Take the average knowledge that ex JWs have about the religion, and cut it in half.
On A Scale Of 1 to 10 How Much Knowledge Does A Jehovah's Witness Have About Their Religion?
In all fairness, I see many mainstream Christians who have not much knowledge of how their denomination is different from others. Christianity is a melange of Cecil B. DeMille secular belief. Being a good Christian and knowing doctrine are two separate items.
I've been away too long to evaluate increasing vagueness. The power of local elders increases when rules are ambiguous. Does Bethel ever take a role in disputes over interpretation of rules? As they resemble the Pharisees, it seems some sort of judicial appeal makes sense. Otherwise, all Witnesses are at the mercy of any individual whose personal interpretation is screwy. All rules require discretion, too, which further increases local rule. Yet WTBTS was such a powerful presence, much like the Vatican curia.
From my reading here, I see little notions of due process exist. I was completely bored by process concerns in school. In practice, I see how completely no substantive justice can exist without excellent due process rules that are followed. Every time I need to research a topic, 2/3 of my time is spent researching procedural issues. The weirdest thing is that I now find the focus on process interesting.
When I did attend meetings growing up, I saw a wide range of KH cultures. Our local hall was in a ghetto area of a blighted city. We lived in the small all white, working class enclave. Many brothers were functionally illiterate. Cheap shoe salesmen made policy. Cheap shoe salesman can be excellent Christians. Reading helps to understand doctrine and nuances of doctrine. I loved it when my aunt and uncle took me to their KH in suburbia. Compared to my home hall, it was so aesthetically pleasing. The experience was so different. Everyone was literate. I am very conscious that Christianity appealed to slaves and the lower classes. I am certain outrages also occurred in the upscale hall. Individually, I admired the Witnesses. I just feel that there such a lack of brothers, we had to settle a bit.
Altho I read the literature and even the old literature, I had little knowledge over the most important topics. Christology escaped me. I knew we did not believe in the Trinity but details escaped me. My family were gung ho Witnesses over Bethel policy. They were not deferential to local people. My mom said that the Witnesses were very small when she grew up and people knew each other well. There was much socialization during Witness work.
The vast majority of Witnesses I run across can only quote the field service script and are arrogant that they know everything. Yet ask hard questions and they run rather than stay. Frankly, though, how many Roman Catholics understand their doctrine. Anglicans seem to have no doctrine, only umbrella positions to accomodate everyone. When I was a Witness, I could rattle off details of scripture without seeing Paul's conception of grace or differing depictions of Jesus in the Gospels. The Witnesses data-dump and that data can feel overwhelming. Larger questions that run across Bible books and stories are not so readily perceived.
How many times were we implored to be radically Christian in our lives with each other in the congregation and within our family and friends? When was the social gospel stressed? I've never understood the cash flows but placement of literature is the prime directive. Quantity of hours over quality time with regular people count.
Defending the Watchtower is the very last thing I would want to do, but, with respec to Band on the Run's last post, yes, mainstream Christians know little about what their religion holds as true. But I wonder if that is not, in the end, the human thing to happen. Can you imagine the degree of fanaticism that is necessary for you to be able to pinpoint every single aspect of a large body of doctrines, and be able to (sort of) defend each one? Only the truly fanatic can do that. And once religion grows, it is no longer possible to have the same kind of power over everyone.
I don't think most Catholics really know what the difference is between "ascension" and "assumption", or what they really mean when they say "god from god, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made...", or what the immaculate conception really is (and this is one of the big tenets of the faith). This is just too dense for the average person to worry about, unless there is heavy pressure from outside.
I can also imagine that a person who has to live with an ever changing body of doctrines will gravitate towards repeating the general mantras and forgetting about the rest. If they asked me what I thought about blood, I would refer people to the elder; but if I were hard pressed into speaking myself, I would say something vague and general.
Again, however, this doesn't make witnesses look good. If only people knew...
That depends entirely on which doctrine you're talking about: The public version or the insider version. What they actually believe and what they claim to believe are sometimes very different. Many JWs buy into the public version (like I did) and are surprised to discover the secret doctrines that will never appear on the JW website or any early study book (e.g. "Bible Teach"). Most cults keep their crazy doctrines pretty secret until the members are too far into the cult to easily turn back. Whether too apathetic to flee, too socially-tied to the group, or unwilling to sacrifice their "position" in the group, most stay even while knowing it's BS. JWs are mostly made up of sociopaths and doormats, which feed each other's mental issues. Add other smatterings of mental illness, ignorance, and low IQ and you'll have the entirety of "good Witnesses". These people are easy robots and the type who join cults. Wind them up with some crazy doctrine and watch them run. They'll brainwash themselves, so it requires precious little effort. These people can't stand to be around anyone who isn't a crazy, retarded robot, so they label those who aren't as "apostates" and throw them out. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king hated.
The simplistic 3rd grade reading level of most of their magazines and books does nothing to educate the rank & file great crowd of JWs.
Everything has been dumbed down since the late '70s when books like Insight to the Scriptures and Commentary on the Book of James were published. The new "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" book is nearly unreadable, which I did in about 15 minutes. Good thing I was on sitting on the crapper when I was reading it. It's a gagfest for sure.
There is no encouragement for the R&F to really study the Bible or even the WT books. Why? They can't really think about what they are reading. They can't ask questions without raising suspicion about their motives. During field service, they won't stand at a door and take on an argumentive householder like I was trained to do - even as a 12-year old publisher. Except for the two dozen or so verses they've memorized during TMS, they can rarely look up any scripture that doesn't have a bookmark already in place. The skills and art of debate are undeveloped talents for modern JWs.
What I see now when JWs want to respond to an Internet discussion or want to make a comment on an ex-JW website is this:
They've opened up their Watchtower CD, looked up a word or phrase that appears in the post or article, and then copy and paste the Watchtower quote directly into the answer or comment box. 80% of the time their "comment" isn't even on subject. If you respond back and ask them to clarify the points they've tried to make, you'll get some statement like "Satan has blinded you!" or "You won't understand until you unblock Jehovah from your heart."
I'm sorry. The few JWs that I've come in contact with in recent years - even among the older adults who seem to have been long-time members - don't seem to have the skill or the desire to get into any meaningful discussion. They just want YOU to listen to them with YOUR ears open and YOUR mouth shut, but not to engage in any kind of meaningful dialogue. To them, "dialogue" is "monologue," with them talking and you listening (or reading).
Jehovah`s Witness`s dont Knock on Your Door,to have a Conversation with you..
Shut Up and Listen or..
"New light" is coming so fast on so many things, JWs can't keep up.
I think a lot of confusion among JWs is caused by the breakdown of the whole date system.
This is significant because historically so much JW zeal and attentiveness has been ginned up by the dates set for Armageddon.
The organization has never really recovered from the 1975 failure.
"The 1914 generation will by no means pass away" was easy to understand but now is obviously false, so JWs are faced with a ridiculous redefinition of "generation" that no one understands.
The 1918 and 1919 dates aren't supported by any manipulation of scriptures, so JWs are at a loss to explain where they come from.
1935 used to be the date when the heavenly class closed; now it isn't, and no JW could show where the date came from in the first place.
As Moshe has pointed out many times, you can read the literature all you want and you still won't be able to say with certainty exactly who the "faithful and discreet slave" is/are or why 99.9% of the "anointed" are never consulted about anything.
The GB can't allow the R&F to ask questions to get clarification because that would reveal how much of the whole thing is nothing but smoke and mirrors.
I only know what I knew as a witness. You know the core beliefs but not enough. You do not know the real history only the sanitised version. You know nothing of the scandals. New doctrines are introduced in such a way that you have no time to think or question and often they slide doctrinal changes into loaded paragraphs meaning that most witnesses will not even notice it happening.
My knowledge was about a 3 or 4 and I was a typical busy over streatched and exhausted mum. I wasn't dumb I just lacked time.
Theocratic Warfare takes precedence over truthfulness.
I like the way you think.
Negitive 5. All the faithful and discreet slave worship is proof that they dont know nuttin about nuttin!