The Fundamental Mistake

by TD 24 Replies latest jw friends

  • TD

    There's a funny story that's circulated among engineering types about a young VP at Arco. He saw an inordinate amount of 'Boiler operators' on the payroll and noticed that they made an inordinate amount of money. He decided that he would save the company a bunch of money by out-sourcing the building maintenance. Boiler operators are in charge of heating equipment. Right?

    Wrong. The 'Boiler operators' as it turns out, were the technicians operating the miles and miles of equipment which cracks the petroleum molecule. And he fired them all.

    Shutting down a refinery is not like flipping a switch. Letting all the technicians go en masse left the equipment unattended. The refinery ended up needing months of repairs and losses ran into the millions.

    I've observed JW's up close for many years and a recurring observation is that they as a group make the same fundamental mistake as the Arco VP in this story did.

    To assume that you've found a mistake that has eluded every single person that has looked at the exact same information before you is a big jump. I'm not saying it is never, ever justified; I'm saying that this is a leap that you don't casually make.

    The most natural and normal questions would be, "How did other people miss this?" and "What exactly were they thinking?" and "Is there anything I might not be grasping here?" Anything less would be in implicit assumption of everyone else's stupidity (As opposed to your own alleged intelligence.)

    The 'mistakes' JW's have found with orthodox Christianity are things that theologians have wrestled with for centuries. Without saying who is right and who is wrong here, JW's don't seem to grasp that fact or even give lip-service to the mountains of extant literature on any given topic. The assumption seems to be that everyone else who has looked at the issues was either stupid or blind and are therefore beneath noticing.

    Even worse, we've reached a point in the evolution of the JW faith where the current crop of leaders don't even seem to grasp the precepts, methodology and arguments of their predecessors. (As Roger Crompton and others have observed.)

    Perfect example: Despite whatever else might be said about Fredrick Franz, he did not seem to approach Biblical interpretation entirely as an ad hoc affair. There was actually a method to his madness and those familiar with his writings know that he employed typology as an interpretational method. --"Types," "Antitypes" and "Archetypes" should be familiar terms.

    Typology is a way to make prophetic dialogue like the Olivet Discourse directly relevant to the modern reader without rendering it irrelevant to the immediate audience two thousand years ago. Primary fulfillments serve as a type for larger Secondary fulfillments. The interpreter therefore needs to be careful not to break the pattern between type and antitype, because doing so yanks the rug out from under the whole idea that the prophecy is still relevant at all.

    The current leaders and policy makers in the JW faith have held onto the idea that Jesus' comment about the 'generation' (Matthew 24:34) is relevant beyond that which the immediate audience witnessed, but like the executive at Arco who didn't grasp the significance of the term, 'Boiler operator' they don't seem to grasp how their predecessors got to that point in the first place.

  • Dogpatch

    excellent point.


  • Yan Bibiyan
    Yan Bibiyan

    Great point, TD.

    In other words, the JWs are using a half-assed, botched-up "boiler plate" methodology in their profecy interpretation process.

  • Marvin Shilmer
    Marvin Shilmer


    You’re right TD. Today’s Watchtower leadership does not comprehend the understructure of its own theology. Either that, or they figure it can’t get any worse so they might as well just change things at-will and tell the Witnesses to take it or else. It makes me wonder if this is not what Watchtower’s new headquarters’ bunker outside the city is being built in preparation for!

    Marvin Shilmer

    The current leaders and policy makers in the JW faith have held onto the idea that Jesus' comment about the 'generation' (Matthew 24:34)
    is relevant beyond that which the immediate audience witnessed, but like the executive at Arco who didn't grasp the significance of the term,
    'Boiler operator' they don't seem to grasp how their predecessors got to that point in the first place......TD

    While all of that is true and well thought out..

    It doesn`t matter..

    JW`s believe something else now..

    The WBT$ oil refinery is now a storage unit for Ping-Pong Balls..

    It`s a natural progression until the Bunnies arrive..


  • Disillusioned Lost-Lamb
    Disillusioned Lost-Lamb

    Awesome Point!

  • cofty

    Good point TD thanks.

    I am sure there are thousands of JWs who have been around for a lot of years and who have taken study very seriously, who have a better grasp of Watchtower "theology" than those who are now making it up.

  • TOTH

    It's sad that the lemmings aka rank and file do not know any better than to do as they are told regardless of how asenine or dangerous the instructions are. Off the cliff they stroll.

  • jwfacts

    The 'mistakes' JW's have found with orthodox Christianity are things that theologians have wrestled with for centuries.

    That was the real turning point for me. I had always thought JW's were right, so everyone else was insincere or blinded by Satan. But after reading articles on the New Catholic Encyclopedia I came to realise the incredible amount of thought and effort behind standard Christian theology. I now see Watchtower teaching as very simplistic and riddled with errors.

  • tec

    Great post!



  • Phizzy

    Well put TD ! My experience was the same as JWfacts' I was amazed at how deeply philosophical were the early Church Fathers and later people like Thomas Aquinas and Calvin and Luther etc etc, all had wrestled with the same basic problems that I was wondering about, and that we debate here.

    I was amazed too, and gratified, to find that Philosophers of all eras had covered the same ground and come to their various conclusions outside of a religious framework, most modern philosphers do not ever mention God or Theology unless forced to by some believer attacking their thoughts.

    The present WT theology seems to be worked out by hacks who consult the legal dept first, then maybe run it by the GB who tinker a little, before the hacks get back on it. Quite often it seems that one or other faction does not know what the other is thinking, quite a muddle.

    The writers certainly seem blissfully unaware of how they got to where they are, and I do not think they are interested, old "light" is just not relevant, or the processes that led to it.

  • No Room For George
    No Room For George

    TD Man I wish you did more threads. Can this be thrown in the "Best Of" section? Or is it too premature to suggest such?

  • No Room For George
    No Room For George

    I'm going to bump this thread every day so long as I'm frequenting this message board.

  • No Room For George
  • botchtowersociety

    Fantastic post!

  • 00DAD

    jwfacts: I now see Watchtower teaching as very simplistic

    Truer words were never spoken. They take simple-mindedness to a new low.

  • Phizzy

    btt as george / miz forgot

  • thetrueone

    In the developmental workings of the WTS. there was an ever impressing agenda to show the corrupt teachings of the body

    Christendom, as a means to show a purer light onto themselves and their organization. They actually had at once promoted their followers

    to protest in front of their local Churches, mostly Catholic and Protestant I would assume.

    Because of this God has therefore chosen them as his earthly organization and since the all encompassing judgment day by god was coming

    soon, this leveraged even more importance to join their organization and be submissive to their guiding direction.

    The only problem is during this progression to self identify themselves in this manner the WTS. created its own elements of corruption

    which are really coming to notable awareness as time passes on.

    Those expressed doctrines devised by the WTS. to self identify their organization and to draw up the publics attention, had a fundamental

    flaw built inside them in the way that they all had an expiry date attached. An expiry date that the previous WTS. leaders weren't

    really all too concerned about, probably since they knew they would personally out live those dates themselves.

  • cabasilas


    Good point!

    Also a note to say you have a PM.

  • freydo

    And that kind of flawed thinking has happened in the whole of society!

    The Tenacity of the Nihilists

    Monday, March 26, 2012 – by Tibor Machan
    Dr. Tibor Machan

    In the book Reading Obama (Princeton, 2010), James T. Kloppenberg makes a case for how the kind of approach President Obama takes to public policy is now widely preferred, to put it paradoxically, on principle at the most prestigious universities. Obama's rejection of general principles, the kind of we find stated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, is in sync with what has come to be mainstream philosophy in America.

    Mind you, this is no novel insight about American intellectual life. Pragmatism is, after all, America's homegrown school of philosophy, one that on principle rejects the value of principled thinking! Now, pragmatism has several versions but the one that has become fashionable is what such people as Paul Krugman ridicule by calling principled thinkers "fundamentalists" as if they were dogmatic, mindless, and doctrinaire.

    Principled thinkers, such as the American founders, are nothing like this. The principles they found valid for governing a free society were learned from extensive studies of history, by philosophical education and reflection and by reading a lot of others who embarked on inquiries about human affairs.

    In a way those alleged fundamentalists whom at least the more vulgar type of pragmatists try to marginalize are like medical scientists. They learn about the criteria of good health and physical condition from their study of human life, a study that comes up with certain reasonably stable notions about what can be done to achieve and maintain good health. These notions are not Platonic forms, fixed in heaven forever and incapable of being modified and updated. But they aren't the infinitely flexible ones that are preferred by those who scoff at principled thinking. Engineers, farmers, gardeners, pharmacists and others who take the findings of the various sciences and translate and apply them to problem solving aren't doctrinaire or dogmatic for being guided by generalizations, principles that come out of those sciences and the experimentation that is part and parcel of them.

    Indeed, all disciplines are comprised of more or less fundamental notions that come out of the studies being done in them and the practical implementation of the results of those studies. It is like a pyramid, with some very basic propositions that, to use a phrase the Cambridge philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein made prominent, "stand fast for us," as well as ones that are less and less well established and more subject to revisions.

    Instead of denying that there are fundamentals in fields like political economy and political science, embracing a vast Heraclitian flux that leaves everything indeterminate, ambiguous and open to infinite interpretation, depending upon the personal preferences of those concerned with a discipline, a better, contextual approach is warranted. Even pragmatists tip their hats to this when they, for example, refuse to be flexible about the viciousness of rape or murder. They know that some things do stand fast for us, including the value of human life, maybe even of human liberty!

    However, those spending reams of paper apologizing for Barack Obama's wobbly political economic decisions and policies act as if this abyss of pragmatically invented ideas could really guide public policy reasonably, productively. (Check out Sam Tanenhaus's "Will the Tea Get Cold?" in the March 8, 2012 issue of The New York Review of Books as a good example!) They ought to check with those who study and practice such fields as medicine, engineering, farming, or auto mechanics and see if anything could be dealt with successfully without general principles, with well founded theories in them. They would find that none of these vital areas of concern can bear fruit without principled thought. And thus they could also realize that neither can the discipline of political economy.

    To put the matter bluntly, so called market fundamentalists − as Krugman likes to call people who hold that the best economic arrangements in societies should rely on the free choices of economic agents − are on solid footing; it is sheer laziness not to seek out firm economic principles and theories and proceed by mere intuition, by, literally, nothing at all. Such nihilism hasn't advanced any of the fields of study, research and reflection that human beings have relied upon to steer them toward a more and more successful way of living, including of organizing their communities.........."

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