I haven't been around JWD much these past few months, mainly because I've been busy with many other different things. I have heard the "big news" and it's got me to come back to the site the past few days. Since I'm back for a bit I thought I might share with you some ideas that have been up in my head lately.
The "Bait and Switch" tactics of the Watchtower Society"
I'll begin with a simple question:
What exactly is the process that a person undergoes that convinces them that the Watchtower Society has been chosen by God? (eg. is the "faithful slave" of Matthew 24)
It is by knowing this process that I think we can have a better understanding of the Watchtower Society as a whole. Understanding how they interpret that scripture (or misinterpret) is of no real interest to me and I think is a distraction from the bigger issues.
I provide this simple illustration to prove that the "faithful slave" doctrine really is the only one that matters within the JW religion. Think of a JW coming to your house to "teach" you on a Saturday morning. What does he come there to teach you, and how does he present it? No doubt the goal is to convert you on a number of minor topics such as their view of hellfire, the trinity, paradise, the name Jehovah, ect. But I have a very important question for this JW. Will you stop coming to my house once I agree with you on these topics?. The answer of course is absolutely not! This is because while the individual JW believes that the theological issues previously mentioned are the most important thing to convince people in their territory of, there is actually something even more important to their beliefs that they are not vocalizing to the householder. Something that they see as completely vital to their message, but not center stage for their discussions with the public. What is this teaching?
It is the concept that the Watchtower has been chosen by God to restore his true church, warn mankind of impending doom if they do not follow, and to convert people along the way. (e.g. is the "faithful slave" doctrine) No other Watchtower doctrine is as important as this one.
A very basic Bait and Switch
The technique is simple, almost to simple. Sell people one product, but upon delivery provide a different one. The delivered product may resemble the originally offered product. It may sound like it, look like it, taste like it. But no matter how similar the delivered product appears to be to the originally offered product, they are not the same!
This is essentially what has happened to the millions that have joined the Jehovah's Witnesses. People came to their doors and told them that things like hellfire, the trinity, paradise, immortality of the soul and the name 'Jehovah' were the most important things to know about life. They convince people that once they learned the "truth" about these things (and pretty much only these things) they should come down to the Kingdom hall and learn at their meetings. Why are people encouraged to start coming to the meetings once they begin to agree with what they are taught by Jehovah's Witnesses at their door? It is because of one fundamental rule that dominates:
No individual Jehovah's Witness can ever fully convert a potential member
Think about it. Why are Jehovah's Witnesses always encouraging people who begin to agree with them to come to their meetings? It may seem like an obvious question but I think there is some depth here that is often overlooked. I believe that the Watchtower pushes very hard for this because a member is only fully converted by continuously spending time with Watchtower activities. It is the Watchtower that "finishes" the potential member and gets them ready for full conversion, not any individual. No person converts without having regular participation at Watchtower sponsered activites. It is through the meetings (especially the book study and Watchtower study) that a person learns about the Watchtowers teaching that it has been chosen by God. It also just so happenes to be a place where questions are answered, but they are not permitted to be asked.
The reason for this is simple. Looking back on my own entry into the Watchtower I cannot point out a specific time when I personally chose to believe the Watchtower was appointed by God. I remember when I agreed that Jesus wasn't part of a trinity, or that there was no immortal soul, or that paradise was real, or all of those typical things. But I have no personal recollection of when I actually said "i have looked at the evidence and i agree, the Watchtower has been chosen by God". That is because It didn't happen that way.
When it comes to the idea that the Watchtower was chosen by God, I was slowly converted over a long peroid of time THIS IS THE SWITCH. The bait is all the teachings about eternal punishment, the trinity, the name Jehovah, paradise, ect. That is all the bait. You accept them sometimes very quickly and with much excitement. The switch is when over time you come to accept a message that was never told to you at the beginning, namely that the Watchtower has been chosen by God. One of my favorite things about the JWs new "Bible Teach" book used with their Bible studies is how there is no mention of the "faithful slave" doctrine whatsoever in it. They are baiting people!!!
It is vitally important to realize that the individual JW never knows that they have been baited and switched. This is why the cycle works. Individual members never realize that what they joined isn't exactly what they were sold at the beginning. It is not the individual member who is truly being deceitful. It is the Watchtower Society that gives the members almost word for word their method of teaching and I believe it is the leaders themselves who are responsible for the way their message is presented in the public.
The Watchtower society doesn't tell it's members to go door to door and proclaim that their religion has been chosen for a divine mission from God. They know most people would laugh at such a message. Putting their all important message in the background is the only way they have at potentially convincing a person down the road that it is true.
Most people know better. Most people know that the Jehovah's Witnesses are not there "just to talk about the Bible". Remember how often we would say to people in the door to door work "we just want to talk about the Bible". It turns out that the people out there were not as dumb as we thought they were. As a matter of fact, they actually knew more about us better than we did. They knew that we were there for more than just Bible talk, and that is why they shut the door in our face.
With the new changes announced it seems that the Watchtower Society is beginning to lessen the load it gives to its members, most likely because they want to make it easier for a people to be labeled as "spiritually strong". With less magazines to read and less meetings to go to it will be especially easier for men to meet the requirements needed to fill leadership positions.
I think that such things are only a drop in the bucket. The Watchtowers biggest problem is that they aren't being truthful with themselves. Why not just accept their message for what it is and proclaim it to the world? The mormons have had great success doing so. They come to your door telling you of their prophet, who restored the true church and must be followed. I don't believe the mormons message, but I respect their candid approach much more so than the Watchtowers "bait and switch" trickery.
So there it is. Some of the things I've been thinking of. It's a ton to read but hopefully it's beneficial to somebody. Your comments are much appreciated.