"The Watchtower's Achilles' Heel"

by Doug Mason 37 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • cha ching
    cha ching

    I think Doug has got us started on the right track with the GB... & it's Achille's heel...

    Perhaps we should just quote David Splane when ever we hear something weird... 'Only the truly annointed can translate the Bible accurately'

    Each creative day.... 7,000 years long... ?

    1975, 6,000 years since Adam's creation...?

    It's the Creator's promise that we'll see the end before the end of this century (2,000) ?

    Overlapping generations?

    "Only the truly annointed could have come up with those"

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason


    Thank you for your thoughts.

    I do not disagree with you. On my first page, I tried to point out that JWs are confronted at the thought of being cut off from friends and family. I also said that JWs accept whatever the GB says because of who the GB claims to be, regardless of what it is saying. The GB demands total unquestioning loyalty to whatever is the current Truth. Usually with propaganda, lies are continually repeated until they are accepted as truth.

    In my short piece, I say that the claim of "who the GB claims to be" is built on a suspect foundation, and people have to ask themselves whether they are going to entrust their lives and the lives of their loved ones to the totalitarian vagaries of that group of men. That is a decision each person needs to make: is the GB's claim to have the same authority as the body at Acts 15 founded on solid unshakeable grounds? I say that the GB rests on the flimsiest foundation.

    I am fully aware of the challenges posed by my Study. I deliberately kept it focused, but many issues flow from it. As I wrote before, at Acts 15, James - the leader of the Jerusalem party (of Jews) - is said to have declared that blood was off-limits. However, when Paul was writing a few years after going to see James in Jerusalem, Paul insisted that followers had to "share" or "participate" in Jesus' blood. (1 Cor 10:16) In John's gospel, when Jesus said the same thing (not at any "Last Supper") many Jews were so affronted at the thought of drinking blood that they stopped associating with Jesus. But, according to John, Jesus commanded it.

    We know that Paul initiated the "Last Supper" story - he explicitly says it came to him from a vision, therefore not from a human source - so we need to see it in the context of his opposition to the Jerusalem party. Paul's spread his ideas to the world; Jerusalem (under James, not Peter) was little more than a Jewish outcrop. The bulk of the NT comes from Paul and his disciples.

    As "Cha Ching" says, I am interested in stimulating minds. I am not asking people to agree with all that I say, but if I help open up thinking and people then make up their own minds and are prepared to investigate with courage, then I am content.


  • Julia Orwell
    Julia Orwell

    Wow great paper. May I ask, what is your academic background? Obviously you have one because no window washer could put together such a good scholarly discussion paper.

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    Hi Julia,

    I am a graduate of the University of Hard Knocks from the Faculty of Life (coming up for my 73rd bday).


  • Captain Obvious
    Captain Obvious


    I'm really interested to read this, but for some reason google chrome seems to think your site is shifty and won't let me on... What's going on?

  • smiddy

    I thank you Doug for a very thought provoking post , their are a number of you guys on this board that have opened my eyes and hopefully many others , knowledge is freedom.


  • Shanagirl

    Doug, I read the link you gave. The pictures were awesome. The background especially reminded me of what the "Archons" have been described as looking like. Pictures below. Fitting that is the background of Watchtower. Shana

  • never a jw
    never a jw

    As always the content is excellent and the presentation superb.

    Since I know you are a perfectionist, let me nitpick.

    On page 13 change

    "Act’s report of the meeting’s message".


    "Acts' report of the meeting’s message".

  • EdenOne


    Again, I must say it was a pleasure to read your article. Thank you.

    Here are my thoughts:

    The crux of the issue here is: What is the best acceptable model of governance for the church / congregation?

    The problem with the interpretations of Acts 15 and a supposed "governing body" fuctioning in the first century (I think there was one, but that's besides the point of the considerations I'm going to discuss now), is the legitimation of the current model of governance in place among the Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Back in the 1970's, the majority of the members of the board of directors of the Watchtower Society - much against the opinion of Nathan knorr and Frederick Fraz, who even said that the creation of a Governing Body would only be done 'over his dead body' [boy, was he right!] - decided that there should be a "Governing Body" to govern the organization, rather than the power being concentrated in a single person [the President of the WTS] and then partially abrogated to a board of directors, organized in specialized comitees. How does one justify and legitimate such a change in JW land? In the best JW tradition, the Bible can be bent to say whatever the leadership wants it to say, and the justification for a model of 'theocratic governance' in the shape of a "Governing Body" isn't actually too far-fetched, biblically speaking.

    In the early days of the International Bibe Students, the operational model of organization was a mix of elements taken from congregational and presbyterian traditions, and thus, a model that allowed each congregation a great latitude of operational autonomy, while the doctrine-making was centralized in Russell and his close associates in Allegheny, and later, Brooklyn. However, when J. F. Rutherford forcefully took over the WTS, the model began to change. The new implemented model was now much more hierarchy-dependant, and much more under strict operational and doctrinal control of the Watchtower Society, through their appointed representatives, District and Circuit Overseers, and then even the body of Elders became appointed through direct supervision of the Branch office. The model was now typically episcopal in nature, similar to that of the Catholic Church. The President of the WTS was, for all purposes, the JW's equivalent to the Pope. All these changes were justified using the Bible.

    Problem is: That we know of, Christ didn't spend much of his ministry organizing the church. Aside from appointing the 12 apostles and giving Peter a measure of evidence among them, there isn't any other hint in his words of how the church should be organized, both in operational or in doctrinal terms. If the aspect of how the church was to be organized was crucial for the evolution of Christianity, isn't it obvious that Jesus would dedicate a significant portion of his ministry to train his disciples to run an organized church? Wouldn't he leave behind a set of instructions on how a church should be organized? Truth is, he didn't. The "head of the congregation" didn't do that. We may then conclude that he allowed his disciples a degree of freedom to organize the church in ways that would favor the expansion of Christianity, and the Holy Spirit would bless all the ensuing efforts. The early church was organized around the authority of the 12 apostles, but then came Paul, who was empowered to be an apostle directly by Christ. This comes to show that, if there's anything that Christ was at this point, he was a disruptive force towards a concept of ecclesiastical power centralized in Jerusalem.

    If, then, the concept of a "Governing Body" centralized in Jerusalem was at best no more than a temporary arrangement who couldn't have existed in Jerusalem beyond 66 CE, we can ask ourselves: Are we in anyway bound to the vague organizational model of a "Governing Body" that might have existed for a while, but was by no means an arrangement that should be perpetuated in time? Does modern church need to find legitimacy in the Bible for its organizational model, or should it just be what is more practical, more inclusive, more efficient, while respecting the principle that Christ is the real leader of the Christian congregation?

    I believe that the issue of how the church is organized nowadays shouldn't be bound to the way it was done in the first century. We simply don't have enough elements to make definite assumptions, nor can we conclude that the early church was properly organized in a unified way.


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