I have been reading a text called: “Determined to Believe” – by Prof John C. Lennox. He discusses theological determinism. It is a rather interesting text. Much deeper and more stimulating than anything published by the WTBTS publishing house. Prof Lennox does not consider nor mention Jehovah’s Witnesses but some of his observations can be directly related to their organisation which the governing body vaunts so readily. On page 82, he makes the following observation…
“… theological systems or paradigms can sometimes become so powerful that they end up defining what Scripture is or is not allowed to mean, so that ‘taking Scripture seriously’ means accepting a particular theological system and fitting all Scripture into it. It is therefore wise to recall that, just as science did not create the universe, systematic theology did not produce the Bible. Our ‘isms’ with their systems and paradigms are not infallible. Furthermore, although systems of theology can be of great help, the Bible itself was not in the main written in systematised form. So, just as we must be prepared to allow the universe to correct our scientific paradigms, we must also allow Scripture to control our theological systems. …We must, therefore, be prepared to ask ourselves: do I read the text in this way because of what it says, or because of the colour of the spectacles (the nature of the paradigm) through which I am looking at it?”
“Determined to Believe” – by Prof John C. Lennox
The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society aka The Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, aka The International Bible Students Association is a good example of an institution which has adopted a system / paradigm which determines what Scripture is or is not allowed to mean. The trouble is that the JW institution has a copious sprinkling of authors who aren’t terribly good at their job – I mean the governing body of JWs (GBoJW) and their helpers in the writing and teaching committees. An example is their trying to find Scriptural support for their doctrine that Jehovah has always, and indeed presently, works through an earthly organisation headed by a governing body. They claim that the God approved organisation is the one established by Jehovah’s Witnesses. They cite the Apostle Paul’s approach to the congregation in Jerusalem in the first century (circumcision dispute) as evidence of their assertion of an organisation (1st century governing body) being used. This in itself is quite a fallacious assertion and devoid of any evidence for the Bible doesn’t mention an organisation or a governing body . It was those individuals in Jerusalem (which the modern day GBoJW claim to be the governing body of the 1st century organisation) which insisted that individuals had to be circumcised. It was they who were corrected by the Apostle Paul who cited the authority of Scripture.
However, the GBoJW today ignore Scripture which directly impacts upon the assertion of God using an organisation. Such scriptures include….
Heb 1:1,2 – “God, who long ago spoke on many occasions and in many ways to our forefathers by means of the prophets, 2 has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things”.
This scripture doesn’t sound like God has or is working through an organisation. Rather, it paints a picture of God working through chosen individuals (prophets). The last such chosen individual was his Son Jesus. The Scripture states that he was appointed heir not of a few things, or some things, of many things, but rather, “of all things”. Thus, there is no scope for a sharing of authority or influence with an entity such as the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Similarly, another scripture which rules out the possibility of the position of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and it’s “organisation” being founded in Scripture is Matt 28:18 which states… “ Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: ‘All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.’ ” Again, notice that the statement is unequivocal. It leaves no space for the paradigm of the GBoJWs assertion of their being a chosen organisation which God is working through. Their assertion has to be erroneous as - not some authority, not much authority, but “all authority” has been vested in Jesus. That they abrogate Jesus’ authority de facto and annexe such for themselves is to infer that Jesus was somehow mistaken and that they know better! Jesus is not alone in being marginalised however in that the GBoJW seek to keep the authority and influence of the “superior authorities” at bay. Indeed, they are spending large sums of money in legal / court fees to that end when it comes to child abuse victims seeking redress.
One more example of the GBoJW wearing “coloured spectacles” is as follows….
You will note that in recent times, JWs behind the lectern are almost exclusively attired in a two or three piece suit. Gone are the days when one might be accepted behind the lectern wearing a dark blazer and grey trousers, even though this is still seen as sartorial. Nope – it must be a suit. Yet when it comes to what Scripture says about attire, one of the few references is at 1 Tim 2:9 wherein it is said…. “Likewise I desire the women to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress…” In the Awake of Aug 8th 1998 entitled – “The Bible’s Viewpoint Your Dress and Grooming – Does It Matter to God?” the following points are detailed…
“… the truths taught by Jesus were intended to liberate people from the oppressive burdens created tradition and false teachings. They were designed to refresh those ‘toiling and loaded down’. Neither Jesus nor his Father, Jehovah God, has any desire to control people’s lives to the extent that individuals can no longer take initiative and exercise their own reasoning on personal matters…. Within the Christian arrangement, dress and grooming are basically a matter of personal taste.”
What a nice balanced statement. What good example of deferring to scripture. Yet today, 20 years later, you must wear a suit behind the lectern. The trouser leg mustn’t be tight fitting (tight pants in the USA). So the advice and counsel from that Awake in 1998 and based on the Bible is now discarded in favour of the preferences of a highly directive elite in the suburbs of New York. What is also remarkable is that this requirement is being implemented universally and without dissent on the part of JW BoE all over.
Well, in the past I wrote on this blog site why I could never again be an elder in the JW organisation. (https://www.jehovahs-witness.com/topic/6049665497694208/one-reason-why-could-never-again-elder) Now however, I cannot even be an ordinary Jehovah’s Witness. I can’t bear it. Indeed that they refer to themselves still as Jehovah’s Witnesses is gross as they follow the teachings and edicts of the GBoJW. Any deference to scriptural authority is contingent upon what the GBoJW says on a given matter or scripture. I was approached by an elder in my congregation by telephone to arrange for me to benefit from a shepherding call. I thanked him for his interest but explained that “Jehovah is my Shepherd, I shall lack nothing” (Ps 23:1 NWT). He then suggested we meet for a coffee and I thanked him again and that I would be pleased to contact him when I feel like a coffee. Haven’t heard from the BoE since. I rather think they know that they’d do well to leave me alone rather than arouse my ire!
So to conclude, I’m not at all keen on the “the colour of the spectacles” which the GBoJW are wearing to understand scripture. They show no evidence of adjusting their paradigm to Scripture. If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, you should be greatly troubled at the increasing and pervasive hegemony of the GBoJW over the congregations. Their self-promotion is surely an evidence of them thinking more of themselves than it is necessary to think. If you were to be accused of being a follower of man rather than a follower of Christ, how would you give a rebuttal when most JWs are so deferential and obsequious regarding the GBoJW? How would you defend yourself against the accusation of creature worship?