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Any comments on jw.org's Online Bible Study Lessons?

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Most of us have probably already worked through the online Bible Study course on jw.org.This was an excellent idea. Although others sites have done it, too, it was especially good to see it on the jw.org site. It has some unique features here and is, of course, geared toward a Witness viewpoint. Yet there are very few lessons that contain a lot of unique doctrinal material, even though Trinity, Soul/Hell are presented. It's very simplified and has some nice features that would work well for non-readers. It's all finished in 8 lessons.

Each lesson may have only a few questions or sections and a quick reader can get through all the content of all the lessons, including short videos, in about 15 minutes. You could even click all the footnotes and links and read the scripture links and still finish the entire course in under a half-hour. There are links at the end of each lesson which point to website articles (usually original or slightly modified Watchtower and Awake! articles that have their own pages on the jw.org site). Comparing this to several of our our books geared toward those who would study the Bible with us in person (for several months) one could more easily customize a Bible study where extra links were only looked up in the event the student had additional questions or concerns about a topic, and a sufficient study could be completed in a matter of days, or even hours.

Notice too that there are no direct links to anything about 1914, 1919, 1922, etc. Nothing about blood transfusions, birthdays, etc. The very first lesson does contain a 53 second video where the very first and only secular dates are mentioned: they are 732 B.C.E., then 539 B.C.E., then 614 B.C.E. Someone might wonder why 539 is used as an accurate secular date and yet there is no explanation as to why the other two secular dates differ from the same secular evidence by 20 years. I don't suppose anyone expects the student to question this. A sense of accuracy is offered by the statement immediately following the video which says: "Each detail is confirmed by historical records, including the Nabonidus Chronicle and the history of Herodotus." Of course, the only reason we keep one of the secular dates (539), but change the prior secular dates by 20 years is so that the 1914 date can be "supported." But, as stated, 1914 is not mentioned directly in the lessons, unless you include two of the six extra links to articles for further information (at the end of the very last lesson, 3.3).

These are the lessons: 

Unit 1 | The Bible and Its Author

Lesson 1.1  |  About the Bible—Can the Bible Help You?

Lesson 1.2  |  Who Is God, the Creator?

Unit 2 | The Bible’s Main Characters

Lesson 2.1  |  Who Is Jesus?

Lesson 2.2  |  Who Are the Angels?

Lesson 2.3  |  Why Did God Create Humans?

Unit 3 | The Bible’s Message of Hope

Lesson 3.1  |  Why Do Suffering and Evil Exist?

Lesson 3.2  |  How Does God Save Us From Death?

Lesson 3.3  |  How Will God End Suffering and Evil?

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I think my sentiments are expressed in the song by Meat Loaf "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad".

".... I want you ... I need you ... but there ain't now way I'm ever gonna love you .. so don't be sad .... 'cause two out of three ain't bad .....".

Sometimes ... when you paint yourself into a corner ... you have to just sit down and wait for the paint to dry.

I had a rough night, just got up, and need coffee.

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4 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Most of us have probably already worked through the online Bible Study course on jw.org.This was an excellent idea

It means we can run the entire preaching campaign out of Brother Lett’s dorm room, if need be. I am amazed to have seen no reference to it online till now. It confirms my take that people primarily mount the internet to bellyache.

I am looking forward to telling someone: ‘I don’t want to study the Bible with you. Do it yourself.” We spoon-feed too much. Many people can handle the basics themselves. This frees up whoever wants to be freed up to focus on a second tier of Bible education involving specific questions, application, press to maturity, and so forth. I think it is a great idea and I wonder what the theocratic organization will do with it, since even they haven’t commented on it.

A pioneer in our Hall saw it and said: “ I think it means we have been fired.” I think it means some will feel freed up to make more effective use of their time in the ministry, for truth be known, it is not always stunningly efficient. The observation that efficiency is not one of the fruits of the spirit only partly compensates. 

It continues a direction already started with JW.org itself, particularly the broadcast, as well as the literature carts. Can’t get enough of it here; it has changed my approach already.

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3 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

It continues a direction already started with JW.org itself, particularly the broadcast, as well as the literature carts. Can’t get enough of it here; it has changed my approach already.

I agree with this. I also thought it was refreshingly closer to the idea when the Ethiopian eunuch says: "Look, Here is [a body of] water; what prevents me from getting baptized?" His entire Bible study was finished in the space of a short chariot ride.

11 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

it is not always stunningly efficient. The observation that efficiency is not one of the fruits of the spirit only partly compensates. 

Belly-acher!

Until now maybe we have shown too much patience and long-suffering with our students.

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2 hours ago, James Thomas Rook Jr. said:

"Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad".

It's one of the best things on the site. I would give high marks for the simplicity, and I think that all 8 out of the 8 lessons are well-chosen and ideal for their purpose. They truly highlight the most important themes of the Bible. But I agree with the sentiment that we have painted ourselves into a corner with a doctrine that will hopefully become less important over time, even as the end gets closer.

The only specific signs that we are in the "last days" is not taken from Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21, but from the place where Paul warns Timothy that he is already seeing evidence of living in the last days back in the first century. There is no talk of great wars, great earthquakes, or great famines and pestilence. (You have to go the extra links outside the lessons to find this.) Even when Luke 21:29-31 is mentioned it is only a very general idea that one can tell that summer is near when trees are budding, therefore one can tell their deliverance is near when they see all these things. Of course, that was also primarily about a first-century fulfillment, since "these things" in context included Luke 21:20-24:

  • “However, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. 21  Then let those in Ju·deʹa begin fleeing to the mountains, let those in the midst of her leave, and let those in the countryside not enter into her, 22  because these are days for meting out justice in order that all the things written may be fulfilled. 23  Woe to the pregnant women and those nursing a baby in those days! For there will be great distress on the land and wrath against this people. 24  And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.

Luke was even clearer than Matthew, here, that "all the things written" about meting out justice to Jerusalem were to be fulfilled with this event upon physical Jerusalem in 70 C.E, as highlighted above. Of course, the lesson is applicable, in principle, to our future expectations, but it can mean that "all things," here, was literally referring to those events of the first century, not the twentieth and twenty-first.

On another topic, I liked the following as a non-confrontational introduction to the topic of the 144,000 and other sheep:

Instead of mentioning the 144,000 the lesson merely says of God's kingdom with Christ as King: "God also selects others to be associate rulers with Jesus" and adds that "anyone who obeys its laws can be a citizen."

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30 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

"God also selects others to be associate rulers with Jesus" and adds that "anyone who obeys its laws can be a citizen."

The Laws of God, and Corporate regulations and protocols .... and ingrained-to-the bone  cultural morays that FEEL like the laws and regulations of God, but are not .... are two (or three) different things.

Like Bob Hope in THE MUPPET MOVIE as a curbside ice cream vendor in a white suit and cap,  at a County Fair somewhere in mid-America, said to Fozzie Bear as he was getting a  honey ice cream cone for himself, and a dragonfly ice cream cone for Kermit ...

" Don't get 'em mixed up".

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39 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

It means we can run the entire preaching campaign out of Brother Lett’s dorm room, if need be.

Bro Lett, in his dorm room, can start his Service Time, by merely sitting up in bed, and turning to the side away from his wife, ask any of the other three couples sleeping there, if they know that there is more evidence that God's Kingdom has been ruling for a hundred years, than there is evidence for gravity ... electricity .... wind.

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41 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

Instead of mentioning the 144,000 the lesson merely says of God's kingdom with Christ as King: "God also selects others to be associate rulers with Jesus" and adds that "anyone who obeys its laws can be a citizen."

The 144,000 is a yawner. Nobody cares. I never go there.

To clarify a little, some care, but it is analagous to the wonks on media absolutely obsessed over the doings of government and all its machinations, imagining that they reflect the interest of the ordinary people whose greatest hope towards government is that it will pave the roads, jail the bad guys, keep a few of its promises, and otherwise stay out of their hair.

A handful throughout history go on to rule with Christ in heaven. Good. It means the heavenly government has more of a feel for humanity than otherwise, first observed by the fact that the king himself did time as a human. 

That's all anyone really cares about, as they envision how God's Kingdom will bring relief from the individual woes and travesties they suffer on earth. I barely go further with the 144,000 unless someone insists about it. 

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