Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bad quotes and Watchtower authority.

"That they must adhere absolutely to the decisions and scriptural understandings of the Society because God has given it this authority over his people." (Watchtower, May 1, 1972, p. 272)

Those of us who are directly involved in witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses tend to get caught in the trap of trying to find the "magic bullet." You know what i'm talking about; its that one argument that will instantly bring them to repentance in accepting Jesus as their savior. When you read a quote like the one above, you might be thinking to yourself, "wow, if they could only read a statement like this! Then they'll realize how blind they are in doing anything and everything that the Watchtower tells them!"

Well, it turns out that this quote may not exist. In fact, there's a really good chance that it doesn't. Who knows how fake quotes come about, but they may come from those who unethically will do anything to make the Watchtower look bad, or from JW's themselves who want to ruin the credibility of Christians who seek to witness to JW's. Whatever the reason, as followers of Jesus Christ, we should do anything and everything possible not only to be honest and careful in our apologetic, but to represent the opposing side as accurately as possible. Anything less is a shame to Christ's name.

One thing i've learned from Jehovah's Witness (mainly those online) is that they will look for any opportunity to attack your credibility. Recently, I received a similar confrontation. I have a fairly large stash of Watchtower quotations in my possession. Back when I began learning about JW's, I collected many quotes that I could use in witnessing. The vast majority were photocopies, but some of them were quotes from books and online articles. The above quote was one of them. Fortunately, I only used the quote in an email and not on my blog or some other public venue. The JW was quick to point out that the quote didn't exist. Since the vast majority of my resources are back at home, I couldn't even try to verify the quote. I then contacted a few friends to see if they could find the quote. None of them could. Therefore, I apologized for sending him quote that most likely didn't exist. Thankfully, the JW didn't doubt my credibility (at least, not to my knowledge), nor was the quote necessary for the argument I was making to him.

This was certainly a lesson learned; to be more careful in research. And I hope this will be an encouragement to everyone to seek honesty and accuracy in everything they do; especially when witnessing. But what about the quote above? Even though it is probably not a real quote, isn't it a generally true statement? I believe it is. Interestingly, the actual article rings true of the quote, although it doesn't contain the word-for-word statement:

***w72 5/1pp.267-273 How Your View of Authority Affects YourLife***

15 The visible governing body of Jehovah's organization has also been given authority by Him to direct the work of His worshipers on earth at this time. (Matt. 24:45-47) The congregation and its overseers show their proper view of authority by accepting willingly its counsel provided through the printed page, letters or its traveling representatives. Sometimes there is a tendency to doubt the fitness of certain counsel, perhaps about the matter of dress or hairstyle, regarding it as an undue invasion of privacy and one's "freedom." Yet one with the proper view of authority will realize the concern Jehovah's organization has for the way God is represented to the world through us. (1 Cor. 4:9) He will view the instructions, not as arbitrary rules, but as an evidence of Jehovah's loving interest in his worshipers.—Prov. 3:12.

Does this not say that Jehovah's Witnesses should uncritically accept whatever the Watchtower says? For instance, if you disagree with Watchtower dress regulations, are you not disagreeing with Jehovah Himself? Isn't that what it means when it says that they should accept "willingly its counsel?" If you disagree, you are not "willingly" accepting their council.

16 Sometimes persons speak against the understanding of certain Scriptural teachings that the Watch Tower Society has set forth. For example, there were those who had difficulty accepting the change of understanding regarding the "superior authorities" of Romans 13:1. Some even stumbled from their dedicated relationship to Jehovah over this matter. They did not have the proper view of the authority of Jehovah's organization for providing spiritual "food at the proper time." When some of the disciples had difficulty accepting what Jesus was teaching on one point, saying: "This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?" they "went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him." Peter, with the right view of Jesus' teaching authority, realized there was no other place to go for truth and so remained in the way of life.—John 6:60, 66-69.

This one is very interesting. Sometimes JW's had difficulty in uncritically accepting new WT rules, regulations, and doctrinally changes. Why? Perhaps they believed the old things to be biblical. For instance, if the Bible taught that organ transplants and vaccinations were wrong, then who could say otherwise? When the organization decided to declare these "biblical rules" void, then what did that say about their authority? Did Jehovah change His mind? Certainly not, for truth always remains true. But if we are to uncritically accept whatever changes the organization makes, then it doesn't really matter if its in line with what we think is biblical. If Jehovah's organization teaches it, then it is Jehovah's truth--even if it gets changed again in 10 years. Sure, JW's are quick to admit that a current teaching is "biblical," but so did JW's of old who believed that Christ's physical return in 1914 was "biblical." But what they really mean is, "we aren't the ones who decide what is biblical and what isn't; if the Watchtower declares it, then I believe it."

Jesus Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) If you want to follow truth that doesn't change, then follow him.


Four* Pointer said...

Well, at least you didn't cling to using that quote, and use the excuse, "Well, that's what they meant!" I've found the best thing you can do is exactly what you did when you found this was a false quote: apologize, maintain your credibility, and keep at it. Nothing ruins one's credibility faster than knowing something to be false and saying it anyways.

Love the site, keep on keepin' on!

1stanbul said...

I can agree with this, though. Jehovah's Witnesses are full of crock.

jimfisher007 said...

What is "crock"?