My wife and I had a "Bible study" with an elder and his wife yesterday (9-11-09) and the topic was marraige. The book we covered was "Keeping yourself in God's love." This particular "Bible study" was based primarily on the topic we covered in the book and, of course, there was a lot of "hop scotching" of the Bible. Never-the-less the points presented cannot be refuted as it seemed to speak favorably of marraige and how we must stick with each other no matter what to honor God. Cannot disagree with any of that and the study went very well for everyone involved.
One of the passages of scripture that was covered was Matthew 28:19-20 and my mind immediately went to the baptism questions that the Jehovah's Witnesses use just before new converts become baptized. My wife made mention of it and I took the opportunity to discuss this matter with the JW's. For those of you amongst the JW's who aren't familiar with the baptismal questions that JW's ask of their converts you may look them up in the June 1, 1985 Watchtower (page 30). For the rest of us, here they are:
The first question is:
On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?
The second is:
Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah's Witnesses in association with God's spirit-directed organization? (italics mine)
That second questions is of particular importance because the wording would seem to suggest that you are being baptized to an organization. Almost like your being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Watchtower organization. I pointed this out to the JW's and asked how come it did not agree with Matthew 28:19. I illustrated the absurdedy of it by presenting a hypothetical scenario where a preacher asks a new Christian, "Do you accept Jesus as you Lord and Savior and dedicate yourself to God?" Upon saying yes, the preacher would then say, "Well then by this baptism, you agree to become part of my church and identify yourself as one of us."
The elder's wife said, "Well that's what most churches do." And said it in a tone that certainly would suggest that she is not willing to open her mind to anything that contradicts their doctrine. I cannot speak for all churches but I can say that the church where I was originally baptized did not make me a member of that church and the church I currently attend stress the fact that church membership is not a requirement for salvation or for baptism. As I explained to the witnesses, I always believed that baptism symbolizes your dedication and association to the Lord, not to an organization. Being saved and later baptized marks you as a Christian first. We're not considered Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterians, or Jehovah's Witnesses unless we decide to become a member of those "organizations." Apparently they rolled the membership and dedication all into one.
To all Jehovah's Witnesses who are lurking this message board, what are your thoughts on this? The elder's wife told me that they go over Matthew 28:19 during the "questioning" before the baptism. To which I replied, "You mean where you ask the 80 to 120 questions of potential new baptized witnesses?" Personally, I believe that questioning is not scriptural either. The elder said he would look into it and get back with me on the concerns that I raised.