Before I begin my introductory post, I would like to mention that a number of my initial comments here may be viewed by several of you as “Watchtower Apologist” or as sympathetic to the views of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The last thing I want to do is incite a flame war regarding my legitimacy or intentions in joining this forum. Mostly, I would describe myself as “on the fence.” So, forgive me if I ask questions or make statements that would seem contrary to the spirit of this forum. I don’t really feel like I belong here at this point, but am curious and open-minded.
None of my comments will be an effort to change anyone’s mind, or convince anyone that the Jehovah’s Witness are right about anything at all. I’m just interested in discussing some of my issues with the organization in an atmosphere where I will not be threatened or ostracized. Additionally, I don’t agree with some of the attitudes and reasonings that are prominent in this forum regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses and look to have either my feelings confirmed or corrected in some way through discussion.
All that having been said.....
I have been a lurker on this site for approximately a month. My parents became Jehovah’s Witnesses before I was born, shortly after they got married. It’s all I’ve every known from a spiritual standpoint and It’s mostly what I’m familiar with from a social standpoint.
The reason I stumbled onto this site is that I was looking for a .pdf copy of an OKM for download when I recently misplaced mine. I’ve seen “apostate” comments before on forums or in the comment section of web articles other Witnesses have forwarded to me. So, this site wasn’t really anything new, and I wouldn’t say I have really discovered any “mind-blowing” information here that has prompted me to question my own personal desire to be a Witness or promote their ideology.
I am currently a very active member of my congregation and am a Ministerial Servant (have been for more than a few years). However, I am also well-educated from a secular standpoint (Undergrad Degree), which most of you know isn’t so common for a Witness. I was schooled in a VERY liberal program of interdisciplinary studies. Because of this, I may be more analytical and open-minded than the typical Witness, and have certainly learned to take a lot of things with a grain of salt.
I’ve rolled this over in my head over and over, and am not really sure where to step in by way of introduction.
I guess I could say that since about age 18, I have questioned a number of Witness beliefs. That has only grown with knowledge of The Scriptures, knowledge of the secular world, and experience. I could rattle off a whole laundry list of points that bother me, but I’m sure they’ll all fall on the pages of this forum soon enough. I’ll just list a few brief items in no particular order (Forgive me if they are poorly written, it’s very late and I’m tired of procrastinating with it):
As far as I have ever been able to see in my lifetime, a good chunk (dare I say the majority?) of the people in this organization seem only to fall in line out of fear of being removed from the congregation through the disfellowshipping arrangement. While I understand and see some value in this arrangement, I suspect that it may be over-used, administered incorrectly, or just all together wrong based on the little scriptural evidence that it was even done by the Early Christians.
I do not see any scriptural justification for the destruction of any imperfect person, period. I think to assume that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice could not be applied to every single person who ever lived (Perhaps even Adam/Eve?), is to underestimate the power of that sacrifice. Why would we not be given the same exact opportunity that Adam and Eve had? How would anything less be considered fair?
In connection with this: Was it not foretold in the exact manner that Judas would betray Jesus centuries before it happened? How could he possibly be held eternally accountable for Christ’s death when SOMEONE had to be responsible, and he was obviously “born to do it.” Jehovah’s Witnesses repeatedly digest council from platform and page that more or less indicates that only they will gain salvation, and I just can’t accept that. We seem to pride ourselves so much in our belief that Hellfire does not exist, and yet we threaten parents that if they do not obey Jehovah according to the WBTS guidelines, then not only they, but their innocent children will be subject to destruction at Armageddon. Perhaps not as bad as the threat of Hell from the churches of Christendom, but can you think of anything worse for a parent to be threatened with than the unjustified execution of their helpless children?
It seems that the majority of Witnesses I know (self included) look forward to the end of the preaching work and the meetings more than they look forward to the end of this system of things. I can’t think of a single time I’ve ever looked forward to either. There are multiple reasons, most of which you are all familiar with already...no need to rehash that here.
From a scholastic standpoint, I don’t really trust the WBTS 100%. I’ve found many of the articles that quote outside scholars/papers/books are not documented at all and quotes are sometimes taken out of context.
I’m the kind of person that wants to know EVERYTHING about anything I’m involved in. I constantly feel like the wool is being pulled over the eyes of members of the congregation due to the secretive nature of the Body of Elders and the WBTS regarding current activities, and the history of the organization. I always feel like they are hiding things from us, and it creates a serious trust issue in me.
There are also several other doctrinal issues I have, but as a rule, these are the result of the WBTS trying to formulate opinions and rules about topics/situations that the BIble really is not clear on: (i.e. 144,000 being a literal or figurative number). I just think they should have left a lot of that stuff alone instead of being so dogmatic about things that don’t matter that much and aren’t vital to salvation. (Worried they would run out of things to talk about at the meetings?)
There isn’t anything else BIG that comes to mind at the moment, so I’ll stop there, and perhaps add more in this thread as comments start coming in.
Now...as an outsider/noobie here, I have made some important observations about this site and have some pro-Watchtower statements I would like to invite comments on as well.
Obviously, there is a TON of angry emotion swirling around this board, and that is to its detriment. While I personally have no “axe to grind” with The Society, its abundantly apparent that a lot of individuals here do. Surely, most have a good reason for their feelings, and I would never question that. However I’m not sure it is always expressed well, and many of the angry accusatory posts on this forum were a HUGE turnoff for me (Not naming names...but it's sad that I've only been watching this forum for one month and already can tell who is a hot-head and who seems balanced in their views). They make this forum seem a little more extreme than it is, and perhaps some would do well to consider the affect this will have on lurkers who are trying to open their eyes beyond Watchtower beliefs.
I hate hate hate the term “rank and file” in reference to the general population of the congregation. I understand that most of you no longer view these people as “brothers” or “sisters” but it paints the individuals in the congregations as idiots for being there. I found it offensive and I’m sure any other lurker who is an active member would too. Some of you have even gone so far as to come right out and insult the intelligence of these people. That view is elitist and unfair. I would never be turned away from Jehovah’s Witnesses by that kind of attitude. If you wish to educate people who are so indoctrinated, show a little compassion.
I found a link in one of the threads on this forum to a YouTube video of a man being disfellowshipped by two Elders at his front door. I believe it was in Minnisota or something? One of the Elders was supposedly a teacher in the local community? Anyway, the man being disfellowshipped told the two Elders that he was making a documentary or something silly and wanted to get some comments from them and so on. He treated the whole situation like it was a huge joke, and was really cruel to two brothers who showed their mild-tempered nature at the door dispite his antagonistic reception. Perhaps he did not deserved to be disfellowshipped. Maybe they had mistreated him in the past in some way? I'm not the judge of that. But those Elders, whom he likely had known for a good chunk of his life, were only doing what they thought was in the best interests of the congregation, and what they are mandated to do by WBTS. I was bummed out that he didn't at least show a little class and just tell those two poor guys that he didn't have anything to say to them and just send them on their way. It sort of scares me to be a member of a forum where such a demonstration is praised and lauded by so many. It seems childish and pointless. That situation no doubt only emboldened the Elders to stand against him and feel justified in their decision to DF him.
I would say the thing that has kept me in the organization and will likely keep me there for sometime (if I become a full-fledged fader), is the immense amount of love these people have for one another. That emotion/connection is certainly not apparent to me in this virtual community despite all the “peace be with you”s and similar comments made. It seems to me more like an atmosphere of hate (PLEASE PROVE ME WRONG!).
Love is the capital identification of Christ’s true followers. I’ve been in The World while in college and was inactive for most of my young adulthood, and I never once found the deeply fulling relationships that exist for me within the organization. I’m sure many of you feel the same way. I’ve seen comments from people on this board that mention they miss the “brotherhood”, “sense of unity”, “instant connection to a stranger”, etc. False doctrine or not, that emotion is very real. I love Jehovah’s Witnesses and am in no rush to lose my extended family there.
Are the doctrinal issues within the organization a result of a false pretense that the GB/Anointed Class is not actually under Jehoavh’s direction? I don’t really have my mind made up on that. I will say this, and maybe it’s a typical reply from someone like me, and hopefully doesn’t sound too naive.....But, I could give you a hefty list of Spirit Annointed Leaders from The Bible that totally mishandled their positions. Anyone want to start with the Kings of Israel? That didn’t change the fact that they were appointed by Jehovah. That’s why David didn’t kill Saul. It also didn’t change the fact that the Israelites were still Jehovah’s chosen people. Surely, many of the surrounding nations who conquered Israel or watched it get conquered doubted their Divine Favor and Direction, just as I doubt frequently that Jehovah is actively leading this organization. That doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily in the wrong place though, in my mind.
Fortunately, I have not been mistreated by this organization, in my opinion and have generally had a good life as a Witness. My father and my mother came from broken homes. Most of my relatives are on drugs, in jail, have multiple bastard children, and are generally miserable. I do not regret that I was protected from that, and somehow doubt that my parents would have responded to any other spiritual calling than the one that the Witnesses led them to. Looking back, though very materially poor, we always had what we needed, and I was always happy. I don’t feel like I was denied anything, because my parents weren’t radical slave drivers. Sure I missed the holidays as a kid, but I’m sure I wouldn’t celebrate them if I left anyway. I’m pretty much of the opinion that they are narrow and commercial and that kind of grosses me out. I’m not really much of a conformist (This coming from an active JW/MS!! har har har har)
So, as you can imagine, the thought of leaving behind “The Truth” for whatever else is out there scares me to death. I don’t really feel a moral obligation to leave, despite my doctrinal differences, because I don’t think there is a perfect way to worship God. I don’t really think I would find a more fulfilling life somewhere else.
Yet, I hate the idea of being fooled/coerced into doing something I don’t have to do, or shouldn’t do. So, I’m going to continue exploring and getting to know some of you here in this forum to find out if there is a strong enough motivator for me to move on with my life to something different/better or start focusing on reasons to stick it out for life as a Witness.
I’d like to have more faith than I do now and have too many unanswered questions to find it in the pages of the Watchtower publications.
I'm sorry if this whole post is a bit long/wordy/rambly/disorganized. My head is a bit of a mess lately. I'm looking forward to the comments you guys have and hope something constructive comes from this.
Also, in case anyone recommends it to me.....I already picked up a copy of Crisis of Conscience last week and am 25% of the way through it. I'm trying to spend more time reading the Bible than anything else. It's been interesting so far, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it.