Judicial Committee Meeting
The reason for publishing my judicial committee meetings is not to establish my innocence or to expose another person's culpability. It is, however, to reveal how a mechanistic and unquestioning mode of thinking can greatly impair one's ability to exercise justice - causing one to resort to dishonest and irrational argumentation.
I do not question the general character of the elders who judged my case. I might have displayed a similar lack of charity seven years ago. I'm quite sure that these same men in any other circumstance would be perfectly lucid in their reasoning and equitable in their dealings. Having been raised as a Jehovah's Witness I understand why they made the decision they did. I therefore harbor no rancor for them personally.
I am quite certain, however, that no impartial jury in the free world would ever sustain the verdict of this body of men and that of the appeal committee. After considering the contents of this case, I believe it will be obvious to the discerning reader why such trials are held behind closed doors.
This particular trial reveals how even in the face of devastating evidence, Jehovah's Witnesses are loyal to their fundamental teaching that the Watchtower acts as a unique channel of communication between God and mankind. It also sheds a glaring light on the religious intolerance and ecclesiastical tyranny that result from such a false concept.
Dialogue - Normal Font
Bible Quotes - Indented and Italicized
Watchtower Quotes - Indented and Bolded
Parenthetical comments are made throughout to indicate who was saying what to whom and to describe gestures or the spirit in which a particular thought was expressed.
[OBSERVATION] Publishing this Judicial hearing on the Internet has generated a considerable interest in Jehovah's Witness apologetics. I have since received countless emails from around the world requesting my comments on the Jehovah's Witness mind-set and rationale. In response to such inquiries, I have included highlighted notes on particular patterns of false reasoning and argumentation that I found worthy of observation. It should be noted, however, that specious argumentation is not exclusive to Jehovah's Witnesses nor is religious intolerance. This doctrinaire spirit has affected Christianity for two thousand years resulting in the fragmentation of Christ' body into some 22,000 sects.
[IMPORTANT] In an effort to educate those unfamiliar with Watchtower doctrine, I have explained some key doctrines and important differences between Jehovah's Witnesses and Evangelical Christians as they come under discussion throughout the case. In so doing, I am not indirectly identifying myself as an Evangelical - that is, a member of an evangelical church or party. To the contrary, I consider myself fiercely non-denominational.
Apostasy, Promoting a Sect
A private conversation in Tokyo, Japan in which I spoke critically of some Watchtower teachings and past Watchtower leaders.
When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation.
- Proverbs 18:13 NWT
Brother "D" : You had mentioned that you would like to talk about something
James: I would like if you would indulge me kindly, 15 minutes to speak, because like I said the last time...I did say some of those things in the letter. (The letter of my accuser) Many of the other things I did not say. One of the things I did sayÖ I did say that I felt that Russell, Rutherford and (Frederick) Franz were false prophets.
I know in making such a charge that the statement itself is "apostasy" to you. However, I feel like I said last time when I gave the example of Martin Luther...that through his studies of the Bible he recognized that certain positions that the Catholic Church had taken were not correct. When he brought that to the attention of people within that religious organization, they branded him a heretic.
I think that you can see that they did do unlawfully, even though the system saw fit to do that.
Brother "D" : Then again for him that was apostasy.
James: But in the eyes of God it wasnít.
Brother "D" : But it was against the tenets of the Catholic Church so thatísÖ
James: But in the eyes of God you recognize that it wasnít?
Brother "D" : Sure, he was saying the truth.
James: (Passing out ten pages of photocopies to each elder) I ask just 15 minutes, these are the reasons whyÖ Iíve understood the Bibleís view of false prophecy as listed here and I would like to just read a couple of these scriptures if you donít mind. Deuteronomy 18: 20-22,
"However the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word I have not commanded him to speak, that prophet must die. In case you should say in your heart how shall we know a word that Jehovah has not spoken? When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened of him."
"Both the prophet and the one who consults him will get the same punishment."
" For false Christís and false prophets will arise and will do wonderful miracles so that if it were possible even Godís chosen ones would be deceived. See I have warned you, if someone has said messiah has returned or that he is hiding at a certain place, donít believe it."
And Revelation as well speaks of the false prophet. Here I just listed Godís historic means of communication:
" In the past God spoke to our ancestors many times and many ways through the prophets but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son" Hebrews 1:1-2
" Let me tell you my brothers the Gospel I preach is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man nor did anyone teach it to me, it was Jesus Christ himself who revealed it to me."
And so this is my position, Iíve asked the question:
How does the Watchtowerís 120 years of history as Godís "channel of communication" compare with Godís Historic method of communication as evident in the Bible?
If you turn the page youíll see that the Watchtower does claim to be: (Reading the title of the Watchtower of 5/15/55)
"Jehovahís channel of communication,"
even stating that thereís:
This is interesting on page 3, 1998 just this summer it says:
"God spoke to his people through Moses and other prophets and Jehovah spoke to them through his Son Jesus Christ. Today we also have the Faithful and Discreet slave who gives us the food at the proper time, thus God is still speaking."
So they do consider themselves in that category. I thought that this was interesting to bring out to show that the witnesses do claim to be a prophet.
So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who was this prophet, this prophet was not one man but a body of men and woman. It was a small group of footstep followers known at that time as the International Bible Students. Today theyíre known as Jehovahís Christian Witnesses. Of course itís easy to say that this group acts as a prophet of God, itís another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record, what does it show?
So thatís quite an invitation. And this is the last thing. (Reading the title of Awake! 10/8/68 pg. 23)
"A time to lift up your head in confident hope"
"True there have been those in times past who predicted an end to the world even announcing a specific date, yet nothing happened, the end did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing was the full measure of evidence required in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, Missing from such people were Godís truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them."
Now Iím not going to share all this stuff but I would like to read a couple of things.
"Be not surprised then when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the kingdom of God has already begun that itís pointed out In prophecy as do to begin the exercise of power in AD 1878. And that the battle of the great day of God almighty which will end in AD 1914 with the complete overthrow of earthís present rulership has already commenced."
In 1889 they said:
" In the coming 26 years all present Governments will be overthrown and dissolved."
1894, Iíll go half way down the page:
" the old is quickly passing and the new is coming in. Now in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy are readers are writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date. They say that they do not see how present conditions can hold out so long under the strain. We see no reason for changing the figures nor could we change them if we would, they are we believe Godís dates not ours. But bare in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of time of trouble."
Next page, 1902:
"In view of the strong Bible evidence concerning the times of the gentiles we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God will be accomplished by the end of AD 1914."
" True it is expecting great things to claim as we do that within the coming 26 years all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved."
Then we see here in 1914 that they start to backstroke:
"Even if the time of our change should not come within 10 years what more should we ask? Are we not a blessed happy people? Is not our God faithful? If anyone knows anything better let him take it. If any of you ever find anything better we hope youíll tell us"
" The present day war in Europe is the beginning of the Armageddon of the scriptures. It will eventuate in the complete overthrow of all the systems of error which have long oppressed he people of God and deluded the world. We believe the present war can not last much longer until revolutions shall break out."
"in view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the times of the gentiles we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God will be accomplished near the end of AD 1915."
" be not surprised then when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the kingdom of God has already begun that itís pointed out in prophecy as do to begin the exercise of power in AD 1878. And that the battle of the great day of God almighty which will end in AD 1915."
Back down to 1915 again:
"The gentile times prove that the present governments must all be overturned by AD 1915."
At the bottom of the page we see in 1917:
"there shall be no slip up, Abraham should enter on the actual possession of his promised inheritance in the year 1925."
"The spring of 1918 will bring upon Christendom a spasm of anguish greater than that experienced in 1914. The travail that is coming to be upon nominal Zion Christendom Babylon, it will be a great and sore affliction."
"And the mountains were not found. Even the republics will fall in the fall of 1920. Every kingdom of earth will pass away, be swallowed up in anarchy."
"Pastor Russellís mission in large part was to advise Christendom of its impending end in the time of the world wide trouble it is the divine judgment upon the nations. There will be no chance of escaping from destruction. The trouble is due to the dawning of the day of Christ, the millennium. It is the day of vengeance, which began the world war of 1914, which will break out like a furious morning storm in 1918."
" Also in the year 1918 when God destroys the Churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the down fall of Christianity."
1917, I thought this was interesting because this has always been the tone taken with anyone not within the watchtower:
" As the fleshly minded apostates from Christianity siding with the radicals and the revolutionaries will rejoice at the inheritance of desolation that will be Christendomís after 1918, so will God do to the successful revolutionary movement. It shall be utterly destroyed."
"Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old. Particularly those named by the apostle in Hebrews 11 to the condition of human perfection."
It was in 1919 at this point that the Watchtower claims they were rewarded for their "faithfulness" and "discretion."
"Since other scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of the dead being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible legal representatives of the new order on the earth. We must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die."
That was written in 1920, the great campaign the Watchtower talks about today.
"The time of the end embraces a period from 1799 AD," that was taught for 40 years, " as above indicated to the time of the complete over throw of Satanís empire and the establishment of the kingdom of the messiah, The time of the Lordís second presence dates from 1874"
Just a couple of more pages and weíre done.
" We should expect the general harvest of the gospel age to end in 1918."
There would be an ending to the work in 1918.
(*Keep the above prophecy in mind*)
"The scriptures clearly indicate the climax of the fall of Satanís empire and the full establishment of the messianic kingdom. This climax being reached by 1925, that marking the beginning of the fulfillment of the long promised blessings of life to the people millions now living on earth will be living then those who obey the righteous laws of the new arrangement will lie for ever. Therefore we can confidently say at this time that, millions now living will never die."
The Watchtower of March 1,1922 states that these were indisputable facts:
"The time of the end began in 1799, that the Lordís second presence began in 1874.
"We have no doubt about the dates of 1874, 1914, 1918, and 1925. There can be no more question about 1925 than there was about 1914."
"It is on the basis of such and so many correspondencies in accordance with the soundest laws known to science that we affirm that scripturally, scientifically, and historically present truth chronology is correct beyond a doubt."
I enjoy this one from 1922:
"This chronology is not of man, but of God. Being of divine origin and divinely corroborated, present truth chronology stands in a class by itself. Absolutely and unqualifiedly correct."
" 1925 is definitely settled by the scriptures. The Christian has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had (so far as the scriptures reveal) upon which to base his faith in the coming deluge."
" No doubt many boys and girls who read this book will live to see Abraham Isaac, Jacob, Joseph Daniel and those other men of old come forth from the glory of their better resurrection. Perfect in mind and body. It will not take long for Christ to appoint them to their post of honor and authority as his earthly Representatives."
1924 as well, Watchtower:
"Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of the truly consecrated child of God, that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874."
" But all the enemies of the cause of present truth in the earth are fervently hoping that the Bible Students will not be so successful in 1925 in looking for the right thing at the right time, as they were in 1914. If they are however it is the other fellow who will have to do the explaining and not we."
We arrive on the date of 1925 and true to form:
" It is expected that Satan will try to inject into the minds of the consecrated the thought that 1925 should see an end to the work. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason and that when their imaginations burst asunder they were inclined to throw away everything."
And he was speaking about was that people sold their homes and businesses and what not. (A theme we will see repeated)
"The year 1925 is here with great expectations Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished, it may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned with what may transpire this year."
Next page 1930:
"All of the Lordís people look forward to 1914 with joyful expectation. When that time came and passed there was much disappointment, chagrin and mourning and the Lordís people were greatly in reproach. They were ridiculed by the clergy and their allies in particular and pointed to with scorn because they had said so much about 1914 and what would come to pass, and their prophecies had not been fulfilled."
"There was a measure of disappointment on the part of the faithful ones, which disappointment lasted for a time. Later the faithful learned that these dates were definitely fixed in the scriptures and they also learned to quit fixing dates for the future and predicting what would come to pass on a certain date, but to rely upon the word of God as to the events that must come to pass."
(Turning the page) Here we have the title of the Watchtower in 1968:
"Why are you looking forward to 1975."
The next page:
" Are we to assume form this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked for thousand year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possibly,
It goes into all the points that the chronology could be off a little bit, lets see how much itís off by:
"It may involve only a difference of weeks or months, not years."
Next page we see the sign of the last days with the 1914 generation pointing all the way to Armageddon and underneath a chart of 6000 years of human history ending in 1975. Chapter 2 of that book dealt with the fact that war between heaven and earth precedes the thousand year (reign) meaning that Armageddon would have to take place before 1975.
Some people say that it was "speculation" on the part of the brothers about 1975 but weíll see here that the society didnít think it was speculation when this Kingdom Ministry of May 1974, said the following:
"Yet the end of this system is so very near, is that no reason to increase our activity?
Well it could be speculation, but lets see what the Society says:
" Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and properties and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked worldís end."
And the next page we see the 1914 generation, we all lived through that prophecy saying that this generation would not pass away. I would like to just read this last page quickly. Watchtower April 1 1972:
"So does Jehovah have a prophet to help them to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These questions can be answered in the affirmativeÖ Of course itís easy to say that this group acts as a prophet of God, itís another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record, what does it show?"
In short, this is the Watchtower record:
Charles Taze Russell:
1881 - all Bible Students will be transferred to heaven-UNFULFILLED
1914 - complete overthrow of earthís rulership, Israel converts to Christianity en masse-UNFULFILLED
1915 - again, complete overthrow of earthís rulership- UNFULFILLED
Watchtower under Joseph Rutherford:
1918 - day of vengeance will break forth, God will destroy churches and members by millions, and millennium will begin- UNFULFILLED
1920 -The world will explode into complete anarchy, all republics will fall-UNFULFILLED
1925 - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will return to earth, the fall of Satanís world will take place- UNFULFILLED
Watchtower under Fredrick Franz:
1975 - the start of the millennium "the fitting time for God to act," "difference of months not years"- UNFULFILLED
1995 - 1914 generation would not pass away, taught as the "creatorís promise" for 31 years, is replaced by "new light"- UNFULFILLED
Then again in the awake October 8 1968 article:
"True there have been those in times past who predicted an end to the world even announcing a specific date, yet nothing happened, the end did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing from such people were Godís truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them."
The reason why I bring this up is (Because) that I was quoted as saying that I thought that Russell, Rutherford and Franz were false prophets, yet when one reviews the record, and one reviews what Godís standard is for a false prophetÖ one who says something will come to pass, especially one who claims to speak for God. One who claims to be a prophet in the sense of:
"declaring things to come."
and one who declares that:
God spoke through Moses and the prophets and through his son, the faithful slave is speaking,
"God is still speaking."
I donít think the Watchtower can live up to the standards of the scriptures. And so to righteously give a judgment, one would have to view the Bibleís view of false prophecy, not an organizationís view.
Observation: Reasoning constructs a rational link between the evidence and the claim and authorizes the step we make when we draw a conclusion. Reasoning answers the question "How did you get from the evidence to the claim?" This "link" is sorely missing in the reasoning process of some Jehovah's Witnesses. I believe that what follows clearly demonstrates this.
first fallacy we encounter is known as the Slothful Induction. This is
when the proper conclusion of an inductive argument is denied despite the
evidence to the contrary. In this case, even though the preponderance of the
evidence clearly points to the conclusion that the Watchtower is guilty of false
prophesy, this conclusion is categorically denied.
Brother "D" : Ok. So you are saying that the society or the Watchtower society is a false prophet?
James: Well, Iím not saying it. The Bible says that someone, who says that something will come to pass and it doesnít, especially someone who purports to speak for God- is a false prophet. So what James Caputo says really means nothing because the record is right there, and you all saw it in print.
Brother "D" : Well there are a lot of prophecies that did come true as well.
James: Can I here some of those?
Brother "D" : Thatís not what weíre debating tonight. Answer the question. Is it your view that the Watchtower Society is a false prophet?
James: What is your view? Are they a true prophet?
Brother "D" : You have to answer that.
James: Look if youíre going to ask me a questionÖ I just read ten pages of photo typed false prophecy.
Brother "D" : So let me ask you again just to clarify it. In your viewÖ
James: Well what is your view?
Brother "D" : My view is itís fine.
OBSERVATION: Leon Festinger's theory on 'cognitive dissonance' sheds some psychological light on why it is that one holds to a belief even in the face of mounting disconfirming evidence. He writes:
"A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point. We have all experienced the futility of trying to change a strong conviction, especially if the convinced person has some investment in his belief. We are familiar with the variety of ingenious defenses with which people protect their convictions, managing to keep them unscathed through the most devastating attacks. But man's resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief. Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view.
"But whatever explanation is made it is still by itself not sufficient. The dissonance is too important and though they may try to hide it, even from themselves, the believers still know that the prediction was false and all their preparations were in vain. The dissonance cannot be eliminated completely by denying or rationalizing the disconfirmation. But there is a way in which the remaining dissonance can be reduced. If more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must, after all, be correct. Consider the extreme case: if everyone in the whole world believed something there would be no question at all as to the validity of this belief. It is for this reason that we observe the increase in proselytizing following disconfirmation. If the proselytizing proves successful, then by gathering more adherents and effectively surrounding himself with supporters, the believer reduces dissonance to the point where he can live with it." (When Prophecy Fails pgs. 3, 28)
James: No my question is are they guilty of false prophesy?
Brother "D" : Yes or no?
James: You wonít answer that question?
Brother "D" : Iím not the one that weíre asking.
James: I have just run off pages of false prophecy.
Brother "D" : No
James: You say theyíre not a false prophet? They never said that things would come to pass and they didnít?
Brother "D" : You asked me yes or no and I asked you a yes or no. I answered your question.
James: Well I will answer differently from you.
Brother "D" : Yes, and what is your answer?
James: My answer is that based on Godís word, based on the fact that the scriptures teach that his standards are more righteous than any organization or any claims that men could make...uninspired men...that we have to be true to Godís word. Godís word tells me that "if a prophet speaks something in the name of Jehovah and it doesnít come to pass that is a prophet who has spoken presumptuously."
Brother "D" : Ok so the question was do you feel the Watchtower Society is a false prophet?
James: I feel the Watchtower Society will go down in history as the false prophet of our century.
Brother "D" : Now the question is...and weíve talked about this beforeÖ the definition of apostasy even biblically would be going against the truth.
James: Can I ask you is this apostasy, (or truth) the things we just read? Saying that people will be destroyed by the millions, is that apostasy?
Brother "D" : Apostasy as we said and Iím sure youíre well aware of the definition is a falling away from a belief.
OBSERVATION: Use of equivocation. Jehovah's Witnesses often unwittingly play into semantics in order to arrive at their desired conclusions. Brother "D" realized that his first definition of apostasy incriminated the Watchtower. His definition conveniently changed from "going against the truth" to "falling away from a "belief"
James: We read a scriptureÖ we opened this evening with a scripture about the man who conceals his sin. (Opening prayer and scripture not in transcript) Did you folks ever hear of these prophecies before?
(I was intimating that it is the Watchtower that is concealing its sin)
Brother "D" : Sure.
James: You didnít know that Christ was reigning since 1874 for the first fifty years of the organization.
(In a preliminary meeting we had, this brother was ignorant of that fact)
OBSERVATION: The double standard that exists between Jehovah's Witnesses and non-witnesses is formidable. Many times if you turn their exact arguments back on them, you can help them to see this. For example: If "apostasy" is "falling away from a belief," is the society "apostate" for falling away from their "belief" that Christ returned in 1874? If this definition is legitimate and biblical, shouldn't we be able to apply it to all individuals and organizations? If as an organization they will abandon certain beliefs, is the issue really the "falling away from a belief" or abandoning a particular belief before the Watchtower Society deems it permissible? If the latter, what empirical evidence is there that the Watchtower acts as a unique channel of communication between God and mankind?
Brother "D" : They changed it.
James: I thought those were
Brother "D" : Who said that?
James: I just read you (Reading from the Watchtower) "we consider them Godís dates we couldnít change them if we wanted." Go to quote
Brother "D" : That was the understanding then.
James: Was it truth then?
Observation: : Notice how in order to support his argument he re-words my questions by changing the key terms ? The word "truth" changes to "understanding". As will be seen, the use of equivocation is rampant throughout this dialogue.
Brother "D" : That was the understandingÖ it was probably the best they had at the time.
James: Was it truth?
Brother "D" : At the time it was the understanding.
James: Truth becomes a very elastic termÖ?
Brother "D" : No Jimmy noÖ
Brother "G" : Itís really in line with proverbs 4:18 that the path of the righteous one becomes brighter and lighter and lighterÖ
Brother "D" : And then again Jim if you did as much research on the ones that did come trueÖ
James: I donít know of any prophecies that were fulfilled.
Brother "D" : (Referring to the false prophecies we considered) Well you said that five years ago you didnít know of this.
James: Give me one and Iíll be happy to go home with one.
Brother "D" : Well, are there a growing number of people proclaiming Godís kingdom?
James: Which kingdom would you be talking about? The kingdom of living on earth, the paradise earth? Well I donít see that as scriptural.
Brother "D" : Well thereís five million people now doing that around the globe and when this was done there was maybe ten thousand. So you wouldnít say that thatís growing?
OBSERVATION: Because Witnesses are often ignorant of the organization's past, many times they assert a bogus "growth prophecy" as evidence that the Watchtower is "God's organization." In the above quotes, we read that, far from prophesying a large growth for the organization, Rutherford declared that the general harvest or preaching work of the gospel age would END in 1918. Go to quote
James: For that matter look at the Mormons they think theyíre preaching the Kingdom of God.
Brother "D" : Yet theyíre certainly not showing the kind of growth that the Watchtower has... that Jehovahís witnesses are.
James: There are ten million people. (Mormons) They are much larger!
Brother "D" : All over the globe?
James: All over the world. Mormons are larger than the Witnesses. Is that a sign of Godís favor if the Mormons are larger than the witnesses?
Brother "D" : The Mormons arenít saying that theyíre going to live in Godís kingdom arrangement here on earth.
Observation: A Red Herring Argument is when one pulls the discussion away from the issue at hand by introducing a new focus.
James: No they have their own message of the gospel like the Witnesses do.
Brother "D" : Well actually noÖ Would you say the Mormons are true Christians?
James: I would say they are the same type of Christians as Jehovahís Witnesses.
Brother "D" : Well again I donít want to debate it but you might want to do a little researchÖ
James: Iíve read books like that on the Mormons I know a lot about them.
Brother "D" : They still accept polygamy.
James: Absolutely crazy beliefs!
Brother "D" : So how is that true Christianity?
James: How is it true Christianity to say that the New Testament is not written for you?
IMPORTANT: The Watchtower teaches that since1935 the new covenant teachings of Jesus and the apostles (Such as the heavenly calling and Christ' mediatorship) no longer apply to ALL who put their faith in Christ. Today, out of millions of Christians, the Watchtower claims that only 8,735 people (JWs) are "anointed" or spirit-begotten. Because eligibility into the new covenant hinges upon the prerequisite of a pre-1935 baptism, virtually all these individuals are octogenarians. Recently, however, 4 new members were added to the organization's autocratic governing body. All 4 of them were baptized after 1935 and yet claim to be "anointed." Of note is the fact that the 1999 figures (which informs Jehovah's Witnesses of the exact number of those who partake of the elements of the Lord's supper, thus declaring themselves of the "heavenly class") show an increase of 21 persons over that of a decade ago. Mortality rate studies indicate, however, that out of 8,800 octogenarians, over half will die in a ten year span. The Watchtower seeks to dodge this dilemma by claiming that certain individuals have replaced "unfaithful" anointed ones. Yet so many exceptions, leads one to wonder what happens to the rule.
Brother "D" : Well the thing isÖ
James: Did Paul teach that, a time would come where all of the promises that Christ made to the body of Christ would be cut off in 1935? Is that scriptural?
Brother "D" : (pauses) Again the information they hadÖ
James: Brother "D" , youíre a student of the Bible. Is the message of Paul as "the good news" that at a certain point the heavenly hope and all of the benefits of being a brother of Christ would be cut off by Judge Rutherford in 1935?
Brother "D" : Does it say that in scripture?
James: Rutherford said "Light flashed up."
Brother "D" : Well Brother "G" just said that tooÖ
James: But in the thirties (actually 1917) when light was flashing up to Rutherford to say that the republics would fall, was that "light?" Go to quote
Brother "D" : Again as the light gets brighter they adjust that. But there are actually people who lived at that time who felt the difference.
Ok Jim but anyway like I saidÖ obviouslyÖ then againÖ honestlyÖ sincerely you donít feel and if Iím wrong you just tell me, that the Watchtower Society is giving truthful information?
James: I donít think itís truthful when you have false prophecy.
Brother "D" : Well thatís good, I mean I appreciate your explanation. If you want to look in TitusÖ and again going on the premise that you feel you do have the truth.
James: I believe that Jesus Christ is the way and the life and the truth.
OBSERVATION: The inability to make a point with a Jehovah's Witness is due in large part to their discursive pattern of argumentation. Employing classic Red herring argumentation Brother "D" changed his criteria for "true Christians" whenever he found it difficult to prove that the Watchtower met the particular criterion he presented as fundamental. His criteria started with "true prophecy" then went to "growth" then to" the message of living in God's kingdom arrangement on earth." When he was hard-pressed to support that message from scripture, he chose the evasive "light flashed up" argument to defend the altered message. When unable to justify from scripture the arbitrary closing of heaven in 1935 , he countered with the anecdotal argument that "people felt the difference."
Brother "D" : Good. Titus 3:9-11. This is something as a true Christian youíre concerned with.
James: (Reading the scripture from the NIV)
"But avoid foolish controversy and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once and then warn him a second time. After that have nothing to do with him you may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful he is self condemned."
Brother "D" : Now as a true Christian how do you understand that?
James: As a true Christian I read the Bible in its context. Here we have Paul writing Titus and heís telling him that there are people arguing over foolish things and he mentions exactly what they are:
"controversies over genealogies and arguments about the law."
We know that all through the first century that was a major debating thing. Like the men who came down from Judea and said unless you are circumcised you cannot be saved. He says have nothing to do with that because such a man is
"warped and sinful and self-condemned."
Heís self-condemned because if he follows the Law he negates what Christ did for him.
Brother "D" : Or it also says:
"promoting a sect, rejecting them that they turned out of the way."
James: Hold on, the context was a sect of peopleÖhold onÖ you canít put this to the Watchtower now. Here we were dealing with a man giving counsel that if a man is going and causing division bringing up controversies about the LawÖ because that kept happening over and over again with the Mosaic Law. That person is warped because he hadnít gotten the sense of what Christís death was about.
Brother "D" : Thatís just one of the things.
"Foolish questionings and genealogies and strife and fights over the Law. As for a man who promotes a sectÖ.
James: Which sect was he talking about?
Brother "D" : Thatís what Iím asking you now. As a true Christian if someone was promoting something false, how would you deal with it?
James: For example if tomorrow as a fellow Christian you were to go off on a crazy chronology and bring people to yourself... something that was truly not rooted in scripture? Then I would say being with Brother "D" who is promoting something that is totally not in the scriptures would be dangerous.
Brother "D" : (Referring to the Watchtower quotes) Now would you say what you have picked here is rooted in the scriptures?
James: Thatís rooted in the Watchtower.
Brother "D" : Is that rooted in the scriptures?
James: This whole first page is all about the scriptures, itís all scripture, and what follows is how the Watchtower has not lived up to the Bible principles.
Brother "D" : Ok so you would say that the Watchtower is not rooted in the scriptures?
James: (Frustrated with his trying to reverse the argumentation) What would you say? You just read how prophecies werenít fulfilled. Is it true that if a word does not come to pass that you are a false prophet? Do you believe the word of God?
Brother "D" : Jim, just answer the question.
James: But Iím asking you a question. Do you believe that if a prophet says that something will come to pass and it doesnít that thatís a false prophet?
Brother "D" : (pause) I guess based on what understanding you haveÖ
James: No based on Deuteronomy 18.
Brother "D" : Thatís your understanding.
James: It is not my "understanding!" Brothers no! Christ said that false prophets would rise and he said that they would say that he was in a hiding place, donít believe them. Did Russell say that Christ was hiding?
IMPORTANT: Russell taught that Christ arrived invisibly in 1874 and was "concealing" himself from all but "the elect."
In an attempt to dodge the accusation of being false prophets, witnesses will often argue that they never claimed to be a "prophet" in the "biblical sense." Yet Jesus words make no such distinction. The false prophets of Matthew 24 are false prophets not because they officially declared themselves "prophets in the biblical sense," or because they uttered prophecies not found in holy scripture. They were false prophets precisely because of their misleading and premature declarations in connection to Christ' second coming.
Despite the Watchtower's sheer volume of "misinterpretations" in relation to the second coming of Christ, the organization's current teachings in this regard are never presented as "interpretations" but as "the truth." Openly questioning the truthfulness or factualness of their "interpretation" of Christ' alleged invisible presence in 1914 would invariably lead to a "judicial hearing." Yet as has been seen, Today's "truth" about 1914 can with all probability prove to be yesterday's "misinterpretation."
Brother "D" : Jim let me ask you a question.
James: No you didnít answer me.
Brother "D" : But againÖ
James: Why wonít you answer me?
Brother "D" : (Silent)
James: Are you sincere?
Brother "D" : My beliefs are not the ones weíre discussing right now.
(In the inquisition Church representatives who were sent out to "inquire" of peopleís beliefs were above questioning or an exchange of thoughts)
James: But thatís not the point. Do you believe Godís word? Godís word says that that personís a false prophet.
Brother "D" : (Changing the question) Do I believe that the Watchtower Society has changed its views?
James: no no no, I didnít ask you that. I asked you if they were guilty of false prophecy.
Brother "D" : No.
James: So Deuteronomy 18 is wrong?
Brother "D" : No, Iím just saying no. Thatís what you asked, and I said no.
James: You donít believe Deuteronomy 18?
Brother "D" : Yes.
James: But it doesnít apply to the Watchtower?
Brother "D" : I didnít say that.
James: Well thatís impossible. Either you believe Deuteronomy 18 and you believe the Watchtower is guilty of that orÖ
Brother "D" : Has the Watchtower changed its views?
(I never asked that question)
James: It did not "change its views," it prophesied the end of the world.
Brother "D" : Has it changed its view?
Brother "D" : I agree.
James: Can I ask one more question?
Brother "D" : Sure.
James: If I were to go in the door to door ministry and meet someone whose family member was involved in the Wide World Church of God under Herbert Armstrong. And that family member related the fact that in 1975, which is the truth, Herbert Armstrong declared that the world would end. 1975 came and passed. If that person asked me at the door was he guilty of false prophecy? What would I answer?
Brother "D" : Were you familiar with his prophecy?
James: Yes, he said the world would end. He had chronologies much like (Frederick) Franz. Was he guilty of false prophecy?
Brother "D" : Did he add an adjustment to that view?
James: Sure he did and he told people who left that organization calling him a false prophet that they had no right to, that there was "light" that was added. So where does one go if the scriptures are our guide?
Brother "D" : Well let me ask you somethingÖ
James: But you didnít answer the question!
Brother "D" : Would you associate yourself with Armstrong?
James: No I wouldnít. Heís a false prophet.
Brother "D" : Would you associate yourself with the Watchtower?
James: Brother "D" , you didnít answer the question! Would I be wrong in saying that Herbert Armstrong is a false prophet to that person at the door? Was he guilty of false prophecy?
Brother "D" : I donít know anything about the man.
James: (Informing him about the man) He said the world would end in 1975, he claimed that he was speaking as "Godís representative," it did not happen. Was he guilty of what the Bible classically calls false prophecy?
Brother "D" : What else did he prophecy about that year?
James: Iím not talking about that year! He said the Millennium would come in 1975.
Brother "D" : Did he have any prophecies that were true? I donít know a single thing about Herbert Armstrong.
James: Herbert Armstrong taught a lot of the ways the Witnesses teachÖ a lot of the same doctrines. None the less Herbert Armstrong was viewed by the world and by his church members as being guilty of false prophecy. You donít agree with that?
(Those members who openly called Herbert Armstrong a false prophet were disfellowshipped as "apostates"). http://www.herbertwarmstrong.com/disfellowship.htm
Brother "D" : I donít know anything about the fellow.
If 99 percent of his prophecies came true and 1 percent were wrong, what would you say?
OBSERVATION : A False Analogy is when the example given to shore a particular point does not remotely resemble the the reality of the proposition that is being argued. In this case, ask yourself the following question: Does such a 99 to 1% ratio reflect the Watchtower's history of failed predictive prophesy?
James: You know what it would mean? It would mean that the one prophecy was false. And I donít believe a true prophet has 99 percent true and 1 wrong.
A true prophet like the prophets of the Bible even though they were imperfectÖDavid slept with Bath-Sheba but when he wrote the psalms thatís the word of God. And the witnesses put themselves inÖ(pointing to the quotes)
God spoke through Moses, the prophets and Jesus Christ,
does he with the Faithful slave,
"God still speaks."
Do you see the same level of accuracy when it comes time to preach the word of God?
Brother "D" : (Long pause)
James: How come Davidís words donít have to be "adjusted" they were penned thousands of years ago?
Brother "D" : (Not responding) Ok.
James: Thatís the question.
Brother "D" : What was the question?
James: The question is how can you say that the Society acts as a prophet of God in the class that they put themselves when they cannot live up to the infallibility of scripture?
IMPORTANT POINT: Ironically, while not claiming to be prophets in the "biblical sense," the Watchtower has consistently aligned themselves with biblical prophets. Watchtower leaders have unblushingly dubbed themselves the "Ezekiel," "Jeremiah" and "John" class after the great inspired prophets of the Bible. They have arrogated the authority of such prophets while conveniently exempting themselves from the accountability and responsibility that accompany that divine office. They accomplish this by claiming to be God's channel of communication while making an open admission to non-inspiration. It should be noted, however, that any attempted parallel between uninspired men and inspired men is nothing more than a false analogy; for the differences far outweigh the similarities.
As proof of their office and divine authority, the appointment of such men of scripture was invariably accompanied by signs and portents. Hence, it was objective. Its objectivity was evidenced in that even pagan nations often recognized such individuals as bona fide representatives of Jehovah. As God's spokesmen they stood accountable for all that they preached and foretold. That being the case, the faithful servant of God had to weigh each of their prophetic declarations (be them predictive or instructive) in light of God's expressed will.
The Watchtower's divine claim, however, is unverifiable. In fact, it's based on an alleged invisible event. Yet, anyone can claim that Christ returned invisibly in a particular year. The Watchtower Society has claimed this twice in its 120 year history. (1874, 1914) The Watchtower asks its devotees to humbly accept without reservation the "spiritual food" they serve . In fact, failure to do so could have grave consequences. Hence, the Watchtower's writings are never to be submitted to scrutiny or openly challenged. To do so would evidence a prideful spirit and lack of appreciation for "God's arrangement of things."
Yet, this self-styled, self-serving and uninspired "prophetic office" could really lend itself to virtually anyone. Notice how the following WT quotes read when one changes the names of the protagonists:
"God spoke to his people through Moses and other prophets and Jehovah spoke to them through his Son Jesus Christ. Today we also have Tom, Dick and Harry who give us the food at the proper time, thus God is still speaking." Watchtower July 1998 pg. 3
" True, Tom, Dick and Harry who have prepared these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18) However, this has resulted in a continual refining of the body of Bible-based truth to which Jehovah's Witnesses subscribe." The Watchtower of 15 February 1981 pg. 19
"What would you expect from the table of demons? And while the apostates may also present certain facts, these are usually taken out of context with the goal of drawing others away from the table of Jehovah."--The Watchtower, July 1, 1994, page "12
Anyone can slip their feet into such divine shoes and automatically place themselves above correction. Such an unbiblical position invariably casts the objector or skeptic in the role of "complainer against God." The biblical question every Jehovah's Witness should ask is;
Where does the Bible teach that God would break with his historic method of inspiring individual men to communicate his divine will (Heb 1) and instead use a channel of communication comprised of multiple uninspired men that would have a "progressive understanding" of scripture and whose teachings would contain a good measure of error that all true Christians would have to promulgate to have God's favor, even if doing so troubled their conscience?
Upon reflection, it becomes clear that there is nothing similar between God's historic method of communication as found in scripture and the Watchtower's faithful and discrete slave teaching. Furthermore, the New Testament does not remotely justify a compulsory promulgation of error or a 'follow-the-leader' doctrinal approach regardless of one's individual Christian conscience. To the contrary, the book of Romans says that it is sin to do or believe something without faith. (Romans 14:23)
Brother "D" : Are they perfect? No. They even say theyíre not perfect.
James: but they either speak for GodÖ
Brother "D" : Well look at the over all thing. You fail to want to seeÖ
James: Well show me.
Brother "D" : I just explained to you if you look at the preaching activityÖ(changing the subject) Youíre a Christian?
Brother "D" : So youíre saying you wouldnít take blood?
James: I donít agree on the view of blood. (The Societyís view)
Brother "D" : But isnít that a Christian teaching from Paul your mentor?
James: No I believe that isÖ that is an aberration of the Watchtower. Now I will tell you this. I just want to tell you this. The same scriptures that are used for abstaining from blood, for 25 years were used for abstaining from vaccinations... and Witnesses used to put acid burn marks on the legs of their children to simulate smallpox vaccinations.
From 1967 to 1980 the same scriptures were employed to prohibit transplants. People died. Now the blood, what if the blood (doctrine) changes Brother "D" ? Could it change? Do you know that there is a whole committee for reform on blood even among Jehovahís Witnesses? Do you know that it has been that close to changing?
What about the lives sacrificed on the error of the Watchtower?
Brother "D" : Ok, so, weíll get back to the question.
James: Thatís not a question! (I meant never mind the question) My point is that is "going beyond the things written." Because they looked at those scriptures in the twenties and said:
"you canít have vaccinations"
and they looked at them in the eighties (sixties) and said:
"Itís cannibalism donít get transplants"
but then "the light grew brighter" after some people died, lost their sight, and lost their kidneys. And now they say:
and that "light" might change too. So is it Godís word or manís opinion?
Brother "D" : (Not answering the question) So as an organization would you say it is an organization that is promoting truth?
James: Itís an organization that is promoting their opinions. Brother "D" , when you were young in the seventies they looked at the Bible and said (higher) education was out.
Brother "D" : (Looking at the other elders and acting as if it was the first time he ever heard of such a thing)
James: People didnít get ostracized for going to college?
Brother "D" : I went to college. Brother "G" went to college.
Important: Since it's inception the Watchtower Society has consistently maligned higher education . This is due in large part to their belief that Armageddon is perennially at hand. We read the following in the Watchtower of 3/15/69 pg. 171 :
"Do not pursue higher education. There is very little time left! Make pioneer service, the full-time ministry with the possibility of Bethel or missionary service, your goal."
James: I know a lot of people who caught a lot of flack for going to college. It wasnít the thing to do they were "hot beds of immorality," all sorts of slogans were used. Now we open up the same Bible and "light flashes up" again, and itís wonderful to go to college "if you have the pioneer service in mind." But back then it didnít matter. When "light flashed forth" Brother "D" Ö
Brother "D" : You were born after the Vietnam War, you canít even imagine what colleges were like back then. I caught a little bit of it. But that was probably the best protection for those folks. It probably still is. Youíve left home youíve seen whatís happened around, not everybody can handle it.
James: But is that the message from Godís word? I mean Godís word gives us principles but donít we have the conscience to make decisions?
Brother "D" : Absolutely thatís why I went to school, Brother "G" went to school.
James: So would you say that people could use their conscience with vaccinations and transplants?
Brother "D" : Actually thatís what it is, a conscience matter.
James: Now, but for years it was prohibited as a disfellowshipping issue.
Brother "D" : Was it a disfellowshipping issue?
James: Yes. From 1967 to 1980. So what Iím saying is, was that Godís word in stone or was it a manís opinion that cost people their lives and sight and what not?
Brother "D" : (Not answering the question) Well again as Frank mentioned they change as time went on.
Actually with medical advances it probably was a protection then. Theyíve made tremendous advancements.
IMPORTANT: Because the Watchtower has to be God's unique channel, some good can even be extracted from past false teachings. Hence, the organization is right even when it's wrong.
James: You know what I donít understand though? I have to say this honestly. Brother "G" mentioned "the light growing brighter."
If a bunch of Bible students get together in 1870 and they say 1874 the world is going to end and it doesnít. And then they say 1881 weíre going to be glorified and they arenít. (1878 and 1910 as well) And 1914 the worlds going to end again and it doesnít. And 1915 and it doesnít. And 1918 and it doesnít. And 1925 and it doesnít. And in the forties and it doesnít. And in 1975 and it doesnít. And the generation and it doesnít. How is that a "light getting brighter?"
All three Elders: (Silent)
James: ÖAnd this is what I find an insult to my intelligence. When you say (The Society) "the generation will not pass away," if you follow that systematically (Chronologically) the Society said of course a person of fifteen years of age. (In 1914) Then they said of course a person ten years of age. Babies would not be considered. Then they were babies. Then "light flashed up."
All of the prophecies if you follow the literatureÖ all of the prophecies have done that.
You arrive on the date and:
"Satan injected the minds of the consecrated, why should we care what happens in 1925?"
(Getting emotional) I mean as righteous people how can you look at a centuryís worth of garbage like that?
OBSERVATION: Instead of making a manly admission of error, the Watchtower attributes its discarding of old teachings to "New light." It has consistently shrouded such changes in similar terms such as; "progressive understanding" and "further clarifications." Most of the changes in doctrine, however, are a result of the leadership's lack of discretion in the first place. Thus, it is not so much a crystallization of God's word that leads to doctrinal change, but a necessary consequence due to unnecessary dogmatism.
All Three Elders: (Silent)
James: People spent their lives, sold their homes. This destroyed lives. There is blood and tears behind those false prophecies!
Brother "G" : And yet the organization keeps growing.
OBSERVATION: Even recognizing the despair caused by the promulgation of such "false expectations," the growth of the organization to many Witnesses acts as a stamp of "divine approval" canceling out the wrongs committed. Yet as seen earlier, larger organizations than the Watchtower Society are not measured by the "growth" criterion.
James: It does. And so does the Catholic Church, stronger than ever, richer than us, bigger than us. That doesnít mean a thing Brother "G", Itís either right or itís wrong. There is such a thing as righteousness. The Bible says:
"woe to those who put dark for light and bitter for sweet."
Itís wrong whether you believe in your organization or not. "My country right or wrong" doesnít work with religions either. Itís wrong. Thatís my conscience!
Brother "D" : Thatís fine. Like I said we appreciate you being honest.
Brother "G" : I know youíre sincere Jim. (An interesting admission)
James: But this I have to say. You know Iím sincere and you stand as judges because thatís the position youíre in, you stand as judges and on Godís wordÖ you know the scriptures and youíll read these scriptures again and hopefully theyíll give you a little pinch in the stomach next time you read them... You know the scriptures and you will take an action that will make people view me as "spiritually dead" when I have done nothing but speak the truth.
Brother "D" : Thatís the question I wanted to ask you here and you didnít answer. Do you feel the Watchtower is a false prophet or speaking untruths? Personally. This is not a defining matter.
James: I feel this, I feel the Watchtower teaches truth. The Watchtower teaches that Jesus Christ came died for our sins. It teaches the morals of the scriptures, it teaches love to their neighbors. I feel the Watchtower teaches a great amount of truth! I would be foolish to say they didnít, they do! I feel the Watchtower says things that are absolutely not true.
I think the Watchtowerís claim to speak for God is absolutely not true. I donít believe their communicating anything from God. I believe that the Bible cannon has been closed and that the Holy Spirit leads us into truth. So for me to say that the Watchtower is a "false prophet" is actually a silly statement, Because I donít think youíre (pointing to Brother "D") a false prophet because the end didnít come in 1914. And I donít think youíre (pointing to Brother "G") a false prophet because the generation prophecy changed. Those were men. (Behind the failed prophecies)
Thereís a face on this organization. I know no one here knows the face but there is a face. And Russell was the face from 1879 to 1916, and Rutherford was the face from 1916 to 1941. And even though Knorr took over, it was Frederick Franz all the way till 1976. Those are your false prophets! Now thereís a governing body that serves.
Those are the men I take issue with. I donít take issue with Witnesses because none of you came up with chronologies and charts with mankind ending in a certain year.
I donít think anyone here if they were left to teach the Bible would ever go on to such fanciful ideasÖ saying not to take vaccinations.
(My point was that I did not blame them, but the self-appointed delusional men behind the false teachings)
IMPORTANT: The fundamental fallacy JW's and many Christians of varying denominations and traditions commit is that they view "the church" or a religious organization as a person. As former Bethelite Tom Cabeen rightly observes:
Association with an organization can influence its members to copy the viewpoints of its leaders, express themselves in a similar way, or act in a uniform manner. It may appear that the organization has a "mind" of its own. But that is not so. An organization has no capability for independent thoughts, feelings, or opinions. It is not a separate entity like a person. Organizations are formed when individuals wish to pool their efforts to accomplish a task, achieve an objective, or share fellowship. The organization may be small or large, tightly or loosely knit. Members of the group may form a legal corporation in order to conduct business. They may appoint leaders or spokespersons for the group, and assign jobs to various members. They may establish rules of conduct and operational methods to be followed as they go about achieving their objectives. But, although it is common to speak of an organization as accomplishing something, no activity attributed to an organization is actually done independently of the individual members, working alone or together. Every thought or action comes from an individual. Apart from its members, an organization is absolutely incapable of generating, communicating or carrying out ideas. This means that any communication that comes from "the organization" is really coming from an individual, even though that member may be sincerely attempting to speak on behalf of the group. An organization simply provides a way to get things done. It has no viewpoint, memory or con-science of its own. It can neither love nor hate. It has no emotions or feelings. It cannot do right or wrong. An organization can do nothing of itself. Only people can do things. And only a person can have a relationship with God (or anyone else). After World War II, the Nazi organization never went on trial for war crimes. But individuals who were associated with it did. An organization cannot commit nor be punished for crimes. It bears no accountability. But people do.
Brother "D" : Well let me ask you something, maybe I misunderstood what youíre saying. If youíre saying now that the Watchtower Bible and tract society are saying the truth then whatís the issue?
James: I said they teach some truth.
Brother "D" : But you said since 76Ö now thereís a governing body, are they still speaking false? You threw me off here. Iím not following what youíre saying.
James: Iím saying to make a black and white statementÖ I would never do it. I donít appreciate it when the Watchtower does it about other religions. You canít just say Watchtower bad! The Watchtower is not all-bad! The Baptist church is not all-bad! They teach things that are true. My point is that, as a Christian and (With) a conscience thatís biblically trained I have to draw the line of demarcation where something is true and where something is false.
If someone says to me; 'havenít Jehovahís Witnesses made a lot of false prophecies?' As a sincere person I canít say:
(quoting the Watchtowerís stock-response to accusations of being false prophets)
"No, weíve been eager to see Jehovahís promises accomplished in our day."
Thatís not true! Godís word tells me that there will be false prophets. Yes weíre guilty of false prophecy. But Jehovahís Witnesses are good people, theyíre eager in their faith. I think thereís a balanced view.
Brother "D" : So what is it you take issue toÖ the Watchtower Society?
James: I take issue with men exalting themselves over the flock with a pseudo divine authority. There is no way that anyone can prove that those men are the "channel of God." That paper (My research) right there proves that thatís not true.
Brother "D" : So againÖuh the Watchtower Society is the problem not the beliefs of Jehovahís Witnesses?
James: No, there are many beliefs I donít believe in. I donít believe that any "light flashed up" to Mr. Rutherford that said in 1935 no one goes to heaven. I donít believe that. I donít believe Godís word teaches such a date. We donít even have a chronology for that date we just say thatís the way it is!
I donít believe that the "good news" as taught by Paul and the apostles is one and the same as the good news taught by Witnesses. I think Paul sought to know nothing but "Christ crucified." Witnesses come (to the door) and show pictures of people playing volleyball and petting animals. I donít believe that thatís the message of the Bible. I think that that as well has gone "beyond the things written."
Brother "D" : So anything scriptural as far as moral life you believeÖ
Brother "D" : So then that gets back to my question here. We were saying that:
"if a man promotes a sect, reject him."
Now would you say that weíre promoting a sect?
James: That youíre promoting a sect?
Brother "D" : Yes, Jehovahís Witnesses. Is that a sect?
James: Not in that sense of the word. (In terms of enforcing the Mosaic Law)
Brother "D" : Answer the question.
James: Iím reading the Bible differently than you do. When I read Titus Iím reading of something that took place with particulars involved.
Brother "D" : You yourself said you follow Bible principles?
Brother "D" : Every instance in life is not going to be one thatís specifically in print. (The Bible)
James: I agree.
Brother "D" : So you take a principle. What is the principle here.
James: The principle there is that when someone goes off and declares that we need something more than Christ for salvation than that would be something that would be unhealthful.
Brother "D" :So what do the Witnesses do?
James: The Witnesses claim that we need the organization for salvation.
Brother "D" : So would you say that we are a sect on this principle we just talked about?
James: Not only would I say they are a sect, I would say that all the encyclopedias and everyone in the world considers the Witnesses a sect. (On that principle)
Brother "D" : Based on that definition? So the thing is what happens when you know that a person or a group is a sect, as a true Christian how do you act?
James: You do exactly what I did. I discontinued my participation.
Brother "D" : Ok, so wouldnít you want to make it very obvious that you want no part of this at all?
(Not attending meetings for over 3 years is not obvious enough?)
James: Brother "D" , I have been an absolute gentleman to Jehovahís Witnesses. I believe everyone here knows that I have not gone around spreading my beliefs. That is not what Iím about. The three times I was spoken to I was solicited information.
This is very interesting I should just mention it. I just saw my sister Michelle. She said, make it very clear to the brothers that they were soliciting information because my brothers told me (Her elders) that if they (The Witnesses) solicit, (ask you questions about what you believe) you donít stand accountable for what you say. Is that true?
Brother "D" : No.
James: Itís not true?
Brother "D" : No. To apostatize meaning youíre recruitingÖWe told (asked) you last summer would you be recruiting folks?
James: Do you think Iím recruiting someone? Do you think Iím really going out to recruit people?
OBSERVATION: The leadership justifies its tyrannical practice of shunning by creating the false-illusion that certain ones are trying to build sects around themselves (a concept which is foreign to the witness psyche) Rather than "promoting a sect" many witnesses in an effort to leave quietly and with impunity will "relocate" without informing friends of their whereabouts. In fact, this is exactly what I did.
Brother "D" : Well then again Jim, out of sincerity and I said this to you many times. If this is what you believe you should it express it. If that is what you truly believe that is what you should express. If you truly do not believe what the Watchtower says is true, then disown it completely.
(Notice he could not answer in the affirmative)
James: But what youíre saying is that, we can have differences and I can discontinue to believe what I believed at a former time. But to leave with dignity is not possible.
Brother "D" : But JimmyÖ
James: No No No, Iím asking you, is it possible to leave with dignity?
What I mean by "to leave with dignity" isÖNever to be worthy of a salutation from former membersÖ
Brother "D" : The thing is these are "apostates" to you.
James: (Horrified) My friend, I do not believe you are an "apostate." I believe youíre deceived. I believe youíre deceived. But I do not believe you donít believe in Christ and you do not believe in the Father. I donít believe that.
Brother "D" : You saidÖ(changing the subject again) I wonít take a blood transfusion regardless of what the Society saysÖ
James: Thatís fine.
Brother "D" : I do believe that I will live here on earth if Iím worthy.
James: Thatís fine.
Brother "D" : Thatís not a true Christian belief according to you?
James: I donít agree with that beliefÖ
Brother "D" : Is that a true Christian belief?
James: To me, I believe to say that "Iím going to live on the earth" is not a Christian belief.
Did you ever hear the apostle say, "Iím going to live on the earth?"
Brother "D" : I wasnít around the apostles. (Said seriously)
James: Their record is recorded in the Bible!
OBSERVATION: Christians do not deny that the Bible teaches that there will be a "new heavens and a new earth." The fact that the Bible speaks of a new earth, however, does not in and of itself necessitate that there be two "classes" of Christians much less alter the Christian's oft-repeated promised hope of glory and immortality. This hope is spoken of throughout the New Testament quite unambiguously and is historically attested to.
Our understanding of exactly when God will regenerate the earth is based squarely on one's particular chronological view of eschatology - that is, the end time prophesies of the "great tribulation" and the Millennium. Yet, there are several differing theological constructs regarding these events. This is due in large part to the fact that the Bible makes reference to such things infrequently and quite symbolically when it does. The scarcity of the texts to support the witness contention also plays a part in blocking communication. (For example, the "new earth" is directly mentioned only 4 times in all of scripture).
Instead of systematically interpreting the "hard to understand" or relatively few scriptures in light of the unambiguous scripture (such as there being "one hope" and "one calling" for Christians) Jehovah's Witnesses build the foundation of their theology on their eschatological interpretations of these few "new earth" references. In spite of the fact that the organization's history is so checkered in this regard, their end-time hypotheses end up replacing the clear and unequivocal hope Christ offered his faithful followers. In essence, the millenarian speculations published by the Watchtower is the "good news" Jehovah's Witnesses preach. (What is the good news?)
Brother "D" : (Not answering the question) So the thing is Iím not a true Christian and I accept that. Youíre saying that based on your view of true Christianity, Iím not. So why would you even want my salutation?
James: What a foolish thing to say! I would want the salutation of a prostitute in the street. I have friends who are Mormons! "If you donít believe as I believe why would I want to greet you?" Does that make sense to you?
Would you not want to greet a Mormon because he doesnít feel the way you do?
Brother "D" : well if you know that weíre saying the wrong thingÖ
James: Well I know the Mormons are advocating wrong thingsÖ
Brother "D" : So why would you want to associate with me?
James: Brother "D" I would associate with you if you were a Mormon and promoted false beliefs. Whatís the problem? Why couldnít I dignify you?
In other words Jesus spoke to the Samaritan who was of another faith. Did he say "I wonít speak to the Samaritan because she is of another faith?"
Brother "D" : (Ignoring me)
James: Did you hear what I just said? She was of a different faith. He approached her.
Brother "D" : And if she rebuked him what would he say? If she said 'Iím not interested.'
James: (Overwhelmed by what he is implying) Jesus only spoke to people whoÖhe never onceÖYou guys make back calls! (Old "Theocratese" for Return Visits)
Brother "D" : Absolutely and when they say "donít come anymore" weÖ
James: And you wouldnít greet them if you saw them in Stop and Shop? (A local grocery store)
Brother "D" : If theyíre saying my beliefs are different than yoursÖ
James: Brother "D" this is common sense! How can you say that because someone has a different beliefÖ?
Brother "D" : (Ignoring me) Lets look at 1 Corinthians 5:11
OBSERVATION: When speaking with Jehovah's Witnesses, I have found it beneficial to lead them to the illogical conclusion of their arguments. In argumentation this is known as the reductio ad absurdam argument, or reducing to the absurdity argument. As seen, by straight-jacketing brother "D," in his unreasonable argument, he was obliged to say that he would not even offer a salutation to a fellow human being in a public place if that person held a belief divergent from his own. It should be noted that such an extreme position is not advocated by Jehovah's Witnesses nor would this particular elder ever practice what he is disingenuously preaching. Quite to the contrary, he is a very kind and somewhat liberal Jehovah's Witness.
James: Let me see where I am (reading the heading of the chapter) "disorder in the church expel the immoral brother." Ok classic example!
"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an Idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat."
(Pause) Which one was I?
Brother "D" : No Iím not sayingÖ but what Iím saying is would these be true Christians?
James: Of course not.
Brother "D" : Ok, but yet would you have association with them?
James: Of course not, and isnít it wonderful that he (the apostle Paul) defined who they were? (The people with whom we are not to associate)
Brother "D" : Right ÖorÖ
James: No no no no no, How is that (a way) to read the Bible? My brother!
do you believe Iím sexually immoral?
Brother "D" : Iím not applying it to you Iím applying it to me. (Said seriously)
James: I donít feel youíre sexually immoral.
Brother "D" : But youíre saying that Iím a false Christian.
James: Iím saying that I feel youíre misled. But I would still have a meal with you.
Brother "D" : Well would I be an idolater, since I follow a false prophet?
James: You know I would never judge if you were an idolater.
Brother "D" : But yet as a true Christian isnít that what itís (The Bible) telling you to do?
James: (Confused from the role reversal) So youíre saying that Iím an idolater?
Brother "D" : No I am.
James: No Iím telling you that I wouldnít judge you.
Brother "D" : No but Iím sayingÖ youíre a true Christian?
Brother "D" : You follow the scriptures?
Brother "D" : You wouldnít follow that counsel there not to associate with people who follow a false religion?
(Did the counsel say "not to associate with people who follow a false religion" or is he adding to the text?)
James: (Emphatically) Let me answer you. I do not see you as either "sexually immoral," "greedy," an "idolater," a "slanderer," a "drunkard," or a "swindler," therefore I have absolutely no compunction to eat with you
Brother "D" : So then youíre saying then that these scriptures you wouldnít use?
James: For you?
Brother "D" : With anyone.
James: No! If someone came and stated to believe in Christ and wanted to engage in spiritual conversation and was one of those types of people, I wouldnít eat with that person. But you know what I would do? I would admonish that person.
Brother "D" : Ok, and what if they donít listen?
James: If they wouldnít listen? I would let them go.
Brother "D" : So you wouldnít agree to have them over.
James: No, but I would keep admonishing them. I would admonish them in the scriptures.
Brother "D" : What did it say, how many times would you admonish them according to Titus?
Brother "D" : So what happens after that?
James: After that you stop associating. (Long pause)
Well we have to talk apples and oranges here!!
Observation: An argument from analogy links an unfamiliar thing to a familiar thing in order to emphasize similarities while it ignores dissimilarities. Christians not associating with those who the Bible calls "sexually immoral," "greedy," "idolaters," "slanderers," "drunkards," and "swindlers is one matter. Ostracizing a God-fearing Christian because he conscientiously objects to particular teachings of a twentieth-century sect, is quite another. This is a giant leap of misapplication.
Brother "D" : NoÖWhat Iím saying isÖ.
James: What are you saying?
Brother "D" : Iím applying it to me.
James: No no no no, apply it to me since Iím the one on the way out! Apply it to me!
Brother "D" : No what Iím saying isÖ Iíll honor your view that you are a true Christian. Iíll honor that. Iím willing to say that I follow a false prophet, according to your view. You say you want association with others that have made it very clear that they will follow the false prophet.
James: (Getting tired of the game) Number one, I did not say that. Donít put words in my mouth! I said "I want to leave with dignity." What I mean by that isÖ to leave with announcements being made that mark a person as "spiritually dead," unfit for a salutation and a sharing of a meal. That punishment does not fit my crime. Because as youíve seen (Picking up Watchtower quotes) what Iíve stated tonight is the truth.
Brother "D" : But the thing is why would you want associationÖ.
James: Brother "D" , because I am not a judgmental man who refuses not to say helloÖ
Brother "D" : Itís not for you to judge itís in the scriptures.
Observation: Fallacy of the false dilemma or the black and white fallacy. This occurs if someone presents a situation as having only two alternatives, where in fact other alternatives exist or can exist. Brother "D" would have me believe that either one remains a part of a particular religious organization by sharing and advocating ALL its views, or one by discontinuing to believe certain teachings of a religious organization must renounce a life-time worth of friends and family and have himself viewed as an apostate by them. Could there possibly be an alternative to such a procrustean view?
James: The scriptures do not tell me that I cannot eat with someone who feels differently than I do! The scriptures tell me not to be with "sexually immoral," "greedy," "idolaters," "drunkards" and "swindlers!"
Brother "D" : WellÖ
James: Is that what the scripture says?
Brother "D" : It says someone who "promotes a sect"Ö
James: No no no, I did that. (Weíve been through that) I have left the Witnesses. I donít worship with the Witnesses. But I have a right to be seen as a human being. Those scriptures have not proven your case. So far we havenít dealt with any that are even close or approximate my circumstance.
IMPORTANT: The Watchtower can only remain the organization that it is by controlling the information and the association of its membership. It has enforced a censorship on all literature critical of the organization and has also prohibited active members from having open dialogue with former members. Failure to obey these directives can lead to "judicial hearings" and possible excommunication. These policies ensure that the Watchtower's unique claim of being "God's channel of communication" will go unchallenged. .
Most active witnesses who are willing to discuss at length (with former members) the Watchtower's history almost invariably cease to believe in the organization as God's modern-day instrument. Watchtower leaders know this. Therefore, a dissident member's plea to leave quietly and with dignity is viewed as an impossibility - The Watchtower simply cannot take such a risk.
Brother "D" : (Laughing sarcastically) No, itís my circumstance.
James: Brother "D" , but Iím telling youÖmy conscienceÖnumber one this is not a black and white issue. This is up to our conscience as well. My conscience does not see you unfit to share a meal with. I would eat a meal with you. Do you think that thatís absolutelyÖThat Iíve gone overboard to eat a meal with you?
Brother "D" : Well the thing is, how strong are your convictions?
James: My convictions are very strong. Theyíre very strong. But you know what? I can share a meal with you. I can share ten with you and not share my views with you. If you asked me my views I would share them in a loving way.
Brother "D" : Well the thing is uhÖ if you have the truth and I donítÖ you wouldnít want me to have that truth?
James: (confused again from the role reversal) I wouldnít want you to have that truth?
Brother "D" : You said you wouldnít share your beliefs with me.
James: If you made it perfectly clear that those are things you felt strongly about and that you didnít want to speak about, I would give you the dignityÖ
Brother "D" : But then again why would you want to associate with someone whoÖ
James: Because I associate with people who donít feel the way I feel. Iím a Greek when Iím with a Greek. Like Paul become "everything to all people." Does that not sound scriptural to you?
(I was wrong in that comment. Paul became a Greek in order to witness about Jesus)
Brother "D" : Well the thing is it seems like you can be very unforgiving for some things and very forgiving for others.
James: Youíre saying that Iím being unforgiving? Youíve looked at a hundred years of false prophecy and you forgive that...and because I stated it (the false prophecy) to someone in a private conversation in Japan, that I am worthy of being considered spiritually dead!
Brother "D" : No Jimmy what Iím sayingÖ
James: No thatís exactly what youíre saying!
Brother "D" : What is your beliefÖ
James: What my belief isÖ I stated those facts. This is what I stated to Brother "H," Those facts, is this untrue? (The false prophesy) This stuff right here? Do you believe itís the Watchtower that said those things?
Brother "D" : It looks like Watchtower quotes they have theÖ
James: Yeah, ok. I stated those things. He listened. I said because of those things I donít believe thatís a true prophet based on what Godís word tells me.
Brother "D" : (No response)
Brother "M" : Jim will you take a look at Romans 16:17. If you look at that scripture it says:
"Now I exhort you brothers to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching you have learned, and avoid them."
That could be reciprocal. Now youíre saying that we possibly could cause divisions... The Watchtower organization, because of what they promote. And us the way we view you possiblyÖas possibly causing divisions by promoting your views.
James: May I speak to that?
Brother "M" : Sure go right ahead.
James: (Reading from the NIV Bible)
"I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ but their own appetites."
Paul here is saying to be careful of people who are teaching things beyond what
Who taught those Christians? What did they learn from Paul? In other words, if you were in the first century congregation and said: "Iím going to live on a paradise earth," do you think that was beyond what Paul taught?
All Three Elders: (Long pause, followed by no response)
James: You do believe to read the Bible in context? Did Paul teach that Jesus Christ was Michael the Archangel?
IMPORTANT: Jehovah's Witnesses do not use the historical/grammatical hermeneutic. Hence Israel's restoration promises found in Isaiah are not written for Jews, but for 99% of witnesses who claim to be Christian. Conversely, the promises of Christ made to Christians are not for all those who put their faith in Christ, but for less than 1% of even Jehovah's Witnesses.
I'll furnish an example to clarify my point:
"For all those who are led by God's spirit, these are God's sons"
Witnesses are told that this scripture was written for people who at the time were anointed sons of God. (Despite the fact that the context specifically says that all who are NOT led by the spirit are in the flesh and have enmity with God). Thus unlike Christians who believe that those words apply to all faithful believers living in the Christian age until Christ' second coming, a witness reading that scripture would fix the application of it to a set point in history (first century or pre-1935) and thus not believe himself to be a son of God.
"And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy, and they will certainly plant and eat their fruitage"
Even though this Jewish restoration scripture from Isaiah was penned hundreds of years earlier then the passage from Romans, Witnesses do not interpret it as a direct promise to Jews. It is understood to apply to 99 percent of modern-day Christian Jehovah's Witnesses. Hence, the original meaning, and historical context of these words are overridden by a unique modern-day application of them causing an almost total chronological reversal of the biblical settings. This error of divorcing scripture from its historic context is common among many religious traditions.
Brother "M" : (Not answering me) Paul was teachingÖ
James: No Iím asking if you said, "I believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel" wouldnít you be going past what Paul taught?
Brother "M" : Jim youíre asking us questions thatÖ
James: No no no, this is what this scripture means.
Brother "M" : I understand, but your asking us questions as if we are going to try to answer them. Where just looking for what your viewpoint is.
James: Iím telling you my viewpoint. My viewpoint is that what Paul is urging here is for people not to go beyond what HE had taught them.
Brother "M" : Thatís fine.
James: So I am not "going beyond" what Paul taught. I will not go where Witnesses go because I believe that they teach things that Paul never even taught.
Brother "M" : But again your saying that we should still have association with thoseÖ
James: I didnít even say association. I said why should one have to leave branded as spiritually unfit for a salutation?
OBSERVATION: Notice how many times they falsely claimed that I wanted "association" when in reality I requested time and again to leave quietly and with dignity? They consistently erect "straw men" arguments and attack them as if those were the positions for which I were arguing. This I believe they do subconsciously in an effort to convince themselves that their actions are justifiable, or better yet, scriptural.
Brother "M" : But thatís not a brandingÖ
James: Sure itís a branding!
Brother "M" : (finishing his sentence) That Jehovahís Witnesses put on you. Youíre looking at your viewpointsÖ
James: No no no! My brother I have shown you false prophecy of 120 years.
Brother "M" : But again, thatís the way you view that.
James: You donít view that as false prophecy?
Brother "M" : No.
James: (Pointing to the Watchtower quotes) Thatís not false prophecy?
Brother "M" : Weíre not viewing it that way, no.
James: How are you viewing that, as true prophecy?
Brother "M" : The wayÖ
James: No, are you viewing that as true prophecy?
Brother "M" : Jim, againÖweÖ
James: (Insisting) no is this true prophecy Brother "M"?
Brother "M" : Jim it is prophecy that Jehovahís spirit has worked with through the organizationÖ
(Notice that he did admit that it is "prophecy.")
James: Was it true or false?
Brother "M" : It has been clarified. (Oh sweet semantics!)
James: But it wasnít false?
Brother "M" : At the time, yes it was true.
IMPORTANT: The second law of logic is the law of non contradiction which states;
something can not be false and at the same time be true.
James: So Abraham did come back in 1925?
Brother "M" : (Silent)
James: So what is truth?
(Turning to Brother "D")
Come on Brother "D" youíre a better man than that !!
Brother "M" : Jim weíre just asking youÖ youíre saying how you should associate with others who donít have the same beliefs who one time had the same beliefs that we have.
Same thing if you go to second John.
James: What kind of people are spoken of there?
Brother "D" :But again not applying to you, but applying to us.
Brother "M" : ( Joining the role reversal game) You apply it to us.
James: You know whatÖ Let me disfellowship you, but give me dignity. Give me dignity! Let that decision rest with me. Let that decision rest with me. 2 John what?
Brother "M" : 8-11
"Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked works."
Who would like to exegete that for me? Who would like to verse by verseÖParse that scripture for me?
Brother "D" : (Reading from NWT)
"Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For he that says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works."
James: Whatís the teaching of the Christ? Do you think I donít believe in the teaching of the Christ?
Brother "D" : No, I didnít say that.
James: Ok. So how does that apply?
Brother "D" : I said according to what you believe, you believe you have the truth.
IMPORTANT: Unlike Evangelical fellowships where one can differ in many things while agreeing on essentials, JW's are not as charitable. (Many other organizations and traditions are equally uncharitable in their defining of the "essentials") "The truth" to Jehovah's Witnesses is having exactly the right doctrines. Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses refer to the The Dawn Bible Students who separated from them in the twenties as "The Evil Slave" even though the Dawn Bible Students share almost all of the Witnesses cardinal beliefs.
Also worthy of mention is that unlike Christians who scripturally refer to their being believers as "being in the Lord," or "in the truth," When Witnesses refer to "being in the truth," they really mean "being in the Watchtower organization." Thus, non-believers to JW's are not as the Bible teaches- those who do not confess faith in Christ, but, those who are not associated with the Watchtower Organization. Hence a Witness woman could marry Billy Graham and her witness friends would consider her as having married a "non-believer." This is because Billy Graham is not "in the truth," which in JW jargon means; Billy Graham is not in the Watchtower Organization.
James: No no no, I believe you have the teaching of the Christ. I believe that you believe that Jesus died, and was raised on the third day.
Brother "M" : But youíre also saying that the teachings that we as Jehovahís Witnesses promote about the paradise earth arenít scriptural.
Brother "D" : Right. Would you say that weíre pushing ahead and weíre not remaining in the teaching of the Christ?
James: I would absolutely would. (Going ahead of the apostolic revelation) I believe your pushing ahead beyond the things that are written.
Brother "D" : But what does it say how you treat us.
James: But I have removed myself from you. Have you seen me worshipping with you? When was the last time I sat next to you and sang a kingdom melody?
Brother "M" : If you feel that way about usÖ
James: Iím telling you this says that anyone who
"does not bring the teaching of the Christ"
What does it mean "the teaching of the Christ?" What is the basic meaning?
Brother "M" :
"Anyone who does not remain in this teachingÖ"
James: What is THAT TEACHING?
Brother "M" : Anyone who does not remain in the scriptures.
James: No no no no my friend! You donít know how to read the Bible if you see it that way. Because anyone can go:
"remain in this teaching"
you see the Mormon Church we have wonderful teachings.
OBSERVATION: Hermeneutics is the art and science of Bible interpretation. Exegesis is the careful, systematic study of Scripture to discover the original, intended meaning. This is a historical task. Eisegesis conversely, is bringing a thought or concept to a passage that is not inherent to the text. What Brother "M" is doing is classic eisegesis. Instead of interpreting "this teaching" based on the contextual meaning and historic application of the phrase, Brother "M" was imposing an entire religion's doctrinal system to the two-word text. Such a methodology of interpretation would require an analysis of every single doctrine advocated by any religious organization that saw fit to employ that scripture as grounds for "apostasy." Thus, the definition of apostasy would change from one denomination to the next.
For example: Denying the physical assumption of Mary into heaven would be "apostasy" from a Catholic perspective in that such would be evidence that one did not "remain in this teaching." Denying baptism for the dead from a Mormon perspective could equally be used as evidence that one did not "remain in this teaching." By extension, rejecting paradise earth as a reward for faithful Christians is used here as evidence that I had failed to "remain in this teaching" from a Jehovah's Witness perspective.
The problem is, historically the words found in John 2:8-11 are neither dealing with the assumption of Mary into heaven, the baptism of the dead, nor the obligatory belief that a faithful Christian will inherit a paradise earth. The text treats the subject of denying that Christ came in a body of flesh - a fact which Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and I concede. The Witnesses' belief in post-biblical application of the Bible permits them to supplant the historical, original, and intended meaning and replace it with a sectarian one. This interpretive error is repeated egregiously in my appeal committee meeting..
This here is speaking of the teaching of the Christ, that Jesus came as the Son of God and died for mankind. Do you believe that Jesus came and died for mankindís sins?
Brother "M" : Yes.
James: Then Iíll share a meal with you.
(I was guilty of eisegeis in that 2 John is not speaking about anything other than those who falsely claim that Christ did not come in the flesh. In the first century they were a group called the Docetists).
Brother "D" : But now also we believe what Jesus taught about the faithful and discreet slave.
James: Well you know, we havenít discussed the faithful and discreet slave. Today weíve discussed false prophecy, and in the face of flagrant false prophecy everyone here sees no problem in saying that those prophecies were true when they were said.
Brother "D" : I didnít say they were true.
James: Brother "M" did. Brother "M" said they were true when they said it.
Brother "D" : It was the truth that they had... But I read here that the faithful and discreet slaveÖ We believe the Watchtower Bible and tract Society is the faithful and discreet slave. We believe that to be a teaching of Christ. He said that not me, in Matthew 24.
Therefore given that thatís our belief, how do you view it?
James: I would answer it with a question. Did Paul teach the faithful and discreet slave?
All Three Elders : (Silent)
James: He never mentioned it.
Brother "D" : Didnít he say that it was part of the teaching of the Christ?
Brother "M" : Didnít Jesus teach it?
James: Jesus certainly did!...and when Paul taught it did he teach it as a "group" we have to listen to, or did he say make sure that you may be found "faithful stewards?" Werenít they all to be "faithful stewards?"
Brother "M" : So youíre saying that youíre a faithful steward? (Or faithful Slave)
James: No, Iím saying that THE BIBLE TEACHES that all of us want to be found "faithful stewards" so that Jesus in the great white judgment can say "well done good and faithful servant."
Isnít that what you desire?
Brother "M" : Yes.
James: Ok thatís what Iím saying Paul taught. Paul didnít say:
Hey, "weíre the faithful slave!"
In fact if you can show me where Paul ever pointed to himself and his companions (Compositely) as the faithful slave, Iíll believe it.
I donít believe itís in the Bible.
Brother "M" : Ok.
James: Do you believe itís in the Bible?
Brother "D" : What...the faithful slave?
James: That Paul (And his contemporaries) made up the faithful and discreet slave in the first century? I never heard them speak of themselves in those terms.
Brother "D" : No. It says that the faithful and discreet slave would be evident at the time of Christís presence. Doesnít it say that?
James: The Society teaches that the first century (believers) was the first century "faithful and discreet slave." Was that the "faithful and discreet slave?"
Brother "D" : ah well, it was Jehovahís organization at that time.
James: No, Iím saying, does Paul teach that they were "the faithful and discreet slave?" because then youíre "going ahead"... because Paul never taught that they were "the faithful and discreet slave"
Brother "D" : Thatís what I said, that we according to your view we donít remain in the teaching of the Christ.
James: (Exhausted from the role reversal) So what this comes down to is because weíre so bad, speaking for yourselves, you should disfellowship us, but you know whatÖ
Brother "D" : If thatís truly your belief and youíre true to your belief. Weíre true to our beliefs.
James: Can I ask you brothers a sincere question?
Brother "D" : Sure.
James: If I were to show this information (The documented false prophecy) to the average witness. Letís say a "Bible student." What are the chances that they would get baptized?
Brother "D" : Iíd say very good.
James: You would?
Brother "D" : Yes.
James: So whatís the fear?
All three Elders: Thereís no fear, thereís no fear, thereís no fear!
James: There certainly is fear!
Brother "M" : Jim weíre concerned about the protection of the flock.
James: From what are you protecting them?
Brother "M" : From devices, divisionsÖ
OBSERVATION: Jehovah's Witnesses often claim that their organization is honest and does not fear examination of its past and present teachings. This however begs the following questions:
1. If there is nothing wrong with the Society's false prophesies, and if they are indeed nothing more than "misinterpretations of scripture," then why do so many people get ousted from the organization for speaking about them and why am I dragged before this judicial committee for a private conversation regarding them?
2.If the Watchtower is honest and open about it's past, why is it common that some of the highest ranking men in the society evidence an abysmal ignorance of it and why are these elders and those in my appeal committee so misinformed about it?
3. For more than 50 years the organization's cherished teaching that Christ had arrived invisibly in 1874 was considered important enough to merit the subtitle of its main journal Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ' Presence. In fact, their main objective was the promulgation of this alleged invisible presence. If the organization is forthright with its members, why is this the first time these elders ever heard of this date?
4. Furthermore, if the Society's track record is so innocuous, why is it that many who do diligently study it, almost invariably leave the organization or cease to believe that it's "God's channel of communication?"
James: If I were to rip the first page of this off (The part that contained only scripture) and just gave the rest without the last page. (the part that summarized the Watchtowerís false prophecy record) would you want Witnesses to read it?
Brother "D" : Sure.
Brother "M" : If it was in the Societyís publications.
Brother "D" : I would let them read them all! I mean really itís laughable that you want to go back a 120 years ago.
James: They didnít say the generationÖ
Brother "D" : I lived through the generation.
James: They didnít say it would end?
Brother "D" : IÖactually
James: People didnít sell their homes?
Brother "D" : We didnít sell what we had.
James: (Pointing to the Kingdom Ministry quote) This didnít say that people sold their homes?
Brother "M" : It says "some"Ö "There are reports that some have"
"Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes"
Brother "D" : (Arguing in the wrong direction) I know people who didnít fix their dentures! Whatís the point?
James: Whatís the point?
OBSERVATION: Jehovah's Witnesses often trivialize the Watchtower's prophetic blunders. It is a matter of fact, however, that many people didn't plant crops in 1913 because of the expectations that were aroused by the society for the year 1914. Other false prophesies caused people to defer education, marriage and having children. Some even committed suicide from the resulting destitution of selling their businesses and properties.
Brother "D" : Itís what you want to do with it. If you are convinced this is trueÖ
James: So false prophecy doesnít exist? The Bible is neutral on false prophecy is what youíre telling me?
Brother "D" : No.
James: When it comes to "Jehovahís organization"
"the light grows brighter"
so that means we can teach falsities and false prophecies. But because Jehovahís dealing with this organization his principles donít have to be considered?
Brother "D" : (Ignoring my question) Well letís sayÖ
When we look at his organization as claimed by the Watchtower - a self-proclamation, We see that that they are full (guilty for) of things that they said would happen and didnít. Are they above Jehovahís principles?
Brother "D" :No because look at everything they said and did.
James: No no no no no Iím asking just the ONE thing. Are they above the principles of false prophecy?
Brother "M" : Yes, they are!
James: (Gathering my papers) Ok thatís all I need to know. Thatís all. Thatís good. Thatís where we end, because thatís where we differ. Godís word is truth.
To spite my many pleas to leave the organization quietly and with dignity and the elders own tacit recognition that I had no intention to "recruit" people, it took all of forty-five seconds for the committee to disfellowship me for "apostasy."
I appealed the verdict. My appeal committee was made up of the these three elders and three out of town elders. In many ways it was more a travesty of justice than what you have just read. I recorded that meeting as well. firstname.lastname@example.org
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