As we all now know, once you leave the Watchtower religion you are exposed to the possibility of education for the first time.
An ex-JW discovers that the theocratic lessons they have learned were not all they were led to believe , i.e. "accurate knowledge."
For a great many years, the "oracle in residence" for the Watchtower corporation was Fred Franz who himself never graduated from an accredited Seminary. He was self-informed by means of a personal library filled with OTHER PEOPLE'S ideas. Franz made a habit of cut and pasting the 2nd Adventist and 7th Day Adventist theology into his own filtered views.
All of us who attended the Theocratic Ministry School each week truly madly deeply believed we had the best version of THE TRUTH in the whlle world.
We now discover it was not only mangled history, misquoted references, misguided contrarian philosophy--but, cherry-picked scholarship we swallowed.
After a cooling off period in which most of us are angry, hurt, baffled and--finally, curious....we set a task for ourselves. We REACH OUT to all the information available we can get our hands on!
A great many of us are startled that so much was hidden from us!
If we are methodical, honest and willing to be wrong if that is where the evidence leads us--we discover that the bible itself has problems!
Instead of the pristine repository of inerrancy which the NEW WORLD TRANSLATION purports to be...we may finally confront what is now commonly called "the Truth about the Truth." A conspiracy of misleading baloney had been foisted upon us and we chewed and swallowed every bite!!
In my own case, I was truly startled to discover I had been badly misled about something significant.
In many debates I had asserted that the bible was non-contradictory when translated correctly from the original manuscripts.
Yes, I did believe that!
Then, one day, I read something that made my head explode!! There ARE NONE!
What happened to them?
They did not exist.
All this time I simply ASSumed they were safely preserved in museums all over the planet! HA!
So, I began thinking differently. For the first time I was WILLING to turn a curiously skeptical eye toward things I had always read in my bible.
Case in point: the stoning of Stephen by Jewish authorities. He was the 1st martyr for christianity!
This story is vividly constructed in a most dramatically revealing method of arousing strong emotions in the reader.
A simple man of faith speaks truth to religously corrupt authority and suffers immediate consequences for it!
History demonstrates that the spreading of this story galvanized gentile listeners into action in accepting the Jesus story and joining
the ranks of True Believers. Who can resist a story of heoric martyrdom? It has worked all through history right down to Che Guevara.
But, can it be true? What if it is based on an impossibility?
What would render the story of Stephen's martyrdom unbelievable as a true historical account?
Judaism was constrained absolutely by Roman rule and no death penalties were allowed EXCEPT BY ROMAN AUTHORITY!
Pharisees, Saducees, rabbinical leaders could all get very heated and angry at what they perceived as blasphemy--YET, they
had to follow the rules and the law. 23 Judges had to meet and hear witnesses, pass judgment and THEN take their verdict
to local Roman surrogates. The disposition of religious criminals was placed in Roman hands at that point.
The right of imposing capital punishment having been taken from the Sanhedrin by the Romans a century before, "40 years before the Destruction of the Temple" (Sanh. 41a; TJ , Sanh. 1:18a). The rabbis agreed that with the destruction of the Temple the Sanhedrin was precluded from inflicting capital punishment . Source: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0004_0_03929.html
Jews were not al lowed to execute their criminals, even if their law called for it. They were allowed
much freedom to practice their religion, but Rome retained the execution of criminals as its sol e prerogative.
According to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 1:4) the death penalty could only be inflicted, after trial, by a Sanhedrin composed of twenty-three judges. It has to be appreciated, however, that practically all this material comes from a time when the right to impose the death penalty had been taken away from the Jewish courts by the Roman authorities. According to one report in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 41a) the power of the Jewish courts to the death penalty ceased around the year 30 BCE. ( source:http://www.myjewishlearning.com/life/Life_Events/Death_and_Mourning/About_Death_and_Mourning/Death_Penalty.shtml)
I had never considered the story of the very first Witness (martyr means "witness") to be as phony as the religion I had just left: Jehovah's Witnesses!
Maybe I should not say "phony." It may have been told as rhetoric and not as sworn testimony. Let me be charitable. But, ask any Protestant or Catholic if it is true.....ask any JW if it is true and see what they tell you!
There is another story about a "woman given in adultry" who is about to be stoned by the Jews in a crowd. Jesus intervenes and utters the now famous
phrase: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
Is this story actually true? Is it even official scripture?
We now have enough scholarly authority skeptical enough about the evidence that we can agree with ERASMUS who saw it as "a tale written in the margin accidentally or deliberately INCLUDED in the bible narrative."
Where does the leave all those Watchtower articles that use such stories to support hard theology and doctrine?
We are able to think, now.
We aren't chained to made up stories.
We aren't accountable for what old books pretend to teach.
We can make up our own mind now!