(or "Why Is it So Hard to Leave?")
Many seem to believe there must be an organization that represents all their beliefs. It also seems like a lot of them want to find it before leaving the one they are in. I am going to try to unravel some of the control points used to create this compulsion. Each part of this series will consider a trigger condition. Some of the information may repeat things previously covered, but only as it relates to the trigger being considered.
Trigger: An organized religion must not teach any doctrine that is contrary to the Bible, otherwise it is disapproved by God.
I personally agree with this one, but that doesn't mean you have to. However, I also see that if it applies at all, it applies equally to all organized religions including Jehovah's Witnesses.
Often I see people post to the effect that they agree with the "basic" doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses and relate things like "no hellfire, no immortal soul, no trinity" as basic doctrines. They are partially correct, in that this religion was first distinguished from other religions not by things it taught to be true, but by things it pointed up as false. However, pointing up falsehoods is not actually a teaching and these are not really the basic doctrines of Jehovah's Witnesses. Basic doctrines are those things frequently taught and reinforced.
On the doctrines they actively teach, they do not fare so well when compared to the Bible.
- Jesus began to rule invisibly in heaven in 1914
- An earthly imperfect organization, as opposed to holy spirit, is the source of truth
- The Governing Body (not the Faithful and Discreet Slave) has authority over all Jesus' belongings
- Repentance leads to a period of restrictions
- Private confession of sins to men is required
- Independent thinking is displeasing to God
- If conscience leads someone to a decision that differs with organizational dogma, that person is outside God's favor
There are quite a few more, but these should give a good idea what I'm writing about. Quite a few things that are actively taught and frequently reinforced (which is what most other religions refer to as the basic doctrines) are completely contrary to the Scriptures.
With the exception of the first one, I'm going to take each of these one at a time. The first one has been "done to death" as the saying goes.
An earthly imperfect organization, as opposed to holy spirit, is the source of truth
John 4:7-15—A woman of Sa·mar´i·a came to draw water. Jesus said to her: “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone off into the city to buy foodstuffs.) 9 Therefore the Sa·mar´i·tan woman said to him: “How is it that you, despite being a Jew, ask me for a drink, when I am a Sa·mar´i·tan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Sa·mar´i·tans.) 10 In answer Jesus said to her: “If you had known the free gift of God and who it is that says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 She said to him: “Sir, you have not even a bucket for drawing water, and the well is deep. From what source, therefore, do you have this living water? 12 You are not greater than our forefather Jacob, who gave us the well and who himself together with his sons and his cattle drank out of it, are you?” 13 In answer Jesus said to her: “Everyone drinking from this water will get thirsty again. 14 Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life.” 15 The woman said to him: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may neither thirst nor keep coming over to this place to draw water.”
What is the source of everalsting life? Is it an earthly organization? Is it even the Bible? What is this water of which Jesus spoke? Is this the same as the "streams of water" that Psalms describes? (Psalm 1:3)
John 7:37-39—Now on the last day, the great day of the festival, Jesus was standing up and he cried out, saying: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 He that puts faith in me, just as the Scripture has said, ‘Out from his inmost part streams of living water will flow.’” 39 However, he said this concerning the spirit which those who put faith in him were about to receive; for as yet there was no spirit, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 Therefore some of the crowd that heard these words began saying: “This is for a certainty The Prophet.” 41 Others were saying: “This is the Christ.” But some were saying: “The Christ is not actually coming out of Gal´i·lee, is he? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ is coming from the offspring of David, and from Beth´le·hem the village where David used to be?” 43 Therefore a division over him developed among the crowd. 44 Some of them, though, were wanting to get hold of him, but no one did lay [his] hands upon him.
Jesus offered living water to both the woman at the well and to this crowd, and John wrote that he was referring to spirit—NOT to knowledge. But isn't knowledge required to please God? Sure. I can go along with that. It is the presumption that the source of such life-giving knowledge must be human that bothers me.
John 14:15-21— “If YOU love me, YOU will observe my commandments; 16 and I will request the Father and he will give YOU another helper to be with YOU forever, 17 the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither beholds it nor knows it. YOU know it, because it remains with YOU and is in YOU. 18 I shall not leave YOU bereaved. I am coming to YOU. 19 A little longer and the world will behold me no more, but YOU will behold me, because I live and YOU will live. 20 In that day YOU will know that I am in union with my Father and YOU are in union with me and I am in union with YOU. 21 He that has my commandments and observes them, that one is he who loves me. In turn he that loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will plainly show myself to him.”
John 16:12-16—“I have many things yet to say to YOU, but YOU are not able to bear them at present. 13 However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide YOU into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to YOU the things coming. 14 That one will glorify me, because he will receive from what is mine and will declare it to YOU. 15 All the things that the Father has are mine. That is why I said he receives from what is mine and declares [it] to YOU. 16 In a little while YOU will behold me no longer, and, again, in a little while YOU will see me.”
What is the source of knowledge that leads to everalsting life? Is it an earthly organization? Is it even the Bible? Or is the source holy spirit? How badly misleading is the teaching that we must look to a human organization for truth? (Acts 20:29-30; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:26-29)
The Governing Body has authority over all Jesus' belongings
Matthew 24:45-47—“Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. 47 Truly I say to YOU, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”The Governing Body does not equal the Faithful and Discreet Slave, even according to JW doctrine. The Faithful and Discreet Slave—as the class identified by Jehovah's Witnesses—has no authority over anything. The Governing Body, therefore, does not belong to Christ.
Repentance leads to a period of restrictions
2 Corinthians 2:5-8—Now if anyone has caused sadness, he has saddened, not me, but all of YOU to an extent—not to be too harsh in what I say. 6 This rebuke given by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary now, YOU should kindly forgive and comfort [him], that somehow such a man may not be swallowed up by his being overly sad. 8 Therefore I exhort YOU to confirm YOUR love for him.The only instance of a "reinstatement" in the Bible. No mention of restrictions. Where did this come from, if not from God?
1 John 4:1—Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.
Private confession of sins to men is required
James 5:16—Therefore openly confess YOUR sins to one another and pray for one another, that YOU may get healed. A righteous man’s supplication, when it is at work, has much force.
If anyone uses this as cause to compel confession, should the confession be private? "Privately" is an antonym of "openly". To whom are we required to confess, if this verse is taken as a requirement? Only elders in private meetings where no witnesses can be present?
If this Scripture is not a requirement, but a suggestion, who then is our confessor? From whom does forgiveness come? This should be primary, elementary Bible doctrine, "repentance from dead works." (Hebrews 5:11-6:3) But most Jehovah's Witnesses get flustered trying to answer.
Independent thinking is displeasing to God
Hebrews 5:11-14—Concerning him we have much to say and hard to be explained, since YOU have become dull in YOUR hearing. 12 For, indeed, although YOU ought to be teachers in view of the time, YOU again need someone to teach YOU from the beginning the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God; and YOU have become such as need milk, not solid food. 13 For everyone that partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.
This Scripture says spiritual maturity requires independent thinking. "Independent thinking" does not mean thinking without any self-control. There is an implicit goal stated in this Scripture, learning to distinguish (or "discerning, judge, dusputation" gr. diakrisin).
One resource says of this word that it describes "the ability to evaluate and judge - 'to be able to judge, ability to make judgments, ability to decide.'" It carries the though of careful evaluation. Such an exercise is impossible without independent thought.
Since Hebrews positions this exercise of independent thought as a prerequisite for spiritual maturity, would a religion that recommends otherwise be seeking to help its adherents reach spiritual maturity? Or would such a religion be attempting to keep them spiritual babes who can only handle milk?
*** w01 8/1 p. 14 Make Your Advancement Manifest ***
8 First, since “oneness” is to be observed, a mature Christian must be in unity and full harmony with fellow believers as far as faith and knowledge are concerned. He does not advocate or insist on personal opinions or harbor private ideas when it comes to Bible understanding. Rather, he has complete confidence in the truth as it is revealed by Jehovah God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and “the faithful and discreet slave.” By regularly taking in the spiritual food provided “at the proper time”—through Christian publications, meetings, assemblies, and conventions—we can be sure that we maintain “oneness” with fellow Christians in faith and knowledge.—Matthew 24:45.
I think that quote is something to think about and carefully evaluate. (1 John 4:1) Especially given the Scriptures at the outset that describe a distinctly different source for spiritual knowledge.
If conscience leads someone to a decision that differs with organizational dogma, that person is outside God's favor
Romans 2:15-16—They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused. 16 This will be in the day when God through Christ Jesus judges the secret things of mankind, according to the good news I declare.Isn't the law of Christ supposedly written on hearts, as well?
Romans 14:19-23—So, then, let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another. 20 Stop tearing down the work of God just for the sake of food. True, all things are clean, but it is injurious to the man who with an occasion for stumbling eats. 21 It is well not to eat flesh or to drink wine or do anything over which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith that you have, have it in accord with yourself in the sight of God. Happy is the man that does not put himself on judgment by what he approves. 23 But if he has doubts, he is already condemned if he eats, because [he does] not [eat] out of faith. Indeed, everything that is not out of faith is sin.If someone makes a choice due to peer pressure, is that choice made out of faith? What if it is only "good" peer pressure? What if it is just pressure toward something "for their own good", would it be out of faith if they go along?
Trigger: An organized religion must not teach any doctrine that is contrary to the Bible, otherwise it is disapproved by God.
Well, how do Jehovah's Witnesses stack up on their basic (most reinforced) doctrines? Does it matter where you go so long as it is away from a religion that DEMANDS that you pretend to accept falsehoods as a requirement of continuing fellowship?
I have not joined myself to a different religious organization, but I fellowship freely (and frequently) with anyone I choose. I haven't yet gone to a church since DA'ing last month, I still have a mental block or two, but at least I know that such avoidance is irrational. They will not require me to accept their dogma as a condition of friendship. I will not be required to routinely show my support for their doctrine (comments, talks, church attendance, proseletyzing) as a condition of friendship.
Who is the one truly free of false religion if not the one who can honestly pursue truth wherever it leads?