A new DVD for 2013: The Return of the Prodigal Son

by Oubliette 37 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Oubliette

    In another thread, What's new for 2013 - lo nuevo de 2013, JWN member, oppostate, posted news of DC releases at this year's District Conventions. Among the releases was this:

    A new DVD for 2013: The Return of the Prodigal Son

    I was moved to write the following commentary, which I also felt warranted its own thread:

    Now in the actual Bible account, when the son returns, the father runs out to welcome his son back before he makes it all the way to the house. The father even orders a celebration!

    So he rose and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was moved with pity, and he ran and fell upon his neck and tenderly kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quick! bring out a robe, the best one, and clothe him with it, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fattened young bull, slaughter it and let us eat and enjoy ourselves, because this my son was dead and came to life again; he was lost and was found.’ And they started to enjoy themselves. - Luke 15:20 - 24

    But in the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses we find a stark contrast. When a "prodigal" one returns to the Kingdom Hall, the elders tell them to, "Sit down, be quiet and accept your shunning! It's discipline from Jehovah."

    This psychological form of public flogging usually goes on for many months and maybe even a year or more. Note that there was no "running out" to meet the "prodigal" one as they approached their heavenly Father's house, the Kingdom Hall. They had to come all the way on their own.

    The "prodigal" one is required to make a written request asking for reinstatement into the congregation. The elders will often take weeks or longer to respond to each request; sometimes they forget entirely. They are after all, very busy "in the work of the Lord."

    There is no set format for such a request. If it is too long, or too short, or contains words or scriptures the elders don't like, then they will use that as their "reason" for denying the request. Sometimes no reason is given for a denial other than, "It's too soon." He or she may have to make many repeated requests for reinstatement, each time hoping that this one will be "the one."

    When the "prodigal" one has finally somehow proved their "repentance" to the elder body by means that no one can consistently and definitively describe, then the elders will magnanimously approve the "penitent's" request for reinstatement.

    When the elders finally grant such a request, then they will make a public announcement giving permission for the congregation members to talk to you again. But after that, you'll still have restrictions on you for an indefinite period of time. BTW, you can forget about any party, because that's just not gonna' happen! Congregation members are explicitly instructed to not even clap when a reinstatement announcement is made.

    So the question comes to mind on the part of thinking individuals: If this is really a Bible-based religion as they claim, then why don't the Bible account and JW practices correspond?

    What do you think?

  • LostGeneration

    If I recall the drama correctly, a kid starts running with the wrong crowd.

    Everyone starts to get worried in the typical JW manner, and he gets labelled "bad association" without anyone knowing if he has even done anything. The crime in reality is associating with "worldly" teens. At first he resists meeting with the elders (good call there!)

    And of course he gets into trouble, and comes back. Of course it shows him meeting with two elders to start with. As you point out above, where is that in the bible? Shouldn't everyone welcome him with open arms if he simply comes back, no matter the reason?

    I don't think he gets DFd in the drama, so of course all the JWs come out of it saying what a "lovely arrangement" the JC is....(gag)

    The drama itself was full of JW cliches, guilt, and of course hammered home the point that elders have authority over you.

    But I think its also designed to try to give false hope to long time JWs who have kids that have left the religion.

  • Oubliette

    LG: But I think its also designed to try to give false hope to long time JWs who have kids that have left the religion.

    False hope is the stock in trade of the WTBTS. It's the only kind of hope they have to give.

  • Ilovebirthdays

    The first thing I thought when I saw this thread title was that they're putting this out to try to give hope to the many that have children that have long left. False hope, indeed.

  • Oubliette

    Ilovebirthdays: The first thing I thought when I saw this thread title was that they're putting this out to try to give hope to the many that have children that have long left. False hope, indeed.

    Of course, you're absolutely right.

    It sure isn't for the ones that have left. I mean, how would we even know? Except of course by reading it here on JWN! ...

  • maninthemiddle

    I clearly remember thus drama, it was what cemented in my mind that I made the right decision to leve the org. It was during the time my wife was allowing conversation about the "truth" it also made a big impression with her. I think if ou are awake and thinking, this will kick you in the gut.

  • AndDontCallMeShirley

    When you compare the WT method of shunning/discipline with the parable of the Prodigal Son, there is no way to correlate the two approaches.

    Whereas the parable illustrates several lessons, including a longing to see someone return, a constant watching/concern for that person, then an outward display of love and joy to see them return, the WT approach is diametrically opposed: apathy toward anyone that leaves; no proactive effort to get them back; no watching in anticipation of a return; no love shown when a person comes back; a harsh judiciary procedure; when reinstatement occurs, the puniskment continues with restrictions on "privileges". And, of course, absolutely no celebration. In fact, as was pointed out, celebrating is directly banned.

    FEAR and GUILT- two of the WT's most powerful weapons.

  • Gopher

    :But I think its also designed to try to give false hope to long time JWs who have kids that have left the religion.

    Oh yes, my parents keep hoping for my sister and me to come back to the fold.

    The entire process of judicial committees, public announcement, disfellowshipping, shunning, sitting at the back of the halls, the long wait to get back in -- is entirely man made. It's true that Paul told the 1st century group to remove the wicked man from among yourselves. The JW's jump on that and assume that everything else in the process is from the Bible and not from the mind of JF Rutherford and his successors.

  • Honesty

    The following is a parable about the "JW Prodigal Son"

    The young JW said to one of the elders, "Elder, I have doubts about the Governing Body." So the elder convened a judicial committee and they disfellowshipped him.

    Not long after that, the younger JW was not allowed to talk to his JW family anymore and had to move out of their home. The job he had with another JW was soon terminated and he was left on his own. Since he had no skills—his religion wouldn't allow him any higher education—and he had no friends—his religion didn't allow him to associate with anyone who wasn't a JW—he began to think back on what he had before. Although he did not really believe in the religion, he decided he would return so at least he could once again associate with people, have employment, and feel as though he was not abandoned.

    When he confessed the error of his ways, the young JW said to the elder, "Elder, I have sinned against the Watchtower and against the governing body. I am no longer worthy to be called a JW," only then was he allowed to return to the meetings in the hope of rejoining his family and former so-called friends. He could not talk to anyone except for the spiritually strong elders and his father who now began to study with him even though he had heard the same stuff hundreds of times before. He played the game and one day was reinstated to the joy of everyone who could now talk to him and tell him them missed him even though he was there all the time.

    The other young JW's who had continued with their monotonous routine of Watchtower worship while he was gone looked scornfully at the returnee because he had not had to do all of the service they did. They kept their distance from him as they viewed him as still contaminated and would never fully be one of them again.

    The young JW slowly worked his way back to earning his privileges. His going through the motions of being in the "truth" was enough to satisfy his family and the elders.

    Now he frequents Internet sites to find support for his situation because he knows the Watchtower is a lie but he still wants to associate with his family.

  • BU2B

    Right on Honesty

  • Honesty

    Just keeping it real.

  • blondie

    Past applications

    *** w08 11/15 pp. 15-16 pars. 14-21 Help Them Return Without Delay! ***

    When seeking to assist a sheep who has strayed, the one assigned to help might refer to Jesus’ illustration recorded at Luke 15:11-24. In that parable, a young man squanders his inheritance on loose living. He eventually comes to abhor the debauched life he has been leading. His stomach is empty, he is homesick, and he has made up his mind—he is going home! When he is still far off, his father sees him, runs and falls upon his son’s neck, tenderly kisses him, and is filled with joy. Reflecting on this illustration may motivate one who has drifted away to return to the fold. Since this system of things will soon be destroyed, he should ‘come home’ without delay.

    15 Most who drift away from the congregation are not exactly like the prodigal son. With some, drifting takes place gradually, just as a boat that is adrift slowly floats farther from land. Others become so weighed down with anxieties that they lose sight of spiritual things. Still others allow themselves to be stumbled by someone associated with the congregation, or they leave because they do not agree with a certain Scriptural teaching. A few become involved in unscriptural conduct. However, the points presented in connection with each of these matters may help you to assist those who have left the fold for these or other reasons to return before it is too late.

    “Welcome Home, Son!”

    16 One Christian elder says: “Our local body of elders is very interested in calling on those who are inactive. I thought about a brother I had studied with and helped to come to a knowledge of the truth. He had been inactive for about 25 years and was going through a very difficult situation, so I explained how applying the spiritual principles from the Bible could help him. After some time, he began coming to the Kingdom Hall and agreed to have a personal Bible study to help strengthen his resolve to come back to the flock.”

    17 Why did the brother become inactive? He admits: “I started giving more attention to worldly matters than to spiritual things. Then I stopped studying, engaging in the ministry, and attending meetings. The next thing I knew, I was no longer a part of the Christian congregation. But I was helped to return by the personal and sincere interest the elder displayed.” This brother’s problems began to subside after he accepted a personal Bible study. He says, “I realized that what was missing in my life was the love and guidance of Jehovah and his organization.”

    18 How was this brother received in the congregation? He says: “I feel like the prodigal son spoken of by Jesus Christ. In fact, one of our elderly sisters who was there 30 years ago and is still going strong said to me, ‘Welcome home, Son!’ That really touched my heart. I was truly home. And I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the love, warmth, patience, and interest shown to me by that elder and the entire congregation. Their love for Jehovah and neighbor truly helped me to return to the flock.”

    Urge Them to Take Action Today!

    19 We are living in the last days, and the end of the present system of things is imminent. Therefore, encourage inactive ones to attend Christian meetings. Urge them to start attending immediately. Point out that Satan is trying to destroy their relationship with God and make them think that relief from life’s burdens can come by abandoning true worship. You can assure them that only by being Jesus’ faithful followers can they enjoy true refreshment.—Read Matthew 11:28-30.

    20 Remind inactive ones that God expects us to do what we can. When Lazarus’ sister Mary was criticized for anointing Jesus with expensive perfumed oil shortly before his death, he said: “Let her alone. . . . She did what she could.” (Mark 14:6-8) Jesus praised the needy widow who made a very small contribution at the temple. She also did what she could. (Luke 21:1-4) Most of us can attend Christian meetings and share in the Kingdom-preaching work. With Jehovah’s help, many of those now inactive will be able to do the same things.

    21 If a sheeplike one who has strayed from the flock fears facing his brothers again, you might remind him of the rejoicing that occurred when the prodigal son came home. Those returning to the congregation are a cause of similar joy. Encourage them to act now to oppose the Devil and draw close to God.—Jas. 4:7, 8.

    *** w01 10/1 pp. 13-18 How Can You Help a “Prodigal” Child? ***

    “Rejoice because . . . he was lost and was found.”—LUKE 15:32.

    “I’M LEAVING the truth!” How shocking it is for God-fearing parents who have tried hard to bring up their children in the Christian way to hear these words from a child! Other youths just “drift away” without actually declaring their intentions. (Hebrews 2:1) Many of these resemble the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable, who left his father’s house and squandered his inheritance in a distant land.—Luke 15:11-16.

    2 Though most of Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have this problem, for those who do, no words of comfort can completely remove their grief. And not to be overlooked is the unhappiness that the wayward youth himself can experience. Deep down, his conscience may trouble him. In Jesus’ parable, the prodigal son eventually “came to his senses,” to the joy of his father. How can parents and others in the congregation help prodigals to ‘come to their senses’?—Luke 15:17.

    Why Some Decide to Leave

    3 There are hundreds of thousands of young ones who serve Jehovah happily in the Christian congregation. Why, then, do other young ones leave?They may feel that they are losing out on something that the world offers. (2 Timothy 4:10) Or they may consider Jehovah’s protective sheepfold too restrictive. A guilty conscience, a strong interest in the opposite sex, or a desire to be accepted by one’s peers can also cause a youngster to drift away from Jehovah’s flock. A youth may quit serving God because of what seems to be hypocrisy on the part of his parents or some other Christian.

    4 A child’s rebellious attitude and behavior are usually symptoms of spiritual weakness, reflections of what is in his heart. (Proverbs 15:13; Matthew 12:34) For whatever reason a youth goes astray, the root of the problem often lies in his not having “an accurate knowledge of truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7) More than merely going through the motions of worshiping Jehovah, it is important that young ones cultivate a close personal relationship with him. What will help them do so?

    Draw Close to God

    5 “Draw close to God,” wrote the disciple James, “and he will draw close to you.” (James 4:8) To do so, a young person must be helped to cultivate a taste for the Word of God. (Psalm 34:8) Initially he will need “milk”—the basic teachings of the Bible. But as he takes delight in God’s Word and acquires a taste for “solid food”—deep spiritual information—spiritual maturity will not be far off for him. (Hebrews 5:11-14; Psalm 1:2) A youth who admitted that he had been swallowed up in the way of the world began to appreciate spiritual values. What helped him turn around? Responding to a suggestion to read the whole Bible, he kept to a regular Bible reading schedule. Yes, reading the Word of God regularly is essential for cultivating a close bond with Jehovah.

    6 How vital that parents help their children to cultivate a fondness for God’s Word! Despite having a regular family study, one teenage girl associated with delinquents. Regarding her family study, she recalls: “When Father asked the questions, I just read off the answers, without even looking at his face.” Instead of just covering the material during a family study, wise parents employ the art of teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2) For a youth to enjoy the study, he must feel involved. Why not ask viewpoint questions and let him express himself? Encourage the young one to make practical application of the material under consideration.

    7 Moreover, make the Scriptural discussion lively. When appropriate, have young ones act out Bible events and dramas. Help them visualize the location and features of the land where events being discussed took place. Using maps and charts may help. Yes, with a little imagination, a family study can be made lively and varied. Parents also do well to examine their own relationship with Jehovah. As they themselves draw closer to Jehovah, they can help their children to do so.—Deuteronomy 6:5-7.

    8 Prayer also helps one draw close to God. A girl in her early teens felt torn between the Christian way of life and her association with friends who did not share her beliefs. (James 4:4) What did she do about it? “For the very first time,” she confessed, “I really prayed to Jehovah about how I felt.” She concluded that her prayer was answered when she eventually found within the Christian congregation a friend in whom she could confide. Feeling that Jehovah was guiding her, she began to build a personal relationship with God. Parents can help their children by improving the quality of their own prayers. When praying as a family, parents can pour out their heart so that their children can feel the personal bond between the parents and Jehovah.

    Be Patient but Firm

    9 When a youth starts to drift away, he may try to isolate himself and resist any effort by his parents to have a spiritual discussion with him. What can parents do in such a trying situation? Consider what Jehovah did with ancient Israel. He put up with the “stiff-necked” Israelites for over 900 years before abandoning them to their wayward path. (Exodus 34:9; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21; Romans 10:21) Despite their repeatedly ‘putting him to the test,’ Jehovah “was merciful” to them. “Many times he made his anger turn back, and he would not rouse up all his rage.” (Psalm 78:38-42) God was faultless in his dealings with them. Loving parents imitate Jehovah and are patient when the child does not immediately respond to their efforts to help him.

    10 Being long-suffering, or patient, does not mean “suffering long”; it denotes a refusal to give up all hope for improvement in a disturbed relationship. Jehovah set an example of how to be long-suffering. He took the initiative by sending his messengers to the Israelites “again and again.” Jehovah “felt compassion for his people,” even though “they were continually making jest at the messengers of the true God and despising his words.” (2 Chronicles 36:15, 16) He appealed to the Israelites, saying: “Turn back, please, every one from his bad way.” (Jeremiah 25:4, 5) Yet, Jehovah did not compromise his righteous principles. The Israelites were instructed to “turn back” to God and to his ways.

    11 Parents can imitate Jehovah in being long-suffering by not hastily giving up on the deviating child. Without losing hope, they can take the initiative to keep the lines of communication open or to reestablish communication. While sticking to righteous principles, they can “again and again” appeal to the child to return to the way of the truth.

    When a Minor Is Disfellowshipped

    12 What if a minor who lives with his parents gets involved in serious wrongdoing and because of his unrepentant attitude is expelled from the congregation? Since the child lives with his parents, they are still responsible for instructing and disciplining him in harmony with God’s Word. How can this be done?—Proverbs 6:20-22; 29:17.

    13 It may be possible—indeed, it would be best—to give such instruction and discipline during a private study of the Bible. A parent must look beyond the child’s hardened attitude and try to see what is in his heart. What is the whole range of his spiritual sickness? (Proverbs 20:5) Can the tender part of his heart be reached? What scriptures can be used effectively? The apostle Paul assures us: “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Yes, parents can do more than simply tell their offspring not to get involved in wrongdoing again. They can try to initiate and nurture the healing process.

    14 An erring youth needs to restore his relationship with Jehovah. The first step he must take is to “repent . . . and turn around.” (Acts 3:19; Isaiah 55:6, 7) In helping the youth in their home to repent, parents must ‘keep themselves restrained under evil, instructing with mildness’ the child who is not favorably disposed. (2 Timothy 2:24-26) They need to “reprove” him in the Biblical sense. The Greek word rendered “reprove” can also be translated “give convincing evidence.” (Revelation 3:19; John 16:8) To reprove, therefore, involves showing enough evidence to convince the child of the sinfulness of his course. Admittedly, doing so is not easy. Where possible, the parents can appeal to his heart, using all means Scripturally appropriate to convince him. They should try to help him to appreciate the need to “hate what is bad, and love what is good.” (Amos 5:15) He may come back to his “proper senses out from the snare of the Devil.”

    15 In restoring one’s relationship with Jehovah, prayer is a must. Of course, no one should “make request” concerning blatant sin that is clearly being practiced unrepentantly by any individual once associated with the Christian congregation. (1 John 5:16, 17; Jeremiah 7:16-20; Hebrews 10:26, 27) Yet, parents can ask Jehovah to give them wisdom to deal with the situation. (James 1:5) If a disfellowshipped youth gives evidence of repentance but does not have “freeness of speech toward God,” the parents might pray that if God finds a basis for pardoning the child’s error, that His will be done. (1 John 3:21) Hearing these prayers should help the youth to see Jehovah as a merciful God.—Exodus 34:6, 7; James 5:16.

    16 If a baptized youth is disfellowshipped, the congregation members are expected “to quit mixing in company with” him. (1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 John 10, 11) This may eventually help him to ‘come to his senses’ and return to God’s protective fold. (Luke 15:17) Whether he comes back or not, however, members of the congregation can encourage the family of the disfellowshipped youth. We can all look for opportunities to show “fellow feeling” and to be “tenderly compassionate” toward them.—1 Peter 3:8, 9.

    How Others Can Help

    17 What about a youth who is not disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation but who has become weak in faith? “If one member suffers,” wrote the apostle Paul, “all the other members suffer with [him].” (1 Corinthians 12:26) Others can take an active interest in such a youth. Of course, a measure of caution is needed, since a spiritually ailing youth could adversely influence other young ones. (Galatians 5:7-9) In one congregation, well-meaning adults who wanted to help some youths who had become spiritually weak invited them to gatherings to play popular music together. Though the youths readily complied and enjoyed such sessions, their influence on one another eventually led them to cut their ties with the congregation. (1 Corinthians 15:33; Jude 22, 23) What can help heal the ailing child is, not social gatherings with no spiritual direction, but association that helps him to cultivate a taste for spiritual things.

    18 When a youth who has left the congregation comes back to the Kingdom Hall or attends an assembly, think of how he may feel.Should we not show the welcoming attitude of the prodigal’s father in Jesus’ parable? (Luke 15:18-20, 25-32) A teenager who left the Christian congregation and later attended a district convention stated: “I thought everybody would ignore a person like me, but the brothers and sisters approached me and welcomed me. I was deeply moved.” He began studying the Bible again and was later baptized.

  • Quendi

    Early in my vain efforts to get reinstated, my judicial committee told me I had to produce “fruits of repentance”, “works” that proved I was truly sorry. I countered with the parable of the Prodigal Son and asked which “works” did he produce before his father accepted him back? That question provoked an angry silence from the committee which got worse when I followed up with the observation that nothing the committee or the WTS did or demanded from a “sinner” was in the Bible. Looking back on it now, it’s no wonder that all my subsequent requests for reinstatement were denied.

    The only reason I wanted reinstatement was to regain contact with my friends and family in the organization. For its part, my judicial committee only wanted me to swear allegiance to the men they called “the faithful and discreet slave.” They weren’t even slightly interested in my relationship with God, seldom asking questions about that. In the end, I was the one who broke contact with them, a decision I have never regretted.

    The parable of the Prodigal Son has time and again proved to be a source of exasperation and frustration for the WTS. From what I have heard and learned, when it is brought up in judicial committee meetings, elders are left dumbfounded. Their only reply against it is to parrot WTS policy as opposed to citing the Scriptures. We understand their reasons: this parable strikes at the heart of this cult, its raison d’etre because it exposes it as a false religion, completely undeserving of the respect and honor it currently enjoys.


  • blondie

    Their only reply against it is to parrot WTS policy as opposed to citing the Scriptures.


    Similar/same response on how a person being alone overnight with someone of the opposite sex without a chaperone (or a known homosexual) was proof of fornication or adultery. 1) no witnesses 2) what constitutes "overnight" 3) does this mean that sex during the day does not count.

  • AndDontCallMeShirley

    I countered with the parable of the Prodigal Son and asked which “works” did he produce before his father accepted him back? That question provoked an angry silence

    Citing Biblical examples on any subject will result in the same reaction from Elders: anger.

    Another would be: the criminal being executed next to Jesus: what works was he able to do to prove himself? None. Yet, on the spot, he was accepted.

    It's better to ignore the Bible though, when you're a JW. It's less confusing that way.

  • Billy the Ex-Bethelite
    Billy the Ex-Bethelite

    If the Prodigal Son was a child molestor, then WT would make certain that his sins were hushed up and everyone was forced to celebrate his return.

  • Julia Orwell
    Julia Orwell

    “I’M LEAVING the truth!” Would a kid really say that? I know kids don't talk like that. I mean, there is contradiction inherent in that statement. To say you are leaving the 'truth' means you still think it's the truth, in which case, why would you leave it if you thought it was the truth?

  • Julia Orwell
    Julia Orwell

    In one congregation, well-meaning adults who wanted to help some youths who had become spiritually weak invited them to gatherings to play popular music together. Though the youths readily complied and enjoyed such sessions, their influence on one another eventually led them to cut their ties with the congregation . (1 Corinthians 15:33; Jude 22, 23) What can help heal the ailing child is, not social gatherings with no spiritual direction, but association that helps him to cultivate a taste for spiritual things.

    So THIS is why the WT never had youth groups! And that they'd be too lazy to. Fancy letting kids hang out with each other and enjoy each other's company without some sort of indoctrination!

  • The Searcher
    The Searcher

    Let's re-word Christ's statement regarding a sinner's repentant attitude:

    (Luke 15:7,10) I tell YOU that thus there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner that "attends assemblies and meetings regularly for several months, jumps through the hoops held up by the 'company men', and doesn't dare speak to any of their brothers or sisters" during their humiliation", than over ninety-nine righteous ones who have no need of repentance.

    Doesn't this "explain" much better how repentant sinners in our midst should "prove" how sorry they are???????

    (Matthew 7:2)..........for with what judgment YOU are judging, YOU will be judged; and with the measure that YOU are measuring out, they will measure out to YOU.

  • venetian

    The Searcher

    Spot on!

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