JW Definition of "Apostate"
So recently, after having a conversation with a Jehovah's Witness, I started wondering about how JWs define the term "apostate." Officially, every elder would tell you that an apostate is one who leaves the Jehovah's Witness faith. But did anyone else notice that this is not how they use the word colloquially—that they're sort of dishonest about it?
During a "debate," for lack of a better word, they would tell you that an apostate isn't someone who actively and verbally disagrees with their doctrine; it's anyone who just leaves the faith and lies about the Governing Body (etc.) in order to turn active Witnesses against Jehovah. While I was conversing with a Jehovah's Witness a few weeks ago, I told him that it's not how Jehovah's Witnesses use the term in informal situations when they want to instill in you the fear of evidence.
When I was an unbaptized publisher (never got baptized; left before that happened), elders would often tell me not to participate in sort of online debates with other religious people and atheists. I always enjoyed intellectual discussions, so that was my "weak spot," from the JW point of view. And they would tell me that what I was doing was wrong. Why was it wrong?
Now, here's the thing; they knew I didn't talk to the ex-JWs. Hell, I've barely even met one in any of my discussions with other religious people and atheists. I simply conversed with people who held other opinions about the Bible and God, yet they still labeled these people as "apostates." They didn't necessarily do it consciously, but they did it nonetheless.
So what did the Witness I was conversing with tell me? He told me that this is not how they define an apostate. He told me that the official definition of an "apostate" is one who leaves the faith and lies about the Governing Body (etc.) in order to turn active Witnesses against Jehovah.
That's their *official* definition—that's true. It's in their publications. But did you notice that that's not how they use the word in informal conversations with others? Especially when you're studying with them, they will first tell you an apostate is an ex-JW who's trying to deconvert you so that you begin to fear the word itself. Then, they would start applying this word to other people as well—maybe even unconsciously.
Have you had this experience as well? Or is it just me? That's what I was wondering about...
JW Definition of "Apostate"
Any ex-JW that questions "WatchTower`s Answers".
People who judge others with ease do not particularly care if their judgements and labels stray from strict definitions.
I stopped being bothered about JWs 'pick and choose' approach to judging others decades ago.
I had once genuinely thought that JWs cared about getting things wrong - they certainly call others to account for getting things wrong. I was wrong. But, as is typical of those who judge others, they do not bother to apply any scrupulousness to their labelling of others.
Colloquially, in WT-world, an "apostate" is "anyone who expresses a negative thought about the WT organization".
JWs expect Catholics, Jews, Muslims, etc. to disagree about their teachings, their doctrines, etc.
But anyone - ex-JW or not - whose comments (1) betray a knowledge of the WTS organization and (2) express a negative view of the organization, is considered "apostate"...or at the very least, guilty of "apostate reasoning".
JW leaders consider that anyone who knows enough about the JW organization to be critical of it must have got their information from ex-JWs; thus they consider anyone espousing "apostate views" to be as dangerous as the true "apostates" themselves.
The word "apostate" is the babadook of WT-world; just the mere mention of those 3 syllables will cause a JWs' blood pressure to rise, their skin to crawl, and may even cause physical illness.
sir82, I completely agree with what you said. It perfectly describes my experience as a JW.
The word "apostate" is overused by JWs and also used by other religions.
Technically, I was an "apostate" when I left Catholicism all those years ago to get involved with the Witnesses.
The Witnesses count on the fact that a large portion of their followers have no higher education and are not well-read. Such a person would smirk at the Witness portrayal of an "apostate" like the boogeyman. You expect to hear dramatic music. At least that's how I felt when I heard the word "apostate" used in the Kingdom Hall. I wondered if these people were for real.
I think one of the root phrases that stem from the word "apostasy" is that of "falling away from" especially from what you were taught. Theoretically, anyone who no longer believes what they were taught - and especially if they now believe something else - is an apostate. Strictly speaking, you do not even need to speak against what you had been taught to be called an apostate - but certainly if you do speak out against your former teachings, you provide incontrovertible evidence that you are an apostate.
As an earlier poster said, many people who have converted to JW organization have apostasized from their earlier beliefs.
So, honey, when it comes to apostasy, you are in very, very large company so give me a great big friendly smile!
Here's a smile from my favourite apostate:
He makes my moustache twitch.
A search for the word Apostate in the Bible shows that where the word “Godless” is used, a footnote for meaning apostate has been added, ie Pro 11:9, Job 36:13.
The word apostate isn’t found in the Greek Scriptures and only found 4 times in the Hebrew Scriptures.