I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why

Searching for the why—at first glance, what could be easier? Just read the charges. But when Putin says, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, too. I really don’t understand why they are persecuted”—there appears more to it than meets the eye. When Human Rights Watch says, “Russia’s religious persecution focuses almost exclusively on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” the plot thickens.
 
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Like Luke to Theophilus, here is a book that “traces everything from the start with accuracy.” Like Luke to Theophilus, here is a book that tells it from the believer’s point of view. Stripped of the red herrings that plagued Dear Mr. Putin—Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, updated to the February 2021 present, and ever respectful towards the land of the bear, in most ebook forms it continues to be free, a labor of love.

Here are presented the modern-day Acts of Russia with regard to worship, the acts of believers and of those who oppose them. The acts of Russia have taken a dark and perplexing turn, puzzling even Putin. Can it be? The wizard who runs Oz doesn’t know how his contraption works? Here is a book that picks up where Baran’s Dissent on the Margins (2014) leaves off. The tale has not yet ended. But then, neither had the tale ended when Luke completed the first century Book of Acts.

Early in 2017, every Jehovah’s Witness in the world was invited to write letters to designated Russian officials, urging that justice be done in their case. I wrote one. Here is my expanded version.
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On Conspiracy Theories

Given the fact that Satan is “the father of the lie” and “the god of this system of things,” it is always possible, maybe even likely, that many conspiracy theories are true. Could it be that the only conspiracies that exist are the ones we Witnesses specialize in, having to do with worship, blood misuse, and the “conspiracy” to ram evolution down everyone’s throat? Unlikely. The trick is to not get emotionally involved in them, let them become our new cause, nor let them distract from our existing cause of preaching the good news. Might some realized conspiracy theories create havoc in the long run? In the long run we’ll all be dead if we do not heed the kingdom message.

For a time, our publications were fond of quoting historian Arnold Toynbee. Somewhere there’s a demonstration of a Witness school child citing him about how nationalism is a cancer scuttling for sure any hope for a peaceful earth, leading into a witness, no doubt, on how God’s kingdom rule was the only answer. Maybe she cited words like these, all found in the JW online library research tool. They are number here to make clear they are separate excerpts, not just one long quotation. The bolding is mine:

1.  A basic reason for this deplorable condition is mankind’s adherence to political and national loyalties. These have kept the human family utterly divided and working at cross-purposes. That is why historian Arnold Toynbee said that nationalism “has been in truth the master religion,” since many people give worshipful obedience to it. Toynbee stated that this worship of sovereign states sets their respective members against one another “because this religion is an expression of self-centredness.” And he felt that this “self-centredness is the source of all strife.”

2.  Historian Arnold Toynbee described nationalism as the “most powerful and most vicious of the three post-Christian Western ideologies. [The others being, according to Toynbee, ‘world communism’ and ‘world capitalism.’] . . . Nationalism is about ninety per cent of the religion of about ninety per cent of the whole human race.” Yet nationalism has divided mankind for thousands of years. Then how can the God of peace rid the earth of this scourge?

3.  The present-day global set of local sovereign states is not capable of keeping the peace.”—Arnold Toynbee, Mankind and Mother Earth.

4.  Famous British historian Arnold J. Toynbee declared today that civilization had reached a point where the very continuity of the human race depends on formation of World Government. ‘It is the mutual interest of the nations to subordinate their national sovereignty to world authorities,’ he said. ‘This is the only condition in which the nations can survive in an atomic age.’”

Significant nationalism did not take root until the close of World War I, an event that always ranks high on our radar, for it marks the first time the entire world was concurrently at war and thus seems fine opening “birth pangs,” Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:7, that once they start, other pangs will dependably follow:

“For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.”

So here we are thinking that Toynbee’s exposure of nationalism will turn people to the prospect of government by God. And that has happened with some. At a recent meeting, one sister commented on how it was the question “What do you think of theocratic rule—of government by God?” that first piqued her interest in Bible study.

However, it is not an either/or choice. Just because people can see the pitfalls of nationalism does not mean that they will choose submission to God as the alternative. Some will try to fix human rule. Since Toynbee has shown that you can’t fix human rule via the nation state model that only digs you deeper into a hole, the only human alternative is to push an overriding model. The only people with the wherewithal to do this will be the super wealthy. Many of these ones, as captains of business, industry, and technology, have already proven their managerial ability.

If “conspiracy theories” weren’t spun as maniacal efforts for control just for the sake of control, or clumsier yet, for the sake of the rich making themselves even richer, it would be easier to see them for what they are. They are efforts to save the planet per human terms from the ones who have the wherewithal to launch such efforts. Of course, they are designed so that the architects of such remain on top with their own interests unharmed, but anybody will do that—no mystery there.

Nuclear annihilation was the only doomsday scenario envisioned in Toynbee’s day; now there is worthy competition from any number of threats. If nationalism torpedoed efforts to bring peace, or even avoid nuclear annihilation, so does it torpedo efforts to solve more modern problems that left unchecked promise ruin to the earth—such as overpopulation, climate change, sustainability, and pollution. Those concerned over these things who have the power to push an alternative will do so. Of course, they can’t be open about it, for people like their human governments—usually they have had some role in putting them in power. So they have to push things secretly. They even make use of existing shells not effective in themselves, such as the United Nations. Hence they come across as conspiracies. It is just a subset of human rulership. The nation-state model doesn’t work, yet the powerful are in no mood to turn to God. If they are powerful enough, they push another human model.

It’s not just us who see the iron and clay don’t mix. If the iron can only neutralize the clay, that statue may yet stand. If the iron and clay can be mashed together by a clandestine human force more powerful than popular nationalism, that is what the schemes often labeled conspiracy theories seek to do. How far one will look into such things will be a personal matter, but the same principles of neutrality with regard to human political systems will apply.

Meanwhile at Bethel, they do the Luke 9:62 thing: “No man who has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well-suited for the Kingdom of God.” If you keep looking aside at all the conspiracy theories, the furrows get all wavy. We’ll just get the shot and be done with it, they say. That way they can keep focused on God’s rule and not just another variation of human rule.

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of September 13, 2021

Should I razz the speaker today, the one who follows me here on Twitter? And say he is one whose wife kept a hidden box in which there was 3 eggs and $6000? …..1/2

When he found out each time he gave a bad talk, she added an egg to the box, his chest puffed out. “40 years a speaker and only 3 bad talks!” he said.

Then he found the $6000 was all the money she had made over the years selling eggs……2/2

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Title of the public talk is Gaining Comfort in all Our Tribulations

His chosen song is #44: ‘A prayer of the lowly one.’ I like how in the refrain each line ascends the scales, until the final line returns to the starting place. (Do musicians have a better description of this?)

The speaker says how the root word of ‘comfort’ from 2 Corinthians can also be rendered ‘encouragement.’ I know this is true, for when I wrote ‘Don’t Know Why We Persecute’ & used that verse, I found translations were divided about 50/50 over that word choice.

Elijah mocks the prophets of Baal with “some of the best sarcasm in the Bible,” says the Bible.…‘Yo, call out louder! Maybe he’s in there taking a dump!’ 1 Kings 18:27 [my words, not his]

WatchtowerStudy article for today: Avoid Stirring Up Competition​—Promote Peace“.  Theme scripture: Let us not become egotistical, stirring up competition with one another, envying one another.”​—GAL. 5:26.    Song 101: Working Together in Unity

Huh. Something I have not seen before. The Watchtower conductor displays in smaller picture, with Zoom text above that his bandwidth is low.

One sis comments on paragraph 3 with “Is my self-worth tied up with what others think of me?”

Para 4: and if we insist on comparing ourselves with others, it’s probably worth reflecting on 1 Corinthians 1:26 that none of use are really hot stuff….”not many wise in a fleshly way, not many powerful, not many of noble birth, but God chose the foolish things…1/3

of the world to put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world to put the strong things to shame; and God chose the insignificant things of the world and the things looked down on, the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, ….2/3

so that no one might boast in the sight of God,” is how it is put….3/3

Para 7: Isn’t the “negative qualities of egotism and envy could be likened to impurities contaminating the fuel that powers an aircraft”illustration (which I’ve not heard before) inspired by the scripture that accompanies it, Proverbs 16:18, about pride before the crash?

Para 8: Never does their fail to be at least one quality in which the other person is better than you. Find that quality and hone in on it. It is the secret of Philippians 2:3

One sis (who does have children) comments on how to be involuntarily childless “is hard enough on a woman,” but then to be taunted over it… 1 Samuel 1:6

Para 16: For example, there is no record that he took offense when Aquila and Priscilla “explained the way of God more accurately to him.”​ acts 18:24-28   Sure. Good point. A lot of “eloquent” men will take offense at correction.

One bro puts words in the mouth of Apollos in that pic of he speaking with Paul. ‘He’s not saying that,’ I tell my wife.

One bro talks of how small stitches are preferable to large ones. You would want that in a surgery, he says. They look better, too.

After the meeting, the speaker who was dogsitting, said how mortified he was at the dogs loudly lapping up water. I hadn’t noticed that.

 

The assigned Bible reading for the #midweekmeeting is Joshua 1-2. Starting any new book there is always an overview of what’s ahead.

My service buddy, the one who says to me (and I to him) “Try not to screw up this door like you did the last one” is standing for the opening song, but has not adjusted his laptop. All we see on Zoom is a torso.

“Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9) is a theme that I think will reverberate tonight.

Mercifully, the reader for Joshua 2:1 does not pronounce the city of Shittim so it sounds like you-know-what.

The chairman just told the teen reading the first talk that he is an excellent reader (he is) and that we can all learn from him (we can.) He even interjects on the youngster’s appearance that “you look so good”—as though commenting on threads.

And to think as a high schooler (before my Witness days) the prospect of a standup book report would strike terror in me. If deferred one day for lack of time, it just meant it was sure to come tomorrow

“Hard to think someone wouldn’t be interested in listening to you talk,” he tells another young sis after she completes the RV talk.

Whoa. The third talk, a bro taking it on short notice, begins with him telling his HH of a verse that will “blow your mind.” Job 26:7 about the earth “suspended upon nothing.” Not bad for3500 years ago, when people thought things, even stars, had to be attached to something….1/2

I mean, if it claims to be the Word of God, it can’t just parrot the stupid stuff commonly believed back then—stupid to us, though not to wise men of the day……2/2

Huh. Didn’t do the part on the schedule about conscience. Did the GB #7 update instead.

Look, the temple Ezekiel saw wouldn’t fit on Mt Moriah—too big, and Mt Moriah isn’t above all other hills—there are higher ones surrounding it. And no river is going to flow from the Most Holy bringing the Dead Sea to life—not in any literal temple.

“describe the temple to the house of Israel, so that they will feel ashamed because of their errors, and they should study its plan.” Ezekiel 43:10

Show the plans of my house and someone might feel ashamed if it calls for 2x8s and they typically use 2x4s.

What is it about “the carcasses of their kings” defiling God’s holy name, not to mention their “spiritual prostitution” that appeals to me as a description? (Ezekiel 43:7)

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Switching Study Guides—Good News from God to Enjoy Life Forever: Part 2

(See Part 1)

If they were “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd” then how much more are they now? (Matthew 9:36) Not only “skinned and thrown about” but they know it. “Have the governments of the world succeeded in bringing peace to the world? No,” says the public speaker. “Have they failed miserably? Yes,” he continues. Jehovah’s Witnesses appeal to those who don’t equivocate.

Seeking to run down the faith, one grumbler says its “publications pump out fear-driven content that keeps followers afraid that the end is coming...” Is it our publications that do that or is it theirs? Read the news headlines and try not to say it is theirs. One of my all-time favorite posts is that of the Newsweek cover decrying calamities of the week before capping it all with: “What the #@%! is Next?”

Normalize it if you will and some do. Those aren’t the ones Jehovah’s Witnesses look for. Anyone who doesn’t know where we are in the stream of time has been living in a coma, says Anthony Morris. Exactly.

Here is a study relating how “fifty-six percent of young people surveyed said they agreed with the statement that humanity is doomed, while 75 percent said they believed the future was frightening.” Are they “sheep without a shepherd—skinned and thrown about? They attribute their gloom to “their national governments, who they said were “betraying” them and future generations through their inaction” toward climate change.

Newsweek is up to its old tricks again. “A doomsday COVID variant worse than Delta and Lambda may be coming, scientists say,” screams its cover. That won’t make the young people feel any better, will it?  who now have yet another reason to feel doomed.

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And Jehovah’s Witnesses are the ones scaring people? Just how do people conduct themselves when they think they are doomed? At least the Witness “scare” offers a way of escape. Theirs does not. 

So maybe all this means that you don’t pussyfoot around with your new study guide. “The time left is reduced,” Paul said long ago. It’s much more reduced now. You don’s systematically examine belief systems so as to tell what wrong with them since the persons you’re looking at don’t have belief systems—they are skinned and thrown about, trying to find their way and place. Those who do sense at some level, whether immediently or in their gut, where we are in the stream of time—that’s who Witnesses look for. If they don’t sense it—there’s not much one can do about it. Look for those who do.

“This means everlasting life, their coming to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ,” says John 17:3. Okay. Got it. Hold off on involved stuff for now. See how the basics resonate. Focus on introducing people to those parties, God and his Son. Help them build their own relationship with those two—this is what the new study guide Enjoy Life Forever does. With a relationship to Jehovah and his son, the rest comes easy. Without it, the rest does not come at all.

Pressures from this system of things will cause persons to move in both directions—some into Jehovah’s organized Christian arrangement and some out. The appeal of Witnesses is that one may understand the Bible. “It can be an open book to you,” the tract used to say. Should that open book appeal fade, people will depart as quickly as they came. Sometimes the fact that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7) causes ones to forget it is treasure.

“I don’t know,” Ruth, who was old even then, or was it that I was young? told me long ago as we were awaiting the householder to answer the bell—I don’t remember if he did or not. “They come in, and they go out. Seems it would be better if more stayed in.” Is it possible? We’ve consolidated Kingdom Halls in the US because they didn’t fill to overflow as we had hoped they would when we built them. One fellow at the coffee shop razzed me over one that had been sold. “It’s because of our great growth,” I told him.

If I had my druthers, I’d like to see focus on, not just why people come into the truth, but also why they leave it. “Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present system of things,” Paul writes to Timothy. (2 Tim 4:10) How could he do that? “We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one,” states Paul, (2 Corinthians 7:2) Who said that they had? There must have been someone.

Were there more focus on why some leave the faith even as others join it, maybe “apostates” wouldn’t hold the bogeyman status among Witnesses that they do. Defuse the mystery of their departure, for it is always mundane. “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to men.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) I’m struck with how when people leave, answers to the burning spiritual questions that drew them in seemingly vanish into thin air and are never contemplated again.

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of September 6, 2021

Weekend Meeting Title of the public talk today is ‘The Kingdom of God is Near.’

 

The speaker today is that retired police office, highly respected, that if you are cleaning your gun on private property that JWs have rented and he in security asks nicely you to leave and you don’t because you “have rights” you soon find yourself surrounded by cop cars.

When the speaker read of “a noise from heaven, just like that of a rushing, stiff breeze,” (Acts 2:2) why did I hear it as a Russian stiff breeze? [‘sounds like a mixed drink,’ someone says afterwards]

The GB serves as “ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us. As substitutes for Christ, we beg: “Become reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) They announce kingdom, tell benefits of, and tell requirements of.

“Have the governments of the world succeeded in bringing peace to the world? No,” says the speaker. “Have they failed miserably? Yes,” he continues. JWs appeal to those who don’t equivocate.

The speaker is in 3-piece suit and there is no question of the lower third replaced by jeans. Probably his shoes are shined. He is too respectful for it to be otherwise. He is a balm in the congregation who is quick to come to people’s aid.

“As we drive down the highway mile after mile, our windshield gets dirty. We have to clean it from time to time,” says the speaker, referring to things that would deprive people of clear spiritual vision.

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STUDY ARTICLE 27. ‘Imitate Jehovah’s Endurance’ from the July 2021 Study Watchtower considered toda….theme scripture: “By your endurance you will preserve your lives.”​—LUKE 21:19….SONG 114 “Exercise Patience”

“For look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be called to mind, Nor will they come up into the heart.” Isaiah 65:17

The sister just commented who when the home improvement salesperson wants to speak, not just to the husband, but also the wife, says “I don’t do that.”

A verse advancing the novel notion that Jehovah is an example of endurance: “What, then, if God had the will to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, and he tolerated with much patience vessels of wrath made fit for destruction?” (Romans 9:22) ….1/2

So it’s not easy for him. He doesn’t have it made in the shade after all….2/2

Man, I hate when your have your hand up and the conductor asks an additional question then calls on you. #Eggonyourface

So God can beat the snot out of any challenger, but that will only prove his power, not that he is right. It might even suggest he is wrong to act so immediately. No, he has to let time play out.

We always best remember the study guide is use when we were studying. #Truthbook

One bro comments how in a war, both sides are apt to claim God is with them. Yeah. Just once I would like to see a war in which one side or the other says “We are the bad guys.” [‘do you realize you are saying you’d like to see a war?’ one sis says afterwards]

Though not in the lesson, one sis mentioned Psalm 116:15  “Costly in the eyes of Jehovah Is the death of his loyal ones.”  It was the favorite verse of a sis whose husband had died and then she did later.

On mistreatment of the animal kingdom, the sis who is a veterinarian has something to say. I guess I should have foreseen that.

Someday an overhead comet will reverse roles and leave animals in charge. When that happens—we’re in trouble. #Payback.

Ah. Good. The bro who is not in good health and was away for a time just read a scripture.

 

 

 

 

Closing out the book of Deuteronomy tonight. Final two chapters, 33 & 34. Who knew that Jeshurun was another name—an affectionate one—for Israel? #midweekmeeting

 

“He buried him in the valley in the land of Moʹab, opposite Beth-peʹor, and nobody knows where his grave is down to this day.” Deuteronomy 34:6

 

“For what possible reason did Jehovah not reveal Moses’ burial place?”

 

So it wouldn’t become a tourist trap.

 

The key to the Bible reading, Deuteronomy 33:1-18, is to break it down according to who is being addressed. There is the setup, then remarks to Reuben, then more to Levi, then a little to Benjamin, then much to Joseph. I know this is key because the reading was assigned me…1/2

 

on short notice and I had to figure it out….2/2

 

When a young teen came 2the door home alone, I engaged him in brief chat, maybe 5 min.Taking my leave, his mom pull up the drive. Introducing myself briefly, I said I had asked her youngster a question or two & he had answered intelligently. “You should be proud of him,” I said.

 

When pre-meeting chat turned 2 timeshare salespeople, I told how mine had been a former NYPD detective. What a perfect 2nd career 4a detective, having to read people, I laughed. “You don’t think I’m reading you right now?” he says. I do, I told him, that’s what makes it so funny!

 

Was that an unheard gasp I heard at encourage to cover a lesson per week in the new guide?

 

“Why should you show this video to new students?”

 

So they hear the 1 lessen per week goal and know that you’re doing it wrong if you squeeze out every point for 5 weeks.

 

Heavenly things in Paul’s temple vision, not Ezekiel’s. Sacrifices outlined for many in Ezekiel’s temple, not needed at all in Paul’s, since Christ sacrificed “once for all time.” Almost makes you wonder that they could have been mixed up to begin with.

 

With 6 centuries to go of following the Mosaic law, it’s not time to put the cart before the horse, detailing how the future one works, lest people forget about the present one.

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Switching Study Guides—Good News from God to Enjoy Life Forever—Part 1

Chuck started his Zoom Bible study with the Good News from God brochure as guide. Since there was encouragement to switch to the new interactive guide when feasible, I looked for a seamless spot. I thought I had found one. I hadn’t.

Lesson 10 of GNfG seemed the spot. Entitled “How Can You Recognize True Worship?” with subheadings “Is there only one true religion?” “What did Jesus say about false Christians?” “How can you recognize true worshippers?” and “Can you identify the true religion?”

Intensify it only slightly to the “How False Religion Misrepresents God” of Enjoy Life Forever, Lesson 13, and it seemed a perfect transition place.

It wasn’t.

Chuck took to the transition and the new guide. Several lessons on Jesus followed. (15-17) “Who is Jesus?” “What did Jesus do on earth?” and “What was Jesus like?” He took to them all and carried on how he had learned so much about Jesus. He loved how we had [his words] “married Bible study, evangelizing, and technology.” We covered several chapters, two weeks per lesson.

He’s not one hard to draw out; he likes to talk. He was a philosophy major in college not so long ago. Need I say more? He’s not quite so participatory as Alex, who felt he had to act out the answers as though in a drama class—if the answer was ‘scribes and Pharisees,’ any other student would just say ‘scribes and Pharisees’ but Alex would bound off his chair and strut around his apartment nose in the air as he imagined the scribes and Pharisees would do.

Chuck doesn’t carry on to that extent, but he is loquacious. Think of the 30-second goal in commenting at meetings that our Watchtower conductor is a real bug on. The need-greater from Myanmar tells me it is not just so that more people can comment, but also that we may learn to be concise, just like Jesus was. I’ve even begun to, within very narrow limits, incorporate this counsel into my own writing. I’ve been known to meander forever before getting down to a topic. Yes, but the thing is, people tell me, we don’t really like you that much—why don’t you just address the point? Ah well—none of this matters in a home Bible study. It’s not me that talks, it’s him, and philosophers are seldom at a loss for words.

Presently, however, I began looking ahead in the guide and grew uneasy. Coming up were chapters such as “Are Jehovah’s Witnesses real Christians?” and “Baptism—a worthwhile goal.” Seriously? We haven’t laid all the groundwork yet! The topic of why evil and suffering exist is still ahead of us! All previous guides have considered it before it comes time to figure who has the true religion. What kind of sense does this new way make? Other lessons long considered basic, including many of those we’ve already covered in GNfG, are still ahead of us in ELF! What gives? We should be asking whether the students think JWs have the true religion before laying the groundwork that proved to us it does?

I tell Chuck I’m a little at a loss now that I’ve seen the two study guides do not parallel each other, as I had assumed they did—he’s the first study I have conducted with the new interactive guide. That makes me a pioneer! he says. Either that or a guinea pig, I tell him. Well, we can continue with the present course, I propose, speeding through it somewhat. Or we can go back to Lesson 1 and proceed from there, since it is different material, not parallel to the Good News from God at all.

What bothers me doesn’t bother him at all. Times change, he says. Curriculum adjusts. Of course it does, but I grasped it only upon reflection. He grasped it instantly.

To be continued…

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Tweeting the Meeting: August 30, 2021

“Meeting the Test of Christian Loyalty” is the title of the public talk this morning. A local speaker.

The speaker quotes Psalm 103:12. “As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, So far off from us he has put our transgressions.” Turns out that this verse was in my son’s first Bible reading. I can still see him gesturing the distance with both hands.

“Simon, Simon, look! Satan has demanded to have all of you to sift you as wheat. “ (Luke 22:31) Sobering.

“I will act with discretion and blamelessness” says Psalm 101:2, but when I asked my wife, “What verse was that?” she answered with the call digits of a nearby radio station. She did not sing the jingo, however—WARM 101.3

Concluding verse is Psalm 18:25. “With someone loyal you act in loyalty; With the blameless man you deal blamelessly.”

“God is . . . giving you both the desire and the power to act.”​—Phil. 2:13.   Theme verse of today’s WatchtowerStudy, with application to the Christian ministry.

Ha. Here is the Zoom Watchtower reader reading from an cushy chair at home and I have sat in that chair before during meetings for field service.

Two verses the Witness faith takes very seriously, someone says. Matt 10:7  “As you go, preach, saying: ‘The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near’”  and Luke 8:1. “he traveled from city to city…village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the Kingdom of God.”

Para 8: A comment from one bro on how overcoming doctrine is not what it once was, since few have any. More emphasis instead on principles of living that lead to happiness. One sis likens it to “coming home.”

Does the guide “Enjoy Life Forever” reflect a view that people are like sheep without a shepherd, and they know it? Is that why matters of doctrine come much later than what we are used to and matters of drawing close to God and his worshippers much sooner?

Para 11: “Jesus taught Nicodemus at night, which was a time that Nicodemus preferred.”​—John 3:1, 2.   [because he was chicken. Or was he discreet? Why create a sandstorm when you don’t have to?]

Para 11: “consider one of the lessons we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have discovered that we can conduct effective Bible studies electronically”…..They’re easier that way, too

Para 14: “Remember that people’s circumstances can change quickly in this turbulent world.” Sounds crazy, but can 5 years ago be considered the good ol days? Before pandemic, before non-stop crazy weather, floods, fires, before unhinged hostility in politics that began with 2016 election.

Midweek Meeting, week of August 30, 2021. Assigned Bible reading: Deuteronomy 31-32

“Just as an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its fledglings, Spreading out its wings, taking them, Carrying them on its pinions, Jehovah alone kept leading him.” (Deuteronomy 32:11)  The speaker flaps his arms to illustrate this. #midweekmeeting

Someone said—no, not me, and also not at the meeting—that an eagle had one more pinion than did another type of bird. The difference between them, therefore, was “a matter of a pinion.”

Some themes don’t change. Moses: “If you have been so rebellious against Jehovah while I am still alive with you, then how much more so will you be after my death! (Deuteronomy 31:27)….1/2

Paul: “True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who is right now acting as a restraint is out of the way.”….2 Thessalonians 2:7….2/2

“Be courageous and strong. Do not be afraid or struck with terror before them, for Jehovah your God is the one marching with you. He will neither desert you nor abandon you,” says Moses to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:6)

As an invitation to read a verse, get HH’s thoughts, then leave, I would sometimes choose James 1:13: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.”….1/2

The reason I chose this scripture, I would say, is that some people think he DOES do evil…..2/2

My wife’s virtual householder was surly, as she had been asked to be. She was “so done” with religion, “so done” with websites where you have to enter passwords—“so done” with all of it.

“And your timing was very good,” says the bro who is attentive to such things. “Just checking to see if the other group is with us yet. Hmm. Maybe we’ll give them a couple more minutes.”   What does that say as to their timing?

“Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out, imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)  At time of writing, that would have included James, put to death by Herod ending a life of faith.

Bro Sullivan on the running board fending off attackers of Rutherford. Reminds me of a bro long deceased who with others [surprisingly, per the words of his grandson] “used to stack them up like cordwood.”

Entering the room behind the Zoom bro presiding is his 4-year old, in pajamas with flopping doggie ear hat, intent on getting his attention. He must see her behind him on screen and cannot suppress a broad smile.

Imagine. A full 1/5 of the book of Ezekiel is his vision of the temple. Almost irresistible to connect it with Paul’s discussion of the temple, but this is being rethought “to the relief of those who studied the old Ezekiel book,” one older sis says, for it was quite complex.

Bros carrying on about how they struggled to grasp all the parallels. Now they don’t have to. Was it therefore “a waste of time?” If so, there are plenty of worse ways to waste it. What’s wrong with rummaging around in the word of God?

Paul wrote: “Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail.” (Heb. 9:4, 5)    If it wasn’t then, it isn’t now.

 

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The 144K and the Governing Body: Gnostics?

It’s all the rage now to accuse people of the “new religions” [cults, in derogatory-speak] of being “gnostic.” I haven’t figured out why, but it probably is some variation of what PBS observed on the gnostic movement in the early years of Christianity—that the term “is often used as a sort of umbrella term to cover the people that the leaders of the church don't like.” Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t liked in mainstream Christian circles, hence they must be “gnostic according to this new view.

No, the anointed of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not gnostic. As the PBS article explains, Gnosticism comes from the root word meaning “to know.” It is not a reference to book knowledge, but to a individualized secret knowledge not available to all. That type of knowledge generally translates into one-up-mans-ship—the one who claims it is apt to lord it over the one who do not.

Is that special secret knowledge a characteristic of the Witness governing body? From the October 1, 1984 Watchtower (in a footnote): “Regarding his misguided statements as to what we could expect in 1925, [Rutherford himself] once confessed to us at Bethel, ‘I made an ass of myself.’” How’s that for gnostic? If you say “Not very much,” you have answered correctly.

And yet there is some applicability to the label. There is something to it, if not in the sense the charge is made. To zero in on a few statement from that PBS program on Gnostics in the early developing church (statements all bolded):

They thought of themselves as Christians who had received, in addition to the other gospels, secret teaching.”

This doesn’t fit the Witnesses’ anointed ones at all. Those anointed among Jehovah’s Witnesses have no source of teaching beyond the Bible itself—nothing at all “secret.”

And Gnostics were people who claimed to know something special. No, that doesn’t fit either, but also yes, it does. The anointed have no special source. But the Bible itself speaks to them differently than it speaks to those of the great crowd. Paul writes in Romans 8 that “you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (15-16) Bible knowledge implants in them the heavenly hope, whereas for the overwhelming majority of Christians today, living forever on a paradise earth is their hope. It is mine.

From PBS: Gnostics convey “the sense that the divine is to be discovered by some kind of interior search.” It doesn’t apply to the Witness anointed, making an interior search, but it does apply to how the exterior source of the Bible, speaks differently to them. Same source, but it implants two hopes in two separate groups. Is that gnostic or not? There are elements of both.

PBS: “This knowledge could be…a kind of propositional knowledge of certain key truths.” Again, the answer is yes and no with regard to the Witness anointed. They do discern “certain key truths,” but it’s not through any hidden source; it is from the Bible. Could it be said that holy spirit opens the Word to them in a way it does not to the other sheep? The “key truths” that identify Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jehovah’s Witnesses alone are found and preserved only where the Witness anointed Governing Body is present. That there is no immortal soul, no trinity, the use of God’s name, the kingdom a real government, everlasting life on earth, why God permits evil, exactly how the ransom works, what happens to the dead—these are all discerned from the Bible by the anointed. They pass them on to the “other sheep” who can easily grasp the truths since they clearly are Bible teachings, but they were not able to discern them independently.

Acquiescing to this apparent means of distribution, the other sheep defer to the Governing Body taking the lead. Clyde Tussen, with a gift for illuminating complex spiritual things so that a child could understand, used to overstate how with Jehovah’s Witnesses all study their Bibles—they don’t all do it, but Clyde lived in a world of his own and for him it was so. Things begin to dawn on members of the Governing Body in the course of their Bible reading, he would say, and they bat it around among themselves. After considerable prayerful discussion, that new point appears in print. He would add: “Now, the thing is, you are studying your Bible too. That new point the Governing Body just wrote about? You may have already noticed that point in your own studying. And if this were Christendom, you'd run out and start your own religion over it.” Because it is not, you wait on them to take the lead.

Luke Timothy Johnson, historian of the early church, presents Gnostics as tremendously disruptive to the order of the developing church. The apostles and presbyters, men with the most experience in the faith, would try to coordinate and unify growth of the congregations. They would apply existing scripture to new developments, as is outlined at Acts 15. They would issue “decrees” or “decisions” based upon that application and convey them to all the congregations, which served to make them “firm in the faith and to increase in number day by day.” (Acts 16:4-5) Thwarting their efforts would be Gnostics popping up in individual congregations, each with his/her own private truth and secret revelation, who soon came to regard themselves as the only real Christians for being so favored with hidden revelations, better than the “proto-orthodox” Christians who did things in an orderly way. The trouble with “truth” arising through personal revelation is that inevitably there arise others who also have had truth revealed that way—only their truths do no agree, in which case how is anyone ever going to get to the bottom of it?

If there is anything in Witness congregations corresponding to this disruptive brand of gnosticism, would it not be found in those apostates who claim anointed status and thereafter are unwilling to cooperate with the organized arrangement coming from the Governing Body? For the most part, the remnant of anointed Christians today recognize their calling is for that of a future heavenly assignment, not a present one. At present, they set an example in following a unified arrangement, setting an example and building up ones in their proximity. But there’s that tiny group who simply won’t do it; they are gnostic in the PBS sense, thinking themselves privy to special insight that entitles them here and now to a place of authority. That not being granted, they work to “draw away the disciples” after themselves. (Acts 20:30) Imagine! a crazy system in which anyone can take the lead simply by saying that they should take it! No wonder Luke Johnson says order and unity went right out the window when those guys came around!

Now, the Governing Body whose members take the lead—these members too received their commission through a heavenly calling, “gnostic” in some ways, not in the source, but in that the Bible implants through holy spirit a hope in them not implanted in the bulk of Witnesses. But they are not asked to become a part of that body before a lifetime of humble full-time service, so that their faith is amply testified to and reinforced by their works. Should the need arise to replace someone who has died, the Governing Body looks within the ranks of anointed for one who also has decades of faithful experience. Thus, they combine the gnostic tradition with the orderly tradition. The “gnostic” in their case does not work to divide but to unite.

Instead of division, we have applications such as in the commentary on Ezekiel, Pure Worship of Jehovah—Restored at Last, of the stick of Joseph uniting with the stick of Ephraim. (Ezekiel 37:15-19) The two sticks are to become one. The stick of Joseph can well foreshadow the anointed, for it included the priestly tribe of Judah. The stick of Ephraim was just about everyone else, barring only the Benjamanite tribe. They unite. We may not do type/anti-type as before, but this one fits because the verses themselves find later fulfillment in the Book of Revelation. (compare Ezekiel 37: 26, 27 with Rev 7: 9,15)

The gnostic movement in church history divides. In Witness context, it unites. Can we call the first the “worldly” gnosticism?

A final point on Gnostics from the PBS article was that they're very much interested in getting into the world of spirit, removing themselves from the world of matter.” The worldly gnosticism presents these ones almost as too ethereal to exist shoulder to shoulder with the orderly believers, for they count themselves better Christians and insist upon grabbing the wheel. The gnosticim of the Witness anointed turns disunity into unity, all the while preserving their “interest in the world of spirit.” Let’s face it—there’s no way on God’s green earth that I will ever become one of the anointed, because it is on God’s green earth that my hope lies, as though on one of those back-to-nature camping trips that you wish would never end and in the new system it never will. But the anointed—that just doesn’t register with them. They see it, but it is not the portion of scripture that speaks explicitly to them. Their preoccupation is of “the world of spirit” from which they will comprise a part of Christ’s heavenly rule over earth.

I once asked one of the anointed to fill in for me on a Bible study while I was away. It was a study decades ago with a Czech woman old enough to be my grandmother, and in hindsight she probably regarded me as a grandson. Trust me on this: that Czech woman would NOT have experienced the heavenly calling even had she endured, which she did not.

To her anointed visitor, she told me later how she had offered some cake and coffee, same as she always offered them to me—and they were good, too. “No thank you,” the elderly anointed sister said, “my food is to do the will of him who sent me.”

“It’s theater!” sputtered my exasperated would-be grandma when I saw her the next week. “It’s just coffee and cake! You don’t need to make a speech about it!”

Well, I guess they don’t have coffee and cake in heaven. Much to my surprise, years later I learned that the anointed woman’s fleshly sister, just as faithful, had never believed her sister was really anointed, but was delusional in some way. Everyone else believed she was—reading that into her partaking of the emblems. I suppose that she was, too. But who can say? It is an individual calling, an individual experience. It is always recommended we don’t get too intrusive with them, grilling them on what their anointed experience feels like, for example. Maybe it is for their sake that counsel is given, so that they are content to remain in their present role, and not have people oohing and ahhing over them, that they do not go worldly gnostic on us, carrying on and on about their special commission, demanding their own platforms in the here and now, as well as anointed-only conventions in which to reconnoiter.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of August 23, 2021

Weekend Meeting: How Love and Faith Conquer the World’ is the title of the public talk. An out of town speaker.

Jesus could have healed that leper from miles away, the speaker says. He could have said (snapping fingers “you’re good to go,” instead of touching someone whom no one had touched in a very long time.

Now about a bro in [then] Communist Hungary. Baptized in river (1942) after his release from prison. Sentenced to 11 more years for neutral stand, but shipped to Hitler camp prior to commencement. Another prison sentence upon camp release by Hungarian govt.

Now an appeal to 1 John 5:3-4 “For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome, because everything that has been born fr God conquers the world. And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.

“We should not use the strength Jehovah gives us to pay back evil for evil,” the above bro from Hungary says, explaining why he several times took a pass at retaliating at those who oppressed him.

 

Watchtower Study: Title article: Do Not Stumble ‘These Little Ones.’  Theme scripture: “Do not despise one of these little ones.”​—MATT. 18:10. “Remember to unmute if called to comment,” the conductor reminds, as well as the 30-second goal. He (and I) likes that goal.

The need-greater from Myanmar says the 30-second comment goal is so many can participate (of course) but it is also for us, that we can learn to be concise, as Jesus way. Say a lot in few words. Not a little in many words

I think it is the overhead circular globe light reflecting off the conductor’s glasses. Almost makes him look like some superhero with special powers, but it’s just my good ol chum.

In a sense, all Witnesses are “little ones” on b/c of: 1 Cor 1:26 “For you see his calling of you, brothers, that there are not many wise in a fleshly way, not many powerful, not many of noble birth, but God chose the foolish things of the world to put the wise men to shame”..1/2

It is why comtemporary history contains scant mention of early Christianity. The doings of the commoners never rank to highly in the official histories…..2/2

Para 7: If you’re occasionally offended, that says something about the one who triggers it. If you’re frequently offended, that says something about you.

Para 8: Discussion of the theme of ‘who is the greatest?’ called to mind a certain online character who took all of two seconds to append Dr. before his name when he had been awarded a PhD.

“Sorry for not having a Ph.D. in whatever baloney* you have your Ph.D. in,” one tweeter apologizes.    *not his actual word.

Para 12: When his “fellow slaves saw what had happened, they became greatly distressed.” There might be some settings in which people would say, “Ah, well, it’s not my problem,” but the congregation is not one of them. Good reason for ‘warring’ bros not to war.

One bro, always the source of good comments, mentions the frequent expression: “He owes me an apology,” whereas in the congregation, the phrase to emphasize is: “I owe him forgiveness.”

 

Midweek Meeting, Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 29-30

Deuteronomy 30:11 “Now this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it beyond your reach.”  It is the theme of the #midweekmeeting tonight, expanded in the #1 talk and reinforced with the video “Imitate, not the cowards, but the courageous.”

“It is not in the heavens, so that you have to say, ‘Who will ascend to the heavens and get it for us…Nor is it on the other side of the sea, so that you have to say, ‘Who will cross over to the other side of the sea and get it for us…1/2

For the word is very near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart, so that you may do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:12-14)  It starts by coming right to your door. Don’t even have to go to college for it. What could be easier?…2/2

Deuteronomy 30:4 “Even if your people are dispersed to the extremity of the heavens, from there Jehovah your God will gather you and bring you back.” Another theme of the meeting, reinforced with recent studies of the Ezekiel book.

Bonnie spoke of “positive peer pressure” of Imitate, not the cowards, but the courageous. Each segment ends with someone overhearing, who takes his/her own stand in the next segment.

I had not noticed the connection before: Ezekiel 37:27 “My tent will be with them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” and Revelation 7:15 “…and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.  Rev 21:3 “The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples.”

Someone commented on the congregation meeting photo how the children are not separated into another room, but listen and learn with the of the congregation. No #SundaySchool

 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Don’t be Surprised at the Fiery Trials You Are Going Through (1 Peter 4:12)

Anyone reading the Bible would see that the people whom God led w/an organization tacked this way and that. …I don't see that there ever has been universal agreement among members of the groups of God's people. Not in Bible times and not today either.”

Of course. “You can’t always get what you want,” as someone recently drummed to. Nobody gets everything his way. There are things about the earthly organization that are not as I would prefer. 

But the choice is not now, nor has ever been, between the people who are tacking this way and that and the people who are sailing straight and true without deviation. The choice is between the people who are tacking this way and that and the people who have sailed off the edge of the earth. The key tenets: no immortal soul, no trinity, use God’s name, kingdom a real government, everlasting life on earth, why God permits evil, exactly how the ransom works, what happens to the dead, preserved nowhere except in the realm where the GB presides—that has to make an impression with anyone in whom love of truth resides. 

I’m struck with how when people leave Jehovah’s organized worship, they never ever mention these tenets again. Answers to the very burning questions that drew them into the faith are now dismissed as though of no importance. It certainly is true of outside detractors who would draw people away. The blemishes of humans taking the lead are drawn out, exaggerated, or even make up, as though they did not all find their counterparts among the first century apostles and presbyrs. Press the detractors for where they would have you go instead and they clam up. They have nothing to offer.

In the case of those who still believe in God, it is back to the land of churches, where in time, the bland junk food will reassert itself: All roads lead to heaven, God works in mysterious ways, Death of a child is because God needs another flower in heaven. How is that not like the dog returning to his own vomit?

in the case of those who have gone the atheist route, it is like a market crash where millions are transformed into hundreds. “Ah, well, they were only paper gains anyway,” says the spiritual dullard, giving up on everlasting life to go celebrate the hundreds he still has left. 

It is no good harping on the blemishes of others, real, imagined, or enhanced. The enemy in the West wants exactly what the enemy in the East wants—to separate Witnesses from their support organization, with the confidence that they can be more easily assimilated that way. The only difference between them is the difference between the good cop who would coo sympathy at you and the bad cop who would pummel you. They want the same. Even should you decide to hone in on the blemishes of fellow believers it does not change the overall picture. It fits right in with how things were in the first century, where they also had blemishes. It’s how imperfect people are.

Pray to God that he fix your personal woes and beefs and he will respond that he has underlings who can handle the job—it is enough that he will listen to you and provide nourishment night and day. Complain to him that the underlings are imperfect and he will observe that you are no great shakes yourself—you will just have to learn to make do. In the final analysis, does not this verse carry the day? “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) 

******

I wrote the book TrueTom vs the Apostates to assist anyone who has been stumbled at charges apostates make and thereafter no one is able to help them because they don’t know what is there themselves. It’s for them. Nobody else is allowed to read it. Look, don’t try to bluff me on this. I’ll know.

Also available in Amazon print.

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of August 16, 2021

Weekend Meeting: Watchtower only, streamed convention Day 3 PM to follow. “You Can Escape from Satan’s Snares” June 2021 Wt, Pride and greed are the focus.

Para 1: The woman in the picture has been shopping, “she has her hands full, but she passes a display of purses and thinks maybe she needs another one,” Bonnie says with a smile.

Imagine this guy—chewing out the priest the way he does: “But Uz·ziʹah became enraged while in his hand there was a censer for burning incense, and, during his rage against the priests, leprosy itself flashed up in his forehead…” 2 Chronicles 26:19

Para 10 made me think of ‘An Important Reminder,’ on coping with anxiety & the part where a resurrected Uriah will have to get over how the guy that killed him went on to great honors, maybe even (he a Hittite) reading racism into it.… …1/2

Long ago I played this for a church-going relative, temporarily eaten up by anxiety, thinking it would help. “Can’t this bro say ‘God’ even once?” I thought? “Does it have to be God’s name every single time?” something I never would have thought were it just myself….2/2

Para 11: There is benefit in counting blessings:  “New Bible students are encouraged to think of one specific blessing and to thank Jehovah for it. If a person does that every day for a week, it will mean that he has prayed about seven different topics.  (1 Thess. 5:18)

Only Son of Thunder John slams Judas for motive over the perfumed oil; neither Luke nor Matthew mention it: “He said this, though, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box and used to carry off the monies put in it” (John 12:6)

Midweek Meeting:

Deuteronomy 27-28. Bad curses for doing bad (27: 15-26), followed by good blessings for doing good (28:1-14), followed by really bad curses for doing REALLY bad. (28:15 to end)

Sort of a rally, with the people divided into two groups by tribe—the group proclaiming blessings standing on mountain terrain that looked as though blessed, the group telling of curses standing on contrasting terrain that looked as though cursed. (Deut 27:12)

“It has been suggested that the blessings were read toward Mount Gerizim because of its greater beauty and fertility in contrast with rocky, largely barren Mount Ebal…The Law was read aloud “in front of all the congregation of Israel……2/3

This vast throng could hear the words from positions in front of either mountain. This was probably due, at least in part, to the excellent acoustics of the area. “ (Insight on the Scriptures) …3/3

So these Pharisees and scribes asked him: “Why do your disciples not observe the tradition of the men of former times, but they eat their meal with defiled hands?” He said to them: “Isaiah aptly prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honor me with ….1/2

their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.’ You let go of the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men.”…(mark 7:5-8) 2/2

One Zoom sis who I didn’t think would have a cat walking on her table had a cat walking on her table

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)