Faith, where now?

by Theburstbubble 36 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • David_Jay

    Thereis a significant difference between "faith" as taught by Jehovah's Witnesses and what non-JW Christians generally experience. Knowing the difference may help you make a decision, one that may help you find a religion that adds to your life, or like Cofty states, discover that a non-religious path fits you better.

    Jehovah's Witnesses see faith as a response that believers are totally responsible for. For them it is based on a scholastic approach: studying the Bible and linking texts to come to conclusions that demonstrate a particular logic, one generally supporting Wachtower concepts. The study produces conclusions that are called "evidence" upon which to create or support beliefs. Mental acknowledgment and heartfelt devotion to these conclusions is what is called "faith" among the Witnesses. Any doubtful thoughts must be readily dismissed and are often seen as a sign that one is not a "true believer."

    In mainstream Christian theology "faith" is a supernatural virtue. While like the Witnesses it consists of a personal response that includes assent of the mind and the will, according to religious people it has a divine dimension that without makes it totally impossible. Unlike JW doctrines which require belief based on the study and research and complete action of the devotee, the other type allegedly results in belief through an action of God which the devotee does not personally generate.

    Scripture and Christian doctrine refers to religious faith as a product or "fruit" of contact with the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5.22) Unlike Watchtower "faith" which is supposed to be the result of study and contact with the Governing Body, this other "faith" comes from some sort of contact with God. The contact allegedly results in revelation that allows persons to arrive at conclusions or assent to religious "truths" that could not fully believed in by pure human effort. (Compare Galatians 1.11-12 with Matthew 16.15-17) Whereas Witnesses often claim that they believe in their unique doctrines through their own efforts of study, beliefs backed by "evidence" and reason, the other type is said to be a stand-in or personal resolve when there is no evidence or reason to work with, even when there is nothing but reason for doubt.--Hebrews chapter 11.

    So for those looking for a church or religion along Christian lines, one's choice is generally made depending on which path may aid in bringing about this response. For them it is about coming into contact with something that is transcendent, generally defies reason, and causes a person to respond with "leaps of faith," courageous steps which generally would not be done by the same individual alone.

    This in no way means that a non-theist way is any less courageous. Not all persons take a path that adds to the community of humanity by a religious practice. If you find that nothing speaks to you in the religious world and that you are more taken to adopt convictions based on more humanistic effort, a fulfilling life can also be found according to the testimony of many atheists.

    Again, if religion seems to be the path that calls to you, unlearn the Witness way of doing things. Religion is supposed to be the embracing of something greater, that transcends, that recognizes that we can't know everything or expect to be totally right about everything. Belief in this send becomes the result of some spiritual contact, not the manner in which one makes themselves religious.

    If you wish to be part of a religion, be sure it is a way that helps you be free to be yourself, not something that takes that freedom away from you or makes you think you can judge others for taking paths exercising similar freedom but holding different convictions.

  • elbib

    Dear Theburstbubble,

    You are on the right track—You remember God (make this as your hobby).

    In addition, try to be always in the NOW which means you are in heaven (going out of the NOW means you are in hell). This will ensure prosperity—both material and spiritual

  • David_Jay

    And I almost forgot...

    Ritual can be a means to this transcendent contact that leads to belief and faith. Ritual played an important part in the Jewish worship at the Tabernacle and later the Temple. The first Christian services were based on a type of ritual called "liturgy," portions of which are found in the New Testament. All modern liturgies are based both on the Jewish tabernacle/Temple service and the oldest written liturgy or Mass composed by the first bishop of Jerusalem, St. James the Greater. The JW meetings are just classes in Watchtower theology, dry and devoid of spiritual experience as they are of ritual. One has to receive catechesis in the ritual of these services to see their ancient connections and meanings, and why they have been preserved for generations.

  • tornapart
    I don't find God in a building.. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that there didn't have to be a 'place' to worship God, people would worship in spirit and truth. He railed against the organised religion of his day and told the people that there were only 2 commandments to keep, to love God and love their neighbour (and the good Samaritan parable showed it was everyone). Go outside and enjoy the nature there, take your bible, read some of Jesus words and pray. You will soon find that he isn't in a church or a KH... he's right there with you.
  • no-zombie
    While I still attend the meetings for my wife's sake, inwardly I know that the Organization is no more right than any other. And so (for me at least) going to another church, even if it was once a month, would truthfully be no different. One of the things that stuck in my mind from the writings of Bro. Franz was the correcting of something that Witness are often told. Its often said "Where shall will we go to" but in reality the Bible said not where but to whom. That being that case, its our belief in Jesus and our continued belief in him that is important. And I believe that we have more chance of building that up by doing a personal act of kindness to a stranger (as Jesus would have done), taking a small amount of time to just read and think about the ordinary lives of first century Christians for ourselves, or to even sitting in the garden stuyding the simple beauty of single flower ... than listening to the machine produced Watchtower Study articles in the meeting. I know that this may not answer you question exactly Theburstbubble, but the thing that all of us have to understand once coming to know the real Truth, is that there is a big difference in being Spiritual as compared to being Religious. And that I think is the real crux of the matter.
  • FayeDunaway

    One can be both spiritual and religious if that is ones personality.

    Worshipping in community feels really good to me. I absolutely love it. I know it's not for everyone. But if someone desires to do so, why suggest otherwise? As long as high control churches are avoided and you realize no church is filled with perfect people, it's lovely. I had no one but a few exwitness friends before I joined a new church. They are my family now.

  • David_Jay

    Correction on my last post: In describing the earliest of liturgies, my post should read that it is ascribed to St. James the Just.

    As to how people in churches with ritual learn Scripture, did you know that the Watchtower never told you that we would not have Scripture if it were not for these ritual liturgies?

    The canon of Scripture, both Jewish and Christian, were determined by their use in liturgy. (For those of you who were kept in the dark about religion history while in the Watchtower, "liturgy" is a formal worship service; it is like a script to follow, stating what prayers get said, what psalms get sung, what Scripture texts get said, and on what day of the year this happens.) The Jewish Tabernacle/Temple liturgy consisted of prayers which became the psalms. Some of these were chanted or sung between a leading priest and the worshiping audience, often in responsorial antiphons where the audience repeated a chorus in reply to the worship leader, such as found in Psalm 136.

    The Temple service became adjusted for smaller synagogue service. This liturgy used an annual cycle of readings from the Torah and the other books of what would become the Jewish Scriptures, read on a schedule that marked the annual festivals prescribed by the Law.

    The earliest Christian liturgies, like the above mentioned, adapted the synagogue service. But they introduced two new facets: Justin Martyr, writing in the 150s CE, stated that "on the day called after the sun there takes place a meeting....The memoirs of the apostles are read, as are the writings of the prophets...When the reader has finished, the president, in his speech, admonishes and urges all....Then we all stand and pray together aloud. When the prayers are ended, we greet one another with a kiss. At that point, as we have already said, bread is brought, with wine mixed with water."

    These items were used for a weekly Eucharist/communion service. Justin wrote that "none is allowed to share unless he believes the things we teach are true....For we do not receive them as ordinary bread and ordinary wine, but as Jesus Christ our Savior."

    The texts used in common around the world in this liturgy eventually became the Christian Scripture canon, originally consisting of the Alexandrine Septuagint for the canon of the Old Testament and establishing the New Testament by the end of the 4th century. People learned the Scriptures by hearing them read on a cycle similar to the synangogue service, except these cycles became based on the birth, life, ministry, Passion, and resurrection of Christ throughout the year instead of the Jewish festivals.

    The Bible was not available to individuals either in ancient Israel or even the first centuries of Christianity. Besides the canon being unsettled for Christians until the late 300s and literacy levels being low, widespread ownership of the Bible did not occur until the famous barefoot walk of the poor Welsh girl, Mary Jones, inspired Bible societies in the mid 1800s throughout the West to find a way to invent a way to provide Bibles for all.

    Russell was born into a world where a loud minority of Adventists (and other new movements from the Second Great Awakening era in the USA) promoted an ignorant history that made it sound as if all people have always had access to a copy of the Scriptures since the first century, but had been oppressed from free Bible study by "papists and liturgical Protestantism." The truth is that individual Bible ownership is a relatively modern phenomenon that was born about 80 or so years before World War I. Prior to this there were almost no means to provide Bibles to anyone except mostly churches and the rich, and most people learned the Bible in church groups or from the liturgy and catechesis (as well as Protestant Sunday schools).

    American New Religious Movements which discarded the liturgy (most due to simple ignorance), developed religious "services" based on Protestant Sunday school settings, and not due to historical research on how Christians originally worshiped. The Watchtower religion came from these uneducated groups who made up an impossible first century "history" where "true Christians" went about preaching and studying from their personal copies of the Bible...despite the fact that such a history was totally impossible, false, and a fantasy of the stupid.

  • hooberus

    Bubble, there are few even professing Christians here. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" 1 Cor. 3:11.

    Faith should be in him. The biblical Jesus has always existed (Micah 5:2, John 8:58).

    It's hard to find a solid church, even in the U.S. Most have adopted some form of works salvation.

  • hooberus
    As far as where now? Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
  • Alive!

    I've been to a few baptist services - it seems there is room for diverse perspectives within the congregations - I don't see it as a future 'home'...but I'll visit.

    I have a very strong spiritual hunger.....I used to love the JW bible studies way back, I just can't stomach that I had no choice but to accept teachings as current 'truth' at the time, when later, much is adjusted and changed, after I had seriously worked hard to study and make a particular 'old' interpretation 'work'.

    I hated religion when I first met the witnesses.....I thought they were 'different' - over the years I couldn't live with a hurt conscience when I strongly could hear manipulative language and unloving guilt tripping.....and so much more.

    Be patient. Church of England is extremely ritual based, so no surprises there. It wouldn't be for me as a 'home'.

    I'm not looking for a church 'home' right now - but I find beauty and spiritual richness in participating in life and trusting that a greater purpose exists....

    The org frightened me towards the end. Maybe I could have lived in the bubble if I had kept my head down, but I couldn't in all good conscience represent an organisation which I believe has a dangerously damaging culture.

    Try getting involved in community driven aid, joining groups who are committed to helping fellow folk. You may find like minded believers who you can comfortably build friendships with....and at the same time, serve. But this way, you don't get to count terrible was that?!!!!

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