"THE PURPOSE OF THIS MAGAZINE, The Watchtower, is to honor Jehovah God, the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Just as watchtowers in ancient times enabled a person to observe developments from afar, so this magazine shows us the significance of world events in the light of Bible prophecies. It comforts people with the good news that God’s Kingdom, which is a real government in heaven, will soon bring an end to all wickedness and transform the earth into a paradise. It promotes faith in Jesus Christ, who died so that we might gain everlasting life and who is now ruling as King of God’s Kingdom. This magazine has been published by Jehovah’s Witnesses continuously since1879 and is nonpolitical. It adheres to the Bible as its authority." (Bold mine)
The above statement was printed in every edition of the Watchtower, on the inside front cover. It last appeared in December 15th 2012 edition.
The Statement of Purpose (SoP) set a high standard for any Christian author to follow. It alluded to the very serious responsibility authors have in disseminating the Christian message. It strongly suggested Christian humility as a prerequisite in that the authors would have to defer to scripture and the context of same, in composing the contents of the magazine rather than yield to personal preference, opinion etc.
I have made two enquiries of websites which are used by Christians who are still JW's or have recently departed. Some "Bethelites" and others in positions of authority are reported as making visits to, and on occasion leaking information to these sites. There has been no leaks that I can discern, indicating the rationale for the withdrawal of the SoP. The silence on this imporant issue may be indicative of they too, not having been informed of the rationale for the SoP removal and are (hopefully) equally disturbed at this nihilistic departure.
I understand that most Brothers and Sisters have not noticed the absence of the SoP such has been the surreptitious manner of its withdrawal. Not in my locality in any case.
This absence of the SoP gives rise to many questions for JW's and for me in particular; some of which include....
A) Can one really trust the WT today in the same way as one might have trusted it pre SoP withdrawal?
B) Is the withdrawal of the SoP merely an honest act on the part of the Gov. Body in that the WT has never lived up to the SoP in any case?
C) If B is true, then should we not be getting back to the Bible as our source of information rather than examining the Bible via the narrow vignette of the WT? (The Beroens are a good evidentiary example of reliance on the authority of scripture alone.)
D) Why have neither the Gov. Body of JWs nor their subsidiaries on the writing committee demonstrated the elementary courtesy of dignifying the readership by informing their Brothers and Sisters of the SoP removal and reason(s) for such?
It is written:
"Do nothing out of contentiousness
or out of egotism, but with humility
consider others superior to you".
- Php. 2:3 NWT
E) Has there been a deterioration in the quality of writing in the WT which has coincided (even approximately) with the withdrawal of the SoP, or in spite of its withdrawal?
F) Have you observed that you are not getting the stimulus from the WT that you perhaps once did? Could this be related to the abandonment of the SoP as a guiding influence on the magazine's authors?
G) If the WT no longer takes it's authority from the Bible and we continue to laud it; study it as if it did; are we defacto "followers of men"?H) How can the WT be part of the "food at the proper time" in the absence of the SoP?
Many JW's read "Examining the Scriptures Daily" (ESD) genuinely believing that they are loyally doing just that - examining the scriptures daily. However, the ESD text is derived from the WT for which the SoP has been surreptitiously withdrawn as already stated. This ESD text contains 365 excerpts from WT magazines and is thus a good speedy way of "examining" the focus of the magazine. After all, millions of JW's fill their minds with these textual excerpts on a daily basis. It is likely a formidable influence on the pyche of JW's. (It used to be upon me!) But what are we really getting?
The most significant parts of the statement of purpose for me are as follows....
1. To honor Jehovah God.
2. It promotes faith in Jesus Christ.
3. It adheres to the Bible as its authority.
Yet, if the WT were still pursuing the above purposes despite their withdrawal from print, then why am I lacking the experiences which I used to have in terms of refreshment, stimulation, edification. I don't think it is I who have changed. I still experience the aforementioned when I read God's Word. No, I think it is the WT magazine which has changed. The quality of writing is soporific on the one hand, and demeaning to one's intelligence on the other hand. I understand that three members of the writing committee resigned during 2014 such is their concern for the paucity of references to Jesus for example. If such is indeed the case, then they are to be respected.
Thought: we take care of our bodies - keep ourselves hydrate, nourished, avoid unreasonable risks which can be deliterious to our physical well being. We don't always consider our minds in a parallel way. By studying the WT and reading excerpts from it daily via the ESD, are we exposing our minds to influences which would be better avoided in the long run? Are we not honoring Jehovah and his anointed Son if we confine ourselves to reading and pondering his Word in the Bible itself? Do we really need an ESD text? It's not something which was paralleled in any way by early Christians! Would we pay money to read such a poor quality of composition from an author who demonstrates a history of....
a) caprice - changes regarding 1914, 1919, 1925, 1975
b) inaccuracy - "millions now living"... "generation" etc
c) arrogance - purport to be feeding the sheep and actually seek to micro manage folks. In most parts of the develop west, micro manageing people is an example of bullying.
If we do continue reading the WT magazine, then perhaps we should do so with circumspection in view of the absence of the SoP. It is helpful for me to consult other websites which disect the study articles somewhat.
Foremost in this practice is the website.... http://meletivivlon.com/about-this-forum/
Another interesting website which offers extensive and detailed information on, for example, the man of lawlessness is.... http://perimeno.ca/Index_A.htm
A fascinating monitor of what is going on in the JW world is that managed by a former elder who is also an MTS graduate. His site is.... http://jwsurvey.org