by Nicholaus Kopernicus 10 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Nicholaus Kopernicus
    Nicholaus Kopernicus


    In Catholicism, the magisterium is the authority that lays down what is the authentic teaching of the Church. For the Catholic Church, that authority is vested uniquely in.....

    A) the pope and

    B) the bishops who are in communion with him, and

    C) Sacred Scripture and Tradition

    Historically, this is rejected in protestantism in favour of sola scriptura. This is described as the Protestant Christian doctrine that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. Sola scriptura does not deny that other authorities govern Christian life and devotion, but sees them all as subordinate to and corrected by the written word of God.

    Sola scriptura is a formal principle of many Protestant Christian denominations. It was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the Reformers, who taught that authentication of Scripture is governed by the discernible excellence of the text as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man. Some Evangelical and Baptist denominations state the doctrine of sola scriptura more strongly: Scripture is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter ("Scripture interprets Scripture"), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine.

    For their part, Jehovah's Witnesses would laugh at any suggestion that they model their paradigm of doctinal authority on any triangulated idea like a magisterium. Rather, they would most likely have an intellectual affinity with sola scriptura. For example, in lesson 3 of the 2012 released brochure "Who Are Doing Jehovah's Will Today?", the following is portrayed as normative practice regarding bible study method and interpretation...

    "Sincere men carefully studied the Bible. Those earnest Bible Students, our predecessors, pursued a method of study that we still use today. They discussed the Bible subject by subject. When they came across a Bible passage that was difficult to understand, they looked for other verses to explain it. When they arrived at a conclusion that harmonized with the rest of the Scriptures, they wrote it down. By thus letting the Bible interpret itself, they rediscovered the truth about God’s name and Kingdom, his purpose for mankind and the earth, the condition of the dead, and the hope of the resurrection. Their search set them free from many false beliefs and practices.—John 8:31, 32."

    But in reality, this is not quite the case. For example, despite what is reproduced above, the reality is more like that stated in the Ministry School text (Study 22 - Scriptures Correctly Applied) where it is said....

    Make sure that any application of a scripture is in harmony with the context and with the Bible as a whole. The application should also be in harmony with what has been published by “the faithful and discreet slave.”

    Thus, Brothers and Sisters are to be deprived of the freedom to interpret scriptures for themselves. So here we have the duality of the Bible being a source of information in interpreting itself; but one has to be in deference to the understanding of the "faithful and discreet slave". Are we creeping towards the paradigm of a magisterium here? From this statement, it seems that the "faithful and discrete slave" no longer agree with the Apostle Paul who stated that via scripture, the man of God can be "completely equipped". No, it is both Scripture and the "faithful and discreet slave" which are needed to be "completely equipped". So the unstated reality seems to be that Jehovah's Witnesses have rediscovered the Magisterium....

    A) The Governing Body and Sacred Scripture

    B) The GB helpers and writing committee

    C) The vast body of writings published hitherto and body of established institutional legalisms

    Thus we have a significant connceptual emulation of the institutions of Christendom, and of the Catholic Church in particular. A highly stratified institution of Jehovah's Witnesses which paradoxically seeks to portray itself as a "brotherhood" despite the reality being that it is a "hierarchy". Several years ago, a Dr. Christine King was lauded for her work in positively portraying the Witnesses for their stand against the Nazi state in the 1930's. However, the GB's writing committee remained silent about her written statement in that same work, that the organisation is a "hierarchy". A "Brother" is unlikely to be seen as "noble minded" for being a diligent student of the scriptures in the pattern of sola scriptura. Indeed, he may find that he is labelled negatively as "independent".

    Instead of a Papacy and conclave of Cardinals, we have a Governing Body with its helpers and Branch Overseers (Cardinals) in many countries. One difference is that the Catholic Church openly documents and extolls its Magisterium for arriving at its doctine and teaching. However, the WTBTS / GB / FDS portrays a confused (perhaps even duplicitous) picture of extolling sola scriptura, whilst in reality emulating a type of Magisterium structure. For decades, they have severely disparaged the Catholic Church. This having been said, I note that when a youngster my seniors made use of the idiom that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"!

  • fukitol
    Geoffrey Jackson kept calling the Bible their "constitution" , which I thought a bit odd. Did he mean similar to the American constitution or a company constitution? Either way, those are both manmade, imperfect documents.
  • Half banana
    Half banana

    An interesting comparison and another example of the permanently changing structural conflicts inside the WTBTS.

    I have been watching their unbounded admiration for the RC Church grow, like them, becoming hierarchical (in 1985). Until they were busted by the Guardian Newspaper for belonging to the UN as a NGO, it seemed they had their sights on emulating the Catholics for the purpose of prestige and influence not to mention wealth, to be big hitters on the religious scene. That has been quashed, the bad publicity and court cases and money grabbing are all indicators of decline, dreams of Catholic power have faded. Anyway a doomsday cult is by definition limited to a minor player, condemned as a thorn in the side of orthodoxy.

    Another point which can be made about their 'sola scriptura' is that they use the Bible only to validate themselves and their own viewpoint. Beyond that gaping flaw is the intellectual weakness of the org only making internal comparative scriptural references for decidedly, they never look to test for the authenticity of the texts by investigating the origins, sources and editing history of them. They make the gross mistake of all Bible based religions in believing the Catholic Church's lie that it is the inerrant word of God.


    According to the Bible, there is only one channel of truth. Jesus said that he would send "the helper" to lead his followers into all truth.

    That non-GB approved channel of study does not support the WTBTS Real Estate empire/hierarchy.


  • Nicholaus Kopernicus
    Nicholaus Kopernicus

    Ah yes DATA-DOG:

    I believe you are citing the beautiful words of John 14:26.....

    “I have spoken these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.c 27 I leave you peace; I give you my peace.d I do not give it to you the way that the world gives it. Do not let your hearts be troubled nor let them shrink out of fear. "

    I'm also reminded of a quotation in the Reasoning Book under Government where it says....

    "Every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed. History is a tale of efforts that failed, or aspirations that weren’t realized. . . . So, as a historian, one has to live with a sense of the inevitability of tragedy.”—Henry Kissinger, political scientist and professor of government, as quoted in The New York Times, October 13, 1974, p. 30B"

    The Governing Body would exclude their organisation from Dr. Kissinger's assessment. However, when one mentally (and otherwise) steps out of the organisation and looks in, we can see that same organisation is deteriorating.....

    1. cash liquidity crisis
    2. increasing law suits for acts of depravity against children the perpetrators of which tend to be protected
    3. shepherds who in reality are Temple Police Officers and who bully the sheep
    4. officials throughout the organisation who tend to think more of themselves than it's necessary to think
    5. appaling leadership - capricious and deeply insecure typifying a cornered feral animal ready to bite you
    6. highly stratified rather than the flattened Brotherhood which the Lord Jesus taught and intended
    7. publishing books and journals which don't withstand even an elementary level of peer scutiny
    8. ambivalence / idolatory - extoll the Bible but marginalise it in favour of elevating the FDS
    9. so insecure they (GB) make excessive use of denial rather than the candour extolled in scripture
    10. meetings which can be measured only in degrees of banality and one endures rather than enjoys

    The fixation on real estate is also condemnatory - fruitage which has value on earth certainly, but not at all of any value from a spiritual perspective. What takes place within those many buildings is no longer edifying. The writing committee is suffering from Peter Principle.

  • Half banana
    Half banana
    Nicholas, whereas you praise the beauty of the familiar scriptures it seems that you too take them on face value and want to believe them. The Bible is the work of religious pedagogues, selected to control people and comfort them. As I stressed before JWs only cross-reference, that is the limit of their vision of truth but reality takes into account the reason why the Bible was compiled. Beliefs have no universal value unless they are based on tangible evidence. Internal cross-referencing of scripture is ignorance. Belief in spirits and a spirit world is to give your life away to the controllers of your imagination.
  • Nicholaus Kopernicus
    Nicholaus Kopernicus

    Hello Half Banana:

    Not at face value. I enjoy getting to the meaning of the scripture in its original language. One such example is the over used scripture among JW''s of Hebrews 13:17 - "Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you..." This is used to control many JW's that's true. However, upon looking at the original language one can discern the following about "Be obedient" as used in the aforementioned scripture....

    "Πείθεσθε" (Greek from Kingdom Interlinear)

    VINES: "to persuade, to win over," in the Passive and Middle Voices, "to be persuaded, to listen to, to obey," is so used with this meaning, in the Middle Voice, e.g., in Acts 5:36-37 (in Acts 5:40, Passive Voice, "they agreed"); Rom. 2:8; Jas. 3:3; Gal. 5:7; Heb. 13:17; ...... " So the "obedience" suggested is not by submission to authority, but resulting from persuasion.

    However, this is often ignored by those among JW's who hold positions of authority. During a Sunday meeting earlier this year, I referenced the latter material and other information due to the local BoE having made a rule affecting me, and without any authority. I was subsequently warned by the CoBE about my answers. I gave a rebuttal to his warning by stating that everything in my answer was from Scripture, the Insight volume, and a magazine (thus avoiding subjectivity on my part and for my protection). This was ignored by him and I have not been back to any meetings of that congregation since. I warned the BoE as a whole to desist from visiting me or in any way trying to establish contact with me citing three pieces of legislation. I have not heard from any of them. Thus, I cannot concur that I'm being controlled in my case. Rather, I refuse to be controlled by JW's. However, I do get comfort from the Scriptures. This I did before becoming a JW. However, I no longer describe myself as a JW having reasoned on JW history and NWT - Acts 11:26. If you are interested, see my reasoning at

    Best wishes in your pursuit of philosophy.

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    Let me congratulate you Nicholaus K on your determination to stand up against JW ‘authority.’

    I say you are reading the Bible on “face value” because it is the instinct of the Bible reader to do that, to believe what he or she is reading... and not to find fault. It is what you do if you are a believer.

    Having had the luxury (and pleasure!) of not being a JW for many years, I look back and cringe at my gullibility in the past. I too looked at the Greek language to try and gain some insight. But it is like praising a piece of glass cut deceptively into the shape of a diamond. We fussed over the details and facets and meaning of words as if to get at some supernatural truth, to enjoy closeness to some invisible force at the heart of the universe. If you will forgive me being so blunt; it is an illusion, a fraud. It was the Roman Church which compiled the Bible and labelled it ”sacred.” There is no divinity behind it otherwise it would not be so full of contradictions and grotesque inhuman behaviour passed off as divine will. If the Bible was from God it would not repeat vivid folk legends and elevate them to holy truth. Only in the rear view mirror is all of this is hidden from the ’true believer’.

    The antidote is critical thinking. Instead ask: Why was this written? Which earlier documents is it copied from? When is the first time in literature or art that we hear or see this concept? Where did this idea originate? Why is this story being told? Who actually wrote it first (as opposed to the conventional attribution)? Is it possible that this actually happened? Is there any corroboration of this episode from reliable eyewitnesses or secular reports? Do we have a history of handwritten texts covering the same matter, with which to compare? Are our sources impartial and scholarly? On this last matter there are many who are called Bible scholars...don’t listen to them! Consider instead the researches and arguments of the textual scholars of ancient history in the Middle East who spend their academic careers immersed in the languages, archaeology and historical evidence from that area.

    ”Bible based scholars” on the other hand, can never arrive at a goal of understanding because they are looking in the wrong place namely: the Bible. The life and political bluster of the Israelites and their gods is small fry compared to the great political and religious forces of the region, Babylon, Assyria, Egypt and later Persia. These are the true sources of the Hebrew Bible and its texts, not the bovine idol Yahweh, the son of El.

    Early Christianity is best described from a knowledge of social history and the sociology of the period (what they had, what they did and why they did it)...This includes an understanding of the mythology of the earlier Christ cults especially the Dionysian and Orphic cults and the Christian eschatology which is drawn wholesale from Mithraism. A knowledge of Gnosticism and Greek philosophy of the time is very revealing and also familiarity with the contemporary Roman religious ethos. It is shocking to find that the Bible is almost entirely UNORIGINAL.

    However we are all on a journey out of the Watchtower and we are at liberty to take any path we wish but I am suggesting that most of us realise eventually if not sooner, that the Bible does not stand up to any serious scrutiny as a divine work; it is entirely human in origin.

  • Nicholaus Kopernicus
    Nicholaus Kopernicus

    Hello again Half Banana:

    It is true that I do not embark upon Bible reading with a view to "finding fault". Rather, I read and engage in reflection / in meditation. To an extent, I borrow from the method(s) outlined in "Lectio Devina".

    I have nothing against critical thinking either - but my focus for such tends to be on the WTBTS and to a lesser extent, other institutions / businesses. I recollect an interview given by Dr. Daniel Goleman several years ago (author of "Emotional Intelligence") who stated that there are basically three types of organisation....

    a) Bottom line - goes to the very edge of legality (what it thinks it can get away with)

    b) Stakeholder - looks to the interests of both its shareholders and customers

    c) Ethical - governed by morality and ethics in conducting itself

    Increasingly, my critical thinking tends towards me finding the WTBTS is a bottom line organisation. However, it is exceedingly good at putting on the most respectable of veneers.

    Your method of examing the scriptures is not for me I'm afraid. As I said earllier, I enjoyed the Bible before I became a JW and continue to enjoy it now that I am (so I perceive anyway) on a slow path of egress from "the organisation".

    What you say is interesting though and reminds me of the radio broadcasts every Saturday @ 1430 hrs BST on Premier Christian Radio called "Unbelievable". The progamme usually hosts a discussion between a Christian apologist and an athiest for example. Here are a few such programme themes.....

    22nd August 15 - Is atheism a belief system? Andy Bannister vs Ed Turner

    15th August 15 - The case from science for & against God – Peter Atkins vs Zachary Ardern

    1st August 15 - Do the minimal facts support the resurrection? Gary Habermas & James Crossley

    4th July 15 - John Lennox Premier Lecture - Going Against the Flow

    Most of the broadcasts are still available as a podcast at the following webpage and might be of interest you.....

    I note your comment about Greek philosophy. This and other philosophies are quite interesting. I cannot but help thinking that the apostle Paul was influenced by the Greek philosophy in his time due to his statement at Romans 1:20 - "For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable." This strikes me as being rather like the reasoning of Aristotle and used later by Aquinas.

    A modern individual who's work I enjoy reading is that of Isaiah Berlin, who wrote extensively about freedom (positive and negative freedom). Exposure to his work contributed significantly to me seeing the WTBTS for what it really is, but the catalyst for such an examination was ghastly conduct on the part of the local BoE. I have concluded that they behaved in the way they did as their minds are more continuously exposed to the environment of authority/power/control than are others. Thus they absorb that paradigm and project it to their detriment and that of others. That's my little bit of critical thinking for today!

    This site we are sharing on is a fascinating one to read as there are a large number of individuals who are in one way or another "on a journey out of the Watchtower" as you put it. It is utterly incredulous, that the WTBTS urges so much effort into the recruitment of individuals on the one hand, only to devalue, bully, and otherwise control them such that those individuals at some time or other embark on an exit. So in many respects the WTBTS is rather self defeating.

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    The JW org is like a bear which rolls over and thoughtlessly crushes its own cubs.

    Btw, we share a love of Isaiah Berlin, his essays in The Proper Study of Mankind make for a great bedtime read.

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