Jehovah`s Witness/Wanting your view point on many questions
QUESTION: Hello sir,
I am a new here to this site and I am asking you this question because I noticed on your blurb next to your name that you encourage individuals to get the opinion of non Jws and Jws on this site. You claim that those that are not of your faith will give honest answers but not always correct answers so I want to put this to the test. I have just been reading a very interesting question and answer to Derrick Holland from Rita. There is a lot in the reply that I would like to get a Jw opinion on. If Derricks answers are honest than I see a lot of problems with your organization. I will start by asking your opinion on this from what Rita asked
"Why do they just blindly accept what is told to them by the watchtower society? This organization is man made. Men are imperfect and capable of mistakes and errors. So why would they assume that these folks interpretation of the Bible is 100% accurate."
Derricks reply makes a lot of sense. So how would you as a Jw counter what he said. This I hope is the first of a many questions I have have because of of Derrick said.
ANSWER: Thank you for your question. I have found and read the replies by Mr Holland, I am happy to try to address the issues raised by him. I can see why his answer would cause concern. His answer is honest with in the framework of what he knows, and, I do not want to start a slinging match with him as some other JWs here have done. Like all people, he is entitled to have and express his opinion. The problem is the same for him, as it is for JWs, sometime we do not have all the facts. I personally have fallen into that trap before (and probably will again) of saying things without having all the details. At times, it does appear that Mr Holland lacks some vital information
, so even though he sounds very authoritative, his knowledge of our belief system is not complete, therefore, due to that lack of knowledge, his answers are not entirely balanced, just as my answer will not be entirely balanced (even though I do my best). To get a balanced view point one needs to do as you are doing and ask questions from both sides. I will endeavour not to attack Mr Holland's answer, but just make comments to clarify where he has made mistakes.
He has quoted a lot of small portions from The “Watchtower Publications” some of which I do not not have but am in the process of getting. My experience with such quotes, so far, has been that they only tell a part of the story, and I will have to find those particular articles in question in order to clarify what he has quoted.
I am not known for short quick answers. I tend to go into a lot of detail, and can get side tracked, so, I ask that you be patient, read all that I have to say, and don't be afraid to ask for clarification of what I write. There also may be some delay between your question and me answering. I do not have answers at my fingertips and I often have to do a lot of research.
To be able to set the stage, so that I can address all that he wrote I need need to give a brief
overview of our belief system. It will be helpful to keep this in mind as we dialogue over what Mr Holland wrote. No doubt there will be more questions raised by what I write.
There are several aspects to our belief system that most people are just not aware of, especially non JWs that try to explain why we seem to “follow”
imperfect men. Whether Mr Holland is aware of this I do not know.
There are basic Bible truths
that distinguish JWs from most other religions that claim to follow the Bible They are
A)The identity of the Almighty singular God of the universe
B) His purpose for the earth – Why we are here – where mankind is heading
Within those two topics we find the Bibles truths clarifying just what the Bible teaches about the trinity, the ransom, hell, immortal soul, mankind’s destiny, etc. Even though we use the same text book – The Bible - our belief system on those are quite different from what people generally call the “main stream religions”. Like all “Christian” religions I know of, we are all convinced that our own cor beliefs are the “truth” that God looks for in the people he favours. If a religion deviates from those cor things then God finds no favour them.
For example we do not believe in the trinity. We go as far as to say it dishonours God. The religions that do believe in the trinity will say we are heretics, even non Christian, for not accepting it. There can be only one clear “truth” to such matters. Each side will argue that the other is false. So to start with, it is not unusual for a group to say that they have Gods truths over another group.
The Bibles moral codes re. murder, stealing, sex outside of marriage …. etc
With those two MAIN headings there is NO negotiation. A person wanting to be a JW must
believe in what the Bible teaches about the above. We do not accept anyone to be baptised as a JW unless they show that they fully understand those Basic Bible truths.
Some “Christian” religions, for example, will allow practicing homosexuals to be part of their organisation. They will allow people to live together without being married. We do not allow any sexual relationship out side of marriage. A person wanting to be a JW must abide by the Bibles moral code.
As part of “The Bibles moral codes
” there are Bible principles that are followed where individual choice has a large degree of freedom
to decide for themselves. There are also some matters that are left up to the individuals conscience. (Even though there is freedom of movement there are still bounds as to what is acceptable) This group of “thoughts” can be likened to a bar of colour that goes across this page. It gradually changes from Blue to Green. At one end there is blue. It is very discernible from the other end which is green, that to is very discernible. In the middle is aqua. Just where aqua starts or finishes is not readily discernible. Every one has their own ideas, but the extremities are clearly defined. So conscience matters are like the aqua, the exact boundaries are up to the individual, but at some point the line will be crossed.
Evangelising. Most people know of JWs from our evangelising in what ever form it takes, the most common is the door to door ministry, but there are many others. We firmly believe that it is the responsibility of every one that wants to be a follower of the Christ, that they are “obligated
to do the best we can in our own personal circumstance to do some form of evangelising. This is not policed. It is the personal decision of every JW as to how they do it or how much they do it, but, to try to do it.
Now those three things are the main “traits” or “cor” aspects of being a JW. It is the next group that causes all the confusion.
This is the, Explanations
, of various Bible topics (mainly prophecy, but not always) that are given. Explanations are just that EXPLANATIONS. They differ from Bible truths in that truths do not change, explanations can. That includes all
understandings relating to chronology and events that are perceived as being associated with a given “date”. The Bible evidence is extremely compelling, and we accept the Bible evidence over secular reasoning. The problem with chronology is our current dating system. The year 2013 is believed to be 2013 years after the birth of Jesus. All known dates are set against our commonly held understanding of when 1 BCE occurred. (January 1, 1BCE was calculated in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus who theorised that Jesus was born on December 25 just prior to that) The problem is that (as far as I know) no scholar or authority today will date the birth of Jesus to that year. Most scholars put the birth of Jesus as 4 BCE, some go to 7 BCE and JWs put his birth at 2 BCE. So IF
our dating system is incorrect, dates could be out by up to seven years. However, the available evidence that currently exist
tells us our chronology is the best that is available.
Besides explanations on “prophecy”, explanations can cover a wide range of topics.
OK so now that brings us to the big question, if a lot of what JWs “teach” is just explanations, why do we follow what some men in America say without questioning ? Firstly we are always encouraged to look at the reasons behind the explanation and study them carefully. What if we find an explanation hard to follow or we do not agree with it? Well, we take the Bible extremely seriously and endeavour to follow what it says.
The apostle Paul in writing to the Corinthian congregation, pointed out a problem that they were having. There was a division in among them. Some had started following men. The congregation stood divided. The account reads....
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
“10 Now I exhort YOU, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that YOU should all speak in agreement
, and that there should not be divisions among
YOU, but that YOU may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought
. 11 For the disclosure was made to me about YOU, my brothers, by those of [the house of] Chloe, that dissensions exist among YOU. 12 What I mean is this, that each one of YOU says: “I belong to Paul,” “But I to Apollos,” “But I to Cephas,” “But I to Christ.” 13 The Christ exists divided. Paul was not impaled for YOU, was he? Or were YOU baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful I baptized none of YOU except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that YOU were baptized in my name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. As for the rest, I do not know whether I baptized anybody else. 17 For Christ dispatched me, not to go baptizing, but to go declaring the good news, not with wisdom of speech, that the torture stake of the Christ should not be made useless.” (NWT)
We learn from that, that we must all speak
along the same lines. What if we do not understand or agree with something that is said or taught. That is not a problem. But we still do not try to teach or convince anyone else of anything different. The writers of our publication know that not every one will understand their reasoning’s or agree with everything that is written. When that happens the advice is, (in just a few words), - “live with it, don’t cause waves, if our understanding is wrong, it will be corrected in time ” - (not as blunt as that but you should get the idea)
Those that take on the responsibility of teaching, are more accountable before God than the rest of us. (Luke 12:48
. . .everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him; and the one whom people put in charge of much, they will demand more than usual of him.” - NWT)
When I have the occasion of explaining something that I do not agree with or fully understand just why a conclusion is reached I will say something like “The current understanding is ….” That way I do not give my opinion (I am not going to be a cause for stumbling) and I am speaking in agreement with every one else.
Paul also warned that “.. from among YOU yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:30
NWT) So to avoid causing divisions, we will patiently wait for corrections. It is the very fact that JWs continue wanting to grow in knowledge (light) and understanding that tells me that they are on the right track, for that is just what happened in the first century Christian Congregations , understandings changed and were clarified, and when they were, all the Christian community changed. New “light” does not extinguish “old” light (or understanding). It builds upon what is already learnt
Points (One) (Two)
are vital for having a good standing with our creator. Explanations are not important for salvation
speaking in unity is important in having a good standing with our creator. So we will accept explanations in good faith,
I would like to address a couple of points that Derrick made. (these are not in order of his comments just a couple of points that stood out to me as I read his reply that are not correct)
There is not one single verse ANYWHERE in the Scriptures, that they can point to, which even comes close to indicating that an Organization somehow plays a part in our salvation. Yet, they preach it as if it is the truth of the matter.
Derrick is correct that no organisation will save us. He is incorrect in suggestion that we believe “that an Organization somehow plays a part in our salvation”. We do not believe that the organisation plays apart in our salvation. We believe what is stated at Philippians 2:12
“. . .keep working out YOUR own salvation with fear and trembling” and Titus 2:11
”. .For the undeserved kindness of God which brings salvation to all sorts of men .” It is the undeserved kindness of God that allows us to be “saved” and we must work out our OWN salvation. No organisation or amount of works will save us. However
,,,, that does not mean we go it alone. The Christian Congregation was formed for the benefit and purpose of helping “one another to incite to love and fine works”. The first century Christians gathered together and had responsible men appointed to act as shepherds and guides (teachers). The Christians of the first century were under obligation to not only obey God as ruler but also the ones that had the responsibility to shepherd and teach
The first part of a text I mentioned earlier says Philippians 2:12
“12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed
, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,. . (KJV)
Romans 16:18, 19
“For your obedience
is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” (KJV)
Of the appointed men in the congregation Paul wrote as recorded at Hebrews 13:17
“Obey them that have the rule over you
, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (KJV)
So there is a scriptural reason why we can not get salvation alone. But even though we need help the organisation is NOT
responsible for our salvation and we do not look to the organisation for salvation. We work along with
the organisation just as the first century Christians worked along with, and obeyed the apostles, because as Hebrews 13:17
says those ones that have the responsibility of leading “ they watch for your souls, as they that must give account”.
Something has to give....If certain teachings were false, they obviously did not come from Jehovah God, nor did He have any part in their being printed in the publications.
However, most JWs will not acknowledge that the Watchtower is CURRENTLY teaching anything in error. Of course, they can't say that, until such time that the Organization receives "new light" (as you said). Then when this happens, all Jehovah's Witnesses are to accept the "progressive learning" that Jehovah God is so lovingly providing.
I understand Derrick to be saying in the first two lines that, if we have changed our understanding or teaching an a subject, then, that it must have been false in the first place, so how can it have come from God , therefore how can they (JWs) believe that the organisation was chosen by God, if they change their minds on what is truth.
The first thing to point out us that the basic Bible truths as briefly mentioned in point ONE above have been the main cornerstone foundations of Jehovah's Witnesses, and they have not changed. What has changed are understandings that are not easily discernible in the Bible. Why have they not been easily discernible?
Partly because the Bible was written in other languages. Words in one language are not always easily rendered into another. So a translator may use a close equivalent to what the original word may have meant but not get the correct intention.
Just as a point for example is the English word “worship”. In the Old testament there are two words rendered as “worship” into English. One of them has the main meaning of “Bowing down before some one to honour them” the other word has a similar meaning, but, leans more toward “worship” as we understand the word. In the New Testament there are 8 different words that Bibles rendered as “worship” and only 2 of the words relate to “religious
worship”, the other words have a variety of meanings and usages. Very few Bibles make a distinction between the words so the full meaning of the original writings are not conveyed into English. There are many words like that. So many of the changes in thought or teachings, or understandings, what ever word one might want to use, are as a result of digging deeper into what original Hebrew and Greek words meant as well as looking at how those words were used in context.
One of the changes that people often “complain” about, is that we have made a change in the understanding of the word “generation”. There are several Greek words that are rendered into English as “generation” Here are four examples of the word “generation” from the KJV
The book of the generation
of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation
of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
But whereunto shall I liken this generation
? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
But ye are a chosen generation
, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
In each verse there is a different Greek word which have slightly different shades of meanings in the Greek, but the one English word is used. Without going into a lot of detail, originally we went by the simple common English
meaning of “generation” to draw a conclusion as to what Jesus meant when he said as recorded at Luke 21:32
“Verily I say unto you, This generation
shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” When a time period of the expectation of what that may have meant
passed, we had another look at the word, in doing so a different understanding of just what Jesus may have been referring to
was concluded. That understand may change again because the word Jesus used, according to the 4 different Biblical Greek Dictionaries I have, give a wide range of meanings for that Greek word for example - “an age (the period or the persons) .., generation, nation, time.” (Strongs Greek lexicon); “the whole multitude of men living at the same time” (Liddel and Scot Greek Lexicon) If we think about that we see different ideas emerging. Was Jesus talking about a particular length of time, or ALL the people that were alive right then at that moment, or all the people that would see a particular event. (for example today we speak of the baby boomer Generation, Generation X and Generation Y. Was Jesus limiting the word to just one such group of people [“generation”] or did he have another use of the word) - That is another discussion altogether. I just mentioned it to demonstrate that continuing to learn or perceive what a particular word may have meant by the Bible writers can change ones “explanation” of a topic, and that is one reason why what we say changes at times.
So that is increasing understanding of Biblical words. That becomes increasing “light”. It builds on what is already known.
What else has meant that the some portions of the Bible are not easily discernible? That starts with what Daniel recorded about his prophecies. His prophetic visions were for what the Bible calls “the time of the end”. It is not until that time will the knowledge of the visions will be made known
”Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of [the] end.” (NWT)
“And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of [the] end. Many will rove about, and the [true] knowledge will become abundant.” (NWT)
The ministry of Jesus was centered on the Kingdom of God and what it would do to rectify the problems for mankind. He taught by way of prophetic illustrations they showed what how and when this kingdom would be realised. One of his illustrations had to do with a sower that sowed fine (wheat) seed. He said he was the sower. An enemy over-sowed the field with poisonous weeds that looked like wheat. The sower of that seed was Satan.
The weeds as it were, were sown by the time time the last of the 12 apostles died. A great apostasy set in and the true Christian (wheat) would be indiscernible from the apostate teachings of the false teachers that entered the Christian congregations at the end of the first century an onward. (Most religions do not agree
that the Christian ideologies became mingled with pagan ideas)
It would not be until the time of the harvest when there would be a clear distinction between the poisonous weeds and the good wheat. The harvest is the same period mentioned by Daniel “the time of the end”. So at this time of the end there would be an increase in knowledge as to Gods purposes.
That is such a brief explanation of where we understand where we are at. I understand that many people find that difficult to comprehend. Without going into all that the Bible reveals about that, I am asking that you keep that brief explanation in mind as you ask your follow up questions. You may not agree with that explanation but it sets the framework for replying to Derricks comments.
If I have gone of track with is reply I apologise. I look forward to your next question.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Wow that was a long confusing answer. I had to read it several times to make any sense of it. Brenton If I have understood you correctly you are saying that Jehovah Witness people have to accept some of what is told you but you do not accept every thing that the organization tells you
Is that correct. It seems that you still expect that some of your teachings will change. Are there many explanations as you put it that Jws do not accept.
If the organisation does not play a part in your salvation why do you put so much trust in it. Derrick said that to question the organisation is the same as questioning God Himself and that you believe that Jehovah leads and guides what goes into the publications, but at the same time, acknowledge that false teachings have appeared in the publications. That again sounds like the organisation has you people under control. How can God guide what goes into your Watchtower magazine?
Thank you for the follow up, and sorry for the delay
Yes you almost understood what I wrote. You said
“ but you do not accept every thing that the organization tells you”
It is not that we do not accept what the organisation tells us is that if there is an “EXPLANATION” that we find hard to follow or do not understand then there is no problem. Some individuals make it seem as if we MUST have NO doubts what so ever in what we are told. That is just unreasonable. As I will show later on the Bible gives accounts of ones not understanding some matters, because they are human and do not always have all the facts. It is only natural that humans will have misunderstandings. It is our attitude toward those misunderstandings that causes problems.
There are cor beliefs that JWs must add-hear too. Most religions teach that Jesus is part of a trinity, to us that is a false pagan doctrine that was introduced into the Christian teachings between the second and fourth century. If we decided we did not agree with that and decided to believe that Jesus was the second person of the trinity then we would not be one of Jehovah's Witnesses. If we decided to believe in a fiery hell-fire, we would not be one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and so it goes with all the basic Bible doctrines that separate us from the religions of Christendom.
There are a lot of “explanations” that also separate us from the other religions of Christendom. Most of those “explanations” are very clear to us, and we accept them as Bible truths because they are so clear. They would very few explanations that the majority of JWs would not understand (agree with). Partly because most JWs do not have the time or the resources to really check matters out for themselves. If there were things that a JW found hard to accept, as long as they do not try to make a big thing about it there is no problem.
Over the years I have shared in many conversations where several different points of view of a subject are discussed. Those that have been involved in such discussions generally agree that they may not see exactly why a conclusion has be made, but also agree that no one knows if the point of view that is being talked about is more correct or not. Such things are minor and are not a life and death matters (such as the cor belief’s) These have usually been explanations that have changed over time as new “light” (understanding , knowledge) is gained. At the time that the information is presented to us, the reasons for the change in “understanding” is clearly explained. It is up to us to accept those changes or not. If we do not accept them we still go along with the explanation because they are not vital for our salvation, but speaking in unity is.
A good example of that is the word “generation” that I mentioned in the last reply. Originally the word was thought to mean all those that were alive and able to understand what what happening in 1914. Back in the late 1960's and through the seventies it was not unusual for JWs to sit around and discuss what the “official”, if you like , explanation of “generation” and come up with other ideas as to its meaning. The “official”, if you like , explanation of “generation” has changed two times since then and still some JWs will discuss amongst themselves what the word might actually mean. Now just what Jesus meant by that word is not at all important to the way we worship our God. It is after all, as I said before, just and Explanation.
Speaking in unity may sound like being controlled by the organisation, but it is not. It is exactly as portrayed in the Bible by various Bible examples and we do our best to stay by the Bible,
There are a lot of Biblical examples of individuals that did not understand directions given to them or things that were taught, yet they stayed by what was said. Because we try to stay by the Bible we see those examples as being relevant.
Here is one occasion where Jesus taught something that upset many of his followers. Even his apostles did not understand what he was talking about. (they later understood but at the time they did not) yet they stayed by Jesus This is recorded at John 6:48-71. Jesus had been speaking about eating his fleash and drinking his blood. Verse 60 and 66 shows the reaction of many “60 Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said: “This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?”.... 66 Owing to this many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him “ Jesus next asks his apostles what they thought. They were uncertain but said “ 68...You have sayings of everlasting life; 69 and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God”..
So even though they did not understand what Jesus was saying they stayed with him because they had come to appreciate that he was telling them the truth of God. During the development if the first century Christians they underwent several changes in teachings of some ideas. Those accounts of changes are recorded for our benefit.
2 Timothy 3:16
16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching. . .
4 For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.
We may not understand everything that is published but we do appreciative that as a group JWs are doing the work approved by God
Those that a pose us will happily produce portions of written material that will suggest that we must believe all that the organisation teaches. There is just so much information that can be presented here on this mater to fully appreciate where we stand, but the limitations of this site prevent me for posting all of it. If you really want to know a complete answer, ask a JW the next time you mean one to explain all that is involved in this.
I have been preparing a more detailed explanation this type of topic. Much of what Derrick said is / will be - covered in it (but not as a direct explanation to Derrick, it is a general discussion. You will not find a direct link to Derricks statement) The web site is http://jwinformationl.blogspot.com.au/
It is not finished but a work in progress. At the moment you will find information about this particular topic.