My (censured) open letter to the Governing Body

by Khufu 27 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Khufu

    Hi everyone, below is a copy of my letter to the Governing Body that I had published on the Internet in October 2004. I was threatened with disfellowshipping for that publication. You may read the full story on my previous thread:

    Philip (Khufu)

    Open Letter on the Prohibition Against Blood

    To the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses
    25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn NY 11201-2483, USA

    October 26, 2004

    Dear Brothers,

    I am one of Jehovah’s witnesses. In 2000, I started to suspect that our understanding of the prohibition against blood may not be correct. I had discussions with the elders Tony Maes, Bruno Degouis and David Vandendriessche here in Brussels, Belgium, but no conclusion could be reached. I then wrote to your offices in Brooklyn.

    There followed an exchange of letters with the Writing Department at Patterson. I finally went there on November 19, 2002, to meet with Fred Rusk and Ray Richardson. Their view was that there is no difference between the blood of a living and of a killed creature. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that such view does not harmonize with the accurate biblical symbolism of blood.

    I therefore went to your offices in Brooklyn to request that you personally hear the case, as the Bible provides for the Governing Body to hear “big” and “hard” cases. (Exodus 18:22,26) I was received by your helpers Robert Landis and David Iannelli, who told me that you do not hold hearings. I gave them a letter explaining the suggestion that you can read below. I later insisted in further letters, but the answer remained the same. Yet, I do believe that there is sound reason to persist in my request. I am making it public because of my conscience. Our brothers and sisters deserve to be informed of all elements pertaining to life, salvation and divine law.

    You know what the Bible commands in Genesis 9:2-6:

    “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you... Only flesh with its life —its blood— you must not eat. And, besides that, your blood of your lives shall I ask back ... for in God’s image he made man.”

    Our teaching on the prohibition can be summarized this way:

    Blood = Life
    Life = Sacred
    Blood = Sacred

    My suggestion is rather based on the fact that God keeps an account of killed lives, that are to be paid back ‘life for life’:

    The life is
    in the blood
    Killed lives
    are asked back
    Blood shed in death
    is asked back

    The passage above would have been God’s way to allow the slaughter of animals without giving life away: 'Just pour the blood of the animal on the ground, and I will not ask it back —but human blood will always be asked back’. The blood of a killed creature is a debt that must be shunned.

    If that suggestion were correct, the “blood” that Christians should abstain from would be what that word most commonly designates in the Bible: blood shed in death, like in the biblical expressions “The avenger of blood” or “I am clean of the blood of all men.”

    Below is a more detailed development of the two interpretations.

    Argument in favor of our teaching:

    It seems natural

    Arguments against our teaching:

    • The Bible does not mention the sacredness of life to forbid blood
    • It is not as natural as it first seems. The Bible has two words for “life”:
    The principle of life (Psalm 36:9)
    The animate existence of a creature
    A life; literally "a breather" (Ge 2:7; 7:22)
    A creature to whom God gave life
    = The sacred life= What the blood represents

    What is vital to humans is said to be their chayim. (Deuteronomy 32:47; Proverbs 4:30; etc.) If the emphasis were on the sacredness of life, we would naturally expect to read that “Blood is the chayim of the creature.” But the Bible does not say that. Instead, we read that “The nephesh is in the blood.”

    Contrary to chayim, the nephesh can be counted. (Genesis 46:27, where “nephesh” may be translated “person”) It can be alive or dead. (Genesis 2:19; Leviticus 21:11) Actually, the symbolism of blood and nephesh is found hundreds of times in the Bible, and the represented nephesh is always a killed one, or one in danger to be killed. Please consider these comparisons between a few related verses:

    Psalm 72:14: “From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes”Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the eyes of Jehovah is the death of his loyal ones”
    Romans 5:9: “we have been declared righteous now by his bloodRomans 5:10a: “we became reconciled to God through the death of his Son”
    Hebrews 9:18: “neither was the former [covenant] inaugurated without bloodHebrews 9:16: “For where there is a covenant, the death of the covenanter needs to be furnished”

    Tombs in Petra and Jerusalem. Each of the four pyramids on top of the Petra tomb is a “nephesh" -a fundamentally individual memorial monument to a deceased person. The so-called “Absalom's tomb" in the Kidron valley is also a typical “nephesh". Blood shed in death is the symbol of a killed nephesh. Hardly a symbol of chayim!

    We cannot mix up the notions of chayim and nephesh.

    All right, you may say, blood represents the nephesh, not the chayim. Since Jehovah says that all nepheshim belong to him, it should justify the prohibition against blood, should it not?

    However, the nephesh belongs to God, not in the sense that we cannot eat blood, but in the sense that we cannot shed blood in death without God’s permission. (Exodus 20:13)

    Blood =
    A nephesh cannot be killed
    without God's permission
    Blood cannot be shed
    without God's permission

    That does not tell us why we cannot eat blood.

    Arguments in favor of my suggestion:

    When a human nephesh, or “breather”, has been killed, God remembers it and demands an accounting. This principle is stated this way in Deuteronomy 19:21: Life (“Nephesh”) for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc. The same principle is expressed this way in Numbers 35:33:

    "For the land there may be no atonement respecting the blood that has been spilled upon it except by the blood of the one spilling it.”

    We clearly see that the equation ‘blood = nephesh’ places the ‘life for life’ accounting in the blood. This symbolism is found about four hundred times throughout the Bible, from Genesis 4:10 through Revelation 19:13. Blood shed in death is counted ‘blood for blood’ just the way the killed nephesh is counted ‘nephesh for nephesh’.

    The life is
    in the blood
    The killed life
    is counted 'life for life'
    Blood shed in death
    is counted 'blood for blood'

    Take a life, and you are indebted with blood. Unless another life is offered in atoning sacrifice, you may have to pay with your own blood.

    The blood that represents
    a life taken
    is a debt


    The debt is
    paid back
    (Le 17:11; Eph 1:7)


    The blood that represents
    a life offered in atonement
    redeems the debt

    The Bible presents another fact: The accounting for a killed life is upon the drinker of its blood:

    The Biblical symbolism of blood drinking

    The best way to understand why something is forbidden is to consider what that thing accomplishes when done.

    An intentional drinking or use of blood means:
    • Rejoicing in a killing, rightfully or not: Ps 58:10; Rev 17:6. The innocent blood is asked back from the drinker: Re 18:24; 19:2
    • Sharing in the execution of Jehovah’s enemies: Ez 39:17-19 (compare Jer 12:9); Nu 23:24 (see Mic 5:8; w63, 157)
    • Sharing in the blood of a sacrifice: 1Co 10:16
    • Proclaiming the death of a nephesh: 1Co 11:26
    • Approving a sacrifice: 2Sa 23:15-17; 1Ch 11:17-19
    • Accepting that the redeeming value of a sacrificed nephesh be put on our personal account, to make atonement (John 6:53; Re 7:14 –see Eph 1:7) or to pay the price of admission into the new covenant (Mt 26:27-28 –see Re 5:9-10)

    When the drinking is forced:
    • Being charged with the debt for murdered lives: Ex 7:19-21 (see Ex 1:22); Re 16:3-7

    All in all, the symbolism of blood drinking looks like this:
    Drinking the blood that represents
    a life taken

    > Sets the debt for that life
    upon the drinker
    Drinking the blood that represents
    the life Christ offered

    > Redeems the drinker from
    his debt for a life

    When the Bible says that ‘blood is upon someone’, it means indebtedness with blood shed in death. If one drinks such blood, he has to pay it back. But Christ’s true atoning blood is a redeeming credit. Bloodthirstiness is recommended in that sole case.

    If drinking shed blood means indebtedness with a life, Genesis 9:2-6 would naturally mean:

    ‘You may kill animals for food —only, do not eat the blood, and I will not ask it back from you. But human blood will always be asked back, for man is made in my image.’

    In the context of that passage, Noah and his sons are authorized to kill animals for food. But they know the account about Abel’s blood shed by Cain, and how God kept an account of it. (Genesis 4:10; Luke 11:51) Will not the blood of a slaughtered animal be counted likewise? Noah and his sons could think so, for they offer animal sacrifices in atonement for their own lives.

    The law on blood would be God's way to allow the slaughter without giving life away: Those men will not be asked back the blood that they leave on the ground. On the other hand, a human life is of higher value because of being made in God's image. This blood will always be asked back.

    Of course, there can be no debt for a life when no life is taken, as in the case of a transfusion. Otherwise, we would have to believe that a transfusion of Jesus’ blood could have made atonement!

    The arguments in favor of this interpretation are:

    • It is in harmony with the Biblical symbolism of life and blood
    • It is simple and makes sense. God authorized us to kill animals provided that we are not bloodthirsty -We cannot kill for fun or just sports (Compare with Genesis 10:9)
    • It harmonizes with Leviticus 17:10-14. Under the Mosaic law, animal blood could atone for a human life. That passage had therefore to warn that any blood, even animal, could also justify the cutting off of a man (See verses 3-4)
    • It plainly explains why we are ordered to drink Christ’s blood, for we are to accept the true price of our redemption. (The explanation that this drinking is OK because of being figurative does not harmonize with 1Ch 11:18 or Re 17:6) This we do when we dedicate our lives to the provider of that price

    Just as Canaan, for example, would have been charged with the debt of a blood that he would have drunk but not personally shed, so are Christians credited with the redeeming value of a sacrifice that they did not personally provide. The law on Blood would be the answer to N. H. Barbour’s objection to the ransom.

    Arguments against my suggestion:When I unsuccessfully went to Brooklyn to request a hearing, I gave your helper Robert Landis a letter explaining my suggestion. I later received the following reply:

    November 25, 2002

    Dear Brother Andre:

    Thank you for the letter that you delivered personally to
    Brooklyn Bethel. We have read it over along with the accompany-
    ing information. Be assured that the points you bring up have
    been discussed many times. However, the "faithful and discreet
    slave" feels that it would be gross disrespect for Jehovah's
    command to "abstain from blood" if a Christian abstained from
    the blood of dead animals or humans while partaking of the
    blood of living things.-Acts 15:20, 28, 29.

    While many of the points that you present are correct, it
    is good to remember that our reasoning can be dangerous if it
    leads us to disagree with a simply stated divine command. It is
    true that in the first century it might not have been the custom
    to partake of the blood of living things. Still, the wording of
    the decree circulated by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem
    was not restricted. If we 'abstain from blood,' we do not par-
    take of blood whether the donor is living or dead.

    We appreciate your concern to understand these matters but
    we can only repeat the advice of the brothers you have already
    spoken to. Our advice is to let the matter now rest. Stay busy
    talking to people about things you are convinced of-Jehovah's
    Kingdom, the new world, the coming abyssing of Satan, and so
    forth. Perhaps Jehovah will eventually give you a different
    perspective on this question.

    We send you our warm love and Christian greetings.

    (Signed) Watchtower B.& T. Society

    As there had been no hearing, I could not draw your attention to the fact that the apostles had not our physiology manuals, where we see blood circulating from heart to lungs to kidneys. To those first-century men, “blood” was the mark of a slaughter. (Acts 20:26; Hebrews 12:4; etc.) Throughout the Bible, when some “blood” represents a life, that word always designates blood shed in death (possibly in anticipation). If in Acts 15:29 the word “blood” had to be read according to the modern definition, that would be quite an exception. How would the apostles relay the Genesis prohibition against shed blood (blood pudding for example) and the unbled flesh of an animal strangled in a trap? They would say: “abstain from blood and things strangled” -precisely what we read. In the context of their decree no more precision was needed. Maybe we should not try to make the apostles answer a question they were not asked.

    The problem may be that we have blood transfusions in mind when we read Acts 15:29. That was not yet the case when the Watchtower of 4/15/1909, page 117, wrote that “To the Jew [blood] was forbidden, and under his covenant was made a symbol of life -to partake of it would imply responsibility for the life taken. Moreover, in the typical ceremonies of the Law the prohibited blood was used as a symbol representing the sin-offering; for by the blood atonement for sins was effected.” That was exactly what I am suggesting here.

    Besides, should not understanding come before reading? Please remember how Judaic leaders erred when they relied on the wording of the prohibition against “any work” on the Sabbath.

    My request for a hearing before you was based on scriptures like Ex 18:22,26; Nu 27&36; De 17:8-9; 1Sa 7:16; 2Sa 8:15; 15:2; 1Ki 3:16-28 and Ac 15:1-31. I have no doubt that the conditions set in Ex 18:22,26 and De 17:8-9 are met. Please understand that I am making my request public, not in defiance of your authority, but because of my conscience. I do appreciate your oversight of the congregation, and wish to thank you for it.

    I attach a list of all Bible verses containing the word “blood” [anyone interested in that list, or in copies of letters exchanged with the Society, please PM me]

    Yours sincerely,

    Philippe Andre
    Brussels, Belgium

  • Khufu

    Sorry, I just realize the two pictures on my page are located on my hard disk, and were not published along with the text

    Here's the tomb in Petra that has four nepheshes on its facade. Each of the pyramids is a nephesh, and represents a deceased person:


    And here's the so-called "Absalom's tomb" near Jerusalem. A typical nephesh.


  • LDH

    Your letter is accurate and succinct. And correct.

    Of course, their teachings are nullified by "their lord and Savior Jesus Christ" who said...What greater love does man have for his brother than to give his LIFE (BLOOD) for him?"

    Courtesy Shelby (AGuest).

  • sir82

    Very nice.

    Unfortunately, 99.9999% of JWs, and certainly anyone at the Governing Body, would immediately throw away the letter after reading the second sentence.

    "Our understanding...may not be correct"? Sounds apostate, better throw it out.

  • tall penguin
    tall penguin

    Wow, great work Khufu! I'm so tempted to print this off and send it to my still jw parents. I wonder how they'd reply. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    tall penguin

  • Khufu

    Tall Penguin, please check your message box.

    Thanks you all! Your comments are a very much refreshing, after what I went through over that issue.

  • MidwichCuckoo

    Khufu - very enjoyable. This is what I don't understand - I have never seen ANY in depth Bible-based (tm) reasoning, and the average JW only ever quotes that one Scripture - 'Abstain from blood' and interpret it to unwittingly support 'New Light' (1945-ish?)

  • MidwichCuckoo

    Meant to add, Skyman (a poster here), also posted a very good Blood topic. Here's the link.....

  • rebel8

    Thank you so much for posting that. I've never heard of that perspective. Very interesting.

  • sf
    Our advice is to let the matter now rest. Stay busy

    talking to people about things you are convinced of-Jehovah's

    Kingdom, the new world, the coming abyssing of Satan, and so

    Perhaps Jehovah will eventually give you a different

    perspective on this question.

    We send you our warm love and Christian greetings.

    This is seriously and yet sadly funny.

    And so forth..LOL!!


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