I chewed on the Society's ears in my Declaring War about refusing to allow people to think for themselves, and to reason on the things they've been taught. I think that just about everyone on this board instinctively knows that this is what our Creator provided our brain for - to think and reason on the things heard, and nearly all of us have found ourselves in the doghouse when we try it.
However, the vast majority of us haven't had the chance to realize the utter criticality of this freedom of thought, in our own lives, yes, but especially in the biggest role of all: our relationship with Jehovah. We sense it instinctively, but who has put words to it?
It seems that in the long history of organized religion, they have been adamant in suppressing freedom of thought and were the prime tool used by Satan to keep mankind ignorant, so we can hardly expect them to make an exception this time.
Yet - in 2 Corinthians 3:17b, it says: ". . . and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom." Other scriptures advise us to speak with great freeness of speech and the Beroean's were commended for checking out all the "inspired utterances". Without freedom of thought, there are no other freedoms.
In pondering this contradiction, a few questions occurred to me.
1. If Jehovah wants us to have freedom of thought, yet Satan's minions have moved heaven and earth to keep us from it - Why?
2. What is so important that it must be kept from the common people at all cost?
My curiosity prodding me, I had to look into this, and I think I've found something. Again, I'm just offering this to see if it makes sense to you, with the hope that you might see something here that I am missing. Where is the error in logic?
Also, I made some blunt statements in Declaring War about how the Society should have been teaching the "meat of the word" instead of dinking around with their stupid little pecking orders. It's one thing to make blunt statements, but it's entirely another thing to back them up, so I feel that I should try. You be the judge as to whether I've succeeded or not.
A Role for Humankind
There is a psychological burden that has been drummed into humankind for millenniums, and it has caused untold anguish. Nearly all of us have struggled with it and millions have allowed their lives to be destroyed. Some commit suicide, and others have given up and settled for simply existing rather than living.
The Apostle Paul phrased it well in Romans 7:15-25:
"For what I am working out I do not know. For what I wish, this I do not practice; but what I hate is what I do. However, if what I do not wish is what I do, I agree that the Law is fine. But now the one working it out is no longer I, but sin that resides in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwells nothing good; for ability to wish is present with me, but ability to work out what is fine is not present. For the good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. If, now, what I do not wish is what I do, the one working it out is no longer I, but the sin dwelling in me.
"I find, then, this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin's law that is in my members. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God's law, but with my flesh to sin's law."
Nearly all of us have faced this. As youths we are excited about the future. We know most of what needs to be done, can see the awful mistakes that past generations have made, and are determined to never make them ourselves. We are idealistic and eager to fix the things that are wrong.
But - there comes a time in everyone's life when we make some awful mistake and come face to face with our own imperfections, and the effects can be devastating. Some can't handle it at all and commit suicide, preferring death to having to live with the guilt of what they have done. Others give up and become bitter, hard, and calloused, figuring that they are unworthy, and that they might as well get whatever they can out of life using any means possible, for they are already damned and have nothing left to lose.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
There is a bigger picture here that few see. The above scripture is true, but that is only part of it. Unless we can see all of it, we are concentrating only on the negative and all too often in such cases we humans tend to judge ourselves far harsher than is necessary.
If indeed we are so terrible that we are deserving only of death, then why would Jehovah, the God of Abraham, have arranged for Jesus to provide us with a ransom sacrifice? Why does he continue to provide us with the earth as a home, complete with the means of gaining food and drink, not to mention all of the beautiful things that are here for us to enjoy?
Why would his son, Jesus Christ, feel as he did as recorded at Matthew 9:36, "On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd."?
The reason for this empathy is that they recognize we are guilty of these things in spite of our best efforts not to be, and that we have been sabotaged, tricked, and forced into doing things that we didn't want to do but didn't know how to avoid. They also know that this has been accomplished by a keeping of us ignorant, desperate, and unaware of our mutual humanity, as well as the real issues at stake.
If this is the case, then perhaps we might consider cutting ourselves a little slack by looking into this matter further and seeing if there is something we can do about it - which brings us back to the very reason why these circumstances exist in the first place.
VICTIMS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE
If we can do something about this, then we would constitute a threat to Satan, one that he would need to control in order to maintain his own safety (See The Uniter). The situation would be much like that faced by the slave owners two hundred years ago, in that the only way the few could control the many would be by using psychological means. A miasma of hopelessness, unworthiness, and helplessness would need to be (and was) imposed upon the masses so that they would be too discouraged and afraid to even try to gain their freedom. An enforced ignorance would be (and was) an essential part of it.
It appears this has happened to all of us. How? The clergy themselves are the ones who have taken the lead in keeping mankind ignorant of our creator and his ways by claiming to be his holy representatives - and then blackening Jehovah's name by their conduct and teachings. No wonder atheism and agnosticism exist! If Jehovah was actually one who tortures people forever as they have taught, who would condone the conduct the churches have been guilty of down over the ages from crusades to pedophilia and more, and was the hoity-toity, austere, unfeeling autocrat they make him out to be, why would anyone want to serve him? Is it any wonder that people feel repelled and estranged from him?
For instance now, how many times have we heard someone say that we human beings can't give God anything because - after all - he already has everything. Plus, we are too puny and disgusting in our "filth" to even be noticed by him and if we attempted to give him a gift, he would turn up his nose in contempt and consider us arrogant and presumptuous for even trying to do such an outlandish thing.
Really? Compare that philosophy and especially the attitude that is ascribed to Jehovah, to this scripture: "Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me." Proverbs 27:11. He's talking to you and me in that scripture.
Do you get the impression that not only would Jehovah warmly welcome our gift, but that the clergy are damned liars in painting him as a spiteful and haughty ogre? There was a funeral for a child some years ago. The young mother was grieving and the preacher intoned, "God wanted another flower for his garden, so he reached down and picked her." If that isn't slandering God, what is?
But - what kind of a gift could we give him that could make up such an "answer"? Many are the men and women who have, down over the ages, given him unquestioning obedience and faithfulness, yet this doesn't seem to be what he is looking for, because the conditions here on the earth continue unabated. It must be something else.
The sad thing is that the gift he is asking us for has been staring us in the face for the past two thousand years, but we haven't tumbled to what it is due to the distractions Satan has placed in our paths and our concerns over our own needs. It is as Jesus was saying in Matthew 24:38, 39, "For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be." Note here that their sin didn't come about because the activities they were engaged in were wrong. Rather, it was a sin of omission. They were ignoring something that shouldn't be ignored. What?
Matt. 6:9, 10 is known far and wide, and many millions of people have prayed those words countless billions of times. Very few, though, take the time to examine and get the meaning of the words they pray. Look at the very first phrase in it:
"Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." That's the King James Version. Other translations render the last part as "let your name be sanctified" (NW), "may your name be honored" (NLT), "may your name be kept holy"(BBE), etc. http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Mat&chapter=6&verse=9.
Why would he request such a thing? Would it just be ego on his part as some feel? It doesn't look like it, for consider this part of main heading IV of The Outline (http://groundwaters.org/online/outline.pdf. ) again in regards to what Satan said to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:4, 5):
Section 4: What was implied (by Satan) but not said.
- That Jehovah was a liar.
- That he was selfish and stingy with his largess.
- That due to this imperfection, he was not what he said he was and therefore unworthy of their loyalty and worship.
- That they had a right to more than they were given.
- That they should not be satisfied with Jehovah's headship or laws.
- That there was a better way and that he (Satan), would be their benefactor and show it to them.
Jehovah values his name, even as we do our own. Who of us would not resent such slander and be desirous of clearing our name? So, when he asks us to "hallow" or "sanctify" his name, what does he mean? Let's consider a parallel:
Say we find The Heart of the Ocean, the breathtakingly beautiful blue diamond necklace portrayed in the movie Titanic, hidden in a manure pile. When we pick it up, what would our first action be? Would we promptly start cleaning it, or would we hand it to our wife and tell her to wear it, crap and all? Likewise, how can we "hallow" or "sanctify" his name without first washing off all the crap that Satan has thrown on it?
FEAR AS A FACTOR
But Satan's accusations in the Garden of Eden, along with a myriad of subsequent lies and slanders, have left us with a fear of our Creator that goes far beyond the respect and honor that he requests, and this constitutes a further blackening of his name that he detests, even as we would.
As was mentioned in The Uniter, "The almost universal assumption among us is that we are estranged from God due to his animosity towards us for being sinners. . . . there is a much more likely explanation. We have estranged ourselves (withdrawn in fear and revulsion) from our Creator due to the lies and slander we've been force fed down over the millennia, in much the same way as the daughter withdrew from her parents. (Please note in this context that our Creator did not withdraw from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They withdrew from Him. - See Genesis 3:8-10)
A few paragraphs later it said: "But Abraham was curious about this ancient god and wanted to learn more. He was also repelled by the things he saw going on around him and made his an active search. Just as a human father would wish to respond to the earnest efforts of an estranged daughter, so the Creator responded to Abraham's desire, and a relationship grew to the point that Abraham came to love this new found personality.
"So it was in this manner that contact was again made, and it was on the terms that a good father would wish - love, appreciation, and respect."
There is an interesting footnote on Matthew 6:9 in the Bible translations link above that tends to enforce this viewpoint:
2 sn God is addressed in terms of intimacy (Father). The original Semitic term here was probably Abba. The term is a little unusual in a personal prayer, especially as it lacks qualification. It is not the exact equivalent of "daddy" (as is sometimes popularly suggested), but it does suggest a close, familial relationship.
If this is the case, it is the fear instilled within us that has caused the breach between us and our Creator. Let's illustrate: How would we feel if one of our children listened to a fool who was throwing unfounded accusations our way, who in turn threw them in our face, then refused to give us any opportunity to defend ourselves? Would we not feel much the same as the "Master" did in the Parable of the Talents? (Matthew 25:14-30)
Could this also explain the scripture in Revelation 21:7, 8? "Anyone conquering(their fears)will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and He will be my son. But as for the cowards and those without faith . . . their portion will be in the lake of fire and sulphur. This means the second death." (Underlining mine.)
Injustice is an evil thing, and if that injustice is against our Creator himself, what kind of a child is it that would NOT become angry at the perpetrator and wish to speak up? What is your opinion of those people we hear about on the news who merely stand by and do nothing when some young girl gets raped and murdered? Should we not feel this same indignation when our Creator is slandered?
The bottom line then, is a simple one. He wants his name cleared. The gift he wants from us is to not simply accept whatever his enemy is claiming about him, but to give him the benefit of the doubt and then investigate this situation for ourselves, using our own minds and hearts. In this way we can form and then give him the gift, the "answer" that he will throw in Satan's face, and that will settle this mess once and for all.
The Beroeans were commended for doing this. "Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." Acts 17:11. They weren't taking anyone's word for it, and they weren't worried about getting someone else's permission to check these things out. To follow such a path takes courage, the opposite of cowardice.
A STEP FURTHER
Jesus said something that has been puzzling to many people. He was condemning the religious leaders of his day, and he accused them of the following:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in. . . .
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves." (Matthew 23:13, 15)
??? How? How could any man, regardless of who he is, shut up the kingdom of the heavens for someone else? How could any man commit another to being condemned by God? No man has such authority, do they? Aren't these things between each person and their Creator only?
There is one way that this could be done. That would be by the religious leader confiscating such authority to himself, as to insinuate himself between God and the common man. All kinds of things go wrong then, beginning with his refusing to allow "independent thinking", meaning that he refuses to allow others to think and reason for themselves. Those looking to him can no longer formulate the answer that Jehovah has asked of us because he is dictating the things the worshiper has to believe, and thereby forces him into a mental straitjacket.
Furthermore, by forcing his parishioners to acknowledge his own dignity and glory instead of the Creator's; instead of allowing them to use their own heads and hearts, he can convince them to do horrible things. This is how they "make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves." The Muslim suicide bombers (among a lot of others) are a product of this process.
But couldn't we take a preacher's teachings for our own, and thereby gain favor with Jehovah? Apparently not. It may be a good start, depending on what the preacher teaches and how much we check it out for ourselves. Let's illustrate this.
Say you have a very close friend whom you love very much, and he raves about what a wonderful guy his brother is. The brother gets back from a long trip, you are introduced, and you say "Any friend of his is a friend of mine!"
That's where we are when we accept a preacher's word for it. Even if everything he says is accurate and the situation is appealing, we are still accepting someone else's word. We need some time to become acquainted with his brother ourselves, to formulate our own friendship, based on our own observations. Only then can we give an authoritive witness (or answer, in the case of defending him from false accusations) as to the type of character he has. If we don't do this, then everything we know about him is merely hearsay, and is not admissible in court.
So it is with our Creator.
Jesus words at his death reinforce this thought. Matthew 27:46 reads: "About the ninth hour Jesus called out with a loud voice, saying: 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' " Think about those words for a minute, for there is an implication here that is not readily apparent.
Few would claim that Jesus had somehow incurred God's wrath and that He had withdrawn his spirit in punishment. Therefore, most assume that Jesus' words were prompted by his pain and desperation, and that God's spirit was still with him even though it didn't seem like it. Those who assume such a thing forget something.
Jesus could feel it when the holy spirit was with him. Luke's account at 8:43-46 bears this out: "And a woman, subject to a flow of blood for twelve years, who had not been able to get a cure from anyone, approached from behind and touched the fringe of his outer garment, and instantly her flow of blood stopped. So Jesus said: 'Who was it that touched me?' When they were all denying it, Peter said: 'Instructor, the crowds are hemming you in and closely pressing you.' Yet Jesus said: 'Someone touched me, for I perceived that power went out of me.' "
So - if he could feel it when the spirit was with him, that leaves us with a question. Why would Jehovah withdraw his spirit now, of all times?
It was because Jesus was giving an answer. It had to be his alone, not hearsay.
Likewise, any answer that we give Jehovah must be uniquely ours, and no one else's. Otherwise Satan will claim that we were forced to say what we did, and that our testimony is tainted.
Can you see why then, it is said above, "The clergy themselves are the ones who have taken the lead in keeping mankind ignorant of our creator and his ways . . .?" They have demanded that we accept any doctrine they put forth without question, and have refused to let us use our own minds and hearts to examine the evidence that Jehovah has put before us that would enable us to form the "answer" he has requested of us.
If we wish to give this gift of an answer to our Creator, how could we get it to him? Who could we give it to, and where?
That's easy. As Proverbs 66:1 phrases it, "This is what Jehovah has said: 'The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool.' . . . " How can we be any more front and center than to be on the footstool directly in front of the throne?
So the heavens are watching us right now to see what our answer is, and it doesn't need to be in words, for our actions speak louder than words do.
If we are to give him the gift of an "answer" that will clear his name, it must begin in our own hearts. Once that occurs, our hearts will tell us what we need to do, as opportunity provides. No man or group of men are capable of doing this for us.
Yes, we will need to answer a few more questions too, such as who we prefer to serve, and whose ways are best. But after clearing his name in our own hearts, those also become easy. Do we really want our god to be like Satan, who takes anything he wants and causes millions to die because of it, or would we prefer he be like Jehovah, whose view Jesus reflected in his gentle words to the woman who touched him?
"Seeing that she had not escaped notice, the woman came trembling and fell down before him and disclosed before all the people the cause for which she touched him and how she was healed instantly. But he said to her: 'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go your way in peace.'" (Verses 47 & 48.)
If we feel like Paul did and wish to give honest answers to these questions, we need to know the personalities involved. We already know all we need to know about Satan. Now we need to know Jehovah and not allow our thoughts to be colored by the lies that He has been smeared with. Our opinion is what counts here, not that of the clergy's.
Will our answers be perfect? Of course not. But then - that isn't necessary, for how does one go about making an opinion perfect?
Our giving an answer would be something that Satan would hate with a passion, and could least afford should he wish to continue living.