For example.... ws15 7/15 pp. 22-26 Title: "This Is Our Place of Worship""A Kingdom Hall is not “the house of Jehovah” in the same way the temple in Jerusalem was. (2 Chronicles 5:13; 33:4) But we should have deep respect for our places of worship."
w02 5/15 pp. 8-11 Title: "Phenomenal Increase Necessitates Quick Expansion""The local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses fills a great need as a center for true worship in the community."
w10 5/1 p. 31 Title: "Our Readers Ask . . . What is a Kingdom Hall?""A Kingdom Hall is a house of worship used by Jehovah’s Witnesses for their religious services."
In that the above is published and claimed by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, a look at what the Bible says of worship is very much worthy of examination and some verses are cited below from Vine's Expository Dictionary. An examination of the Bible using such a scholarly and independent text will help in determining whether the Governing Body's claim of "true worship" is meritricious or meritorious.
If you are studying with Jehovah's Witnesses, you will be regularly "encouraged" to attend the local Kingdom Hall. If you do decide to attend, note what actually takes place during the meeting (and extolled as "true worship") compared with how the Bible describes worship (reverence, homage, awe, devotion, serve, honour religiously, religious homage (according to Vines expository dictionary).
Note too how extensive reference is made to items of literature published by the "Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses" and how little attention is paid to the Bible. For example, several years ago, it was common for a Brother to give a Bible dissertation involving an introduction, actual reading of a segment of the Bible, and then a concluding summary (usually application). Time allowed for this was 5 minutes. Then the introduction and conclusion (Brothers' composed such) was eliminated in favour of Bible reading only with the time curtailed to 4 minutes. As of this year, the time has been reduced further to a mere 3 minutes! Similarly an item called "Bible Highlights" given by a Ministerial Servant or Elder has had its time curtailed from 10 minutes to 8 minutes! Even before the time allowances were curtailed, the duration of time given to the Bible could hardly be regared as anything remotely deserving.
If you attend a "Watchtower Study" at the weekend, note how the "study" conductor draws a surprising amount of attention to any artwork / photos in the magazine and which is usually inconsequential. Watch out too for scriptures being referenced out of context (contrary to study 22 [Scriptures correctly applied] of the JW public speaking manual). Pay attention to the quality of what is being said. Is the meeting truly erudite or edifying? Is it perhaps banal; even soporific? In your heart of hearts, did you enjoy the meeting or endure it?
There is published guidance about Bible reading / study by the "Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses" aka Governing Body. For example..... "The help of God’s spirit is necessary for real discernment and understanding of God’s Word. (1Co 2:9-16) To get understanding and other benefits, a person must approach the reading of God’s Word with an open mind, throwing aside all prejudice and preconceived opinions; otherwise his understanding will be veiled... (2Co 3:14-16) Superficial reading is not enough. The reader must put his heart into it, be absorbed in study of the material, meditate deeply upon it, and seek to benefit from it personally.—Pr 15:28; 1Ti 4:13-16; Mt 24:15" (Insight Vol. II pages 754-755). This is rather a pleasant statement of guidance. The remarkable thing is that this published guidance is largely ignored as affiliates of congregations tend to consider the Bible only via the vignette of the Governing Body's publications and this leadership expects this both de facto and de jure. Such an approach is hardly exemplary of an "open mind, throwing aside all prejudice and preconceived opinions"! More structured guidance about Bible reading / study has been around for many many years and is known as lectio divina or spiritual reading. Never mentioned in my 20 years and more of Kingdom Hall attendances! The meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses are not designed or structured in keeping with the aforemetioned guidance! Not al all!
Now to the subject of worship as used in the Bible.....
VINE'S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY
1. Proskuneo (verb) - "to make obeisance, do reverence to" (from pros, "towards," and kuneo, "to kiss"), is the most frequent word rendered "to worship."
It is used of an act of homage or reverence (a) to God, e.g., Matt. 4:10; John 4:21-24; 1 Cor. 14:25; Rev. 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:10(b) to Christ, e.g., Matt. 2:2,8,11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9,17; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6, in a quotation from the Sept. of Deut. 32:43, referring to Christ's Second Advent;
2. Sebomai (verb)"to revere," stressing the feeling of awe or devotion, is used of "worship" (a) to God, Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7; Acts 16:14; 18:7,13
3. Sebazomai (verb)akin to No. 2, "to honor religiously," is used in Rom. 1:25.
4. Latreuo (verb)"to serve, to render religious service or homage," is translated "to worship" in Phil. 3:3, "(who) worship (by the Spirit of God)," RV, AV, "(which) worship (God in the spirit);" the RV renders it "to serve" (for AV, "to worship") in Acts 7:42; 24:14; AV and RV, "(the) worshipers" in Heb. 10:2, present participle, lit., "(the ones) worshiping."
5. Eusebeo (verb)"to act piously towards," is translated "ye worship" in Acts 17:23.
- Which of the above Biblical descriptions of worship have I seen at the Kingdom Hall?
- Is the Governing Body's description of Kingdom Hall's as"places of worship", as "center(s) for true worship" and as "house(s) of worship" consistent with the Bible's description of "worship"?
- The Governing Body sometimes cites the authority of Vine's Expository Dictionary. Therefore, is what I experienced at the Kingdom Hall consistent with any of Vine's definitions of the word "worship" in its varoius Biblical contexts? (i.e. reverence, homage, awe, devotion, serve, honour religiously, religious homage)
- Did I "enjoy" the meeting or "endure" the meeting?
- When I attended the Kingdom Hall, was it literature published by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses which was considered / emphasised, or was it the Bible?
- Was I really happy with the amount of time being given to consideration of the Bible?
[This essay was put together by an individual who was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness over 20 years ago but who now only describes himself as a Christian in keeping with scripture ("...and it was first in Antioch that the disciples were by divine providence called Christians." Acts 11:26 - New World Translation) and which attendance at meetings is now significantly attenuated by choice.]