I’ve been thinking, reading, meditating and praying about the subject of God’s omnipresence and His presence in us a lot lately. This was started by an ongoing online discussion between some Jehovah’s Witnesses and some ex-Witnesses. A person who is studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses wrote the following on a forum during a discussion of Jesus’ presence.
For years the Watchtower taught that the great crowd served God in the figurative “courtyard of the Gentiles” of the temple of God. Then, suddenly, in 1998 that teaching was changed.
Living just south of Kennebunk Maine as I do, I often heard the story of how a mob, irrate over Jehovah’s Witnesses’ refusal to salute the flag, attacked and burned the Kingdom Hall there on June 9, 1940. As is the case with so many things, there is more to the story.
In recent years, the “faithful slave” has encouraged Jehovah’s Witnesses to present their beliefs as though the Witness came to these beliefs as a result of their private study of the Bible. Here is an example
After recounting incidents of persecution in Ethiopia, the 1/1/95
issue of The Watchtower, page 6, para 8, said:
“Satan has failed to crack the integrity of such loyal brothers and sisters by direct frontal attack. So, what other crafty devices does he employ? Revelation 12:12 says of these last days: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” Having failed to annihilate God’s loyal people by persecutions, in his anger he attempts to massacre entire populations, no doubt with a view to destroying Jehovah’s people along with the rest. Thus so-called ethnic cleansing has been carried out in parts of the former Yugoslavia, and genocides have been attempted in Liberia, Burundi, and Rwanda.”
According to the 1995 Yearbook: “Among the possible half million Rwandans who lost their lives were hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
So what they’re saying is that in order to put a few hundred (about 300 is what I read in a branch report several years ago) witnesses out of the picture, Satan took out about 500,000 Rwandans. I always thought that Satan had better aim than that. If he’s that inept, maybe we don’t have as much to worry about from him as we thought. 🙂
But seriously, folks …
This paragraph shows a great deal of arrogance. The Watchtower Society would have us believe that all world events revolve around it. Every significant world event is tied the “the outworking of Jehovahs purpose.” (Is “outworking” a word that anyone other than the Watchtower uses?) And because the Watchtower is the visible part of Jehovah’s universal organization that he uses to accomplish His will here on the earth, it is the focus of these world events. If you try to say anything to the effect that perhaps these things happened due to causes that may have nothing to do with the Watchtower, you get funny looks from the “faithful.” (Been there, Done that)
Some of the rank and file take this type of statement and apply it individually. When this occurs, they begin to believe that every bad thing that happens to every JW in the organization is as a result of supernatural Satanic forces trying to keep them from spreading the “good news.” Nothing ever happens by chance, no JW is ever just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every automotive difficulty, every illness, every financial upset is a result of persecution from Satan, especially if it happens the mo nth you sign up to auxillary pioneer. In some extreme cases, witnesses have blamed marital problems on satanic persecution. When I was and elder, I heard the following line of reasoning from some brothers and sisters whose mates had left them. “My husband (or wife) left me. It must be Satan trying to get me to slow down in my preaching.” (Hmmm, it couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that you spend so much time preaching that you never spend any time with your mate, and when you do spend time with them you treat them like dirt, could it?)
This becomes a very convenient device for shifting responsibility.
Joe Publisher can reason: “The flat tire I had on the way to the Kingdom Hall was persecution from Satan. It couldn’t be because I’ve been running these bald tires for the last couple of months. That cold that I got last time I tried to pioneer was persec ution too. I couldn’t be due to the fact that a good portion of the general population had a cold at the same time. My having too little (or too much) employment and consequently too little (or too much) money is Satan trying to divert me from the preachi ng work, not a result of the same economic forces that everybody else has to deal with.”
The governing body can reason: “All of this trouble we have with people leaving the organization and becoming apostates is as a result of Satan trying to destroy Jehovah’s earthly organization. It couldn’t be because we have changed doctrine so often that everyone’s totally confused. All this persecution we get is instigated by the clergy of Christendom which we know is controlled by Satan. It couldn’t be because we have publically labled that clergy as the ‘Man of Lawlessness.’ It couldn’t be because we say that they have been responsible for every war that has every occured. It couldn’t be because we try to imply that every minister and priest is in it only for the money and that after they get your money they’ll probably molest your sons and daughters. It couldn’t be because we show churches and temples and synagogues being blow to bits at Armageddon in our publications, just like we know they will be.”
Just for contrast:
Galatians 6: 3-5 (NWT): “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind. But let each one prove what his own work is, and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person. For each one will carry his own load.”
If the WT is what is purports to be, it should stand out from other religions by its own merits, not as a result of tearing everyone else down.
Romans 14:4 (NWT): “Who are you to judge the house servant of another? To his own master he stand for falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand.”
“Can there be false religion? It is not a form of religious persecution for anyone to say and to show that another religion is false. It is not religious persecution for an informed person to expose publicly a certain religion as being false, thus allowing persons to see the difference between false religion and true religion. But in order to make the exposure and show the wrong religions to be false, the true worshiper will have to use an authoritative means of judgment, a rule of measurement that cannot be proved faulty. To make a public exposure of false religion is certainly of more value than exposing a news report as being untrue; it is a public service instead of a religious persecution and it has to do with the eternal life and happiness of the public. Still it leaves the public free to choose. – The Watchtower, 11/15/63, page 688
The following is how former cult members and members of spiritually abusive systems described how they felt when they finally left their group. This may give you some insight into their pain and why there are no easy answers for them.
Here is a classic piece of Watchtower quoting. It is from the 5/15/83 Watchtower article “Earthquakes-A Sign of the End?” For years the Watchtower Society has tried to prove that part of the fulfillment of the ‘sign’ of the end of this system given by Jesus in Matthew, chapter 23 is an increased occurance of earthquakes. Since the Watchtower now teaches that the ‘time of the end’ began in 1914, it has tried to show increased frequency and strength of earthquakes. On page 6 the Watchtower says:
Some seismologists believe that the earth is now in an active earthquake period. For example, Professor Keiiti Aki of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology speaks of “the apparent surge in intensity and frequency of major earthquakes during the last one hundred years,” though stating that the period from 1500 through 1700 was as active. In the Italian journal Il Piccolo, of October 8, 1978, Geo Malagoli observed: “Our generation lives in a dangerous period of high seismic activity, as statistics show. In fact, during a period of 1,059 years (from 856 to 1914) reliable sources list only 24 major earthquakes causing 1,973,000 deaths. However, [in] recent disasters, we find that 1,600,000 persons have died in only 63 years, as a result of 43 earthquakes which occurred from 1915 to 1978. This dramatic increase further goes to emphasize another accepted fact-our generation is an unfortunate one in many ways.”
First of all, let’s look at the Watchtower’s quoting Keiiti Aki. The Watchtower says Aki ” speaks of ‘the apparent surge in intensity and frequency of major earthquakes during the last one hundred years,’ though stating that the period from 1500 through 1700 was as active.” This is a quote from a letter from Aki to the Watchtower Society dated 30 September, 1982. Here is the entire text of the letter:
This is in response to your inquiry about earthquakes [EC:ESH September 24, 1982]. The apparent surge in intensity and frequency of major earthquakes during the last one hundred years is, in all probability, due to the improved recording of earthquakes and the increased vulnerability of human society to earthquake damage. The main reason is the well established plate tectonics which indicates a very steady fault motion over the past many millions of years. A measure of earthquake strength more objective than casualty is the Richter scale. It is in general difficult to assign the Richter scale to earthquakes more than 100 years ago. An attempt, however, has been made in China, where historical records are kept in better shape than in other regions. Enclosed figures shows the Richter scale (M) of earthquakes in China during the periond of about 2000 years. The past 100 years are certainly active, but there have been periods as active as that, for example, from 1500 to 1700.
In a letter to Wolfgang Hebst and Carl Olof Jonsson dated 5 September 1985, Aki says the following (body of letter quoted in its entirety):
Thank you for your inquiry re my statement in Jehovah’s Witnesses. I feel strongly that the seismicity has been stationary for thousands of years. I was trying to convince Jehovah’s Witnesses about the stationarity of seismicity using the data obtained in China for the period of 1500 to 1700, but they put only weak emphasis on the published statement. Excellent geological evidence for the stationarity has been obtained by Prof. Kerry Sieh of Caltech, for the San Andreas fault.
So the Watchtower quoted Aki out of context in order to support a position exactly opposite to Aki’s. Copies of Professor Aki’s letters can be found in Appendix A of “The Sign of the Last Days – When?” by Carl Olof Jonsson and Wolfgang Herbst. Now, on to the Watchtower’s quote from the Italian magazine “Il Piccolo” of October 8, 1978. Again, here is how the Watchtower quotes Geo Malagoli of “Il Piccolo.”
“Our generation lives in a dangerous period of high seismic activity, as statistics show. In fact, during a period of 1,059 years (from 856 to 1914) reliable sources list only 24 major earthquakes causing 1,973,000 deaths. However, [in] recent disasters, we find that 1,600,000 persons have died in only 63 years, as a result of 43 earthquakes which occurred from 1915 to 1978. This dramatic increase further goes to emphasize another accepted fact-our generation is an unfortunate one in many ways.”
Now, take a look at an excerpt from the 2/22/1977 issue of Awake!
Interestingly, for a period of 1,059 years (856 to 1914 C.E.), reliable sources list only 24 major earthquakes, with 1,972,952 fatalities. But compare that with the accompanying partial list citing 43 instances of earthquakes, in which 1,579,209 persons died during just the 62 years from 1915 to 1976 C.E.
The 5/15/83 Watchtower is quoting the 10/8/78 Il Piccolo which is quoting the 2/22/77 Awake!
“FROM BLACK TO WHITE HE SLOWLY TURNED.”
Amsterdam News (New York)
June 29, 1963
Jehovah’s Witnesses condone the separation of their Negro and white members in the South, merely out of compliance with Southern segregation law. “But compliance with that law doesn’t mean that we believe that the races were meant by God to be separated or that we believe that Negroes are inferior to whites.” Ulysses Glass, an official of the sect, told The Amsterdam News this week while acknowledging the veracity of charges of segregation.
“The law doesn’t interfere with our mission of teaching God’s word. He doesn’t require that everybody must be together in order to teach his word,” continued Glass, adding that those are the reasons why Witnesses have not taken any position against the Southern law or advocate violation of it.
On the other hand, Witnesses refuse to serve in the nation’s fighting forces and salute the American flag, the first of which is mandatory of every healthy American of draft age.
They reconcile compliance with the Southern segregation law with their failure to serve in the armed forces and salute the American flag on the grounds that military service compels them to slay their fellow men while saluting of the flag abridges their religious freedom, Glass explained.
“We believe in Jesus’ teaching: ‘Give unto Caesar those things which are Caesars and to God those things which also are his,” said Glass.
“That is why we comply with Southern law and will not recognize segregation when the law is changed.” he added.
“We don’t recognize government by man, only government by God,” Glass continued.
That is also the reason why the Witnesses have not taken any position on the civil rights struggle, as also charged, said Glass.
“Throughout the remainder of the country,” Witnesses are all treated alike,” Glass stated. “Witnesses are also district supervisors (one of the high leadership positions) and are integrated here in our staff at headquarters (77 Sands St., Brooklyn).”
The charges of segregation were made by Jackie Williams, a young woman of 1296 Dean St., Brooklyn, who said she had asked clarification in a recent letter to the Watchtower Bible and Trace Sciety [sic].
Miss Williams said she never received a reply.
The Watchtower’s Changing View of Independent Thinking