” (another JW term). I’ve served as a pioneer and off-site Bethel worker.  I’ve spent years preaching in South America as well as in a foreign language circuit back in my native land.  I’ve had 50 years of firsthand exposure to the inner workings of the Organization, and though I’ve seen many abuses of power at every level of the Organization, I have always excused it, putting it down to human imperfection or individual wickedness.  I never thought it was indicative of a larger issue involving the Organization itself.  (I realize now that I should have been paying more attention to Jesus’ words at Mt 7:20, but that is water under the bridge.)  Truth be told, I overlooked all these things because I was sure we had the truth. Of all religions that call themselves Christian, I firmly believed that we alone stuck to what the Bible taught and did not promote the teachings of men.  We were the blessed of God.

Then came the aforementioned generation teaching.  Not only was this a complete reversal of what we taught in the mid-1990s, but there was absolutely no Scriptural foundation given to support it.  It was quite obviously a fabrication.  I was shocked to learn that the Governing Body could simply make stuff up, and not even very good stuff.  The doctrine was just plain silly.

I began to wonder, “If they could make this up, what else have they made up?”

A good friend (Apollos) saw my consternation and we began to talk of other doctrines.  We had a long e-mail exchange about 1914, with me defending it.  However, I could not overcome his Scriptural reasoning.  Wanting to learn more, I set out to find more brothers and sisters like myself who were willing to examine everything in the light of God’s Word.

The result was Beroean Pickets. (www.meletivivlon.com)

I picked the name Beroean Pickets because I felt a kinship to the Beroeans whose noble-minded attitude was praised by Paul.  The adage goes: “Trust but verify”, and that is what they exemplified.

“Pickets” is an anagram of “skeptics”.  We should all be skeptical of any teaching of men.  We should always “test the inspired expression.” (1 John 4:1)  In a happy conjunction, a “picket” is a soldier that goes out on point or stands guard at the periphery of the encampment.  I felt a certain empathy for such ones, as I ventured out on point in search for the truth.

I chose the alias “Meleti Vivlon” by getting the Greek transliteration of “Bible Study” and then reversing the order of the words.  The domain name, www.meletivivlon.com, seemed appropriate at the time because all I wanted was to find a group of JW friends to engage in deep Bible study and research, something not possible in the congregation where free thinking is strongly discouraged.  In fact, just having such a site, regardless of content, would have been grounds for removal as an elder at the very least.

At the beginning, I still believed that we were the one true faith.  After all, we rejected the Trinity, Hellfire, and the immortal soul, teachings which typify Christendom.  Of course, we are not the only ones who reject such teachings, but I felt those teachings  were distinctive enough to set us apart as God’s true organization.  Any other denominations that held similar beliefs were discounted in my mind because they tripped up elsewhere—like the Christadelphians with there no-personal-Devil doctrine.  It never occurred to me back then that we might also have false doctrines which, by the same standard, would disqualify us as God’s true congregation.

A study of Scripture was to reveal just how wrong I was.  Virtually every doctrine unique to us has its origin in the teachings of men, specifically Judge Rutherford and his cronies.  As a result of the hundreds of research articles produced over the past five years, a growing community of Jehovah’s Witnesses have joined our once-little web site.  A few do more than read and comment.  They provide more direct support financially, or through contributed  research and articles.  These are all long-time, well-respected witnesses who have served as elders, pioneers, and/or worked at the branch level.

An apostate is someone who “stands away”.  Paul was called an apostate because the leaders of his day viewed him as standing away from or rejecting the law of Moses.  (Acts 21:21)  We here are considered as apostates by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses because we are standing away from or rejecting their teachings.  However, the only form of apostasy that results in eternal death is that which makes one stand away from or reject the truth of God’s word.  We come here because we reject the apostasy of any ecclesiastical body that presumes to speak for God.

When Jesus departed, he did not commission his disciples to do research.  He commissioned them to make disciples for him and to bear witness about him to the world. (Mt 28:19; Ac 1:8)  As more and more of our JW brothers and sisters found us, it became apparent that more was being asked of us.

The original site, www.meletivivlon.com, was too identifiable as the work of a single man.  Bereoan Pickets started out that way, but now it is a collaboration and that collaboration is growing in scope.  We do not want to commit the error of the Governing Body, and virtually every other religious organization, by putting the focus on men.  The original site will soon be relegated to archive status, preserved mainly because of its search engine status, which makes it an effective means of leading new ones to the message of truth.  This, and all other sites to follow, will be used as tools for the spread of the good news, not just among awakening Jehovah’s Witnesses but, the Lord willing, to the world at large.

It is our hope that you will join us in this endeavor, for what could be of greater importance that spreading the good news of God’s Kingdom?

Meleti Vivlon