I'm always wondering why the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses; those 7 men residing in Brooklyn, NY, seem to keen on reminding their followers who is really in charge. To those who are not one of Jehovah's Witnesses, consider what it would be like if your pastor reminded all in the congregation that they are to submit to his counsel and exhortations. But to make this more comparative to Jehovah's Witnesses, consider if your pastor did this every other Sunday. What would your congregation think of such a person?
Such is not far from the truth when it comes to the Governing Body. Why do these men so regularly promote their authority? Is it because their followers are regularly out of line? Are Jehovah's Witnesses regularly questioning whether these men are who they claim to be (i.e. chosen by Christ in 1919)? Anyone who has spent much time with JW's should know that most JW's have absolute unquestionable submission to the Governing Body. Therefore, it seems odd that they need to stress these points as much as they do.
Consider the recent statements made in the MAY 15, 2011 WATCHTOWER STUDY EDITION:
We do well to examine how we respond to timely Scriptural counsel presented in our Bible-based publications. By studying the Scriptures and attending congregation meetings, we are reminded of the sayings of Christ. (2 Pet. 3:1, 2) We show our heartfelt appreciation for this supply of spiritual food by regularly partaking of it. What, though, should be our reaction if certain counsel is repeated occasionally? For example, God’s Word counsels Christians to marry “only in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:39) For over a century, this subject has periodically been discussed in The Watchtower. Christ’s brothers surely demonstrate their loving concern for our spiritual welfare by publishing articles on this and other inspired counsel. Paying attention to these reminders is one way to show that we are following our perfect Leader, Jesus Christ. (p. 27, par. 1)
It is interesting that the Watchtower mentions the "occasional" repetition of various topics. This may be in answer to those who wonder why the Governing Body needs to so regularly remind their followers who are in charge. The answer is: "out of concern." But what is the Governing Body so concerned with? Are they concerned with the spiritual well being of followers of Christ, or whether followers of Christ will be followers of them with absolute unquestionable submission?
The last question in the paragraph is indirectly one of the key elements of control the Governing Body has on their followers: if you don't accept their "reminders," you are not a true follower of Christ. This is a restatement of one of the most controlling and self-promoting statements ever made by the Governing Body:
***w10 9/15 p. 23 ‘Your leader is one, the Christ’***
The anointed and their other sheep companions recognize that by following the lead of the modern-day Governing Body, they are in fact following their Leader, Christ.
There is little more that can be said to stress the type of submission one is to have towards the Governing Body, even when offering "refinements" on teachings that are no longer held:
“The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established,” states Proverbs 4:18. Yes, Jesus’ leadership is progressive, not stagnant. Another way to cooperate with Christ’s “brothers” is to have a positive attitude toward any refinements in our understanding of Scriptural truths as published by “the faithful and discreet slave.”—Matt. 24:45. (p. 27 par. 2)
Though Proverbs 4:18 has nothing to do with doctrine or Bible teachings, the JW is obligated to accept the interpretation of the Governing Body without question. But what happens when a teaching is abandoned in favor of a new teaching? For instance, when organ transplants were once forbidden, how many faithful JW's risked their health for the Watchtower? When the teaching was abandoned, did the Watchtower offer an apology? According to the above quote, none would be needed. Why? Because JW's are to have a "positive attitude" towards these refinements, even if loved ones were needlessly lost in the process.
But what if the Governing Body is clearly teaching something that you know to be false and unbiblical?
*** w57 5/1 p. 284 par. 14 Trust Your Proved, Faithful Brothers ***
Showing respect for Jehovah’s organization really resolves itself down to our attitude toward God’s visible channel and the trust that we place in our proved, faithful brothers. If we have become thoroughly convinced that this is Jehovah’s organization, that he is guiding and directing his people, then we shall not be unsettled by anything that happens. If something comes up that we do not understand we will wait patiently until it is made thoroughly clear to us. If we feel sure something is wrong we will ‘keep the commandment’ of our Father and take whatever theocratic steps are open to us and then wait on Jehovah. We will not ‘forsake our mother’s teaching’ by immediately beginning to criticize and find fault. We will realize that Jehovah knows what is going on in his organization, and if he is willing to permit it, who are we to insist it should be different? If we really have faith, we will know that if it is wrong he will straighten it out eventually, and we are far safer inside his organization even with these minor difficulties than we would be on the outside where only chaos and destruction await us.
Some may feel that this is speaking of those who have haughty attitudes towards the teachings of the Governing Body. But such is not the case. The faithful JW is to have unquestionable acceptance of anything that is put in print by the Watchtower. If they choose not to, they are rejecting or questioning God Himself:
*** w57 6/15 p. 370 par. 7 Overseers of Jehovah’s People ***
Yes, particularly since 1919 has it been true that he has appointed the collective body of the anointed remnant over all the visible interests of the Kingdom. The “slave” then became responsible not only for ministering to the needs of the anointed body members but also for taking on the responsibility of preaching the good news of the established Kingdom to people of all nations. (Matt. 24:14) Such is true not by their determination of it, but because God himself has so directed. “God has set the members in the body, each one of them, just as he pleased,” is the way it is pictured in 1 Corinthians 12:18 (NW). It is vital that we appreciate this fact and respond to the directions of the “slave” as we would to the voice of God, because it is His provision.
*** w59 5/1 p. 269 pars. 6-7 Attain Completeness in the New World Society ***
7 To hold to the headship of Christ, it is therefore necessary to obey the organization that he is personally directing. Doing what the organization says is to do what he says. Resisting the organization is to resist him
Therefore, one is not to just have a "positive attitude" towards the Governing Body and what they teach; they are to have absolute unquestionable acceptance of even those teachings they know to be false. To resist these teachings is to resist God (yes, even if they are false teachings).
I hope all Jehovah's Witnesses reading this will consider who their allegiance is really to: God or men? Biblically, the only one we should have absolute unquestionable devotion to is Jesus Christ Himself; not seven men in Brooklyn, NY. After all, Scripture never says of a Governing Body,
“in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.”***UPDATE***
Mark wrote an excellent article (far better than mine) on the same topic that can be found HERE