“Now Jehovah is the Spirit; and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom” 2 Corinthians 3:17
I see a common attitude in ex-Jw’s that I at one time would have said “see, that’s the way apostates are.” It is the mutual resentment of being controlled. Some might find this to be normal considering the abuse of authority most have survived. It could be an elevated sensitivity to being controlled that we always had and that’s why we are here. This can’t be all bad considering the first mention of the concept of human dominance in the Bible was in the context of suffering.(Gen. 3) While some submission is required by God, I have the feeling dominance of any sort was not what God wanted.
I think you have to come out and define what you understand to be freedom? I am extremely skeptic to the concept of “freedom” as it appears in the Bible.
Neither Jesus nor Paul seemed to have any real idea about what freedom is. According to the Bible Jesus told us that we had to “believe” in him or else. If we don’t we do not deserve to exist. So his freedom is “do as I say or burn in hell forever.” Paul’s message isn’t much better.
Now merge this with the Kingdom of God issue. We Jw’s have been taught The kingdom of God is a government that deserves our submission because it will solve all mankind’s problems. When I came from the Baptist Church I liked the idea that the Kingdom is a Government because this is obviously what is needed. Who would not want a loving Authority to end suffering, war, poverty, sickness, even death. And Jesus, we are taught, demonstrated he could do all these things by the miracles. I still like this idea. What most of us here do not like is the oppressive control of the human organization that taught most of us these things.
History show us that the Christianity has made overwhelmingly more problems than it has ever solved. The Watchtower Society has adopted Jesus idea and given it their own slant, they say “join our organization or die.” The Watchtower Society is also an excellent representative of the fundamentalist branch of Christendom in the sense that they have been able to stamp “problems” out of thin air, and found problems where non have existed. To name a few examples. In Nordic pre-Christian culture, men and women were equals. In that culture it was customary for whole communities to build bath houses or saunas where the whole community were bathing together at least once a week. There was no shame connected to nakedness and no problems of a sexual nature connected with this arrangement. Of course this became a problem as soon as Christianity came. Much of the same things have happened everywhere Christian missionaries appeared.
But the ‘loving authority’, this Jesus Christ, was never linked with abuse of authority. He rarely ever exercised his authority, except over those who tried to control others. Thus dealing with the Pharisees, even demons, Jesus used his authority to stop abuse, but he himself came to be known as the man of tender mercy, love, and freedom. As the image of God he represented FREEDOM, NOT AUTHORITY.
“YOU were, of course, called for freedom”. Galatians 5:13
I now feel for some resenting authority may simply be a sensitivity to abuse of authority. Anytime our God given freedom is robbed from us or others this emotion is legitimate. I hope those who read this share my feeling that it is not God, the Bible, nor Jesus or the Kingdom that has hurt us, but MEN who abuse authority in the name of God, Jesus or the Kingdom. The Kingdom like the king of the kingdom will not abuse authority. If anything it will stop the abuse and teach freedom just as the King has done. Having accepted the old men in Brooklyn represent the reality of God’s Kingdom about as much as did the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, the idea of the kingdom no longer means to me government and control. I now think of the kingdom as a loving authority ending oppressive government and control.
As long as God and Jesus have basically just given us “freedom” to accept their reality or die/burn in hell, I fail to see that it has anything to do with anything remotely resembling freedom at all. It reminds me a lot about the “freedom” Jehovah's Witnesses have regarding the use of blood. They have the “freedom”
not to use it.
If we are to believe the Bible at all we have no reason to be much impressed with God or Jesus at all. Read these very interesting and legitimate concern’s of Bishop Spong, from his Book, “Rescuing the Bible from the fundamentalists”:
“There are passages in the Gospels that portray Jesus of Nazareth as narrowminded, vindictive, and even hypocritical. Jesus exhorted people to love their enemies and to pray for their persecutors (Matt. 5:44) and never to call others by demeaning or hurtful names (Matt. 5:22), yet he called his enemies a "brood of snakes" (Matt. 12:34), "sons of vipers" (Matt. 23:33), "blind fools" (Matt. 23:17). He called gentiles "dogs" (Matt. 15:26). He said he had come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother (Matt. 10:35). He disowned his own family (Matt. 12:4650), hardly obeying the commandment to "honour your parents." These do not appear to be the words of one dedicated to preserving and strengthening the family, as the fundamentalist preachers have constantly asserted.
Are we drawn to a Lord who would destroy a herd of pigs and presumably a person's livelihood in order to exorcise a demon (Mark 5:13)? Are we impressed when the one we call Lord curses a fig tree because it did not bear fruit out of season (Matt. 21:18, 19)? How divine is the message that says for your finite failings you will be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30)? If the Bible is read literally, it must be said that Jesus seems to have accepted without question the language of hell employed by his religious contemporaries. Is eternal punishment the plan of the all merciful God? Was Jesus mistaken? Was the interpretation of Jesus given in these passages, which come primarily from Matthew, untrustworthy?
No matter how this question is resolved, the literal authority of the Gospels is compromised. Was belief in hell so common that Jesus simply reflected the values of his time unquestioningly? Hardly, since the Sadducees did not believe in any life after death, either as a reward or punishment. We know only that someone was convinced that Jesus did believe and teach that eternal punishment in a fiery hell was an appropriate sentence to pronounce on sinners. Is it? I for one do not believe it. Am I false to Jesus? False to Jesus' interpreters? False to God? I pray not!
Jesus is also depicted, especially in the Book of John, as being guilty of what we today would surely call anti-Semitism. Indeed, the hatred of the Jews that has been the dark underside of Christianity for two thousand years is fed by the pejorative attitudes found in the Christian Scriptures and even in the supposed words of Jesus. It has led to pogroms, ghettos, segregated housing and clubs, defaced synagogues, Krystallnacht, and Dachau. In the name of Jesus, damnation has been pronounced on those who do not accept Jesus' messiahship a charge leveled historically by Christians at the Jews. "His blood be upon us and upon our children," Matthew had the Jewish crowd say when Pilate sought to set Jesus free. From this phrase of Holy Writ the epithet "Christ killer" (Matt. 27:25) has been leveled at Jewish people ever since.
When John used the phrase "The Jews" (John 5:10; 10:19, 24, 31, 33; 19:7, 12, 14, 15) instead of "the Jewish leaders," he fed that corporate guilt that bloomed as bigotry and prejudice. John said that the Jewish people loved darkness more than light, for their deeds were evil (John 3:18 20), and he said the Jews were children of the devil, who was the father of lies (John 8:39 44). These words are hardly designed to build mutual respect. They are, to me, repugnant. Yet they are part of the Bible that many Christians even today ask me to take literally.
Paul added to this fuel by suggesting that Jews were possessed with "a spirit of stupor" that produced "eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear down to this very day" (Rom. 11:8). Finally, the history of the church from Tertullian and John Chrysostom to Jerome to Augustine to Aquinas to Luther to this generation has reflected a killing anti-Semitism that was rooted in the New Testament. Can a book responsible for these things be in any literal sense the Word of God to me? If Jesus was wrong in fact or in attitude, either Jesus himself or Jesus as viewed through Scripture has been compromised. Yet Jesus is presented in the Bible as believing that epilepsy is caused by demon possession (Mark 9:14 29). That is hardly a viewpoint that any of us would share today. He is portrayed as accepting the assumption that deaf muteness results from the tying of the tongue by Satan (Matt. 9:32, 33; 12:22, Luke 11:14). A spirit of infirmity was said by Jesus to result from Satan's binding (Luke 13:11, 16). He seems to have accepted the Davidic authorship of the Psalms (Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42), an attitude and concept quickly dismissed in the circles of biblical scholarship today. Jesus also seems to have accepted the theory of Mosaic authorship of the Torah (Mark 7:10; 10:3; Luke 5:14).
Yet in the Torah there are two creation stories that vary in detail and contradict each other in order (Gen. 1:1 2:4 and Gen. 2:5fo. These stories cannot be harmonized. Poor Moses contradicted himself radically in the first two chapters of the Torah. He also seemed not to know the nationality of the people to whom Joseph's brothers sold Joseph, who took him down to Egypt. In one version it was the Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:25), and in another version it was the Midianites (Gen. 37:28). They are not the same. Moses, as a single author, seems to have been quite confused.
If this were not enough, there are three separate and distinct versions of the Ten Commandments in the Torah that cannot be reconciled (Exodus 20, Exodus 34, and Deuteronomy 5). God was portrayed, if one seeks to maintain a literalism about Holy Scripture, as terribly inept. He (and it was he) could not even get the essence of the divine law clear. In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, God was portrayed as not knowing what was going on in those two cities, so he had to send divine messengers to bring him a report. This is hardly a portrait of divine omniscience.
If one doesn't read the Bible constantly, these issues can be ignored lost in ignorance.”
The Bible is an extremely unreliable source to use when it comes to freedom, moral and authority. Tales of atrocities and horror written by people steeped in the superstition they portray in the Bible are very poor guides to a better life. Mankind was slowly able to wrestle out of the stranglehold of Christendom by enlightenment and science, while fighting against a Church that wanted to kill all knowledge. Democracy, freedom and the way of life we enjoy today was opposed every inch by Christians and it still is in many parts of the world.