Hello, You Know
This is an exerpt from a letter I wrote to Earnest Garrett and the elders here in this congregation. Garrett is one of the Society's trouble shooters. I posted the whole thing here on the board about a month ago, but I don't know if you caught it or not. I was concerned about this same subject and approached it this way:
They (referring to both the GB and the elders) become guilty of Matt. 23:5 by taking scriptures such as Psalms 45:16 and Isaiah 32:1 and construing them as applicable to the elders of today. I remember when this was first brought out in a study article. It was carefully and correctly applied to the New Order, and the suggestion was made that the elders of today could be their forerunners. Gradually it came to be applied in full force to the elders now. What is the difference between this and what the Corinthian elders did in their day? (1 Cor. 4:8) (I’m using the term “scripture-containing cases” in the sense of the doctrines taught, not some item of apparel.)
But tacked on top of this is something else that has been a curse to all of the rank and file, and an especially heavy millstone around the neck of any elder that has a lick of sense or an ounce of integrity. It’s one of the biggest reasons that so many elders quit and that the increase has stalled and even regressed in places. What is it? This:
Such scriptures as Matt. 18:18-20 went to the heads of those in power. If a meeting was introduced with prayer, then Jehovah’s spirit was guiding them. No consideration at all was given as to whether those present at the meeting were in an approved state in God’s eyes, whether the things prayed for were in harmony with God’s will, whether that passage applied to them as well as the apostles, or any of a dozen other things. All of it was just assumed. Suddenly it became a sin to even ask questions about what we were being told.
I remember the final words of one drama at a District Assembly (1989, I think), and this is a direct quote: “This man was appointed by Holy Spirit! Why would you even question such a man?” Why??? Good Lord! Let me list just a few of them.
a. Because 1 John 4: 1 commands us to do so, while Hebrews 13:7 and Acts 17:11 cannot be obeyed without questioning, and doing so in a manner that certainly takes in the possibility of the information being wrong.
b. Because the only way that flaws and cracks in our faith can be reinforced and repaired is to pose those questions in the first place. Those that are not dealt with become like abscesses that grow until they weaken the whole body. Far better it is to deal openly and non-judgmentally with an unseemly reality than it is to pretend it doesn’t exist and then find they are our Achilles heels during crunch time.
c. We are told in scripture that the Truth should be sounded down into our hearts, so that we will be building on the “rock mass” and not “sand” (Matt 7:24-27). The only way that can be done is to have the freedom to question, test, or do anything else that will convince our hearts that it is something worth putting our confidence in.
d. If we wish to respond to Jehovah’s request that we give him an answer (Prov. 27:11), our answer must contain two special elements. First of all, our testimony must be just that: ours, and it will need to be obvious to all that that is the case. Secondly, carefully memorized lists of "'sposed to's" and "not 'sposed to's" won't work, and neither will any careful repetition of dogma. If that were all that was needed, then Jehovah would have created us to be like glorified tape recorders, faithfully spouting only that which had been recorded. The only way we can possibly formulate such an answer is to have the freedom to question.
To sum up: We all have the scriptural, God given freedom, right, and responsibility to think independently and critically regarding any information that is set before us. No one has either the authority or the importance to demand that we accept anything without question.
5. This leads to something even more critical. The words at the end of that drama and the attitude since has been (again): “This man has been appointed by Holy Spirit! Why would you even question such a man?”
The implication of those two questions is that the Holy Spirit is guiding that man in his thinking and decisions. To be appointed by and have that guidance --- what is the difference between that and being inspired by Holy Spirit? None, that I can see. They are claiming to be inspired, and any denials to the contrary will be hairsplitting and mere cant.
Do you realize that not even the Catholic Church with its 2,000-year history of tradition has the utter gall to claim such a thing? Sure, it does in a partial way, in regard to the Pope himself, but that’s only in a limited way. But it doesn’t even begin to do that in regard to all of its priests. What does that say about us?
And that leaves begging such questions as would be raised by the case of King Saul proving that being appointed by Holy Spirit is no guarantee that the individual will remain faithful, or that 1 John 4:1 commands us to test all utterances, whether they are inspired or not.
To sum up: The manner in which these scriptures have been misconstrued and the resulting shift in teachings is not only utter hogwash, it has been an unmitigated disaster for the faith of millions. This includes those still in the organization, for the gullible have been led to place their faith on blind obedience. That’s not only building on sand, it’s preventing them from forming the answer that Jehovah desires from us. Both are forms of futility.
As to those who can see through it --- They stay in, not due to love for Jehovah and his ways, but due to the fear of the devastation that this organization will deliberately wreak upon their families if they don’t go along. That too is a form of futility. Am I to compromise with this?
I’m sure that many thousands of elders would throw a conniption fit upon reading these words and instantly label me one of the worst apostates that ever lived. But am I? Or am I merely doing all I know how to live up to Ezekiel 3:20, 21?
There are two things I'd like to add to this.
The dispute as to whether or not the Society has actually printed that they are inspired, is rather irrelevant. It has been implied thousands of times over in everything from the printed materials, assembly parts, and personal attitudes of the elders and higher ranking ones.
The true acid test in the matter, and the thing that Jehovah will be looking at, will be what the Society has allowed the rank and file to believe. As they claim to be appointed by holy spirit, and it is proclaimed to be a sin to question those in positions of responsibility, and especially seeing that that is enforced, the rank and file are giving them all of the respect and honor of being inspired. And no wonder, for they are claiming all of the trappings of being inspired, but are too cowardly to actually call it what it is.
Look at it this way: The Catholics claim that they are not idolaters for worshiping the images of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The priests have it explained it to me this way: "They are not really worshipping the image, as that is merely a visual aid." The average parishioner though, has never heard of such a thing. They believe the actual image is holy. I think you and I both know how the Society has condemned the Catholics for nearly a century now for doing this. How can they be any less culpable for doing the same thing on a different doctrine? At least the Catholics weren't reaping personal glory and prestige from their doctrine.
The second thing is this: About a week after I personally hand delivered the above letter to Garrett, the Secretary/Treasurer of the Society, one Abrahamson, visited the congregation and gave a talk on "How Can We Claim To Be Guided By God's Holy Spirit If We Aren't Inspired" It was an hour and a half talk, and about half way through was this phrase that was the only thing I caught that was on the subject: "We can claim to be guided by holy spirit because the Bible was inspired and we follow the Bible." (I recorded it and listened to the entire thing 3 times.)
This is nonsense for two reasons. First, no translation of the Bible is inspired, even as the Society at one time admitted. Secondly, no interpretation of the Bible is inspired either. Therefore, the amount of holy spirit that would filter through depends on 1. The accuracy of the translation, 2. The intelligence and knowledge of those interpreting it, and 3. The ability and integrity of the translator and/or interpreter to keep preconceived ideas, personal pride, and wishful thinking out of the end results. That --- to put it mildly --- is a tall order.
Finally, you speak of yourself as one of Jehovah's Witnesses and not a "Watchtowerite". Fair enough. According to those in positions of responsibility, there is no difference between the two, so therefore you too would be classified as an apostate. The only difference between us is that they know who we are. Do they know who you are?
But how do you know that that isn't exactly how many of us feel? When, out of the love for Jehovah and the truth, we object to the things we see and are disfellowshipped for it, how can you imagine that you are held in more favor in heaven than we are? "Who are you to judge the servant of another?" Romans 14:4
That's risky business, son.