A very hefty edit of the new movie "Faith in Action" actually has the Governing Body members telling the truth!
Just finished watching the movie and I think it's very well made, plus it answers many of the questions I'd always had about the Witnesses. One in particular was the immortality of the soul, one of the primary bones of contention between me and the early Bible Students. It also was one of the primary points of debate early on with Charles T. Russell. But that's another thead. The Bible Students (BS), led by Russell, attacked "Christendom" on two primary fronts: 1) the immortality of the spirit and 2) the legitimacy of existing religions.
Russell, according to the film, put up a great fight, but to the BSs, all scripture was equal, and Ecclesiastes had just as much legitimacy as an epistle by Paul. Russell failed to realize that the writer of Ecclesiastes may have been worn down by the years. As I read the book, I could believe it was written by Solomon, a king, but not necessarily a prophet. This was a man who had married many wives against the will of the Lord -- and some of these wives had led him and Israel astray by introducing pagan worship, and dangerous pagan worship at that. He was a worn down old man, and his writings showed that (according to him), life was a mire of sin and degradation. There was a great deal of futility about life and death. He saw little worth in either, and he believed that death was in many ways as futile as life. Thus the context was life as it existed "under the sun."
So he writes: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Is this an eschatological declaration based on revelation? No, for the writer is most likely a tired old king who has not lived up to his calling. If one reads the entire text, he will see that the writer is obsessed with "vanity." In verse three of the ninth chapter, the writer declares: "This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead."
This is what Charles T. Russle and others based their eschatology on. They ignored other scriptures, though. Paul said in his epistle: "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." (Phillipians 1) How can one depart and "be with Christ" if the writer of Ecclesiastes is right? In Revelation, John writes: "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (Chapter 6) The term "soul" simply refers to an entity. "Death" is a separation of the spirit and body, so in that sense a soul can die, but continue existing.
These were the things Russle was debating among other, more experienced, theologians. The narrator simply says that Russle did well in his debates, but that, of course, depends on who was being asked.
How does one get a copy of this movie? Are they giving it away or is it just available on the Internet?
The thing the film doesn't really show is that things like the immortality of the soul is not as clear cut as it makes it out to be. To show a bunch of guys just sitting down at a table to figure out what the scriptures really mean is a bit laughable. Isn't that what the early church fathers set out to do (only their table was larger)? The thing the Witnesses do repeatedly is to use terms like "clearly" in relation to something that they may be wrong on. When I took their Bible study, they would quote scriptures, give their interpretation and then put you into a position of agreeing with them. In my day that was called "railroading." Still, the movie was well done and is a good recruiting tool.