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Personhood and the WTBTS

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By Nick P.

As I am on the internet often, one of my main interests is to get on the internet chat program PALtalk where one can chat in a room with various other people using both voice chat and text chat. One thing I noticed quickly on this program is that it's full of Jehovah's Witnesses, followers of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society. (WTBTS)

One of the main characteristics of this group is that their lives function around the Society which meets in their forms of churches known as Kingdom Halls. (KH) They meet around five times a week for one hour sessions. (How many Christians would bother doing something like that?)

It is here that they receive their training, or as some us know it, indoctrination or brainwashing. The organization has claimed to be God's voice on Earth and one must be in touch with it to be saved. Some quotes from their own publications will suffice to sh
ow my point.

While they say statements like this:
salvation can only be gained by accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God through whose sacrificial death salvation from sin and death was made possible.
A 1/8/1977, p. 27

Most are like this:

A Christian must always be part of Jehovahs visible organization.
WT 1/1/1960, p. 19

Those who desire life in the New Order must come into a right relationship with the organization.
WT 11/15/1981, pp. 1617

come Jehovahs organization for salvation
WT 11/15/1981, p. 21

Unless we are in touch with this channel of communication that God is using, we will not progress along the road to life, no matter how much Bible reading we do.
WT 12/1/1981, p. 27

Thus, the organization is very clear about salvation but also about how to treat its own. Sins such as smoking (No doubt, one of the most grievous, [tongue in cheek]} are included in this list. David Reed states he was shunned (Disfellowshiped) for growing his hair 1/8th of an inch too long. So what does the WTBTS say about Disfellowshiping and how to respond to those who are Disfellowshiped?

a disfellowshiped relative who does not live in the same home, contact with him is also kept to what is absolutely necessary even curtailed completely if at all possible.
WT 7/15/1963, p. 443-

We should not see how close we can get to relatives who are disfellowshiped from Jehovahs organization, but we should quit mixing in company with them.
WT 7/15/1963, p. 444

How should a faithful Christian act toward a relative outside the immediate family circle who has been disfellowshiped? [contact with] one who does not live in the same household would be much more rare than between persons living in the same home. Yet there might be some absolutely necessary family matters requiring communication, such as legalities over a will or property.
WT 6/1/1970, pp. 35152

none in the congregation should greet such persons when meeting them in public nor should they welcome these into the
ir homes.

As of May 1974, more than 2000 had been disfellowshiped for not quitting the unclean practice of smoking.
WT 2/15/1976, p. 123

Would upholding Gods righteousness and his disfellowshiping arrangement mean that a Christian should not speak at all with an expelled person, not even saying Hello? a simple Hello to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation. Why do Christians not greet or speak with disfellowshiped persons?
WT 9/15/1981, pp. 2426

Christians related to such a disfellowshiped person living outside the home should strive to avoid needless association, even keeping business dealings to a minimum.
WT 9/15/1981, p. 29

The ones that go completely astray from the organization are known as apostates. One sure way to become one would be to be "born again."
 It would also be to accept such heresies (heresies in the eye of the WTBTS) as the deity of Christ and the Trinity. Also, within the organization one must avoid holidays and birthdays and a birthday card to a non-JW relative has been noted to get one disfellowshiped.

All this I saw coming to a conclusion last night intalking with two witnesses about the society. One thing I kept asking over and over was "Does the WTBTS treat you as persons?" This is at the heart of the issue in many ways because the proces of freeing one from the Matrix (I like to compare the WTBTS to the original Matrix movie) of the WTBTS is to convince them it is not their friend.

The simple way to illustrate this is to explain how you would be treated if you apostasized. There are two ways anything has value. Let's take my PS2 first for one. I love my games but if my PS2 messes up and doesn't work I'm not going to keep it around because "It's good in and of itself even if it doesn't work." No way. I'm going to get it repaired or get a new one.

Now let's move to a human. Suppose you had a teenager in your family who was driving your car and a drunk driver comes out and hits them and your child enters a coma. Now doubtless, your teen can't do anything now but are you going to treat him or her the way I would treat my PS2? Are you going to say, "Well they serve no purpose now so pull the plug." I sure hope you wouldn't!

The human's value lies not in what it does but in what it is. The human being is a creation in the image of God. The human being is someone Jesus Christ loves and died for. We all know people shouldn't be treated as objects. Deep down,  we know a guy shouldn't use a girl just for sex nor should a girl allow it. (Although many do.)

I posited an example to the JWs in the room. Suppose I was to go to the people in this chat room I hang out with and say "You know guys, I've been listening to the JWs for awhile and I've decided that they're right and I'm going to join the WTBTS and start worshipping at the Kingdom Hall."

What would their response be? What would my church's response be? What would my friends' response be? I can guarantee you what it would be. It would be love. Now the Bible warns us to be cautious with such an individual lest we fall away also but it cheers on those who save ones who are falling.

WIth the WTBTS, it's different though. As I've shown in the above quotes, disfellowshiping and shunning are the methods of treatment. Why? Because the person is no longer of use to the WTBTS. They do not qualifty as a person any more. Their value is in what they do (Instrumental) and not who they are (intrinsic).

But as I repeated this point in the room so rarely did the JWs address it. They chose to go back to arguments on data. Now don't get me wrong. I love knowledge. I love my books. I love people more though. I have decided that in many cases the JWs have become infobots.

We love our Lord but there are times we all desire to enjoy what he created also. You may witness at a sporting event but that is not your reason for going. We all know that not everyone likes to talk about religous matters all the time and when they don't, it is respectful to not mention them.

I myself know that I can get rousing conversations started on topics such as Smallville, Fantasy adventure, the Matrix, and various other aspects of pop culture. When I need to talk about my faith, I can readily do that and enjoy it but I am more than my faith. I am a unique and individual person.

I was also disappointed that some of my fellow apologists that night wanted to talk about facts more. This was the key issue that needed to be hammered home. Imagine what would happen if one could get a JW to say "No, I'm not treated as a person in the WTBTS."

The only response was from one who kept saying I was speaking nonsense. A person who apostasized would not be allowed to speak from the pulpit in a church. That's not the question though! The question is not necessarily how the church would treat them at church but also in public.

A friend of mine with me noted that I've disagreed with my pastor several times and I'm not shunned. He's a young-earther and I'm an old-earther for instance. We've had many a fine discussion together Monday nights when we've gone out witnessing with our church and I enjoy the exchange of viewpoints.

I am certain that if I apostasized from my faith my pastor would still love me. I'd have teams from my church visiting me to check up for me. They'd be on their knees praying for me. Compare this with the following quotes from WT not just on apostates but on people like myself who have never been JWs but argue against the WTBTS. (We're called opposers) Note:The following statements come from Letusreason.org's article on JWs called "Jehovah Witness Children."

"If a JW joins another religion, an announcement is made to the congregation to stop associating with him." (WT 10/15/1986 p.31)

Jehovah's Witnesses are to hate people who do bad. Watchtower, 7/15/61, p.420.

If someone used to be a Jehovah's Witness, "We must hate in the truest sense, which is to regard with extreme ~ active aversion, to consider as loathsome, odious, filthy, to detest." Watchtower, 10/1/52, p.599.    

They are to be hated "in the sense of avoiding them as we would poison or a poisonous snake." Watchtower, 6/15/80, p.8."in order to hate what is bad a Christian must hate the person" WT 7/15/1961, p. 420   

Interestingly, I find labels to be another strategy of dehumanizing. Once you label someone, it gives you an excuse to note them as something other than a person. The JWs can look at me and say "Ah, you're an opposer." Then they can throw me out of their PALtalk rooms and don't have to address me.

They often fall back to 1 cor. 5:9 which speaks of how to deal with one who calls himself a brother and says "Don't even eat with such a one."

Let's look at what is going on. The sin being talked about that starts this is not something like smoking but being married to your stepmother.  The list of serious sins is for those who are doing what all can agree is clearly wrong but says "It's not wrong. I'm a Christian." You are not to fellowship with them in a way that makes them think their behavior is accepted. The passage is more addressing hypocrisy than anything else.

Yes. We should confront JWs on doctrine. We should push hard for the deity of Christ and the Trinity and the physical resurrection and the immortal soul. (Denying the last is another way of dehumanizing people) Let us cut to the heart of the issue though. Are you a person under the WTBTS? If not, doesn't that go against them being "God's organization?"

In Christ,

Unless otherwise noted all WT statements can be found in
Reed, David A., Index of Watch Tower Errors, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 1998, c1990.

Email the author at ApologiaNick@wmconnect.com