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What good is an internet forum for JWs?

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Anna -
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Most Witnesses are quite satisfied with a midweek meeting, a weekend meeting, and meetings for service, a study night with the spouse or family, and some additional time for talk preparation, additional personal study, prayer, meditation and contemplation. For many, due to various circumstances, it's hard enough to keep up even a minimum in each area mentioned.

But for others, it's obvious that they (we) spend quite a bit of time on this forum, too. And for some, I'm guessing, they spend some time here, and even seek out other places, too, where Witnesses talk or are talked about. It's pretty obvious that when it comes to how we spend our free time, there are much more fruitful pursuits. We could be visiting sick or shut-in brothers and sisters, or just doing something loving for someone else, perhaps even taking on some additional employment to able to help out those who are having financial difficulties. And not to judge anyone of course, because it's likely that many of us already engage in such additional activities, and yet we still find ourselves coming to a forum such as this.

I don't think anyone of us would think we are "witnessing" here, at least not in the typical sense of how we define sacred service. I do think that some think they are "witnessing" when they defend the status quo against those who might raise questions. And some non-JWs and ex-JWs likely think they are "witnessing" by exposing the real truth about the truth, as some would call it. However, when JWs, defenders of JWs, or even non-JWs find they are not resolving questions in their defense of a certain position, there is often a lot of anger that gets shown, and the focus of anger gets all the attention instead of the unresolved question. (Of course, that's probably a tactic for some who would rather not admit that some questions are still unresolved.)

I won't try to address the reasons that other people might be here, but I can repeat my own reasons.

I have unresolved questions of the type that would not be addressed by others in the congregation, nor by the ones responsible for  "creating" those unresolved questions in the first place. JW.ORG is not going to include a "questions and comments" section any time soon, and if they did it would become a complete mess in a hurry. So I use this site as a kind of substitute for a JW.ORG questions and comments section.

Because of that kind of utilization of this forum, I don't include a lot of comments about the areas of agreement because I have no question about them, no issue, and these are the areas where we can comment and speak up freely at the Hall, or to anyone around us who's interested in talking about such things. If this is our situation, however, that kind of skews the impression we might give to others about the Witnesses, why we believe, why we share our beliefs, and how much we appreciate our association with a world-wide brotherhood of fellow believers.

Speaking for myself, I know we've done a bit of this on the JW Closed forum, but perhaps it's a good idea now and then to share our positive public views on this part of the forum, too. When I get a chance, I'll add something more specific to my next post.

 

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I guess the first point I could address is how someone with serious unresolved questions and concerns about a couple of our teachings could still participate in promoting our publications and our meetings to interested persons. Won't those persons be faced with unresolved questions too?

This gets to the claim by some that 85 percent of what we present is not worth it, and 15 percent is worth it, but that 15 percent is valuable enough to ignore the 85 percent.

If those were the real numbers then making a convert would be very hard to justify. And in any case we would always have to spend a lot of time telling our Bible students that there are a lot of things we don't understand ourselves. 

But the numbers aren't that bad, because we really don't spend the amount of time on the areas where more people have unresolved questions. For example, let's just look at the two magazines that were common to many of the carts today. One is the Watchtower No.3 2019, and the other is the Awake! No.2 2019.

The Awake! has the cover is "Six Lessons Children Need to Learn." There are short articles on Self-Control, Humility, Resilience, Responsibility, Adult Guidance, and the Need for Moral Values. I am critical of a lot of things, but I found every single word to be well written and useful. It makes a nicely presented way to discuss such important topics with children. Or it just makes it simple to keep a prioritized list of ideas in a parent's mind to remember as they come up. And all of it leads to the fact that Bible principles are the foundation of these lessons, even if might seem at first like mundane lessons about the amount of time spent on entertainment media.

So on to the Watchtower. The basic questions that religion should answer are the same questions that people ask all over the world. They are the questions that don't really overlap with science, and although they might overlap a bit with "philosophy" it's really the place of true religion to show why the Bible's view gives the best and most satisfying answers. 

These are the questions of "What is the meaning of life?" "Is God to blame for suffering?" "What happens when we die?"

Those are the same questions called "Life's Big Questions" on the back of the Awake!

So the Watchtower starts out with an article on "The Sad Reality of Death." Nothing questionable or inappropriate here. Science is mentioned as a possible source of answers, here, and in the next article "The Search For Long Life." The idea is clear and obvious, that "We are Designed to Live" just as the next article shows. Again, I see nothing that any naysayer, except atheists, might find wrong or questionable. In fact, up to this point, atheists might still be following along, too.  After all, it does not overwhelm with scriptures, but uses them in unobtrusive ways.

Now the question of "Why Do We Grow Old And Die" gets into the Biblical aspects, on page 8 of 15. It's all clearly the correct Biblical answer, however. Granted, some religious and science-oriented religious persons can take Adam & Eve as allegorical in some way, which is common. But even so, the rest of the Bible clearly uses the exact example as the explanation about death on earth.

And therefore page 10 begins discussing the hope, when death is conquered. There is a very clear explanation of the Ransom here. Using Scriptures throughout this article. There is a paragraph or two on "When" but it is not done with the idea that "we know something about the date that no one else knows." Someone might wonder why it only mentions "millions" being resurrected, but this isn't said in such a way that we are telling people that it won't be billions, or thousands; it's just presented as a way of stating a happy hope in the resurrection. It mentions the "last days" but exactly the way the scriptures use the expression.

In detailing "How Can You Have More Than This Life?" on page 12, the appeal is to those who want to see a better earth, and who would like to live forever under much better conditions. It's an invitation to learn more. And the next article shows how the road to that better life will produce side effects of contentment, more satisfying priorities, better marriages, and even better health (overall) in this life.

I find BOTH of these entire magazines to be 100 percent valuable, well written, and they touch on no unresolved or unresolvable questions. And we all know that some of our talks and other publications cover this same material exactly as these articles do, sometimes with more examples, more verses, more detail -- but the same ideas.

We are offering exactly what people should be looking for, satisfactory answers to important questions.

When an interested person gets to all the meetings, they will soon discover that time is spent on the meaning of Ezekiel, for example, the history of the organization, and a lot of emphasis on urgency in preaching on account of the times we're living in, and the overall timing of Jehovah's purpose. Some of this material will likely result in questions that they will find ways to resolve, or else just accept and wait for a resolution in time.

But it's not the gist of our preaching and disciple-making. I think most people who come into the organization will remember the Big Questions, and that those were the primary reasons they joined with us. Those questions are answered in a more appealing and satisfying way than other religions are answering them. And we back up our answers with the Bible. Our teachings regarding war, neutrality, Trinity, hellfire, paradise earth, the challenge to Jehovah's sovereignty, etc., will make even more sense to interested persons when they remember that the first attraction was to the way the Bible answered those big questions. Those were the questions that build a primary foundation around the teaching of God's Purpose, Eternal Life, the Ransom, the Resurrection, etc.

So even if chronology and some of the specific prophetic interpretations can result in unresolved questions, for now, it's not like this needs to be such a big part of Witness thinking. We can participate in every major aspect of our worship with joy and without being overly concerned with these unresolved questions. And when they finally are resolved, I'm sure we'll see them as relatively unimportant compared to the big things.

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Really well written @JW Insider.

Funny you should mention the magazines. Just the other day I was reading the #1/2020 WT "The search for Truth" which I think is also excellent. But it got me wondering about something. Under the subheading Why you can trust the Bible,- prophetic truth, it gives the example of a Bible prophesy and its fulfillment. So what I started wondering about is do we ever talk about the fulfillment of the prophesy about Jesus' kingship as happening in 1914 in the same way as we do about other prophesies that were fulfilled? For example, why wouldn't we use this prophesy to convince people that they can trust the Bible in place of the one that was used. In theory, we should be able to.

I am not saying 1914 has never been mentioned previously in magazines meant for the public, but has it ever been used as proof of the fulfillment of Bible prophesy with regard to Jesus and his enthronement. (I am not talking about things happening a proof of the "last days"). Am I making any sense? :S

14 hours ago, JW Insider said:

So even if chronology and some of the specific prophetic interpretations can result in unresolved questions, for now, it's not like this needs to be such a big part of Witness thinking. We can participate in every major aspect of our worship with joy and without being overly concerned with these unresolved questions. (underscore by Anna)

Excellent point. I once called those other things "fluff" on a JW only forum and got reprimanded

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Perhaps it's just me, but looking back at invisible things that happened years ago, in the heavens that nobody could see, and for which there is absolutely NO EARTHLY EVIDENCE that cannot be explained by ten thousand explanations more probable ( Occam's razor?), by an organization that without a single exception in over a hundred and more years has ALWAYS been wrong about explaining such things, and whose credibility among sane, common sense people is ZERO .... I just don't "get it".

Am I missing something?

 

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jw.org evidence for gods kingdom not based on faith but scientific evidence.mp4

In fact, I do not think I am going too far out on a philosophical limb here to say that this statement by GB Member Bro. Stephen Lett is complete, utter and total nonsense.

It's SO DELUSIONAL, it is both sad and embarrassing to even watch.

 

 

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On 9/21/2019 at 3:36 PM, Anna said:

Funny you should mention the magazines. Just the other day I was reading the #1/2020 WT "The search for Truth" which I think is also excellent.

I think that one is excellent too. It follows the same general format of showing how the Bible answers the Big Question of how problems on earth will be solved through God's Kingdom. The angle of Truth and Trust in the Bible is the theme. Again, there is nothing stated in this magazine that should produce any unresolved questions. I believe even JTR would have to rate it somewhere near 100 percent useful, rather than his oft-repeated 15/85 rating.

On 9/21/2019 at 3:36 PM, Anna said:

. . . it gives the example of a Bible prophesy and its fulfillment. So what I started wondering about is do we ever talk about the fulfillment of the prophesy about Jesus' kingship as happening in 1914 in the same way . . .

I'm going to try not to get drawn into a 1914 discussion, at least not on this particular thread/topic. But I do understand what you are saying. I'm not sure how far back you are going, because even up to as recently as 2014, there were plenty of references that could have meant what you refer to.

The Isaiah 44/45 (Babylon-Cyrus) prophecy comes across as the most amazing prophecy to outsiders. It's simple, and it's used, of course, in the self-run free study on the JW.ORG website. The only persons for whom it would not work so well are those who believe that "Isaiah II" were chapters tacked onto the original book of Isaiah after the Babylonian exile.

If you listen closely to the Faith In Action -"Out of Darkness" Part 1 video, I think it's clear that Daniel's "prediction" of 1914 is a better example for "insiders." An outsider would have too many unresolved questions:

  • Most outsiders aren't into this idea that the Bible pinpoints dates for end-times prophecies.
  • They would wonder why wicked Nebuchadnezzar's rulership pictures Jesus' Messianic rulership.
  • They would wonder why we give it an additional application when the scripture itself explicitly says the application is to Nebuchadnezzar, and says nothing about an assumed second application.
  • And they would wonder how we got 1914 from 7 times anyway.
    • It doesn't even say 7 times are 7 years (that takes another scripture from a completely different context).
    • And if it did mean 7 times were 7 years here, it doesn't say that those years were actually 360-day years, which also comes from its use in a different context.
    • And if it did mean that 7 times were 360-day years, it doesn't say that those 7 times 360 have to each be multiplied again by 365.25. That's because the day-for-a-year idea also comes from a different context.
    • And if they looked into it more deeply, they might wonder why we were forced to use a mix of secular dates for some events and pseudo-secular dates for some other events. Some of the dates we accept are the same as the secular dates, and some are 20 years different from the secular dates, but this time in the same context.
    • They might wonder why a Bible prophecy would even rely on secular dates in the first place since the Bible itself never uses a secular date like 539 BCE, 607 BCE, 587 BCE, 33 CE, etc.
    • They might wonder why we inconsistently claim that these "seven times" must be multiplied by 360, then multiplied again by 365.25 days each, when we claim that all uses of the term "three and a half times" in the Bible (Daniel & Revelation) should NEVER be multiplied again by 365.25, but only multiplied by 360. And even then, we allow for round-off in the use of "three and a half times."
    • And if they looked into Babylonian and Jewish calendar systems a bit closer, they might notice that there was no such thing as a period of 7 years that did not contain at least two (sometimes three) intercalary months so that the number of days in ALL 7 year periods would always be closer to 2,568 days, not 2,520.

Some of these questions would likely remain unresolved to an outsider, no matter how well we tried to explain them. They work for most those of us on the inside, because we generally trust that all those questions were probably resolved by persons who have a lot more holy spirit available to them than we do. So we just accept that we don't have to ask such questions.

Besides, when I mentioned the "Out of Darkness" video, I am primarily referring to the very fact that this prophecy is used as one that is supposed to prove that Jehovah was using Russell (not Daniel).

At the 44:20 mark in that video, we hear Brother Gerrit Lösch say:

". . . it enhanced their trust that Jehovah was using Brother Russell and his friends to explain truth to others."

At the 44:30 mark in the video, we hear Brother Anthony Morris say:

". . . it's still significant that they could pinpoint that year. That's phenomenal!"

This is hardly about the original prophecy anymore. In effect, this 1914 prophecy is therefore our own "internal" evidence (bragging rights) that there was an element of true inspiration from Jehovah to those who were supposedly "wise" enough to pinpoint that year by jumping through mental hoops that Daniel would have never dreamed of.

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14 hours ago, JW Insider said:

I think it's clear that Daniel's "prediction" of 1914 is a better example for "insiders." An outsider would have too many unresolved questions:

  • Most outsiders aren't into this idea that the Bible pinpoints dates for end-times prophecies.
  • They would wonder why wicked Nebuchadnezzar's rulership pictures Jesus' Messianic rulership.
  • They would wonder why we give it an additional application when the scripture itself explicitly says the application is to Nebuchadnezzar, and says nothing about an assumed second application.
  • And they would wonder how we got 1914 from 7 times anyway.
    • It doesn't even say 7 times are 7 years (that takes another scripture from a completely different context).
    • And if it did mean 7 times were 7 years here, it doesn't say that those years were actually 360-day years, which also comes from its use in a different context.
    • And if it did mean that 7 times were 360-day years, it doesn't say that those 7 times 360 have to each be multiplied again by 365.25. That's because the day-for-a-year idea also comes from a different context.
    • And if they looked into it more deeply, they might wonder why we were forced to use a mix of secular dates for some events and pseudo-secular dates for some other events. Some of the dates we accept are the same as the secular dates, and some are 20 years different from the secular dates, but this time in the same context.
    • They might wonder why a Bible prophecy would even rely on secular dates in the first place since the Bible itself never uses a secular date like 539 BCE, 607 BCE, 587 BCE, 33 CE, etc.
    • They might wonder why we inconsistently claim that these "seven times" must be multiplied by 360, then multiplied again by 365.25 days each, when we claim that all uses of the term "three and a half times" in the Bible (Daniel & Revelation) should NEVER be multiplied again by 365.25, but only multiplied by 360. And even then, we allow for round-off in the use of "three and a half times."
    • And if they looked into Babylonian and Jewish calendar systems a bit closer, they might notice that there was no such thing as a period of 7 years that did not contain at least two (sometimes three) intercalary months so that the number of days in ALL 7 year periods would always be closer to 2,568 days, not 2,520.

Some of these questions would likely remain unresolved to an outsider, no matter how well we tried to explain them.

Yes, that is exactly what I was alluding to.

So I wonder, is this perhaps the reason why we do not generally use this prophesy to convince people of the Bible's accuracy? Because it is just too ambiguous, and you can't really prove the fulfillment of it because most of it was invisible.  By the same token, why are we, the insiders, expected to believe this as fact? The answer 👇

 

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14 hours ago, JW Insider said:

In effect, this 1914 prophecy is therefore our own "internal" evidence (bragging rights) that there was an element of true inspiration from Jehovah to those who were supposedly "wise" enough to pinpoint that year by jumping through mental hoops that Daniel would have never dreamed of.

 

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