Unless you are familiar with much of what follows and have come to terms with it, what you are about to read will doubtless cause you cognitive dissonance--psychological pain, mental tension. The reasons for such discomfort and more on what it is, will be dealt with in this writing.
As representatives of the Watchtower Society we regularly encourage people to test the claims made by THEIR religious organizations. Indeed, we are quick to draw certain conclusions about those who either refuse to do so, or after doing so, choose to reject evidence presented to them that detracts from those claims.
However, making the same test ourselves about various claims made by our organization may pose its own share of difficulties. This is particularly true if we have invested a great deal emotionally in those claims, and much of our emotional security is linked with interpretations that are challenged in the testing. It would probably be safe to say that most people don't really want to look at matters straight on when it poses such risks. Going with what is said is easier and more comfortable than trying to figure out how things truly are--how things really work.
How about YOU? Are you at all inclined for emotional reasons to content yourself with how things seem to be and avoid altogether asking questions about how things really might be?
If you characterize yourself as a LOVER OF TRUTH, then likely you would profess to stand by the truth and defend it at all costs. If so, then any pursuit of the facts that would go to enhance or affirm what you have already concluded as being true would be readily acceptable to you.
However, what if an inquiry and analysis led you to not merely an affirmation of certain conclusions, but to the disconfirmation of some, and the drawing of new conclusions? What if you discovered that you had some illusions? And what if evidence indicated that you were in some sort of denial? Would you then welcome such an inquiry? Would you then want to make such an analysis?
If your answer to the the above questions is No, is it due to fear? Is "truth" really all that important to you, or do you content yourself with remaining within some comfortable parameters?
If our faith and our hopes are adulterated with credulity and illusions in any measure; whatever denial we may be in about this, cannot help but affect our honesty both with ourselves and others.
Some inspired words that readily indict any sinful, imperfect human are the following:
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, WHOEVER YOU ARE, if you judge; for in the thing in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, inasmuch as you that judge practice the same things....But do you have this idea, O man, while you judge those who practice such things and yet you do them, that you will escape the judgment of God? (Rom. 2:1,3)
Paul's words just quoted can and should provide a balancing effect on our thinking and judgments, especially as it relates to a person testing the claims of their religious organization; and in particular any test we may make of our own. Bear this in mind as you read the following.
C.T. Russell was looked to by early Bible Students as something SPECIAL--the faithful and wise servant; the Laodicean messenger; the man with the writer's inkhorn. Currently those of us in the Witness community see the fallacy of such conclusions; the idea of ONE MAN--ONE INDIVIDUAL fulfilling such roles would be considered absurd, even bizarre. Yet, reasoning on it, how many INDIVIDUALS are needed to constitute something special--how many individuals are needed to be that faithful slave or man with the writers's inkhorn?--Two? Three? One-hundred? Ten thousand?
Or to come at it from another direction: At our congregation book studies we readily recognize that our respective conductors are NOT the last word or final authority when it comes to Biblical interpretation or exposition. Nor do we see the elder body as a whole or specifically the presiding overseer as the last word. We know or understand that we are NOT to invest such special powers in any one man or body; we know this, even if the local brother or group of brothers should one or all profess to be of the "anointed."
Yet, AT WHAT POINT does it become proper to do so? With the circuit or district overseers? or with the brothers of the service department, or perhaps the Governing Body? Really, at what point does it become proper? and why and how so?
The belief that the individual--the one man--Charles Taze Russell was the 'sole channel' of God is currently seen as an absurdity by members of our organization. Any argument for his individually having fulfilled a foretold role or as having been a special one marked out in Scripture would be summarily dismissed as bizarre. But really, how is our organizational claim that A GROUP of a few thousand individuals is the 'sole channel' of God any less absurd? Or how is our argument that this group of individuals is fulfilling a foretold role or is something special and marked out in Scripture any less bizarre?
One of the ironies of the situation is that currently our organization trains us NOT to look to an INDIVIDUAL. For example, if someone within our ranks were to circulate some personal written presentation on the Scriptures he would surely be censured and others would likely be directed to ignore his writings. And as far as the magazines and books published by the organization, don't they go unsigned? and doesn't such anonymity in itself contribute in its way to the promoted concept that God deals THROUGH A GROUP ONLY and not through individuals?
Yet, recall how before current mindsets, the early Bible Students essentially responded largely to the efforts of an INDIVIDUAL, most specifically the written presentations of C.T. Russell. --The early Watch Towers contained a list of contributors, and the various articles were initialed by those who wrote them. Russell was the known editor, and generally his writings could be known by their lack of initials or a specific note from the editor. And, though Russell's books went unsigned, it was understood by all that he wrote them. And, although not meaning to take away from Russell's sincere accomplishments, it is essentially true that the brothers of those early days threw their lot in with a twenty-seven year old haberdasher; as that was Russell's age when he became editor of the Watch Tower.
However, today with current organizational mindsets being what they are, no individual haberdasher in his late twenties would stand a chance of doing, or accomplishing what Russell did within our ranks. Yet, ironically, in a certain respect, the brothers today have also essentially thrown their lot in with a twenty-seven year old haberdasher; as today's arrangements are the product or outgrowth of Russell's early endeavors.
Still, it is simply a fact that no imperfect human can be THE FINAL WORD when it comes to Biblical interpretation, as FALLIBILITY and LACK OF DIVINE INSPIRATION make it so.
Christianity is a way of life in imitation of the Son of God and an aherence to his teachigs. That is all it is. That is all it ever was. -- Christianity is NOT isolationism, however. It is reasonable for it to involve a COMMUNITY OF FAITH. And Jesus Christ anticipated problems connected with the association(s) of professed believers that would come to be. --Matt. 13:24-50.
Another fact is that a common and recurring pitfall of a fellowship, group, system, organization --what have you-- is resulting pressure and demands on individual members for their allegiance to the group's views, or more specifically the views of the individual or group of individuals perceived as the leader(s). Such allegiance generally is put on a par with, or often transcends allegiance to God's Word. Impediment and even injury to spiritual growth is the result.
For while a group of people may not CALL a certain man or body of men their leader(s), they may IN ATTITUDE look to a certain man or body of men as occupying that role, assigning to such the position that belongs exclusively to Jesus Christ. (Matt. 23:10) Whenever that happens, limits are placed on knowledge, as the knowledge of all, even the wisest, is partial (1 Cor. 13:12) This inevitably works to spiritual injury and impedes spiritual growth.
It is only reasonable that the Creator, Jehovah, would understand fully the peculiarities of sinful imperfect human nature in all its manifestations. It is written of the Son of God when he walked among men that "he himself knew what was in man." -- John 2:25.
It therefore stands to reason that any sound insights that man may come to in the areas of sociology, psychology, history and the like, would already be possessed (and then some) by God and his Son.
Whereas it is true that Jehovah can exercise foreknowledge whenever he so chooses; it should be evident that "the Observer of mankind" (Job 7:20) can easily know the historical patterns and sociological dynamics that would come to be, whatever the human endeavor or the purpose of a community, group or movement.
A thoughtful person can --with hindsight-- perceive to some extent the profound effects on the human family resulting from Christ and his teachings. Surely you will agree that it has been an easy matter for Jehovah and his Son to know ahead of time the full extent of the impact that the "good news" would have on mankind?! It is apparent that such comprehensive understanding contributed to WHAT Christ included in his teachings, and WHY he did so.
One of Jesus' parables deals with a "dragnet" that indiscriminately draws in "fish." When the "dragnet" is ultimately hauled in, separation of the "fine" from the "unsuitable" fish takes place. --Matt. 13:47-50.
By its own admission the Watchtower Society includes itself as an organization in what makes up the "dragnet" of Jesus' parable. [See: 11-15-67 Watchtower, p. 686; 10-1-75 Watchtower, p. 599; The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, Chapter 43; 6-15-92 Watchtower, p. 20.] This is a reasonably safe conclusion. However it is unfortunate that the Watchtower movement --or the phenomenon known as Jehovah's Witnesses-- does not see itself SIMPLY AS one of many "dragnet" developments.
The organization, through the publications, has rightly referred to itself as a "movement." It is a MASS MOVEMENT, which is defined as:
a large body of persons engaged in an organized effort or a series of organized activities to promote or attain an end.
Like other human endeavors, mass movements have come under study and observation. It is noted that regardless of the kinds of movements; and no matter whether benevolent or malevolent; mass movements share certain essential characteristics which give them a family likeness. In other words they all have in common some peculiarities, be they religious, social or nationalist movements. This proves true with the mass movement linked with, and utilizing the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
However long it might take, a mass movement has three essential phases. A movement is:
1. PIONEERED by "men of words";
2. MATERIALIZED by "fanatics" and;
3. CONSOLIDATED by "men of action."
And though usually considered an advantage to a movement if these roles are played by different men who succeed each other as conditions require, this does not always prove to be the case, as sometimes the leader(s) in the first phase takes on the needed persona for each successive phase. However, in the case of the Watchtower movement, it has worked out that each phase has been dominated my a different individual. It was pioneered under C.T. Russell, materialized under J.F. Rutherford, and consolidated under N.H. Knorr, resulting in the ENTERPRISE it has become under associates of the latter who form a "governing body". And due to the peculiarities of the final phase, as is characteristic of RELIGIOUS movements, it has crystallized in a HIERARCHY and a RITUAL. The process has actually been inevitable when you give consideration to certain dynamics and the very nature of a mass movement.
Your knowledge of the history of the organization will be helpful with the following. I will quote liberally from a classic sociology book to flesh out characteristics of the three phases above-mentioned, that have been clearly manifest in the Watchtower movement:
...the readying of the ground for a mass movement is done best by men whose chief claim to excellence is their skill in the use of the spoken or written word...
The men of words are of diverse types. They can be priests, scribes, prophets, writers, artists, professors, students and intellectuals in general...
...It is true that once the man of words formulates a philosophy and a program, he is likely to stand by them and be immune to blandishments and enticements.
It is easy to see how the faultfinding man of words, by persistent ridicule and denunciation, shakes prevailing beliefs and loyalties, and familiarizes the masses with the idea of change. What is not so obvious is the process by which the discrediting of existing beliefs and institutions makes possible the rise of a new fanatical faith. For it is a remarkable fact that the militant man of words who "sounds the established order to its source to mark its want of authority and justice" often prepares the ground not for a society of freethinking individuals but for a corporate society that cherishes utmost unity and blind faith...
When we debunk a fanatical faith or prejudice, we do not strike at the root of fanaticism. We merely prevent its leaking out at a certain point, with the likely result that it will leak out at some other point. Thus by denigrating prevailing beliefs and loyalties, the militant man of words unwittingly creates in the disillusioned masses a hunger for faith. For the majority of people cannot endure the barrenness and futility of their lives unless they have some ardent dedication, or some passionate pursuit in which they can lose themselves. Thus, in spite of himself, the scoffing man of words becomes the precursor of a new faith.
The genuine man of words himself can get along without faith in absolutes. He values the search for truth as much as truth itself. He delights in the clash of thought and in the give-and-take of controversy. If he formulates a philosophy and a doctrine, they are more an exhibition of brilliance and an exercise in dialectics than a program of action and the tenets of a faith. His vanity, it is true, often prompts him to defend his speculations with savagery and even venom; but his appeal is usually to reason and not to faith. The fanatics and the faith-hungry masses, however, are likely to invest such speculations with the certitude of holy writ, and make them the fountainhead of a new faith....
To sum up, the militant man of words prepares the ground for the rise of a mass movement: 1) by discrediting prevailing creeds and institutions and detaching from them the allegiance of the people; 2) by indirectly creating a hunger for faith in the hearts of those who cannot live without it, so that when the new faith is preached it finds an eager response among the disillusioned masses; 3) by furnishing the doctrine and the slogans of the new faith; 4) by undermining the convictions of the "better people"--those who can get along without faith--so that when the new fanaticism makes its appearance they are without the capacity to resist it. They see no sense in dying for convictions and principles, and yield to the new order without a fight.
...The fact that mass movements as they arise often manifest less individual freedom than the order they supplant, is usually ascribed to the trickery of a power-hungry clique that kidnaps the movement at a critical stage and cheats the masses of the freedom about to dawn. Actually, the only people cheated in the process are the intellectual precursors. They rise against the established order, deride its irrationality and incompetence, denounce its illegitimacy and oppressiveness, and call for freedom of self-expression and self-realization. They take it for granted that the masses who respond to their call and range themselves behind them crave the same things. However, the freedom the masses crave is not freedom of self-expression and self-realization, but freedom from the intolerable burden of an autonomous existence. They want freedom from "the fearful burden of free choice," freedom from the arduous responsibility of realizing their ineffectual selves and shouldering the blame for the blemished product. They do not want freedom of conscience, but faith--blind, authoritarian faith. They sweep away the old order not to create a society of free and independent men, but to establish uniformity, individual anonymity and a new structure of perfect unity.
...But once a movement gets rolling, power falls into the hands of those who have neither faith in, nor respect for, the individual. And the reason they prevail is not so much that their disregard of the individual gives them a capacity for ruthlessness, but that their attitude is in full accord with the ruling passion of the masses.
When the moment is ripe, only the fanatic can hatch a genuine mass movement. Without him the disaffection engendered by militant men of words remains undirected, and can vent itself only in pointless and easily suppressed disorders....Without him there can perhaps be no new beginning.
...He shoves aside the frightened men of words, if they are still around, though he continues to extol their doctrines and mouth their slogans. He alone knows the innermost craving of the masses in action: the craving for communion, for the mustering of the host, for the dissolution of cursed individuality in the majesty and grandeur of a mighty whole. Posterity is king; and woe to those, inside and outside the movement, who hug and hang on to the present.
Whence come the fanatics? Mostly from the ranks of the noncreative men of words. The most significant division between men of words is between those who can find fulfillment in creative work and those who cannot. The creative man of words, no matter how bitterly he may criticize and deride the existing order, is actually attached to the present....When the struggle with the old order is bitter and chaotic and victory can be won only by utmost unity and self-sacrifice, the creative man of words is usually shoved aside and the management of affairs falls into the hands of the noncreative men of words--the eternal misfits and the fanatical contemners of the present.
...He sees his life as irrevocably spoiled and the world perpetually out of joint. He feels at home only in a state of chaos. Even when he submits to or imposes an iron discipline, he is but submitting to or shaping the indispensable instrument for attaining a state of eternal flux, eternal becoming. Only when engaged in change does he have a sense of freedom and the feeling that he is growing and developing. It is because he can never be reconciled with his self that he fears finality and a fixed order of things....
The creative man of words is ill at ease in the atmosphere of an active movement. He feels that its whirl and passion sap his creative energies. So long as he is conscious of the creative flow within him, he will not find fulfillment in leading millions and in winning victories. The result is that, once the movement starts rolling, he either retires voluntarily or is pushed aside. Moreover, since the genuine man of words can never wholeheartedly and for long suppress his critical faculty, he is inevitably cast in the role of the heretic. Thus unless the creative man of words stifles the newborn movement by allying himself with practical men of action or unless he dies at the right moment, he is likely to end up either a shunned recluse or in exile or facing a firing squad.
The danger of the fanatic to the development of a movement is that he cannot settle down. Once victory has been won and the new order begins to crystallize, the fanatic becomes an element of strain and disruption. The tast for strong feeling drives him on to search for mysteries yet to be revealed and secret doors yet to be opened. He keeps groping for extremes. Thus on the morrow of victory most mass movements find themselves in the grip of dissension. The ardor which yesterday found an outlet in a life-and-death struggle with external enemies now vents itself in violent disputes and clash of factions. Hatred has become a habit. With no more outside enemies to destroy, the fanatics make enemies of one another....
If allowed to have their way, the fanatics may split a movement into schism and heresies which threaten its existence. Even when the fanatics do not breed dissension, they can still wreck the movement by driving it to attempt the impossible. Only the entrance of a practical man of action can save the achievements of the movement.
The man of action saves the movement from the suicidal dissensions and the recklessness of the fanatics. But his appearance usually marks the end of the dynamic phase of the movement. The war with the present is over. The genuine man of action is intent not on renovating the world but on possessing it. Whereas the life breath of the dynamic phase was protest and a desire for drastic change, the final phase is chiefly preoccupied with administering and perpetuating the power won.
With the appearance of the man of action the explosive vigor of the movement is embalmed and sealed in sanctified institutions. A religious movement crystallizes in a hierarchy and a ritual; a nationalist movement, in governmental and patriotic institutions. The establishment of a church marks the end of the revivalist spirit; the organs of a triumphant revolution liquidate the revolutionary mentality and technique; the governmental institutions of a new or revived nation put an end to chauvinistic belligerence. The institutions freeze a pattern of united action. The members of the institutionalized collective body are expected to act as one man, yet they must represent a loose aggregation rather than a spontaneous coalescence. They must be unified only through their unquestioning loyalty to the institutions. Spontaneity is suspect, and duty is prized above devotion.
The chief preoccupation of a man of action when he takes over an "arrived" movement is to fix and perpetuate its unity and readiness for self-sacrifice. His ideal is a compact, invincible whole that functions automatically. To achieve this he cannot rely on enthusiasm, for enthusiasm is ephemeral. Persuasion, too, is unpredictable. He inclines, therefore, to rely mainly on drill and coercion....The genuine man of action is not a man of faith but a man of law.
Still, he cannot help being awed by the tremendous achievements of faith and spontaneity in the early days of the movement when a mighty instrument of power was conjured out of the void. The memory of it is still extremely vivid. He takes, therefore, great care to preserve in the new institutions an impressive facade of faith, and maintains an incessant flow of fervent propaganda, though he relies mainly on the persuasiveness of force. His orders are worded in pious vocabulary, and the old formulas and slogans are continually on his lips. The symbols of faith are carried high and given reverence. The men of words and the fanatics of the early period are canonized. Though the steel fingers of coercion make themselves felt everywhere and great emphasis is placed on mechanical drill, the pious phrases and the fervent propaganda give to coercion a semblance of persuasion, and to habit a semblance of spontaneity. No effort is spared to present the new order as the glorious consumation of the hopes and struggles of the early days.
The man of action is eclectic in the methods he uses to endow the new order with stability and permanence. He borrows from near and far and from friend and foe. He even goes back to the old order which preceded the movement and appropriates from it many techniques of stability, thus unintentionally establishing continuity with the past....Byzantinism is likely to be conspicuous both at the birth and the decline of an organization. It is the expression of a desire for a stable pattern, and it can be used either to give shape to the as yet amorphous, or to hold together that which seems to be falling apart....
Thus the order evolved by a man of action is a patchwork....
In the hands of a man of action the mass movement ceases to be a refuge from the agonies and burdens of an individual existence and becomes a means of self-realization for the ambitious. The irresistible attraction which the movement now exerts on those preoccupied with their individual careers is a clear-cut indication of the drastic change in its character and of its reconciliation with the present. It is also clear that the influx of these career men accelerates the transformation of the movement into an enterprise. Hitler, who had a clear vision of the whole course of a movement even while he was nursing his infant National Socialism, warned that a movement retains its vigor only so long as it can offer nothing in the present--only "honor and fame in the eyes of posterity," and that when it is invaded by those who want to make the most of the present "the 'mission' of such a movement is done for."
The movement at this stage still concerns itself with the frustrated--not to harness their discontent in a deadly struggle with the present, but to reconcile them with it; to make them patient and meek. To them it offers the distant hope, the dream and the vision. Thus at the end of its vigorous span the movement is an instrument of power for the successful and an opiate for the frustrated.
(The True Believer--Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, by Eric Hoffer; passim.)
A fairly good acquaintance with the history of the Watchtower Society will be of help in seeing the many ways that aspects of our movement correspond with the foregoing presentation. However, just to briefly highlight the following:
(1) C.T. Russell (and others working along with him) was truly a man of words. He readied the ground for the movement. Russell was instrumental in debunking prevailing religious beliefs and shaking church loyalties of people, making possible the rise of a new religious group and belief system. Thus, in spite of himself, Russell became the precursor of a new religious system. Even though he treated certain presentations as tentative or speculative, the FANATICS of the movement and others associated, tended to invest such with the certitude of Scripture, making them the fountainhead of a new religious group.
(2) J.F. Rutherford was one of the men of words out of the Russell era, but not as creative a one--he not being the intellectual that Russell was. However, Rutherford was quick to direct and vent the disaffection engendered by the writings and lectures and such of the Russell period. Under him was a "new beginning." Certainly, Rutherford did seek "for mysteries yet to be revealed and secret doors yet to be opened." His presidency is noted for its interpretive flights of fancy. In his groping for extremes a variety of schemes were hatched and positions adopted. His presidency was marked by strain and disruption as well as disputes and the clash of factions. MANY who had been associated in Russell's time, left the movement during the first ten to fifteen years of Rutherford's leadership.
(3) It has been observed of N.H. Knorr, that had he not been a Witness, he likely would have been a business man of the J.C. Penney variety. He was indeed a practical man of action. The recklessness of the Rutherford era subsided under Knorr. He directed his energies chiefly with administering and perpetuating the power already won. Ultimately, the movement crystallized in a hierarchy--being headed by a governing body. United action has been stressed as never before, and drill and coercion play their part in insuring that the whole organization functions automatically. In many ways the spiritual has given way to religious legalism. As if in awe of the tremendous achievements of faith and spontaneity in the Russell and even Rutherford eras, great care is taken to preserve in the new institutions an impressive facade of faith, and an incessant flow of fervent organizational propaganda is maintained. The movement, now more than ever before employs in its directives its own "pious vocabulary", with periodic reference to old formulas and slogans being used. [ex. "Advertise, advertise, advertise,..." "Millions Now Living Will Never Die"] Men from the earlier period such as Russell and Rutherford are practically canonized. And no effort is spared to present the current state of things as the glorious consumation of the hopes and struggles of the early days of the movement.
In a desire for a stable pattern and a sense of permanence, methods are resorted to that go back to the "old order" of mainline Christendom which preceded the movement--namely, the hierarchical way of ruling, emphasis on numerical growth, buildings and pilgrimages, reference to Bethelites as a "special religious order" under a "legal vow of poverty", etc. Authoritarian force or coercion make themselves felt, and great emphasis is placed on mechanical drill and ritual. Emphasized too, is the use of "theocratic" vocabulary and attendant buzzwords, as well as the impassioned spreading of "propaganda" which is defined as IDEAS AND INFORMATION DESIGNED TO FURTHER A CAUSE OR DAMAGE THAT OF OPPOSERS. All such drill, use of vocabulary and spreading of propaganda gives to coercion a semblance of persuasion, and to habit a semblance of spontaneity. And as is characteristic of a mass movement that has arisen, less individual freedom is manifest now than in earlier times. Understandably, anyone who might be a man of words today either aligns with the men of action, or is very frustrated and possibly withdraws, or is put out. The movement of today has been transformed into an enterprise, wherein members can become preoccupied, if they desire, with carving out a niche--making an individual career for themselves. The evidence is there of attempts on the part of leadership to make the most of the present, while keeping before the frustrated the dream and the vision, at the same time encouraging them to be patient. Some might thus conclude that the "mission" of such a movement is done for. Clearly, at what could be viewed as the end of its vigorous span, the Watchtower movement is an instrument of power for the successful and an opiate for the frustrated.
As stated, it stands to reason that Jehovah and his Son would understand fully the peculiarities of sinful, imperfect human nature in ALL its manifestations. And, "the Observer of mankind" can easily know the historical patterns and sociological dynamics that would come to be, WHATEVER the human endeavor or the purpose of a community, group or movement. Also, He better than any humans would understand when exactly certain people ceased controlling events and events began to control them. He would also be able to clearly see the difference between an evil man overtly carrying on corruption, and say a practical man of action, thinking and behaving quite mechanically while caught up in a whirl of activities. He would easily see the difference between a man rationalizing questionable actions for expediency out of WEAKNESS, as opposed to one who due to WICKEDNESS, acted greedily. He would know who's who, and why, in a group endeavor such as the Watchtower movement. And He and Christ Jesus would thus be the ones to "recompense EACH ONE according to HIS behavior." --Matt. 16:27.
I have chosen to refer to Hoffer's book as its approach readily allows for a certain pointedness. This, to me, is empirical evidence. I say this as it actually does originate in and is based on observation and experience. It also is capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment.
An understandable response on the part of someone reading the foregoing might be: 'Why should these things even matter, when there are so many evidences that Jehovah has been and is using our organization?' Unquestionably, such EVIDENCES exist, and do point to such USE. However, without launching into an analysis of this evidence, for what it is, and without thoroughly examining what such use actually constitutes or how it is so; still, it might be helpful to at least consider a bit of a paradox created by the question as to why these things should matter.
When you consider it, our organization has been largely shaped by the focus that individuals taking the lead therein have given to the types of things discussed above. Such things HAVE MATTERED, or been MADE TO MATTER. The reason that a paradox exists in asking 'Why should these things even matter, since we are God's organization?' is because this question is in direct conflict with much of what this organization has ostensibly been about, namely, MAKING THINGS MATTER--TAKING ISSUE WITH ERROR, TAKING A STAND ON PRINCIPLE, STRESSING ALLEGIANCE TO GOD'S WORD OVER MEN'S OPINIONS. Thus, the question itself more than suggests INCONSISTENCY on the part of the questioner.
Additionally, by reducing matters to a question like "Does it matter?" attention is directed away from the question "Is it true?" And yet, the RELEVANCE of the foregoing has a direct connection with TRUTH, and may be summed up thusly: False religious doctrines or ideas can and do make a healthy relationship with Jehovah very difficult--spiritual growth can be halted or at least impeded. This observation can perhaps be readily seen with such extreme and bizarre ideas [interpretations] as the trinity and hellfire. But is it not arguable that difficulties are created, and damage done, by lesser (yet equally wrong) ideas or interpretations? by what might be called LESSER FALSE RELIGIOUS DOCTRINES? The answers to these questions should at least help to establish the value of a discussion like the above.
For a much fuller discussion of this subject with more extensive quotes from various sources, please write to:
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