To understand the Bible, must we "Read between the lines?"

by garyneal 14 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • garyneal

    This post goes out to any active Jehovah's Witnesses who are either actively engaged in or simply lurking the topics on this web site. My wife is a Jehovah's Witness who is currently an unbaptized publisher hoping (as she stated as her goal) to become baptized. Needless to say, I am not and we go to different churches (hers is the Kingdom Hall and mine is a small community church).

    Anyway, this past Sunday (September 7, 2009) one of the brothers gave a talk about how some people pick a church based on the fact that it seems to "feel good to them" rather than base it on whether or not they truly teach the Bible. He commented on one woman with whom he was witnessing to that she held a different interpretation about a particular Bible passage (my wife did not state which passage) than what was apparently being said by that passage of scripture. This woman went to her pastor and asked him how did he arrive at the interpretation that he taught and he told her that sometimes we must "read between the lines."

    She then later told this Jehovah's Witness brother her pastor's "read between the lines" explanation and of course the Jehovah's Witness took her up on the challenge and had her reread the passages to see if there is anyway she can arrive at her pastor's interpretation from a straight reading of the text. Turns out she couldn't and of course the Jehovah's Witness told her and his congregation something along the lines of how we must accept the Bible and what it really says and not infer a man's teaching of it where it does not seem to be present.

    Upon hearing this, I challenged my wife with this question. "How come is it then that when I read the Bible alone for truth, you say that I am 'leaning on my own understanding?'" She of course, immediately tabled the subject matter (primarily because she had to leave town to visit an aunt) and the subject matter has not been brought up since. Given my past experience with her on critical thinking matters like this, she is quick to change the subject or tells me that she is only learning the "milk" of the "truth." So I doubt I will get an answer from her regarding this either.

    So perhaps some of the Jehovah's Witnesses lurking these topics can help. How come on the one hand Jehovah's Witnesses (like the brother who gave the talk) can say that we should accept what the Bible says as it is without "reading between the lines" and adding some pastor's or some churches interpretation but on the hand have Jehovah's Witnesses tell us that if we read the Bible alone and consider only what the text says (again like this brother did to counter that pastor's interpretation), we're simply leaning onour own understanding? Is inferring Watchtower teachings on what the scriptures are saying simply another way of "reading between the lines?"

    I encourage any and all Jehovah's Witnesses to check out this link.

  • Satanus

    Good question. As well, why does the wt corp keep printing mags evey week, and books every yr? Why do they use these books and mags at their meetings to study from, instead of using just the bible???


  • Satanus

    Good question. As well, why does the wt corp keep printing mags evey week, and books every yr? Why do they use these books and mags at their meetings to study from, instead of using just the bible???


  • Lillith26

    Why do they use these books and mags at their meetings to study from, instead of using just the bible???- cause they cant brain wash us that way! and they wouldn't make any money off selling just one book!

  • alanv

    It has been stated by the Watchtower that no one can arrive at bible truth without the help of the org. That is exactly another way of saying you have to read between the lines. Nobody would ever arrive at the societies conclusions without someone adding stuff that is simply not in the bible.

  • Narkissos

    We all "read between the lines" -- actually the more we are interested in a text the more we will tend to read into it, especially if it belongs to a completely different age and culture and was not addressed to us. The modern, scholarly understanding of exegetical discipline (bordering on asceticism somehow) is all about refraining from doing so, being as uncreative as possible in reading, and the result is often very frustrating to those who want the texts to "speak directly to them".

    That's a great opportunity for self-appointed teachers (individuals or organisations) who have no such scholarly scruples and can make up a good storyline out of the texts and people's desire for meaning, salvation etc. People learn the storyline first and then read it into whatever texts they read... This is true of all catechisms to some extent, but the WT 'educational' system is exemplary in this regard: most JWs have learnt to ask WT questions, repeat WT answers, read WT prooftexts long before they venture into reading the Bible texts themselves. And if they get lost (i.e., when they don't know what to read between the lines to connect what they are actually reading with the WT storyline) they have the "right" explanation for almost any single verse in the corpus of WT literature available through indexes and now CD-ROM.

    "Relying on human understanding" is what is involved in any type of reading -- scholarly or confessional, mainstream or sectarian; "relying on one's own understanding" (either in choosing between extant interpretations or making up your own) simply implies accepting your responsibility in the process, rather than shifting it on somebody else.

    Side remark: most if not all of "scripture" was produced by some kind of creative eisegesis, i.e. reading a new story into older texts and rewriting them accordingly.

  • Witness 007
    Witness 007

    Insert Watchtower "between the lines" not lean apoun your own understanding.

  • Chalam

    The "reading between the lines" is essential and is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without Him you might as well give up.

    John 14:26 (New International Version)

    26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

    1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (New International Version)

    Wisdom From the Spirit
    6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:
    "No eye has seen,
    no ear has heard,
    no mind has conceived
    what God has prepared for those who love him"— 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
    The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
    16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord
    that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

    All the best, Stephen

  • designs

    The superstitious get more superstitious until it finally dawns on them to change.

  • Satanus

    Among the jws, the wt writers are the ONLY ones allowed, in fact REQUIRED to read between the lines. If they didn't, there would be no wt mags/books/talks/assemblies.


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