We have gathered here because, according to your claims, I have apostatized, and as elders, it is your duty to maintain the purity of the flock. It seems now that someone has contaminated it, apparently. Now, I just want to express my position. For you to decide about my fate, it's your duty to listen, and even more so because you owe this much to me as your brother. If I ask questions in a nutshell, it's not for the purpose of getting answers, but to make you think.
Whether we like it or not, each of us faces moral tests. This is one of life's bitter-sweet components that we cannot escape. It can make us richer or poorer. Everything depends on how we react to this test. We must decide and the decision is rarely easy. Sometimes, it seems to me, there are fewer and fewer deeply convinced people. Most of us find it relatively easy to act in conscience as long as the issues at stake are of little significance. The more significant the issues, the higher the price, the more difficult it becomes to resolve moral issues, to make moral judgments, and to accept the consequences of the decision. When the price is very high, we may find ourselves at a crossroads, facing a real crisis. The easiest choice, and many people, yes even here in the congregation, surround their conscience with a kind of shell of complacency and just "get by" passively, isolating their inner feelings from anything that could disturb them. When important questions arise, instead of taking a stand, they essentially think: "I'll just keep quiet; it might affect others (maybe even hurt them), but not me." Some might live their whole life in this morally passive state. But when all is said and done, and when it's time to answer to Someone, the person who can say of themselves, "at least there was something I stood up for", will surely experience greater satisfaction than one who almost never stood up for anything. Of course, the lives of the individuals in question, or my life, contain very little of such excitement as, say, Tyndale or Michael Servetus, etc. But my struggle is similar and my problem now, in my own way, is no less difficult.
I face the same question as Peter and the Christians of later centuries: the struggle, the doubts (Acts 4:20) to adhere to one's own conscience against pressure from religious authority. What is at stake is the freedom to seek spiritual truth free from arbitrary restrictions, as well as the right to enjoy a personal relationship with God and His Son, free from any human organization trying to stand between us as a priest.
This is an emotional tug of war, multiple paths intersect, and therefore the decision is not easy. On one hand, I feel I must reject human power, which stands between us and our Creator, I must reject religious dogmatism, legalism, and especially authoritarianism, sticking to the teaching that "every man's head" is Jesus Christ, not any religious body created by humans. On the other hand, I face the risk of losing all my friends, experiencing harmful effects on my family relationships. I know what this means to me. I knew it when I first drew my conclusions from the Bible. I knew they would judge me more severely than any other sin. More severely than an idolater, for example, and even more severely than those who have caused people to become fugitives or suicides because the apartment building was not completed. I also know that I practically have no opportunity for repentance before you, because this is a different kind of "sin" than those. will be torn apart from my parents, my siblings, both physically and spiritually. I will no longer be able to freely enjoy time with my old friends, whom I met in the congregation, whom I love; such togetherness would similarly put these friends in danger of official intervention. It arises: were these actual friends? Whose friendship depends on my loyalty to a human organization. I can say that 99% of all my friends came from those who had the same faith as I did. It must be seen that what I've fought for so far becomes nothing in minutes. All because of the sudden official religious intervention. Perhaps any loss, physical abuse, and insult might be easier to bear than this.
What could drive someone to risk such a loss? How many people would do this today? Of course, there are (as there always have been) people who would sacrifice any or all of these for stubborn pride, material gain, power, prestige, high positions, or simply for the desire for physical pleasures. But when there are no such goals in sight, when I've clearly realized that I can expect the opposite of the mentioned goals: what could then motivate me? And what about the others, those who felt it was their duty to participate in these disfellowshipping or to support them? There is no doubt that many of these people were sincere, or that they felt or still feel miserable because of what they consider a necessary religious duty. What conviction and arguments drove them?
Everything could still be retracted, although the sincerity of that would be dubious. And what would it do for me? I can't live a lie, I can't hide what I know (Jer 20:9, Acts 4:20). Not to mention that my conscience wouldn't allow me to live a life of lies. After all, you know me, what's in my heart is on my lips. I still have faults, sins, my only defense is sincerity. And as I've listed the price of all this, do you think knowing all this, I couldn't have kept silent, denied everything in the first minute, and agreed with you? Or that I wouldn't tell anything to my parents? No one would ever have noticed my doubts. But as I said, I can't speak anything but what I've learned from the Bible. Because if I didn't do that, I would belong to that growing group of people I mentioned earlier, who are "just getting by" passively. But then, what will I say when I have to give account? Would there be any sense, purpose to my life in this case?
Therefore, as I see it, it is interesting that some of the most violent steps to limit personal conscience come from religious groups known for defending freedom of conscience and are extremely proud of it. That is, they show the least tolerance. So far, they have brought about fifty cases to the Supreme Court of the United States to defend their freedom of conscience, including their right to carry their message to people of other faiths, even when they face significant hostility. Our publications also write a lot about this.
There is a paradox in this. Despite their vibrant preaching activity, most people actually know little about JWs beyond their position on some conscience issues. They have heard that they don't accept blood, or that they are unwilling to participate in any political activity or hold such office. In other countries, they have experienced cruel persecution, arrests, imprisonments, mob attacks, assaults, and official bans on their literature and preaching.
How is it then possible that today, any person among their members who voices any personal view differing slightly from the teachings of the organization is almost certainly expected to face a judicial hearing and is highly likely to be disfellowshipped, unless they withdraw (but even then, they are watched). What do those conducting these hearings think about the obvious contradictory positions? In parallel, the question arises whether enduring severe persecution and physical abuse from opponents necessarily proves that the person believes it is vitally important to remain faithful to their conscience, or could it be that this is simply the result of wanting to adhere to the teachings and standards of an organization, the violation of which is well known to result in severe disciplinary measures.
What is this? A double standard, which the Lord hates. In response to this: Proverbs 20:23, Matthew 7:2, 23:2,3
It could be said that the issue is not that simple and that other significant issues play a role. What about the need for religious unity and order? What about the need to defend against those spreading false, divisive, and crafty teachings? (What about due respect for authority?)
I acknowledge that ignoring these factors would suggest an extreme perspective. We know that improperly used freedom can lead to irresponsibility, disorder, ultimately resulting in confusion, or even anarchy. Patience and tolerance might merely be an excuse for indecisiveness, delaying action, and lowering standards. Even love can become sentimentality, misguided emotion that fails to take necessary steps, leading to severe consequences. All of this is true and it is what those who want to limit personal conscience by religious power focus on.
What happens then, if spiritual "guidance" turns into subjugation of the mind, even spiritual tyranny? What happens when the desirable characteristic of unity and order is replaced by organizational uniformity and the demand for legislative rule-making? What are the consequences when due respect for authority is transformed into servility, unquestioning subjection, and as a result, individuals give up their personal responsibility before God to make decisions based on their own conscience?
What have I done in the last six months? What is my sin? I sat down to study the Bible because I had a guilty conscience, as I could never meet the measure of personal study prescribed by the Society (I had vowed many times to live according to what they encourage, but only now have I succeeded. On the other hand, I knew that I needed a deeper understanding of things (Acts 17:11). Even so, I could not meet the Watchtower's guidelines by studying the Bible an average of five hours a day, because then there was no time left for preaching. Or for reading the publications. And neither does anyone who, for example, works an 8-hour job. This in itself raises a question. (Matthew 23:4) But it had to be this way, because "you who teach others, do you not teach yourself?" I am aware that the average Witness never does this much, because why would they? After all, they get all the literature ready, which they receive every two weeks, and the many books, etc. occupy so much of their free time that there is hardly any left for the Bible. This urgently needs to be reversed! But getting back to it, my studies led to many unanswered questions, most of which I have not yet received answers to. But I will. (James 1:5, Proverbs 2:6) I did not spread any views, I just asked questions within my family, then my accusers. I really didn't get an answer from them either. But for understanding, I need someone, although this someone is not indispensable (only that Someone up there is indispensable). For if it were, why would God have written the Bible? Surely he wrote it for all people, not just a few initiated people who would pass it on to others. Then where would our personal relationship with Him be? Would He have written it so that no one could understand it, only if there are a few men who tell them what they should believe? God's word is remarkably simple, e.g., Matthew 22:39,40. There is no need to allegorize prophecies and create chronologies from them. God's Word needs to be understood by each individual, because only then does it truly become faith. The real Christian congregation promotes this and encourages us to study the Bible individually. Jehovah also asks for this, so human teachers are not at all indispensable (Hebrews 8:11) If they told us what to believe, it would be completely incomprehensible and worthless to others, not even real faith. Just accepting someone else's opinion, even if they are not convinced and don't even know what it is. And if the communication channel already tells everything, why read the Bible? After all, the Watchtower writes down everything, doesn't it? What is the role of the Watchtower? By this, I don't mean that no one can teach me. For I need this, as I am in my young years and others have more experience than I do. Paul also draws attention to the importance of gatherings, where one could be encouraged to "love and good deeds". He himself wrote: "let our faith be encouraged by each other, mine by yours, yours by mine". But we should not attach too much importance to the publications. The role of the publications: they are colorful and pleasant supplements, but they should definitely only be secondary tools instead of ready and immutable study materials. The real - and preferably only - helper in researching the Bible should be Jehovah's Holy Spirit, and it should lead us in understanding to where Jehovah himself wants, not where man would like. It is a great sin to elevate a human writing to divine level, as one of my accusers did. After all, Watchtower publications are not inspired, and let's admit it, it was a thoughtless, erroneous act on his part (James 1:17, Daniel 12:9). I'm sure the members of the governing body or 70% of JWs would not agree with him. Unless he already considers himself so important, as if we could only reach the knowledge of the Bible through certain people.
What is my sin, actually? That I started reading the Bible, and moreover, WITHOUT the Society's literature. I believe that if I am in the truth, then no doubt arises, or if it does, it can be easily clarified. After all, no matter where we approach the truth, it is unassailable. (1 John 1:21). Although my accusers claimed about me that if I were humble-hearted, I would not approach from the back and side, highlighting negatives, and in case of a correct heart condition, I would weigh the positives. Of course, I repeat, the truth has no negative, no matter how you look at it. Neither in the teachings, nor in the moral or any measure. And it simply cannot be true that Jehovah allows false teachings to be taught, so that they will be enlightened, thus sifting his people. (The changes made, and the changes the future will bring, will be announced even more certainly, not as a correction of the error, but as a result of progressive understanding, and the past doctrines and arrangements which are abolished by these, will be described as 'God's will for that time' - This is simply falsehood) (1 John 1:21b). Why do I say this? Because the truths written in the apostolic times (when, according to the Watchtower Society, the Governing Body was already operating) stand their ground even after 2,000 years, while the "truths" published by the "modern" Governing Body barely held their ground for 50 years. Does the light progress to full noon? For example, 70% of Russel's doctrines are no longer valid, especially those that distinguished the Jehovah's Witnesses from other churches. Should this be the case with the truth? (See James 1:17, Heb 13:8) For example, Russel believed that the higher powers in Romans 13 refer to worldly governments, then it was reinterpreted to mean Jesus and Jehovah, and then back in the 1960s. But we could mention the parable of the sheep and goats, that is, when the separation work takes place. A sane person who reads them in the Bible, JUST ONCE, will come to the correct understanding, without any publication. So does our understanding also enlighten when we go backwards? Then we get beyond the goal, don't we? One only realizes these things when they look at a couple of old Watchtowers or the "Publishers" book. The main teachings, such as Jesus' ransom sacrifice, our hope, etc., which of course did not need to be changed, and I have never had any doubts about these. Most Christian churches teach these anyway. Because it's okay that we don't understand certain things yet. (I have many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now). It's true that Jesus didn't tell everything. But he promised that we will know it later (John 14:16-18, 26, 15:26). But what he told has remained eternally valid (Heb 13:8). So what we already understand, its interpretation certainly does not need to be changed. Which of OUR OWN teachings will stand the test of time and for how long? It is very clear that one of the main doctrines from which most can be derived is 1914. Unfortunately, there are overwhelming biblical evidences against it, which I do not wish to list, but upon your request, I can do this after the trial. Time is increasingly proving that the doctrine defended by tooth and nail cannot be maintained. The first sign of this is that the generation doctrine had to be changed, as it was ridiculous in the previous way. Because, with each passing year, it takes more effort to maintain the 1914 teaching and the divine appointment associated with it. As the evidence shows, the teaching about the "generation" living in 1914 simply became too difficult to maintain, so a "correction" was performed. The change in the sheep-goats doctrine affects every prophecy Jesus spoke of as signs of the last days.
I raise questions:
- Jesus' first coming was predictable because it was prophesied. What does his second timing have to do with this?
- Did Jesus ever talk to the disciples about the "seven times"? And the apostles? Although they often mentioned Jesus' coming. And Paul? Didn't he tell the Thessalonians that he comes like a thief? While the "seven times" were already ongoing. etc.
- Did Jesus know when he was coming? (Mt 24:36 etc.) Then how does the Governing Body know this?
- From when does Jesus rule in his heavenly kingdom? (Phil 2:9,11; Eph 1:20,21; 1 Peter 3:22, Mt 28:18, etc.)
- Where is the Lord's day related to the "seven times" in the Bible?
- By what right does the Governing Body calculate? (Acts 1:7 etc.)
- a Why is the 7 times exactly 2,520 years?
- What does Phil 1:10, And Rev 11:18 refer to?
The Watchtower Society has predicted dates on many occasions, (see 'Publishers' book, 1914, '25, '75, most often specifically) and for this reason in some cases, it shifted the responsibility onto the members (Watchtower, November 1, 1995, page 17), while in other cases it saved itself. (Awake!, June 22, 1995, page 9.) As if one couldn't wait for something without determining the time. What is Jehovah's opinion about this? (See Deut 18: 20-22) Otherwise, the dates indicate our impatience and are evidence that our faith is not strong enough, we cannot wait for Jehovah. What can the dates result in for some people? How will they look at our God? Will they trust him the same way afterwards? Will they still trust His Word, or will they just consider it a fairy tale book? In the worst case, some may even become atheists, and this is the responsibility of their teachers (James 3:1).
So his coming did not happen either, nor was the true religion designated (if at all such a thing will happen). Since according to the Bible these happen at the same time, and they will be the last events of the last days (Luke 18:8, Mt 24:30,31) I could detail these but due to lack of time, I do not. I will provide these details to anyone, anytime upon request.
The other doctrine, which is related to this back and forth, is the existence of the “faithful and discreet slave” class, which raises many questions. In my opinion (that is, I may be wrong) it is about a parable, (Luke 12:41, 42) not prophecy, this is clear from the context. Besides, you cannot build a system of doctrine on these two Bible verses. But I submit and though I do not understand why, I must submit. Although such subordination wouldn't make much sense. Why? Because I realized that I can only use biblical laws and principles that I understand with full honesty and conviction, thereby representing Jehovah and Jesus Christ, and as long as I want to enforce these laws and rules in my own life, I do not want to do it because I naturally consider it Jehovah's organization and regardless of what it says, I follow him, but because I truly believe that the Bible supports this, and this is right. (1 Thess 2:13) That's why it needs to be examined whether things are “really as they are” as described by the Watchtower. For example, if they wrote that Jews should not preach because they killed the Son of God and they started to somehow explain it that he rejected them, would you believe it, would you? I hope not. However, I claim that most of the brothers would believe it because, of course, the “slave class” cannot err. Unfortunately, time has proven the opposite of this, they also admit it. So it's not that I'm looking for faults with eagle eyes. But when those faults scream from afar? (For example, the Kingdom Service article from August 2002 about disfellowshipped people. I admit this sentence contributed to 50% of the avalanche that started within me.)
I would ask questions about the "faithful and discreet slave" (who is the 144,000):
- Where was it during the Middle Ages? If Jesus' apostles were their predecessors?
- Why does the Governing Body also provide the even the 'anointed' brothers with food?
- Why can members of the "Great Crowd" also be part of the Governing Body?
- Did they distribute appropriate food in 1914 (when there were a lot of false doctrines, see the 'Publishers' book)?
- So how did Jesus choose them? Or is the current food not appropriate?
- Where does the Bible say that the "Great Crowd" will also be fed with ?
- Are God's teachings revealed through them? (Watchtower Aug , 2001 page 14) What does the Bible say about such revelations (Gal 1:6-8, Dan 12:4)?
- Was there an international organization in the first century? Then there would have been a leader. Like now. Was there? Would this be right? (Matthew 23:8-10)
- Was there a Governing Body in Jerusalem that directed Paul? Did he send them a report or a letter, who appointed them? (See Acts 13:1-3, 15:3, etc.) Did he or Peter or John or anyone else ask them if he could write his letters to the congregations? Or maybe they wrote it for him? Were the Jerusalem elders higher in rank than an apostle?
The mistakes and the above notwithstanding, I could submit myself and understand the need for arrangement, that someone should direct, although Mt 23: 8-11 comes to my mind. I can accept and understand that there have always been and will be mistakes, as everyone is imperfect. But why do we claim to have the exact knowledge? And we even emphasize it. Moreover, we claim to be the only saving religion, by what right, when we know very well that we are no different from the average person outside the organization? Because if it were, Jesus wouldn't have to die for us. Which one of you feels less sinful than anyone else? Which of you feels better than "worldly" people? The Watchtower often claims the opposite. Yet we also have sinners in no smaller proportion than elsewhere. (Even according to the Society's own statistics) We offend each other so many times, in words and deeds, even unintentionally. (James 3:2-6) Why do we say ours is the only true religion? Why do we say there is no salvation outside the organization? Why is there what I read in the 'You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth' book, in the chapter "Identifying the True Religion":
"Who, then, are the ones who form the body of true worshipers today? We do not hesitate to say that they are Jehovah’s Witnesses."
Well, I declare without hesitation that whoever wrote this NEVER read John 5:31-32 or 2Cor 10:12. Such statements, unintentionally, instill a certain sense of superiority in every JWs. The same is preached by other sects and the same feeling is evoked in some people. Because when we just say "worldly" about outsiders, there is a certain condescension in this word as well, it greatly ruins the way to souls during preaching, and also the power of the gospel. This associates prejudice towards the other person, even though “God is not partial” (Acts 10:34, 35) And this is fulfilled when we say things like, in prayers we thank you, how wonderful we are, that God chose us. But such is the Watchtower we've just studied, in which they actually wrote that 1/1000 of people will survive, in the current state. How do they know? (no comment, Mk 4:24) Because of this, I was unable to say Amen to a few prayers due to conscientious objections, unfortunately. Or for example, in one of Elder X's lectures: (The title was: "A pure people who pay respect to Jehovah". Good thing it wasn't: "The pure people who pay respect to Jehovah") "Our self-esteem is increasing because we perform a form of worship in which no fault can be found". (NO COMMENT, see Luke 18:9-14) Or for example, Elder Y: "He can be any kind of theologian, but he doesn't understand a word of the Bible", he often mentions in his comments that everyone except us is on the path to death and such. What can I say, if I were interested, I would be scared. When we talked, he painted what fate would befall me if I didn't change back, what fate would befall me, suicide, etc. (He is not the first to predict that I am unfit for life even in this world, but I do not need the approval of people for God to approve. Just to mention, I love life and despite all the troubles, problems I would not exchange with anyone) But you have to know that Jesus never tried to teach by threatening. "If you don't become a JW, you will perish. Because there is no salvation outside the organization", This threat is totally contrary to the gospel. What did Jesus say is necessary for salvation? And what did Paul say about this? (John 19:3; 6:68; 6:45-47; 17:3; 14:6; 3:16-18, Acts 4:12, 1 Tim 2:5, Rom 4:4,5 etc., see also: New Testament). The Bible never mentions any religious organization as a means of salvation, nor does it mention that true worshipers should gather in a religion. The Bible emphasizes personal relationships. Even the word organization as such is not in the Bible. This is also noteworthy.
By the way, is there a single true religion or religious organization? Do we need to join a religion to believe in God? When did Jesus speak about this? Didn't he emphasize much more the need to be in a personal relationship with Him? See examples of the vine and branches; parable of the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd. (John 10:27-29) Do we need an "of similar nature" mediator to God and the path to salvation, other than Jesus? (Heb 8:10) When did he say that we are saved through religious membership? How did the early Christians view the apostles? (According to JW, the conditions for salvation are: faith in the sacrifice of redemption, AND keeping pace with Jehovah's organization. Well, in the Bible there is no such "and", only the former. It's clear: Acts 4:12 1 Tim 2:5) We should not allow any religious organization to insidiously interpose between God and individuals. Isn't it rather that we will be judged individually? (e.g. Ecc 12:16, Mt 25:31-46; Romans 2:6, 2 Cor 5:10 2 Tim 4:1, etc)
The key to things is that we cannot tell Jehovah God what he can and cannot do. After all, we are just humans, specks of dust, who cannot see each other's thoughts, inner attributes, and therefore we cannot judge others. (Romans 14:4, 10, 2 Cor 5:10). We cannot elevate ourselves above all others, we cannot think of ourselves as superior to others (1 Cor 4:7). Similarly, we cannot say things that have already been said in the Watchtower like "It would be appropriate for Jehovah to act" etc. Similarly, we cannot set deadlines for Him, when it would be "reasonable" for Him to act. Similarly - and this was the most outrageous self-righteous, arrogant, infuriating statement I've ever read in a corporate publication - the already mentioned August 2002 Kingdom Ministry page 5 wrote:
“The fact is that when a Christian gives himself over to sin and has to be disfellowshiped, he forfeits much: his approved standing with God."
Well, I thought I didn't need to comment on this, but I do. What does the "faithful and discreet slave" imagine, who is he to invalidate the sin-cleansing value of Jesus' sacrifice on anyone? I thought there was a limit to arrogance, but no. The "faithful and discreet slave" takes the place of Jesus himself and judges on his behalf. (It also outraged me that this article quoted from the Watchtower throughout, and barely from the Bible). What did Jesus say about this? (Mt 7:1-5)
I want to believe that this is Jehovah God's Church, which He supports in the last days. I know that in some form, He has always represented the true worship. Mostly, He communicated directly with individuals, sometimes in the form of a church, sometimes in the form of independent congregations or groups that are far from each other, but always prompted and directed by the Spirit of the One True God. Therefore, no church organization can claim about itself that it is the only salvation and the exclusive truth, including our Organization. Yet I regard this as one of Jehovah's most beloved properties - although not the only one. The Organization was created under the impulse of the Holy Spirit by sincere God-fearing people, who were wrong in many things and will continue to be wrong. The Watchtower does not hold the one and only unchangeable religious truth, and the only salvation cannot only be found in the congregations of the Watchtower, although I believe it is closer to the pure biblical teaching than some historical churches or other religious groups. Throughout its entire existence and survival, it has strived to get closer to the complete biblical truth and to understand the biblical doctrines in the purest possible form, and then convey these to the world. During this process of purification and search, he often made mistakes and ran into dead ends, but he always tried to get out of them as quickly as possible. The Watchtower Society is a tool that Jehovah uses to promote spiritual thinking and love for the Bible worldwide. But it's not the only tool. The whole Universe belongs to Jehovah, so He chooses according to his own discretion who, what, how, and when He will use for the fulfillment of His will on Earth. Humans - including us - cannot dictate to God what, how, and when to act. We can only humbly cooperate and offer our services into His hands, to act with them according to His will and need. He does not need us to accomplish what He has planned! Let's not believe that the gospel would not reach the ends of the Earth without us! God will not judge people according to their church affiliation, but He will examine hearts and kidneys - individually. (Mt 25:31-46; Romans 2:6, 2 Cor 5:10 etc.) The Watchtower is thus an organization that was not created by Jehovah, but a human initiative that reflects man's desire for the purest possible understanding and experience of God and truth. It is not directly inspired by His Holy Spirit, but the result of the Spirit's work in people. That's why it was dramatic to hear the circuit overseer's recent lecture, which called for loyalty to the organization as a pledge of salvation. According to his speech, independent thinking results in separation from God. On the contrary, if I look at people instead of God, I might be misled, but if I read the Bible, even in my inner room, I will realize that life without God is impossible. Because my Father sees in secret and rewards me publicly. The circuit overseer then argued that since we don't see Jehovah, how can we be loyal? "If we are loyal to Jesus, then we are to Jehovah. But we don't see Jesus either. What should we do?" - he said. He then discussed the creation of the "faithful and discreet slave" and said the following: "If we agree with the 'faithful and discreet slave', it means that we also agree with Jesus... That's because this makes it more tangible who we are loyal to.." This argument reminded me of what a homeowner told me once during a sermon: They don't worship the picture, they just make God tangible through it, they worship through it. Does God have to be tangible? Is being loyal to people the same as being loyal to Jesus? There is a clear parallel between the two arguments. This is a very serious thing. This is nothing less than idolatry. It doesn't matter if it's an object or thing, when we put something on a divine level and honor it, it can be unequivocally stated that it is idolatry. Well, as I already mentioned, Jesus is the means of our salvation. (Eph 2:13, John 10:27-28, see New Testament). This is the most important theme of the Bible that runs through it all (1 Cor 15:1-3). Is there one or two steps to salvation and approaching God? Does Jesus create a relationship between God and us? Or is it Jesus AND the "faithful and discreet slave"? Who do we need to be loyal to? The latter is not supported by the Bible. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). I mentioned this earlier. We can never allow a human organization to sneak between Jesus and individuals. To put a human organization in place of Jesus or next to him as a mediator on the way to salvation, or to make human words equal to God's; well, what this means, I don't dare to answer, let the Bible answer: Mt 24:5.
The teachings are becoming clearer, we hope, but they also contain many errors. These errors need to be corrected and brought as close as possible to the clear biblical teachings. We must admit that the ideologues of the Society often gave false and misleading explanations about certain prophecies. We must confess that we do not have the unchangeable and infallible truth, and although we strive with all our might to approach it, we must publicly take responsibility for the consequences of such mistakes. Based on an unbiased study of the Bible (without the Society's literature), I realized that the 1914 prophecy, and similar prophecies, and the expectations associated with them proved to be wrong. Jehovah himself showed this to us by repeatedly tearing down our excessive optimism and speculative imagination. I did not surrender myself to His will because some chronological calculation is valid, but because I am grateful to Him and His Son, and I consider myself His property because His beloved Son redeemed me from the power of the world with His blood (Romans 2:4). I am sure that I can be saved through my faith. After all, my salvation has already happened (Hebrews 10:14). I either accept this or not (John 3:36, 5:24, 6:40,47). And since my salvation has already happened, I must serve Him out of gratitude (Ephesians 1:19-20, Colossians 1:29, 1 Corinthians 12:6), I must live for my Lord out of gratitude, and stand up for Him wholeheartedly as Jesus also said. Therefore, the idea that we serve to be saved is wrong. Sometimes this is the taste of our journals, but is it true? (Romans 7:14-23, the solution to this: Romans 7:24, 25; see also Romans 4:3-5, Ephesians 2:8,9). After all, we need grace because we can't earn salvation. (That's why it's wrong in the New World Translation to translate grace as "favor". After all, it's a favor even if we can see the sun shining up there for just an hour, etc.) The foundation of my faith is trust in Jehovah that He does not lie (Hebrews 6:18), not the 1914 formula. Therefore, I ignore this teaching and the teachings associated with it and instead pay attention to the signs promised to us by the Savior, who warned that His coming will be clearly visible, or at least perceptible, to everyone (Revelation 1:7, Matthew 24:30, 26:64, etc). I believe that this will happen soon, because according to the Bible we live in the last days, and this should follow. (Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Revelation 1:7, Luke 21:27, etc.) No one, not even the angels in heaven, not even Jesus himself, can predict the exact date of the second coming, especially not the Brooklyn slave with the help of any number combinations (Matthew 24:36,42, etc, etc, etc). I believe that the Spirit is capable of enlightening those who ask this from Jehovah about the teachings and various conscience issues. (James 1:5) God cannot lie in this either. If someone asks, he/she will receive understanding and light from Him. No human guidance and unconditional obedience to this is necessary (Hebrews 8:11, How much more does the Father give to those who ask Him). If someone is moved by the Spirit, God will lead him/her to knowledge without the supervision of the "slave class". You just need to ask. Therefore, I would like the full freedom and autonomy of individual conscience, acceptance and respect for individual decisions in congregations even regarding decisions such as the understanding of certain teachings and the living of Christian positions. (Phil 2:5, 1 Cor 4:4-7, Phil 3:15 Romans 12:3, etc.) This is how it is in true Christian congregations, but unfortunately not with JWs. After all, which of us fully knows the Bible? But even if we do, by what right would we judge others? (Rom 14:4, 1 Cor 13:12,13)? These verses reveal that the basic principle of true Christian community is: Unity in important matters, freedom in less important ones, but love in all things. If someone's opinion differs 10% from the current interpretation of the Watchtower Society, should they be kicked out? Because they are "not humble"? And how humble is the person who expels them? (1 Cor 4:6, 7) One can refer to unity, but what kind of unity is it that is forced, because those who dare to speak feel threatened? One could argue that the "faithful and discreet slave" is necessary, otherwise how would the organization be unified on a global scale? As if God did not have the power to do this (Hebrews 8:11). But let's see what kind of unity Paul actually had in mind? He always emphasized what forms the basis of unity: the person of Jesus Christ, and his redemption. This was and is the basis of Christian faith. The word "Christian" also means: follower of Christ. That's why we shall be His "witnesses" (Acts 1:8). If it were like it is now with JWs, Paul would have had to legislate, to give laws for the smallest areas of life. However, he often spoke of freedom in Christ, trusted his fellow servants and knew they have a conscience, and never tried to supervise or suppress it. (Philemon 21, Phil 3:15). He too knew well that we are created in God's image, and thus we are capable of judging what is "the perfect will of the Lord". He never considered himself superior to his Christian brothers. He knew that we are not equal in knowledge (1 Cor 4:5 7:7, 12:11, 13:12,13, Romans 12:6, Eph 4:7,) In contrast, as it is now, organizational directives, which have absolutely no justification, because what is not specifically written in the Bible is a matter of conscience, which we need to decide knowing the principles written in the Bible. Paul often reminded us of this too, that we have freedom in Christ, in contrast to legalism (eg 1 Cor 10:23-33, etc). Of course, we need to consider not causing anyone to stumble, (Mt 5:16) (though that's their problem too. The person causing the stumbling is sinful, but so is the one who stumbles, the Bible says). Back then, the most common disputes were about food or circumcision. The essence of what has been said is that there were quite big differences of opinion among the ancient Christians. (Acts 15:, 1 Cor 1:10-17, etc). Paul and the others encouraged us to overcome this with love. How easy it would have been to say, "Never even greet those who are not on your side".
I would like to say a few words about the preaching work. The Bible does not say that EVERY Christian does it. (Eph 4:11,12) This must be completely voluntary, based on a personal calling and inner compulsion. In no way can it be a tool to judge one's spiritual integrity or if someone does not feel the strength, calling, compulsion, or need to preach to others what the Bible teaches, then one should not be seen as someone who has some kind of spiritual illness or does not love Jehovah. Jesus never forced his followers either. The submission of reports and the mentioning of hours only causes tension, compulsion, and distinction among the brothers, and this robs the sheep of the joy that could come from such blessed work. (As a result, the gospel is debased to charts and statistics, and analyzed as if numerical growth indicated God's blessing. Any manipulation is used in the reports and this is spreading more and more, e.g., the pioneers' hours decreased, or what was a return visit in the past, is now a Bible study, etc., because otherwise there is no numerical growth. But if there is, it's the same in every small church) I know this from my own experience, as I have never filled out a report without a guilty conscience. And applauding pioneers results in a sense of worthlessness in those who cannot do this, especially the elderly. Therefore, it would be good if there were no distinctions between publishers and pioneers. Such a spirit only further spoils the atmosphere in the congregations and also ruins the so-called "statistics". People who welcome us at the doors prefer to communicate with publishers who are led by the Spirit and a sense of calling, not by duty. And let's not be mistaken: Jehovah does not necessarily need our work, He can sow the seeds in hearts without us. We can only hope that our offered sacrifice will be accepted and used someday. But what should we offer Him? Rather coerced sacrifices, i.e., blind and lame, or the sincere sacrifice of our heart and faith? (1 Cor 10:31) We cannot redeem ourselves with our deeds and hours, so no one should appeal to that. By doing so, we would reject the power of our Savior's sacrificial death. Our gospel should rather contain the good news of Christ's redemptive grace gift, rather than terrifying people with destruction and Jehovah's wrath.
Compared to the many billions of people living on earth, and the countless past generations known only to God, a single person's life is just a fleeting fraction of the whole. We are tiny droplets in a very large river. Yet, Jesus teaches us that although we are small and inconsistent, we can give good to each other, as much as our own smallness allows. (2 Cor 6:10, 2 Corinthians 5:14) We do not need the massive mass of a large organization behind us, nor its power, control, pricking, and pressure, to do this. To accept God's undeserved kindness with the heart, to live with the "free gift" depends not on deeds, but on faith (see previous verses), this is enough, more than enough, to inspire us. If we appreciate and enjoy our Christian freedom, we do not respond to other coercion. And we do not need to submit ourselves to any other yoke than That of the One who offered these words. We are constantly urged to humility, which here means to accept anything the organization offers as coming from a superior, wiser source. For many Jehovah's Witnesses, the organization has a certain "aura", which surrounds it like a bright radiance, giving its statements an importance far beyond and above what the words of imperfect people usually receive. This atmosphere compromises the conscience, pretending to believe what I cannot believe because I see no evidence for it. If efforts to avoid involuntary collision are unsuccessful, I think it is comforting to know that the cause of any family pain and heartache lies solely on one side. This is entirely the fruit of an organizational procedure, which calls on members to report any expression of differing opinion to the elders, even that of a family member (I owe all this to family members); and behind the procedure is the threat of expulsion for anyone who fails to treat a disfellowshipped or separated person as one rejected by God, and has the path to salvation closed off to him, no matter how sincere and devoted a person they knew him to be (though this may not necessarily apply to me, but Jehovah will judge that). Religious intolerance acts as a divisive force, destroying family unity and love, but it's not mutual. Jesus said that there will be among his disciples those who are delivered into the hands of religious tribunals for litigation, not that they will be the ones delivering others into the hands of these bodies. He warned those who remain faithful to his teaching, "parents, siblings, relatives, and friends will hand you over", not that they will be the ones doing the handing over. (Matthew 10:17, 21; Mark 13:9-12; Luke 21:16)
Some Witnesses are similar to the Israelites, who had a beautiful temple, massive, with a Levitical priesthood. Today similarly, when the Jehovah's Witnesses see the massive, impressive Bethel building, or other seemingly large things, they assume this as a blessing from God, and find it strange that we only gather in private homes, like the ancient Christians, humbly knowing that: Acts 10:34,35. Being convinced from the study of the Scriptures so far, I cannot think that a relationship or loyalty to an organization will be a decisive factor in personal judgement, or in most cases will carry any significant weight. My certainty grows that the most valuable thing any of us can leave behind is a moral heritage, and the value of this moral heritage is determined by the principles it stands on, which can never be sacrificed or reinterpreted. These principles are primarily complete, unadulterated devotion to God, unconditional subordination to His Son as our Master, unity with the truth, and merciful care for others, not because they are members of a religious system, but because they are our neighbors.
What distinguishes our teachings exclusively from all other denominations is not the hope, faith in the redemption sacrifice, etc., but, in my observation, the pivotal doctrine centered on the year 1914, when Christ began to actively rule, to judge, and then above all, chose the Watchtower organization as his official channel, gave full control over all earthly interests to the "faithful and discreet slave" class, ultimately giving unlimited power to its Governing Body. (See 2 Cor 1:24)
I am in pain now because it is demeaning that such men interrogate me, who essentially strip off their human dignity, feeling their full power, dare to judge my situation before God - though I feel alienation now, but the sense of peace and rebirth will come. (Not only because I know that I will finally be outside the reach of such men, no longer subjected to their ecclesiastical examination and pressure. The truth, and the refusal to compromise with the truth, brings freedom in another, wonderful way. (James 1:25) The greatest joy in freedom is becoming fit for the service of God and His Son - to serve all my neighbors - not hindered by the commands of imperfect men. (Gal 5:1, 13, 14, Col 3:17, 23-25, Rom 12:3, 16). The shakeup that the start of transition can mean, can lead to the development of a truly personal relationship with these two greatest friends. Christ clearly emphasized the personal nature of the relationship. (Matthew 10:32, 33) He did not call this way: "come to my organization" or "come to a certain church or denomination", but like this "come to me". (Matthew 11:28) In the parable of the vine and the branches, he did not say "I am the vine, the religious organizations are the branches and you are the shoots and leaves connected to the branches", but "I am the vine, you are the branches" connected directly to him (John 15:5). In his beautiful description of the good shepherd, he says "I am the good shepherd, I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me, I know the Father: and I give my life for the sheep .." (John 10:14,15) In those days, the eastern shepherd gave a name to each sheep and "he calls his own sheep by name" (John 10:3). It is wonderfully soothing and encouraging to know that our good shepherd, the Son of God, knows every person in his flock by name and takes care of us personally and individually. True faith must be truly personal, individual, personally found and achieved. Because what is dictated is not faith. Similarly, conviction is not significant or valid unless it is individual and personal. Believing because others also believe is borrowed conviction, borrowed faith. To be genuine, and to lead to life, it must be the result of the individual's own understanding and heart. The apostle wrote about the subject on this personal basis. (Romans 10:9, 13) Spoken words, which are mere repetitions of a religious system's traditional teachings, these are not like the ones described here, but rather a human commandment (Isaiah 29:13). At the time of divine judgement, we do not stand before God and His Son as members of some church, group or organization. We will stand there as individuals and "each of us will give account of himself to God" This is clearly seen from all pages of the Bible (Romans 14: 4, 10-12) The disciples then may have felt, better than ever before, the direct connection to their Master, as his disciples, with whom he deals as personal friends, not just as sheep treated, people gathered en masse, but as sheep. The shepherd gives personal, individual attention and care. The Son of God gave assurance that there will be true followers, not only in the first century, or in this twentieth century, but also throughout the centuries between the two, saying Mt28:20, 18:20 Although they are mixed with the "weeds", when he comes, he will know who were truly disciples, not because they were connected to some organization, but because of who they were as individuals and how they lived and he will sort them out. Wherever they may have been, although from a human point of view their belonging to His congregation may have been indistinguishable, he knew them throughout the centuries, not just as a group, but individually, and led them as their Head, Master. His apostles could write: "However, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are his' (John10:27-30, 2 Tim 2:19)
In my observations, all too often the vaunted love, purportedly part of the "spiritual paradise", appears superficial. I say this because to switch off an individual's affection, seemingly as easily as turning off a light, is a result of organizational training, not at all like most people's natural emotions (Psalm 27:10). For example, when Sister X disassociated herself, no one spoke to her, but as soon as she returned, she was everyone's best friend again. But during the time that passed, they didn't even greet her. I am sure that real love and emotions cannot just be changed on command like this, because it comes from the depths of the heart, and that cannot be ordered, only felt. Is it possible to fall in love with a girl on command, just like love?
It might be hard to think spiritually, because we're used to the organization placing extreme emphasis on numbers, statistics, and the demand that numerical growth is proof of divine guidance and blessing. First, we can sense and experience the truth of Jesus, that "where two or three are gathered in my name, I will be with them". From my own experience, I can say that being together with just one or two other people reading and discussing the Holy Scriptures, I fondly remember. True, sometimes we join larger groups, and this can provide exposure to a variety of people and opinions. Yet, fundamentally the power of God's Word doesn't diminish even if we are only two or three. Honestly, in every case when this happens, it's more satisfying to remember than those many times, when for example at a congress I met hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands in organizationally programmed functions. For instance, preparing for the Watchtower with the young people in the neighboring town, alongside some free time, meals, etc, remains memorable. (Though even there I see the bad habits, nobody can break away from the question and answer-leader method to freestyle). But sadly, if they won't even greet me next week, it also shows that their love is contrived.
I hope I've managed so far to understand what is necessary for me, as one who intends to follow the Son of God, to do, and how to truly rejoice in peace. Why wouldn't I have, since this is the main theme of the Bible, or to see this, you only need to read it once. The real question remains, who am I personally? How well do I reflect the attributes of our heavenly Father and His Son? Does my life, the intentions I show towards others, truly exemplify their teachings? When James talks about being "doers of the word" and about "pure and undefiled religion", he emphasizes: "to visit orphans and widows in their affliction", along with keeping oneself uncorrupted by the world. (James 1:22, 26-27). And when he shows that authentic, living faith will motivate deeds of faith, he brings up the example of caring for the physical needs of Christians (James 2:14-17). I regret that I can't personally apologize to everyone whom I've wronged in one way or another, but I pray that they don't suffer great pain and trust in God's care, helping them in areas where I cannot.
Jehovah sees the intentions of my heart, and knows that my initiative has no ulterior motives, at least I've never been aware of such within me. My aim is not to cause disruption, I've never told anyone except family members. Because I was afraid. For example, of being disfellowshipped.
With true faith, I declare, now more than ever, that the Bible speaks of the living God, who created us with a defined purpose. When we rebelled against Him, He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, who died in our place as a ransom, to free us from our sins. (e.g.: Romans 5:8)
I confidently believe that this will come to pass in my life as well. But this is linked to another blessing, the strengthening of God's truth provides, that instead of being on a strict diet regulated by human organizational power, I can rediscover God's Word, what it really is, what it exactly says. It's surprising how refreshing it is to read the Scriptures and let them speak for themselves in context, without human traditional teachings overriding it. Not to mention, this faith is authentic, because I did not just take over someone else's views, but I found the answers to my questions with my own eyes and became convinced.
The good news is based on Christ Jesus, not a human organization, as our attention has been drawn to focus on him because "in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." To understand how much this is the main theme of the Bible, one should look for how many times it mentions the kingdom in relation to the good news, and how many times it mentions Jesus as the savior. (The latter would be in majority). Besides, it's more pleasant to be ready to read God's Word without feeling compelled to have a definite and absolute precise interpretation of every little detail, or an authoritative explanation of every prophetic statement (Daniel 12: 4,9). What the apostle Paul wrote is still true (1 Corinthians 12:12). There are many places in the Scriptures where one cannot pin down a single possible and correct explanation for the statements. If there are other explanations that are in harmony with the rest of the Scriptures, which build faith, hope, love, why would we fall into the trap of sectarianism by adhering strictly to only one?
God raised Jesus from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3,4), to prove that I can trust him to do what he said (Hebrews 6:18), no matter how long it takes from our perspective. Through Jesus, we can have a personal relationship with God, and the richness of life with Him can be ours. (John 14:6)
Life is a journey and we cannot move forward if we do not focus on where we want to go; this can lead to emotional uncertainty and spiritual derailment. This is a great challenge, but we can find encouragement in the progress that we have made at least some progress, and we can feel reassured that we will undertake the rest of the journey (Proverbs 3:5,6, 16:9 Jeremiah 29:11) because we know our goal is eternal life on a paradisiacal earth. Whatever our circumstances, we can all trust in the truth of the apostle's words: Romans 8:28. Preserving our conscience and remaining true to our Teacher, the Son of God, we do not dwell on fleeting losses, but gather real and lasting values. In this assurance, we may feel as the apostle did: Philippians 3: 7, 8,13,14.
I know I can trust my future to God. (Hebrews 10:35-39, 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18) There is no guarantee in Scripture that the path will be smooth (Luke 21:16-18), but the peace of the spirit and the eternal security of the decision to follow God's path are the best. He is faithful and knows how to reward those who seek Him. I must trust in Him! (Hebrews 4:14-16)
I would like to conclude my argument.
I know that I am paying no small price for believing: it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience. Why? Because everyone acts in accordance with their conscience, only allowing different limits for each person.
If the testimonies of the Scriptures or the arguments of common sense do not convince me (since I cannot believe in human leaders just because they are who they are, as it is obvious that they have often been mistaken and contradicted each other), then the Scriptures oblige me, and my conscience is held captive by God's Word; and since it is neither safe nor right to act against conscience, due to the above, I can do nothing but let God's Word guide my conscience; I can only ask, may God help me. And you too. Amen.
If I am disfellowshipped:
- You do it without biblical basis (1 Cor 5:9-13, 2 John 7-11) Which of these do I fall under? Where else does the Bible mention disfellowshipment?
- Would you condemn someone the Bible does not condemn? (Mt 7:1,2)
- Does the congregation feel "threatened" by me? Can't it "wait for Jehovah"? In other words, does it not trust him, because it is acting in his place? Does the organization have a persecution complex? (Stalin too wiped out anyone who sneezed differently than him)
- The organization does not trust its members, even though God created everyone in his own image (Gen 1:27) with conscience, decision-making ability, this is how we differ from animals. Paul trusted his brothers (See 2 Cor 1:24, Phil 3:14, Rom 12:3,16)
- Show trial
- I'm not a troublemaker
- I did not instigate division
- Paradoxically, we have freedom of conscience
- Am I humble? And is the one who kicks me out because I differ from him by 10% humble? (2 Cor 1:24) Which of us knows the Bible 100%? And if he knew, could he judge others? (See above)
- Maybe we are identical in knowledge? (See above)
After some threats and/or questions, I would answer: What will I do, where will I go next? (Phil 3:7-9) Although there is still a lot I do not know, but I can be happy, because the most important part of life is already mine (John 17:3, Heb 9:14, see also: New Testament) Because according to you, there is no salvation outside the organization. But what did Peter say to Jesus (and not to a human organization)? (John 6:68, 69)
I wasn't able to deliver this defense speech in full, as I wasn't given the time, but knowing what I was facing, I wrote down my thoughts using the outlines from about six months of personal Bible study prior to making the decision, and from reading just two books.
However, I handed it over to the elders, as they requested it. One of them, told me straight to my face that he had read it, and the whole thing was total nonsense, a disjointed jumble that shows a complete lack of biblical knowledge. But they still took it and kept it, I assume in my file, which they keep, and if I wanted to return, they could refer to it. I handed it over bravely, not fully aware of my rights.
Raymond Franz's book, which I had read not long before, resonated with me almost like my own heart, hence there are some thoughts that can also be found in it, but I couldn't leave them out because they are so relevant to the topic.
I would just note that during the judicial hearing, one of the elders could only bring up one Bible verse against me, Titus 3:10. The other elder, started the trial by opening the "Reasoning" book, which I immediately took out of his hand, saying that if this is the truth, it can ONLY be proven with the use of the Bible. If this is not the case, then we are not facing the gospel left to us by Jesus.
At the end, on of the elders warned me not to set foot in the kingdom hall, or they would call the police. I swear to God, I'm not lying, he really said this, why it's nonsensical is irrelevant, I just quoted Matthew 5:43-48, and we haven't seen each other since. It's been almost 20 years. I guess they don't want to see me, they know I strive to live as Jesus Christ, the only true son of God, left for us, but I don't always succeed.
Thanks to anyone who read this, and I appreciate both positive and negative opinions, because I learn from each one.
I am grateful to my friends and enemies alike, as they shape my personality.