While there are a couple of lines in the WT articles that say we can offer a suggestion, or perhaps think slightly differently (usually on matters of conscience) we both know how this works out in reality.
I would argue that the Society’s publications are laced with suggestions that not all Witnesses see some serious issues identically. I would also differ in that I feel the Society has on numerous occasions admitted in rather explicit ways that some Witnesses hold divergent views from the WTS. As for reality, reality is that in casual conversation Witnesses will confess to their closest Witness friends a host of disagreements with the Society. It is not unusual at all for two or more elders to sit and speak together casually about some divergent view that one or more of them hold to.
- a Witness can write in and offer a suggestion, and after that he must simply leave the matter at that.
I have argued often that the Society should increase its tolerance for divergent thought amongst JWs. On the other hand, the Society’s intolerance is not as confining as you portray it. Commonly those who write with suggested changes will over a period of time write numerous follow-up letters on whatever their subject is. The thing the Society is really concerned about is that the individual not create division among the brothers over whatever the issue is.
- a Witness will be compelled to bring his thinking in line into what is presently taught by the Society, and not encouraged to stand his ground if he believes his understanding is in closer harmony with Scripture. A divergent thought is always considered to be in error where it deviates from the Society.
It is true that Witnesses are not typically encouraged to stand their ground regarding some divergent notion. On the other hand, the Society does not necessarily force an individual to bring his or her thinking into total and absolute agreement with the WTS either. Again, the Society’s primary concern is that discord is not sown over the issue.
Also, a divergent thought is not necessarily dismissed as error either. If that were so then the Society would not be known for the very thing they are known for, namely change.
- A Witness could not publicly state (ie. door to door or congregation) that he disagrees with certain parts of the message. He could be required to distribute and teach things he does not conscientiously agree with. That is dishonest.
No one is required to distribute or teach anything they disagree with. Frankly, one of the reasons more Bible studies are not conducted is because many publishers are troubled by some teachings and therefore find themselves unable to teach them. Instead, if they remain publishers, they focus their work on distributing material that is consistent with their conscience. A number of these publishers have bravely shared their dilemma with the Society.
As for stating specific divergent thoughts from the KH platform or in the formal door-to-door work, yes, the Society would probably view that as sowing discord and would most likely advise local elders to stop such actions at once, at least as coming from a recognized congregation publisher.
- A person cannot get baptized if he does not say yes to the 2 questions or has reservations about a quantity of the questions in the OM book.
That is true but also neither here nor there regarding our discussion. Those persons are veritable infants when it comes to details of what the Society teaches on many subjects. Over time they will come to have questions of their own and probably some objections too. It is at that point that the Society’s tolerance or intolerance becomes an issue. Prior to baptism an individual can just decide not to join. With the exception of JW children that choice is no big deal. In the case of JW children they are better off questioning things in advance rather than down the road.
These are just some things off the top of my head. I could come up with more. I'd also have no problem coming up with articles condemning "independent thinking".
As for independent thinking, here is more information about that subject. There is more than one perspective on that subject. You might try the following link. [url= http://discussion.witnesses.net/Forum67/HTML/000013.html]Freedom Of Thought and Expression[/url]
The amount of tolerance for holding divergent views is so small that it makes an inquisition look good. I've learned the hard way that to fit in you must keep any divergent views to yourself. (Why do you think Witnet now has a "controversial" forum. Try dropping a divergent thought over at Witnessesonline)
I do not agree with the current level of tolerance amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses as induced by the Society, neither do I agree that the current level of tolerance is anywhere near the stifling effects of the inquisition period.
Every change of something from a disfellowshipping matter to a conscience one clearly shows that they were teaching as doctrine what was a command of men. People were kicked out and stripped of their dignity for following their conscience in other words. This is horribly wrong.
That somewhat gets us back to the heart of possible applications of Romans 16:17. Do you think it is possible to be correct about an issue and still cause more damage than good by the manner in which we introduce or circulate that idea? I think that question has merit and is to some degree a necessary one in light of the text of Romans 16:17. What do you think?