Friday, August 19, 2011

Who does John 6:68 apply to?

One Watchtower apologist thinks this applies to a non-profit printing organization located in Brooklyn, NY.  This is consistent with what the Watchtower themselves have stated:

*** w92 11/15 p. 21 Serve Jehovah Loyally ***

Nowhere Else to Go

12 We will be impelled to serve Jehovah loyally with his organization if we remember that there is nowhere else to go for life eternal. When Jesus’ statements caused ‘many disciples to go off to the things behind,’ he asked his apostles: “You do not want to go also, do you?” Peter replied: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life; and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”—John 6:66-69.
However, the Scriptures are very clear on who this text is applied to if context means anything:

(John 6:66-71) 66 Owing to this many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him. 67 Therefore Jesus said to the twelve: “YOU do not want to go also, do YOU?” 68 Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life69 and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them: “I chose YOU twelve, did I not? Yet one of YOU is a slanderer.” 71 He was, in fact, speaking of Judas [the son] of Simon Is·car′i·ot; for this one was going to betray him, although one of the twelve.

Who did Peter have in mind when he uttered the question, "whom shall we go away to?"  A printing organization that would not arise for another 2,000 years, or Jesus Himself?  

Watchtower apologists, such as StandFirm, want to divert the issue by arguing issues related to ecclesiology and whether Christians should worship God in opposition to those whom Christ Himself appointed as apostles in the first century.  But even if the Governing Body are who they claim to be, John 6:68 is contextually applicable only to Jesus.  To apply it to seven fallible and error-prone men in Brooklyn, NY is nothing short of blasphemous.  So why do Watchtower apologists defend the Watchtower such embarrassingly poor arguments like these?  Because they must have absolute unquestionable submission to whatever is put in print by the Watchtower.  

But I didn't write this blog necessarily to refute one of the extremely few Watchtower apologists who write and dialogue on the internet; its to offer an argument that could prove useful for anyone who wishes to witness to a JW. Consider using John 6:68 in asking a JW who this text is applied to in context.  This question alone could prove effecting in getting JW's to "examine the Scriptures to see if these things are so." (Acts 17:11)  

19 comments:

FredTorres said...

Mike:

While I'm here, let me chime in on this article briefly.

I respect your views, your approach to apologetics and your approach to evangelism. This is your blog after all, so you are free to write as you see fit.

And, this article, as brief as it is, does not do you justice as an apologist.

Since you did not write to refute what Standfirm or the WT article says, I won't comment on those points either.

Mike, why do you believe that JW's
do not think "independently?"
What is "independent thinking?"
Your readers may not have the same concept of what that means and implies, so you may be hindering their efforts to talk to Witnesses.

Do you believe it possible that some people join, and stay with a group or religion because they already identify with that group's values?

Like we discussed in the past, we must be careful how we define these terms, especially in theological circles. Some atheists describe Christians as being under mind control (unable to think independently, or their will is impaired) because they say people with your values worship God only out of fear and under threat of eternal flames. But is that really the case? I don't believe it is.

Again, thanks for your time my friend. Have a great weekend.

Fred

Mike Felker said...

Fred,

I appreciate your honesty and the suggestion. After thinking about this all day, I think I agree that "independent thinking" is vague and unhelpful. I've revised that sentence to be more reflective of my hopes.

With that said, you certainly are welcome to comment on the arguments made in the blog. What I meant in the comment was that this was not solely written to refute StandFirm or the WT.

FredTorres said...

Mike:

Well, you're too smooth to use language that can distract from a conversation, and your rewording puts the emphasis back on the Bible.

I went back and read Standfirm's blog.

I think the point he is trying to make is that the apostles represented Jesus' authority to teach and lead the church.
Hence, to abandon the teachings of the apostles was to abandon the Way. It appears you agree with that, so I'm not sure I fully understand your objection. Do you not agree that, in principle (not contextually) John 6:68 could be applied to the apostles? For instance, we find that principle articulated at Matthew 25:40. The fact that JW's utilize dozens of legal entities to carry out their ministerial work appear to be a strawman argument. It is not anti biblical to use legal instruments, and I think you agree with that.

JW's do not argue that John 6:68 contextually applies to someone other than Christ, so I think you are putting up a 2nd strawman, or at least, misunderstanding our view on this matter.

If you want to argue that the Governing Body does not represent the authority delegated to the apostles, well that is indeed a good follow up discussion. Certainly, that would be a good place to discuss their role in the faith of Jehovah's Witnesses, or as you put it, "absolute unquestioning authority."

Now go out and enjoy your weekend. I'm on the way out myself. take care,
Fred

Kyle said...

@Fred..

Why is it that JW's have abandoned and turned their backs on nearly all of the teachings of the founder of the WTS , namely CT Russell and the early Bible Students , under the disguise of "new light" ? Did he not have the sayings of "Eternal Life" ?

Russell had the following to say about organised religion... "They have ignored or abandoned the simplicity of the divine arrangement. They have made arbitrary rules respecting who may be acknowledged as members or branches of the Vine, and who may not be admitted to the full fellowship; they have made financial exactions and various rules and regulations which the Scriptures have not made, and laid down numerous creeds and confessions which the Scriptures have not laid down, and have prescribed penalties [F199] for violations of these which the Scriptures have not imposed, and have made regulations for disfellowshipping, excommunicating, etc., contrary to any authorization given to the True Church, the Body of Christ, the True Vine, the New Creation."

I would recommend all JW's read his book "The New Creation" and then examine to see if indeed The WTS squares up with the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles ..

http://www.mostholyfaith.com/bible/volumes/F05.asp

FredTorres said...

@Kyle:

Thanks for replying to me, and for the link recommendation. It is well taken. However, I reject the premise of your question that JWs have abandoned Russell's teachings under "disguise" of new light.


regards,
Fred Torres

Anonymous said...

Fred,

If you, upon examination, felt the Watchtower taught something in error when compared to the bible, would you continue teaching that thing to others?

FredTorres said...

@Anonymous:

Hello, I am pleased to share my personal perspective with you in regards to your question.

Mike Felker is an Evangelical apologist. Kyle is obviously a Bible Student associated with the teachings of CT Russell. I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

I respect your right to withhold your identity and background. I hope that you respect my right to determine if you are someone who is no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses as understood by me.

Thanks, I will await your response.

Anonymous said...

I assure you I am not an ex-jw. I am now curious if I were how that would impact the question's merit. Perhaps you could expound upon this as well?

Mike Felker said...

Fred, the problem I still see with the application is that the "nowhere else to go" in John 6:68 is not in reference to an organization; its with regards to the person of Jesus Christ.

And I don't see the "principle" here because the only principle is that Peter didn't see anyone else to go to other than Christ. And that's how I view it today.

FredTorres said...

@Anonymous:

Thanks.
If you were an Ex-JW I would likely choose not to engage in a conversation with you in accordance to my conscience.
The question itself has merit regardless of the source.

Typically, I don't answer hypothetical questions. I exist in reality where there at times I am confronted with decisions of competing values and multiple variables, and make those decisions based on my values having looked at all factors.
However, because I continue to identify with the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses and having examined their teachings thoroughly before baptism, it is highly unlikely that I would "feel" as you describe. Having said that, "if" in the future I "felt" that we (JW'S) were in error, I think it is likely I would continue to teach that thing to others. One of the values I most appreciate about the JW faith is, in fact, that change is to be expected on occasion, thus, I would humbly call upon Jehovah and wait humbly on Him to bring about a change in teaching, "if" my feeling is "right.", and "if" it is his will that it be done in my lifetime.
After all, what "if" my feeling is "wrong." Essentially, I would teach that particular matter because it remains mine, a part of my faith.

Also, out of respect for my brethren who continue to value that particular thing, and for the sake of unity, another important JW value I identify with, I would gladly cooperate with those who "take the lead".

There are other reasons why,but I hope this at least give you an idea.

FredTorres said...

Hi again Mike:

I respectfully disagree. The "problem", if any, is that your article is based on a strawman. JW's do not teach that contextually this text applies to any other person other than Christ. Additionally your objection circular.
You accept that to abandon the teaching of apostles (after Jesus left) was abandon Jesus...not literally, but "in principle" so to speak, then you say that you "see" no principle in John 6:68. Well, no one is saying that there is "a prinicple" in John 6:68. Rather, I am saying that "in princple" the text could be applied to the apostles in the sense that to abandon the teaching of the apostles was to abandon Jesus. You have every right to disagree, but what I see is that you are misreading what I wrote.

Perhaps it best to agree to disagree?

your friend,
Fred

Anonymous said...

Fred,

How does all that you say to both Mike and I harmonize with Galatians 1? Were the Galatians not to reject a teaching in violation of what was originally provided (for us and to some extent them, as found in scripture)? Paul goes so far to include himself were he to provide a false teaching. Therefore, would it not only be accurate to say Jesus was rejected only if they kept to the biblical teaching? Therefore, by extension, would we not today need to test as the Bereans and reject anything not supported by scripture regardless of the source?

FredTorres said...

@Anonymous:

Well, that's one of the problems with hypothetical questions. I've answered your question but it doesn't satisfy you for whatever reason.
I navigate my existence in reality. What "if" I agree with every single teaching of JW's, but I have a disagreement on a minor point in light of Galatians 1 and in the spirit of Berean testing?
Would I disregard my entire core value system for that? Would Jesus want me to do that? That's a judgement I'll make at that time.

Again, I thank you for the query, but as I've said, my core value- belief system does not exist in a bifurcated hypothetical environment.

best regards,
Fred

Mike Felker said...

Fred,

I'm not sure where I directly said, "to abandon the teaching of the apostles was to abandon Jesus." If I did, then I would qualify that in saying insofar as they are teaching Scripture. This is why the bereans were commended in Acts 17:11, as they would have done so if Paul weren't teaching Scripture.

At any rate, I don't want to get into semantics as far as "in principle" or "a principle." The point is, John 6:68 is about leaving Jesus and having no where else to go. Leaving the apostles or an organization is not the same thing, as both are fallible and subject to correction by Scripture; especially the latter.

What I don't understand is why John 6:68 is even brought up by the WT in making their point in the quote on my blog and elsewhere. Its about Jesus only, and there is no comparison.

I don't mind agreeing to disagree on this one, as I think we have both made our points.

FredTorres said...

Well hello there Mike:

Just allow me to document what I said you are saying. From Standfirm's blog:

"But if all you're trying to argue is that Christians in the first century were obliged to follow the teachings of the apostles, then I definitely agree."
In your response to me, you once again agree. Of course, with the qualification that they teach the truth, which they did.

JWs assert that they possess the teachings of the apostles. It's a simple proposition. Of course, you make it very clear that you believe we are in gross error in doing so. I respect your view. Your points are always well taken, and we can move forward from this discussion as men.

until next time,
Fred

KYLE said...

@ Fred, just to set the record straight , I'm not actually affiliated with the Bible Students. I have a great deal of admiration for them, however I have still not found a spiritual home as yet . I was raised a JW and have studied WTS theology in great depth. I also spent 2 years with an Evangelical church fellowship , but could not come to grips with some of their doctrine i.e the Trinity and "Hell" after a few negative experiences there, I came across the Bible Students near London, here in the UK and they kindly sent me all volumes of Studies in Scriptures, which I read and was astounded that I knew so little about what they believe and what Russell taught . Divine Plan of The Ages had a profound effect on me and has made me re-evaluate my understanding of the Scriptures. What fascinates me about Russells writings is that at first I read them to find fault , however I was won over by his deep insight , compassion for people and real love for God which shines through every subject he writes about . I honestly believe he had a real heart for God, despite what many of his enemies might say and I honestly cannot find any scriptural reasons for not agreeing with anything he taught - even on some of the more controversial topics of chronology and even Pyramidology ...

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

I was wondering where I had said that, so thank you for pointing that out.

I hate to beat a dead horse here, but I continue to stand by my original point. The first century Christians were obliged to follow the teachings of the apostles as long as they taught consistently with Scripture. And it was not always the case that they did.

With that said, it still doesn't justify any application of John 6:68 towards an organization. Its still about Jesus.

I appreciate the dialogue and look forward to future interactions. Hope you have a great week my friend.

tao~itness said...

In Deuteronomy18:15-19 Yahweh states He will raise up a prophet that we must heed to please our Father.Heed what?To worship in spirit and truth,There are many exsamples of truth within the witnesses,even the catholic and baptist encyclopaedias state the triune god concept is man made,and non~exsistant in the bible.However on many things they are not in truth MT.24 &parallel acounts show that the arrival,coming or presence of Christ is synonimous with the end, in fact He said when you see all this He is near@ the doors.MT.24:33&MT.24:6 The end is not yet!v.8 beginning of birth pains.In fact the great trib is the sighn of His ruling,casting satan down then the whole world will know he is ruling in 31\2yrs. or less not decades.That was the point of Christ using the time frame of a generation to show a short period of time and also no matter how bad things seem they would by NO MEANS pass away-even nuclear warfare!That brings us to Deut.18:20~22 if a prophet speaks in His name &it fails,he is a false prophet!

Anonymous said...

Hi Fred. Your problem's pride, right? You can't or won't admit that you - and the Governing Body - could be wrong. Am I close?