Sunday, October 23, 2011

Correcting a miscitation from my interaction with the JW

I finally got around to listening to the INTERACTION I had with the JW from the other day and was overall pleased with how it went.  I won't go into reviewing or offering much critique in this post as I would like the viewers to decide for themselves (at least for now anyway).

But I did notice a blunder I made at about 41:30 where I attempted a paraphrase of the following quote:
*** 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.
What I paraphrased went something as follows: "If we come to believe that something the Watchtower teaches is false, then we should just believe what they say anyway."  Of course, the part in bold contradicts this and is consistent with what my JW friend said whereby one should keep quite about it and let Jehovah straighten it out.  While I think that there are still some significant theological and psychological disagreements that I have with the above, I didn't represent it accurately.

However, i'm kicking myself now because there is a quote that appears to be consistent with what I paraphrased that I wish I would have used:
*** w52 2/1 pp. 79-80 pars. 11-12 Jehovah’s Theocratic Organization Today ***

We must show our understanding in these matters, appreciating our relationship to the visible theocratic organization, remembering the fate of those like Korah and Achan and Saul and Uzziah and others who forgot the theocratic order. Are we assigned as individuals to bring forth the food for the spiritual table? No? Then let us not try to take over the slave’s duties. We should eat and digest and assimilate what is set before us, without shying away from parts of the food because it may not suit the fancy of our mental taste. The truths we are to publish are the ones provided through the discreet-slave organization, not some personal opinions contrary to what the slave has provided as timely food. Jehovah and Christ direct and correct the slave as needed, not we as individuals. If we do not see a point at first we should keep trying to grasp it, rather than opposing and rejecting it and presumptuously taking the position that we are more likely to be right than the discreet slave. We should meekly go along with the Lord’s theocratic organization and wait for further clarification, rather than balk at the first mention of a thought unpalatable to us and proceed to quibble and mouth our criticisms and opinions as though they were worth more than the slave’s provision of spiritual food. Theocratic ones will appreciate the Lord’s visible organization and not be so foolish as to pit against Jehovah’s channel their own human reasoning and sentiment and personal feelings. 
12 Now some may ask, Should we accept as from the Lord and true the food provided through the discreet slave, or should we withhold acceptance until we have proved it for ourselves? If we have gained our present understanding of the Bible by feeding at the table set by the slave, if we have been thereby freed from false doctrines and built up in the clean and undefiled worship of God and given a new world hope, we should have some confidence in the slave’s provisions. After being nourished to our present spiritual strength and maturity, do we suddenly become smarter than our former provider and forsake the enlightening guidance of the organization that mothered us? “Forsake not the law of thy mother.” (Prov. 6:20-23) And if the heavenly Father would not give a stone or serpent or scorpion to a child who asked for bread or fish or an egg from him, are we to take the spiritual food he provides through the slave into our hands as if we were going to be bruised by a stone or bitten by a serpent or stung by a scorpion? (Matt. 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13, NW) Are we to be doubtful and suspicious about each new provision? “He who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah.” (Jas. 1:6, 7, NW) Even the Beroeans first received Paul’s preaching “with the greatest readiness of mind”, and then went to “carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so”. (Acts 17:11, NW) This was the first real contact the Beroeans had with Paul’s preaching, yet they received it readily and then studied the Scriptural support for themselves. How much more readily we can receive the slave’s provisions with confidence, since, unlike the Beroeans, we have much past experience with the precious provisions from the slave. After receiving these food supplies we prove their Scripturalness for ourselves to make the message our own, in a spirit of meekness and trustfulness and not combativeness.
Its difficult not to underline nearly every sentence in this quotation because I think this well illustrates the point I was trying to make.  If a JW comes to question the correctness of something the WT teaches, what is he expected to do as a faithful JW? Hold silently to what he firmly believes as true?  No.  Instead, this one should "have some confidence in the slave's provisions," because we are not, "more likely to be right than the discreet slave."  Therefore, "we should meekly go along with the Lord's theocratic organization and wait for further clarification."

Unless i'm missing something, the faithful JW is expected to go along with what the WT teaches, even if it questionable or something we feel is incorrect.  After all, they're smarter than us, right?

18 comments:

FredTorres said...

Hello there Mike.

I had a chance to view most of your interaction with "World History2011".

I really don't see much of a difference between the citations of the 1957 and 1952 articles.

First off, you must keep in mind that the articles apply to all individual JWs, including those in what we call the "Governing Body."

Since the article is for JWs, the assumption is that they believe as JW's. More on that below.

The 1957 article is addressing a situation where an individual continues to hold to the most if not all of teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, yet he has a difference of opinion on a particular issue and he maybe even believes his viewpoint should be included in the publications of Jehovah's Witnesses. Certainly, it would be presumptous to want to his personal viewpoint in a publication that presents the teaching of a group and/or to want to have the viewpoint immediately adopted by the group.

"If", like the article points out, he is firmly convinced of the truth of the teachings of JWs due to his biblical knowledge and past personal experience, he could confidently accept a viewpoint that is not his at the moment.
He would do so because his personal conviction consists of believing in theocratic order and of correction at a macro level, not becaue he is simply blindly obeying

Viewed from a secular perspective, this individual chooses a path that he perceives will yield the greatest long term benefit, and he rejects a path which that may result in a short term gain but will have long term and greater losses. It is rational behavior assuming the individual is acting upon his own convictions. That is the point that I believe you are missing. Colloquially speaking, you give a little, you get alot.

Anyways, that's my take.

Hope all is well with you and yours.

Fred

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

Please explain how someone can accept a viewpoint that is "not his" at the moment? What does this look like?

If you came to see 1919 as the speculative doctrine that it truly is, would you believe the Society anyway?

FredTorres said...

Hey hey,

Well, I thought I explained how someone can accept a viewpoint that he does not immediately own.

let me try to rephrase in a simple illustration.

If I give you a $1 bill for every $10 bill you give me, I'll do that all day long. And what if I over time I noticed you started giving me back the singles?


To answer your question, 1919 would be a $1 bill to the many other truths worth $10.

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

Just so i'm clear on this, explain what your thinking process would be like if you came to believe that 1919 was a figment of the Governing Body's imagination and had nothing to do with good biblical exegesis.

FredTorres said...

Mike,

I think i've answered that question several times my friend.

My faith is not depedent on "1919", or any individual doctrine.

Again, I value the body of doctrines that I know to be true more than I value an individual doctrine that may or may not be true. Thus, I continue to value and trust those that I learned those other truths from. Before committing to the faith, I informed myself and came to agree that some corrections would be necessary, thus it is an expectation that not all would hold true. That is why I ultimately own a concept that I do not own at the moment it is received.

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

I'm really not trying to be difficult here; just trying to understand your position.

Though i'm not trying to say that your faith is dependent on 1919, it does strike me as odd how your view wouldn't changed if this doctrine weren't true.

From what i've read in the Watchtower, it would be incredibly detrimental if it weren't true that the JW's/GB weren't chosen by Jesus Christ Himself in 1918.

But if I understand what you're saying correctly, even if you couldn't find any exegetical justification for this doctrine, you would still "own a concept that you do not own at the moment it is received."

And I think this is the difference between us and how I would view independent thinking. In my congregation, there is absolutely nothing my elders could say that would lead me to agree with them theologically that I couldn't substantiate exegetically myself. And that is why I decided to join them in the first place; their exegesis and theology lined up with what I had already come to believe in the first place.

Therefore, I think independently of my elders and always have. My allegiance is to Christ and follow Him as "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) And therefore, I follow the truth wherever it may lead. And it doesn't seem that the Watchtower encourages this. Instead, it admonishes every JW to follow them as they would follow Christ.

FredTorres said...

Hey there Mike,


We have much more in common than you think.

A person can form a belief or conviction in more than one way. A person can do so by teaching and convincing himself without the help of a teacher, to the point that he accepts something as true. Likewise, someone can be persuaded by a teacher to believe something to the point that he accepts it as true.
If it is 'truth" we are trying to get to, how somone forms a conviction or a perception of truth is of little consequence, as long as it is his own. This is where i think you are missing the mark in our conversation.

You seem to be saying that "independent thinking" (you still have not defined it) only occurs in the former.
You imply that someone that believes is not always right and thus prefers to defer to a trusted source that has he positive experience with,can not and does not think "independently."

The subject at hand is not whether it is unchristian to act in that way, but rather as you've made it clear: can JW's "think indepedently", whatever that may mean.

I'll give you the flipside of the question you are asking me:

You say that you follow the truth wherever it leads you. What if it lead you to something you don't agree with? Do you believe such thing is even possible? Would you be wiling to forego a personal value in order to accept a greater truth in return?

Since JW's accept that until we reach the perfect day in the kingdom, we will carry human error. I don't think you deny that you carry error as well in your teaching. The real difference between us is you do not believe that Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians, for many reasons but in part because we choose to make the same change or correction as a group versus when it suits us personally. It is really that simple.
All the talk of "independent thinking" only serves to muddy the waters. This is something I thought you were in agreement with, unless you've changed your mind.

Anyways, like I've said, that just things from my end of the world.

take care bud,
Fred

FredTorres said...

Mike,

I mean to mention this in my last comment in regards to your statement that you "think independently" of the church and/or its leaders:

An indvidual who owns his beliefs learned from a teacher is also thinking independently. You agree?

Thanks bud, have a great day,

Fred

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

I agree that there are different ways in which one can form a belief. In my mind, beliefs are ultimately formed through one source: the Bible. However, there may be other influences in the mix that may contribute such as a teacher or a Bible commentary. But these influences can be fully rejected if they don't line up with Scripture. And I think this is where we may differ.

Perhaps I don't understand your view; i'm fully willing to be corrected if I don't. However, what makes little sense to me is accepting X from a leader when the Bible is explicitly saying Y.

As I understand WT teaching, you should accept X because "who are you to know better than the FDS?" And this is where I think independent thinking comes into play. You are thinking for yourself, rather than allowing others to think for you.

In answer to your question, I don't see how its possible for me to not agree with truth. If X is the truth, then I can't see how X can be disagreed with. Perhaps you could show an example of this?

I think in the end, what this all boils down to is whether one should believe the Watchtower even when they don't think they are teaching the truth. I'd rather not get bogged down in definitions, but rather, to discuss the substance of the issue at hand.

And to be frank, if I really followed the Watchtower's counsel and applied the same standards to the elders in my local assembly, then it would be impossible to ever be a JW, because I would be obligated to accept what they are teaching me.

FredTorres said...

Hi there Mike,

OK, once again, we are speaking apples to oranges. On the one hand you agree with how I (and the WT) define 'indedepenent thinking" (you disagree on the application of course), yet when I ask you what you mean by it, you say it bogs down the conversastion. Very well.

When I explain how someone forms beliefs, I speak from a cognitive process perspective. Yes, it is a given that for the pursposes of our dialogue, the information being learned is sourced from the Bible. In that process, as you correctly point out, one can accept or reject commentary based on the agreed upon authority, the Bible.

Secondly, you are hyperfocused on cerain language found in the publications to the point that the message they are conveying is lost.
When the WT says that Witnesss can trust the FDS, it is referring to the conclusion that JWs themselves reach when they consider that that they (FDS) helped them to unlearn many false doctrines and that they learned many truths in the past. Witnesses have a personal history of positive affirmation that they have the truth. If someone has earned your trust, you need not be suspicious of every single thing that person says or does, which is the point of the 1957 article. Thus, what WT says applies and holds true (and it says as much) "IF" that is his experience with the FDS. And naturaly, it is for JW's, or they wouln't be JWs, just as you joined a group whose beliefs you identify with.


Here is a possible example of the truth leading you to something you don't agree with:

You believe it is true that it is immoral to torture animals and humans.

You believe God tortures people in life after death.

In the above example, you forego your personal value and belief because it you learned a "truth" that goes against it. You essentially "trade off" or "suspend" your view in favor of another, based on your understanding of Scripture.

In a similar way, some JWs will defer a personal viewpoint and embrace another based on their understanding of Scripture. When someone becomes one of Jehovah's Witnesses, one does so with the understanding that the Bible teaches that God has "progressively' taught his people, thus it is agreed upon joining that we VOLUNTARILY will need to defer a personal viewpoint from time to time. Of course, I know you disagree with that teaching, but it is what JWs believe the Bible teaches.

So, if the WT teaches X but a Witness believes X is not true, he is willing to foregoe X because based on that same Bible knowledge he has come to learn A-Z except X from them. If that is the case,then the total sum of truth far outweighs what is not true and as such he continues to identify with the shared values and beliefs of the group. And as far as X is concerned, he is willing to consider that he could be wrong and the FDS is right because, after all he did in fact learn A-Z except X is true(you erronously equate this to mean the WT says the FDS is "smarter" than us). But whatever the case may be, he is willing to excercise his humility and patience in waiting for Jehovah to reveal X over time. As I previously stated, on a psychological level it is quite rational behavior, but more than that, to the JW such behavior does not conflict with God's law and is in harmony with the scriptures.

Your last statement once again reveals your lack of understanding of the JW perspective, although i know you are trying very hard.
You fail to see that just like you, JWs joined the JWs because they identify with their beliefs and they stay there for the same reason. Thus they are no more obligated to be there and stay there any more than you are at your church.
So in that sense, you are applying the 'WT' standard, if you will.

my best to you my friend,

Fred

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

It may be that some of my understanding is erroneous on these aspects, as my continued understanding of JW doctrine and psychology is a work in progress. However, I don't want to focus on those "erroneous" aspects that you accuse me of having as of yet because you brought up the very point i've been trying to get at.

Though it could be my lack of understanding, you were less than clear on something that i'd like to hone in on:

"And as far as X is concerned, he is willing to consider that he could be wrong and the FDS is right because, after all he did in fact learn A-Z except X is true(you erronously equate this to mean the WT says the FDS is "smarter" than us). But whatever the case may be, he is willing to excercise his humility and patience in waiting for Jehovah to reveal X over time."

Since I am a fallible human, I am willing to admit the possibility that I could be wrong on many doctrinal matters. But that is not the issue as I see it.

The problem is with X and Y. And this is where your statement seemed less than clear to me. If the Watchtower teaches X, but the Bible says Y, what are you "waiting on Jehovah" to reveal? There seems to be two possibilities:

a) Believe Y, even though the WT is teaching X, and wait for Jehovah to reveal Y to the WT.

b) Believe X, even though the Bible teaches Y, and wait for Jehovah to reveal X to you.

If it is "a", then it would appear that you are exercising the very thing the WT warns against: independent thinking.

If it is "b", then you are reasoning in accordance with the WT, but holding to something as true, even when you know its false.

FredTorres said...

Mike,

I don't think it's productive to "hone in" on the conclusion of an argument and ignore the argument. The questions you are asking are answered. You are missing them because:

1. You are not focusing on the argument, including the illustrations.
2. Your kowledge of the cognitive process is limited. (as is mine)
3. Most importantly, I have done a poor job of communicating my thoughts.

If you would bear with me, I would like for you to respond to what i wrote and ask for clarification if something was not clear. And when doing so, i humbly ask you that you keep this in mind:

If an individual is willing to admit that he could be wrong on about "Y" he forfeits the right to use absolutes, namely that the "Bible teaches Y".

I hope this meets with your approval.

Take care bud,

Fred

FredTorres said...

Hey there Mike,

Hey, I came back and re-read my last comments to see where I'm not being clear in my communication with you.

Instead of asking you to connect the dots on your own and risk miscommunication, I will try to answer your question directly and succintly. In doing so, I hope to keep our dialogue moving forward, pleasant and productive. While I disagree with the premise and framing of the questions, I will do my best to offer an answer.

I will address the problem. You say:
"If the Watchtower teaches X, but the Bible says Y, what are you "waiting on Jehovah" to reveal? There seems to be two possibilities:"

Answer: There are more than 2 possibilites, but a 3rd one is most signifcant.

c) Believe in X, even though you are almost sure the Bible teaches Y, and wait for Jehovah to reveal X and Y to you and the WT.

If it is C, you are reasoning in accordance to your understanding of the Bible and trusting fully in Jehovah.

I hope this helps to clarify things.

as always, my best to you,

Fred

FredTorres said...

Mike:

And finally, this is the rationale for c) Believe in X, even though you are almost sure the Bible teaches Y, and wait for Jehovah to reveal X and Y to you and the WT.


A-Z = 26 = 100%
WT = A-Z except Y = 25/26 = 96%
Fred = Y = 1/26 = 4%

Thus, short of claiming infallibility, Fred is 99.9% certain that the Bible says Y. But also notes that he has a 4% degree of confidence that he is right, and a 94% level of confidence that he is wrong.
On the other hand, Fred believes that X has a .1% percent chance of being true. However, Fred has 96% level of confidence that the WT is right based on his previous experience (A-Z except Y) with the WT, and a 4% level of confidence the that X is false.

If the above is true, that means that 96% of the time Fred is 99% sure he is right and the WT is wrong, he is right only 4% of the time.

Since it is Fred's objective to believe what is true, he chooses to believe X instead of Y because it gives him the greatest chance to find the truth based on the highest level of confidence. Believing in X, not Y, will, "yield the greatest return", which was my original statement.

As such then the following would hold true:

"Believe in X, even though you are almost sure the Bible teaches Y, and wait for Jehovah to reveal X and Y to you and the WT."

That's the best I can articulate my perspective to your question of how someone can believe what the WT teaches when you know they are teaching something not true.

your friend Fred

Fred said...

"If the above is true, that means that 96% of the time Fred is 99% sure he is right and the WT is wrong, he is right only 4% of the time."
That is incorrect. It should read:

Each time (A-Z = 100) Fred is 99% sure he is right and the WT is wrong, he is right only 4% of the time and wrong 96% of time.


Sorry about that. math isn't my thing.

Fred

FredTorres said...

Mike,

Good lord, you must think I'm spamming you. I'm not. I'm just tired and not editing my replies. So sorry, let me correct myself just one last time.

The following statement:
"..that means that 96% of the time Fred is 99% sure he is right and the WT is wrong, he is right only 4% of the time."
....is incorrrect.

It should read.
" Each time (A-Z) Fred has been 99% sure of a teaching, he as been wrong 96% time and right only 4% of the time."

Jeez. I'm annoying my own self now. So sorry once again.

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred,

I must apologize for my long delay in responding. I got very sidetracked and distracted by some other things. But just to respond briefly, I think your answers portray what i've concluded about JW's all along; Scripture may be considered the authority, but not necessarily in practice.

And the reason I suggest this is because there is nothing Scriptural about the notion of accepting what an organization teaches in contrast to what you are extremely confident of what the Bible is teaching.

At this point, I think where we are at is a contrast between our positions that was my entire goal. It wasn't necessarily my goal to refute the JW position, but to clearly display what the JW position actually is and allow the audience to come to their conclusions.

However, if the contrasts presented contains any refutations of the JW position, then i'm perfectly fine with that too (of course, i'd expect you to disagree with this) as i'm sure some audience members agreed some of this took place in my discussion with WorldHistory2011.

FredTorres said...

Hey there Mike,

Hey bud no need to apologize. You're a busy man.
As I've said before, i appreciate the demeanor and tone of your writing. I respect your views and perspectives.

Indeed,I believe many readers recognize that truth is multi-dimensional from the perspective of fallible beings. There is of course, the Bible. There is strength of conviction. There is level of confidence. And that believing something is Biblical with extreme confidence doesn't make anything more or less true. Yet you missed the point that when an individual has a high degree confidence that another position is true, and he chooses to believe that, he is doing exactly what you say should be done: believe what you believe because it is true, not because it is taught by the organization. That is, you make it yours. You own it because you believe it. Quite frankly, I'm surprised by your position, unless I've misunderstood. I'm open to be corrected as well.

IMHO, I think you are attempting to draw an artificial contrast between us in regards to how we form our beliefs.
But, the readers will draw their own conclusions.

take care, and my very best to you as always,
Fred