Hellfire justifies torture = Armageddon justifies shunning?

by slimboyfat 9 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • slimboyfat

    A few weeks ago the Watchtower study condemned the teaching of hellfire, among other things, because some religions have used the hellfire doctrine as a justification for torture:

    The false teaching of hellfire has been used to justify torture, including the burning at the stake of those who opposed church teachings. According to a book on the Spanish Inquisition, some of those responsible for this cruelty may have believed that they were only giving heretics “a taste of what perpetual hellfire would be like” so that they would repent before dying and be saved from hellfire.

    It occurs to me that JWs justify disfellowshipping on a similar basis. They claim that shunning causes individuals to change their ways, return to Jehovah, and ultimately survive Armageddon. They would argue that even if shunning is painful (really it is psychological torture, if we are being honest about it) that the pain is worth it if it saves the person from dying at Armageddon. I don’t have any Watchtower quotes but I am sure I have read such sentiments expressed in the Watchtower.

    So if Christendom is condemned for having used hellfire to justify physical torture, doesn’t Watchtower stand condemned for using Armageddon to justify the psychological torture of disfellowshipping and shunning? Is that a fair comparison to make? A big difference, of course, is that Christendom stopped justifying torture centuries ago, whereas Watchtower continues to promote psychological torture.

  • Xanthippe

    Most religions use fear of final judgement to manipulate their members to obey.

    What I find most objectionable is JWs use of Jesus' torturous and likely fictitious death to guilt members into a life of sacrifice and deprivation.

  • blondie

    The WTS has said that under the Law code, some things were punishable by death. Under those circumstances, it was apparent why family and friends could have no contact or communication with that person.

    The WTS said that jws who were disfellowshipped for sins that were punishable by death under the Law code should be shunned, since they are as good as dead if they stayed in that situation.

  • Sigfrid Mallozzi
    Sigfrid Mallozzi

    SlimBoy, good point. At least JW's don't throw people into the water and judge an innocent person would sink but a witch would bob on the surface like the early American witch trials.

    When I am lonely, often lately, I have to remind myself that I am in the winner's circle. My life is more peaceful without Witness family.

  • sparky1

    I wholeheartedly agree, Slimboy. Christendom uses Hellfire to keep their congregants 'in line' and Jehovah's Witnesses use the fear of Armageddon to keep their congregants 'in line'. Fear and not love seems to be the religious leaders primary 'spiritual (psychological) tool' for ruling their flocks.

  • Wonderment

    SB: "So if Christendom is condemned for having used hellfire to justify physical torture, doesn’t Watchtower stand condemned for using Armageddon to justify the psychological torture of disfellowshipping and shunning? Is that a fair comparison to make?"

    Fear of Armageddon (or, hellfire) used to justify extreme measures of psychological torture via disfellowshipping and shunning is a fair comparison, but more likely COMBINED with the common inherent belief within the organization that Jehovah's Witnesses are exclusively God's people, which in their mindset truly justifies all the corresponding detrimental actions (authoritarian control, lack of free speech, etc.) brought about the concept of "unity at all costs."

  • Vidiot
    slimboyfat - "...Is that a fair comparison to make?"

    Disturbingly fair, IMO.

  • Vidiot

    re. sparky1's & Wonderment's posts...

    All fundamentalisms are overwhelmingly fear-based.

    All of them. No exceptions.

    And a huge part of why is the complete inability of authoritarian leaders to conceive that their followers might actually do something out of a sense of goodness and decency.

    As far as they are concerned, humanity is inherently bad, and thusly needs to be kept on a short leash for its own damn good, and everyone else's...

    ...that mankind has no actual "better nature", and therefore the fear of discipline (however it's presented) is the only truly effective means of keeping them on said leash.

  • slimboyfat

    Vidiot, what you say makes sense, yet I read something today that makes me challenge it slightly. Because I’ve been reading about Mormons (who I would consider to be on the spectrum of high control groups) who interestingly reject the concepts of “depravity” and “original sin”. I’ll quote what I read:

    “Mormonism rejects the notion that man’s condition is best described as ‘depravity’. Nowhere within Mormon theology is its optimism concerning man’s natural condition more clearly apparent than in this denial of the Christian doctrine of original sin... in contrast with the orthodox Christian notion that the fall resulted in a condition of human depravity, the Mormon view asserts that the fall was a necessary condition for man to realise his ultimate potential... to the Mormon the fall is a fall upward rather than downward.” Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (1981), 192-193.

    So in contrast with JWs, strict Calvinists, and many other Christians, I think Mormons would say that humans are fundamentally good in nature rather than bad. Yet they still manage to be a high control group. Brahma Kumaris also seem to teach that the human soul is fundamentally good, yet they also display controlling characteristics.

    I also found this article about Jains to be quite disturbing.


    Having said all that, I mostly agree with the point you make, that controlling religions tend to emphasise bad human nature, whereas more liberal groups tend to emphasise the good in human nature: the Quakers, with their “something of the divine in everyone”, and Unitarians with their belief in the basic dignity of all people, are cases in point.

  • Vidiot

    @ slimboyfat...

    Huh, I didn't know that about LDS theology.

    Goes a long way towards explaining why - despite being on the "high-control-group spectrum" (I really like that, BTW) - they're still more like the WTS's nicer - if weirder - older cousin, then the raging assholes you often see amongst more mainstream-fundy Christianity.

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