Definition of an apostate?

by ThomasCovenant 17 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • ThomasCovenant

    Hi there to all. My first post but I've been looking for about 12 months. Very interesting to get others views on JW matters. Very quick background. Brought into the 'truth' at 11, had doubts along the way and finally stopped going to meetings 12 months ago. Wife still goes occasionally but now doesn't believe it.She doesn't want to upset extended family applecart just yet. Anyway my question which I brought up to my parents is 'What is an apostate?' 99% of witnesses would say it's someone 'speaking aginst the truth' or'someone trying to lead others away from the truth'. However the Society definition in the Reasoning book under 'Apostasy' says that is 'abandoning or deserting the worship and service of God..'The Reasoning book then goes on to give 'some identifying marks of apostates' i.e. the classic ones that all JW's think as being what an apostate is. These are only identifying marks though. Not what an apostate is. My arguement with several brothers including my parents is that strictly speaking this definition could apply to everyone who stops worshipping Jehovah for whatever reason and for however long. This is everyone who is disfellowshipped for any wrongdoing at all until of course they perhaps come back, in which case the apostasy ends. All faders are also apostate under this definition. Everyone leading a double life. Me also for saying that I don't believe a word of it anymore. My parents were resigned to the fact that I stopped going but I'm now pointing this out to them and it's causing them concern. Am I wrong in my interpretation? I would welcome comments. PS Thank you SIMON for this forum. Intelligent discussions abound here. Thank you QUOTES for your web site on JWism. My blood boiled at the society's treatment of freedom of expression. Thank you BLONDIE for your incredible insight into JW teachings and doctrines and the effort you put in to your research. Thanks to all those who put so much time and effort into posting here. Thomas

  • DavidChristopher

    Is the Society in effect saying they are God by this statement? So if you leave them(which is unnessesary) are you leaving "God" as defined by them? My guess is...if you discover the truth, and they are lying, they will put you out. How is that leaving? Again, I believe our lives are a journey and they are not a destination as they so desire to be. But I could be wrong....could you ask them for me?

    Here is a little something I did today that may help. My dad told me not to call my mother anymore and ask her questions. I must obey his wishes, So I called my grandma, and asked her some questions that I am not allowed to ask mom anymore, I then asked grandma to ask her for me. Did I do anything "wrong" by doing that? I am not prepared to give up on my mom, or disobey my dad. If I wanted, would it be wrong to ask for help from my friends here to call her and ask her my questions? Could this be a way to lead people to Jesus that "think they know it all, and don't need salvation." Do I want my mom to be the first? I am worried about this, I don't know how it would turn out, and that scares me some. I wish I could be first, so I would know how it felt. Can someone toss me a fish? I am hungry.

    Aerosmith, "amazing" "life is a journey not a destination" is words to the song!!! I just heard it!! WOW that was freaky!!!!

  • Spectrum

    Welcome Thomas,

    Apostate means to put distance between you and that which you believed. Because those that have remained faithful to their religion will say it deridingly it also means those other things you said ..

    "it's someone 'speaking aginst the truth' or'someone trying to lead others away from the truth'"

    because this is the meaning they personally want to apply to you. What they really should be saying is heretic.

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan

    Agreed - the jw application of the meaning for apostate well includes "heretic"

  • peacefulpete

    They used the expanded definition to oust us. They simply ask if you believe X. and if you say no then you are an Apostate (tm) for having disavowed the FDS as the channel for God. Even not goint to meetings or fs can be used in such a way. They ask if you intend to return, if you say no, then you are an Apostate (tm) using the 'abandonment' clause. If you refuse to answer they will judge you Apostate for not respecting the 'Elder Arrangement' (tm).

    The Elders and COs each apply this at their discretion. Some somehow are left alone for extended periods without action, others get the riot act right away. Bottom line is there are no real fixed rules, there may appear to be but because they have defined things differently for different audiences and because the terms of the definition are themselves open to local intepretation, there is no reason to expect consistancy.

  • Ticker
    All faders are also apostate under this definition.

    Unfortunatly this is in effect true as applied with Peaceful Petes summarization of its being open to local interpretation. It has had mention that, thoese abandoning meeting attendance and association with the Watchtower Society, could in effect class themselves as apostate according to the Watchtower Society. An elder brought this issue up a number of years back as he was reqouting it's mention from the district assembly.

    Really the power to enforce this is as Pete says, at the local level. They have become more aggressive with faders unquestionably, but I don't think they have yet to widen the official JW interpretation of apostate to all faders. I don't think they are out to target all inactive or irregular as apostates just yet. It could end up causing quite an up-stir among membership as they watch family members being ousted only because of non attendance.

    Usually in most cases ive seen, one gains the label and status of aspostate after openly challenging the authority of the "Jehovah's Organization." Really it is the "Watchtower" Organization, but masked as God's. That is why they make application of their Organization as being God's own, just another tactic that is advanced by the "Reasoning from the Scriptures" book. You can't leave gracefully, any leaving of the group in their mind is equal to leaving Almighty God. This type of thinking parallels the same type of many other similar high control groups.


  • Spectrum

    Is being an apostate actually a biblical crime?

  • Confession

    Hi, Thomas... I've been preparing my treatise, "Why the Watchtower Society is Not What it Purports To Be," so that I feel prepared when I finally speak of my "awakening" to my family. It includes quite a bit that speaks directly to what you're asking about... It is quite arrogant for them to assert that one's no longer recognizing the WTS as God's sole channel makes one an enemy of God, but so it is... Apologies in advance for the length...


    Having demonstrated that the Watchtower Society has many, many times—in assuming the role of Publisher of God’s interpretations—been wrong in declaring dates in which significant events would come to pass, should we not be willing to make a “rational inquiry” into its claims as God’s channel? Indeed doesn’t justice demand we do so? Isn’t it wrong to think that doing so is somehow an act of disloyalty? What does the Watchtower Society itself teach about willingness to examine an organization based on its teachings?

    [Watchtower, November 15, 1963] It is not persecution for an informed person to expose a certain religion as being false.

    [The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, 1968, p. 13] We need to examine, not only what we personally believe, but also what is taught by any religious organization with which we may be associated. Are its teachings in full harmony with God's Word, or are they based on the traditions of men? If we are lovers of the truth, there is nothing to fear from such an examination.

    [Is This Life All There Is?, 1974, p. 46] Knowing these things, what will you do? It is obvious that the true God, who is himself “the God of truth” and who hates lies, will not look with favor on persons who cling to organizations that teach falsehood. (Psalm 31:5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Revelation 21:8) And, really, would you want to be even associated with a religion that had not been honest with you?

    [Awake, November 22, 1984, “An Open or a Close Mind—Which Do You Have?”] A necessary part of life is that we make decisions and reach judgments. But decisions made "without due examination" or judgments reached "on other grounds than reason or justice" are evidences of a closed mind.

    Having an open mind, on the other hand means to be receptive to new information and ideas. It means being willing to examine and to evaluate information without a biased attitude. By retaining what is worthwhile and rejecting what is worthless, we can reach definite conclusions on a solid basis. A closed mind may betray a lack of interest in the subject matter, or a reluctance to look into the matter. ... If we are unable to defend our religious views, we may find ourselves lashing out against those who challenge our beliefs, not with logical arguments, but with slurs and innuendoes. This smacks of prejudice and of a closed mind... An open mind can serve to your advantage, a closed one will almost certainly serve to your detriment.

    This is certainly an admirable position: a religious organization teaching that we should all have nothing to fear in examining “any religious organization with which we may be associated.” They emphasize how important it is to separate ourselves from organizations that “teach falsehood,” and to have an “open mind” in examining other religions. But does the WTS apply these same positions to the examination of its own religion?

    [Qualified, 1955, p. 156] 5 The first essential for study is the right condition of mind and heart, appreciating that Jehovah grants understanding only to the meek, and not to the stiff-necked. If we have love for Jehovah and for the organization of his people we shall not be suspicious, but shall, as the Bible says, 'believe all things,' all the things that The Watchtower brings out

    [Watchtower 1967 June 1, p. 338 “Move Ahead with Jehovah’s Organization”] We may think of study as hard work, as involving heavy research. But in Jehovah's organization it is not necessary to spend a lot of time and energy in research, for there are brothers in the organization who are assigned to do that very thing , to help you who do not have so much time for this, these preparing the good material in The Watchtower and other publications of the Society. But you do not study enough? Take this suggestion: Often the very best and most beneficial studying you do is that done when you read a new Watchtower or Awake! or a new book with the joy of getting the new truths and a fresh view.

    [Watchtower 1981 February 15, p. 19 “Do We Need Help to Understand the Bible?”] Jehovah is not pleased if we receive that food as though it might contain something harmful . We should have confidence in the channel God is using.

    [Watchtower 1984 May 15, p. 17] "So important is it never to raise the voice in bitter criticism of the Lord's organization or its appointed representatives. Jehovah is the omniscient Judge before whom accounting must be made for these and other unprofitable sayings. -- Matthew 12:36, 37; Leviticus 19:16; Jude 8 . Those who despise Jehovah's teaching include individuals who criticize and complain about Jehovah's clean organization and its rules for maintaining peace and good order. There is only a fine line of demarcation between such and those who are outright rebels."

    [Watchtower 1986 March 15 pp.10-15 “Do Not Be Quickly Shaken From Your Reason”] 7 Now, what will you do if you are confronted with apostate teaching— subtle reasonings—claiming that what you believe as one of Jehovah's Witnesses is not the truth? For example, what will you do if you receive a letter or some literature, open it, and see right away that it is from an apostate? Will curiosity cause you to read it, just to see what he has to say? You may even reason: 'It won't affect me; I'm too strong in the truth. And, besides, if we have the truth, we have nothing to fear. The truth will stand the test.' In thinking this way, some have fed their minds upon apostate reasoning and have fallen prey to serious questioning and doubt.

    So, although the Watchtower Society encourages a thorough and open-minded examination of the things taught by a religion, this only applies to religions other than its own. We should “believe all things” they say, leaving most of the study and research to certain “brothers in the organization.” How incongruous it is for them to publish that “if we are lovers of the truth there is nothing to fear” in examining another religion, but the same sort of examination into Watchtower teachings is something in which “Jehovah is not pleased.” Any suggestion that “what you believe as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not the truth” must be considered—not an open minded examination—but instead the devious propaganda of apostates. But what are apostates?

    The term comes from a Greek word, which means literally “standing apart.” Strictly speaking, anyone who defects from belief in a religion, political party or any other belief system can be called an apostate from that system. By this definition it is not wrong to call people who once but no longer believe in all the teachings of the Watchtower Society, apostates. Similarly, all current Jehovah’s Witnesses who were once part of another religion are now themselves apostates. However the implication from the Watchtower Society is that such people are not merely apostates from their group— but apostates from Christianity itself. They have infused this word with their own special meaning. One that arrogantly asserts there is no faith in God apart from faith in The Watchtower Society.

    Since I was a child I can remember wondering about this teaching. Yes, I used to wonder, “If this is the truth from Almighty God, why are we so worried about hearing what opposers may say?” I found the logic circular and unsatisfying…

    “This is God’s true organization.” “If so, why be afraid of hearing out an opposer?” “Because they might lead you away from God’s true organization.” “But what if the opposers are right?” “They can’t be right since this is God’s true organization.” “But shouldn’t such an organization withstand honest-hearted scrutiny?” “It’s thinking like that that has led many away from God’s true organization.”

    The reasoning encouraged by the Watchtower Society requires the dogmatic rejection of any possibility that “what you believe as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not the truth.” I consider this out of harmony with the scriptures.

    (2 Corinthians 13:5) Keep testing whether YOU are in the faith, keep proving what YOU yourselves are. Or do YOU not recognize that Jesus Christ is in union with YOU?

  • jgnat

    By the Watchtower's own definition, yes.

    I like the definition on the Apologetics Index.

  • Forscher

    Here is the definition as it appears in the reasoning book:

    *** rs p. 34 Apostasy ***


    Definition: Apostasy is abandoning or deserting the worship and service of God, actually a rebellion against Jehovah God. Some apostates profess to know and serve God but reject teachings or requirements set out in his Word. Others claim to believe the Bible but reject Jehovah’s organization.

    If it were simply a matter of abandoning God, then most here would not be apostates. However, notice that last sentence in the definition, "Others claim to believe the Bible but reject Jehovah’s organization." That is the crux of the matter. Questioning the Governing body is in and of itself apostasy as far as they are concerned.


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