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  1. Noticed that Amazon wasn't there because they have inventory, not just of books now, but many items, and are getting their hooks into more brick-and-mortar initiatives -- and even perishable produce! Netflix wants to turn to wholly-owned content and is not only buying studio content to brand as "Netflix" but is already effectively hiring studios. Facebook has been looking into media creation and ownership as a supposed barrier against fake news. Skype and WeChat are NOT the world's largest phone companies, yet. Apple and Google are extremely successful App vendors. Uber and AirBnB will continue to gain market share by breaking the law. Still, I agree with the concept of the chart, and I think it's great!
  2. While the Watch Tower Society was still publishing the "Divine Plan of the Ages" a few brothers and sisters started using the word "purpose." But it fell out of favor again, possibly because it was Maria Russell (who evidently co-wrote "Divine Plan of the Ages") who preferred the term God's "Eternal Purpose." In fact, after divorcing Charles Taze Russell, she wrote an entire book called "The Eternal Purpose." More recently our 1959 history of Jehovah's Witnesses was called "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose" and we even had a "Divine Purpose District Assembly" in 1974, where the problem with the words "Divine Plan" was discussed further. As Melinda pointed out, this was a "flash of light" per the 1995 Watchtower. Based on its history within the organization, however, I think it was merely deflected light, that took about 50 light years to get back to us.
  3. As a Witness, I am happy that our accepted understanding of Scripture has been made so relevant for our day from the perspective of morality and lifestyle, and in so many other practical ways. The worldwide brotherhood creates the moral support we need to remain encouraged and faithful in a world that is so full of stress. We avoid unnecessary involvement in the world's affairs, refuse to take sides in divisive politics and wars. We shun the idolatry of national symbols and worldly ideologies. We shun the materialistic viewpoint of the world, and related philosophies, and the "showy display of one's possessions." (1 John 2:15-17) 15 Do not love either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; 16 because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life* [NWT footnote: "the bragging about one's possessions"] —does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. 17 Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever. The organization we are associated with has laid the foundation for one of the most effective and widespread preaching and teaching programs in the entire world, and we also are privileged to participate in it. The spirit of active giving and self-sacrifice creates a climate of happiness and closeness with one another. We learn to get along with a varied cross-section of brothers and sisters from anywhere in the world, and from many walks of life. I believe we embody a twenty-first century version of that first-century movement in a way that makes the same issues we find in the Greek Scriptures come alive in our own congregations. Yes, some of those issues are about imperfections and flaws, one of them being the constant misunderstandings about the "last days" and the "time of the end." Finally, Paul, said that 'we don't need anything to be written to us about the times and seasons because it's coming without warning; therefore we need to be ready at all times.' (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) 5 Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. . . . 6 So, then, let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses. . . . 11 Therefore, keep encouraging one another and building one another up, just as you are in fact doing. I take that quite literally. We need NOTHING to be written to us about chronology, about the times and seasons, because Jehovah's day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. There is no advance warning of any kind. I think this is why it's actually very true that we've never gotten anything correct (yet) when trying to make a prediction based on prophecy. There are a couple of apparent exceptions to the rule, similar to the ones you mentioned, and I'd like to try to address them in the next post. But the rule remains true, even when you get one or two things right out of nearly 100 attempts to put a time limit on events, or predict that events will happen within a certain time frame, or even try to tie a Biblical event to a particular entity in our current time frame. Our track record on prophecy does indicate that we really know nothing about prophecy before a fulfillment takes place. In fact, even when the "fulfillment" has taken place, we are also still guessing, because almost all the "fulfillments" we claim to have known about have also been changed over time, in our publications' explanations. All we have, therefore, are the latest guesses ("private interpretations" to borrow a phrase from 2 Peter 1:20) of what prophecies in our day might mean, or might have meant. The vast majority of these predictions have already been dropped, and the vast majority of applications we have made from prophecy and prophetic drama have also been dropped or changed significantly. This goes for EVERYTHING, even things as simple as the wheat and the weeds, the faithful and discreet slave, the sheep and the goats, the prodigal son, and the meaning of various parables about the Kingdom of God. Based on all the evidence so far, we would have to admit that we have never had a clue about the application of specific future events. And that's the way it should be. We need nothing to be written to us about events related to the times and seasons. We should concern ourselves with being witnesses for the good news about Jesus, encouraging others and being the kind of persons we ought to be. We do this rather than join the stress and/or excitement of worrying about: whether "World War III" is imminent, or worldwide persecution is imminent, or concerns about who is the "king of the north," or who and where is "Gog of the land of Magog," or whether the UN is getting ready to make a move against religion. None of those things need concern us. We trust in Jehovah and throw our burden on him. I believe it is true, then, that Jesus already told us what we need to know about the time of the end. To that point, I will also respond to something that Eoin said about Amos 3:7. If Paul says there is nothing more to reveal about this matter, I think we should believe him. It appears, from our experience so far at least, that the gift of "prophecy" may have already been done away with. (1 Corinthians 13:8) . . .But if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away with. . . The prophecy that Jesus gave about the time of the end, and various other references to the end for which we are still awaiting fulfillment, should be sufficient for us. Anything more that Jehovah would reveal of "his confidential matter to his servants the prophets" would be the equivalent of giving prior knowledge. It would become, in effect, an additional sign of the imminence of the end. How would one square that with the words of Jesus? (Matthew 24:36-42) 36 “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. . . . 42 Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. . . . 44 On this account, you too prove yourselves ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour that you do not think to be it. (Acts 1:7) 7 He said to them: “It does not belong to you to know the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction. Also of possible interest: (Daniel 8:23-25) 23 “And in the final part of their kingdom, as the transgressors act to a completion, a fierce-looking king who understands ambiguous sayings will stand up. 24 His power will become great, but not through his own power. He will bring ruin in an extraordinary way, and he will be successful and act effectively. He will bring mighty ones to ruin, also the people made up of the holy ones. 25 And by his cunning he will use deception to succeed; and in his heart he will exalt himself; and during a time of security* [NWT footnote adds: or possibly, "and without warning"] he will bring many to ruin. He will even stand up against the Prince of princes, but he will be broken without human hand. The effectiveness of the "fierce-looking king" and his ability to bring even many mighty and holy ones to ruin, is through cunning and deception, during a time of peace and security. This does not imply any advance warning, but something that can go on over a potentially long period of time, up until a stand is taken against the Prince of princes. It's our responsibility not to be deceived by 'the ruler of this world' or any of the powers of this system of things, but to remain no part of the world, on the lookout not to get bogged down in the things of this world. But it may also mean that our watchfulness should be all the greater when things seem to be going well for us, without hindrance, because that's the easiest time become like the unfaithful slave who says 'my master is delaying.' Yet most of us seem to raise the alert levels only when those portions of the world that we pay attention to are the most stressed. (Galatians 6:9, 10) 9 So let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out. 10 Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to [us] in the faith. (2 Timothy 4:1-5) . . .I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is destined to judge the living and the dead, and by his manifestation and his kingdom, 2 preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and [art of] teaching. 3 For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories. 5 You, though, keep your senses in all things, suffer evil, do [the] work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry. During times of stress and fear, we are quick to wonder what end-time prophecy is being fulfilled. Yet during a "favorable season," a time when people are enjoying relative peace and security, that's when another very important prophecy is being fulfilled: the prophecy of 2 Tim 4:3, for example, about when people will want to have their ears tickled with false stories. The Watch Tower publications say that this type of thing began to happen especially after the apostles died out around the year 100 C.E. During all these years, people were susceptible to false stories because during times of relative peace and security, it appeared the master was delaying and the temptation therefore presents itself to take advantage. People would ridicule the prophecy about Jesus' parousia, manifestation and kingdom and say that all things are continuing as they always were. (2 Peter 3:1-18) . . . Beloved ones, this is now the second letter I am writing you in which, as in my first one, I am stirring up your clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, 2 that you should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3 First of all know this, that in the last days ridiculers will come with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires 4 and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.” . . . 10 But Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, . . .11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, consider what sort of people you ought to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, 12 as you await and keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah,. . . 13 But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell. 14 Therefore, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace. 15 Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, . . . 17 You, therefore, beloved ones, having this advance knowledge, be on your guard so that you may not be led astray with them by the error of the lawless people and fall from your own steadfastness. So, from verse 17, we already have "this advance knowledge," the knowledge that Jehovah's day will come as a thief. We need nothing more to written to us about it. People are therefore saying that all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation's beginning. This is apparently what Jesus was saying, too, when the apostles asked him for a sign and, instead of giving them a sign, he said: (Matthew 24:4-8, 23, 27) . . .“Look out that nobody misleads you, 5 for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for these things must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. 8 All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress. . . . 23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. . . . signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. 25 Look! I have forewarned you. 26 Therefore, if people say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Instead of a sign or signs to watch out for, we know that the presence comes suddenly, like lightning. if anyone tells us there are signs, or that Jesus is already present somewhere, we are not to believe it. We have been forewarned. I know this isn't the way we usually read Matthew 24, but it's the way that seems to make the most sense with all the rest of the scriptures that comment on it. It's one of the most important prophecies we use when referring to this particular part of the last days we find ourselves in. Yet, it tells us not to get concerned about things we might have thought were signs of the end, because the end could happen at any time, with or without the things we tend to think of as "signs." Wars and reports of wars and persecution and preaching would continue to happen during the last days, but the end is not yet. Since the end could still happen at any time, this must mean only that these are not "signs" of the end.
  4. News feed [ RSS | News archive ] April 11, 2017, 11:13 Orthodox Anti-Sectarian Center of Voronezh convicted of planting Jehovah's Witnesses banned literature During the hearing in the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on the suit of Justice Ministry against Jehovah's Witnesses (SI) it was revealed that one of the banned books, [supposedly] planted by a believer, belonged not to them, but to the Orthodox Anti-Sectarian Center, says a reporter from "Portal-Credo.Ru». April 7, at the court hearing, lawyers for JWs explained that almost all of the cases in which their local religious organizations (IROS) in Russia were abolished by the courts, were based on the fabrication of evidence. Believers do not distribute or even store books and journals entered in the Federal List of Extremist Literature of the Russian Federation, but law enforcement bodies themselves toss these materials of the SI, and then "find" during searches. Some incidents of this kind are recorded on video, widely available on the Internet and shown on television. Jehovah's witnesses were able to establish that in Voronezh "extremist literature" investigators handed patterns associated with the ROC MP. On one of the books ("what the Bible actually teaches?"), which is in the case file, package no. 5, there is a box in which you can enter the name of the owner of the book. In this field the inscription «IKCMV», which means «Information-Consulting Center of St. Mitrophan of Voronezh. The planted book was "found" under a layer of carpet, on which stood a pot with flowers. According to the vob.ru database, this center was created with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Voronezh and Borisoglebsky ROC MP Sergiy (Fomin) and is a member of the Russian Association of Centers for the Study of Religions and Sects (RACIRS). According to the website iriney.ru, the ECMMC is headed by the priest Evgeny Lishchenyuk, the well-known "sectologist" Alexander Dvorkin also helps the center. The declared goal of the Center's activities is "the development of all acceptable forms of anti-sectarian activity that do not violate Orthodox morality and do not violate secular legislation and the development of purposeful missionary programs to neutralize proselytism and religious extremism." However, the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation contains article 303: falsification of evidence and the results of operational-search activity. This article states that falsification of evidence in a civil case by a person participating in a case or his representative is punishable by a fine in the amount of 100 to 300 thousand rubles, or compulsory work up to 480 hours, or correctional labor up to 2 years, or arrest up to 4 months. In this case there is a second copy of the same book, in the margins of which there are notes with a ballpoint pen, which are critical remarks in relation to the text of the book. Obviously, the notes were taken by a person who did not agree with the position of the JWs. Despite the falsification of evidence, the court in Voronezh took the side of Jehovah's Witnesses and took note of evidence of planting. On March 2 of this year, the court noted the inconsistency of the testimony of the prosecution witnesses and abolished the decision of the lower regional court to liquidate the Voronezh organization of the JWs. -------------------- The above is from a couple weeks ago, and might have already been covered. I didn't find out about it until a few minutes ago. If it's a duplicate I'll take it down. It's a bing translation of
      Hello guest!
    If I have time I might correct some of the translation. I think it missed a few words. In editing, I have now replaced some portions with google translate. Evidently the persons who planted the evidence forgot to take their own name out their copy of "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" It seems that the name in the book was the name of an organization run by Russian Orthodox priests, an Orthodox Anti-Sectarian Center that has provided assistance to Alexander Dvorkin (of 'donkey in the vegetable garden' fame). I don't have the time or wherewithal to find out if this story is accurate, however.
  5. When either a religious group or a group of religions are singled out for suppression of their freely chosen movement and activities, then this might be termed persecution. To the extent that the reason for the suppression was related to teaching and preaching the message of the Bible or following Bible precepts, then this is the same as being persecuted for our Christianity (being persecuted for Christ's name's sake). Therefore, at least a portion of the suppression is "persecution" and Jesus said that Christians would be persecuted for following him. Obviously, we don't want to suffer for breaking a law of Caesar's (assuming that Caesar's law doesn't conflict with God's law). (1 Peter 2:19, 20) 19 For it is agreeable when someone endures hardship and suffers unjustly because of conscience toward God. 20 For what merit is there if you are beaten for sinning and you endure it? But if you endure suffering because of doing good, this is an agreeable thing to God. (1 Peter 3:17) 17 For it is better to suffer because you are doing good, if it is God’s will to allow it, than because you are doing evil. (1 Peter 4:15, 16) 15 However, let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or a wrongdoer or a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but let him keep on glorifying God while bearing this name. This is the only prophecy that we can be sure is related to the ban in Russia. Jesus prophesied that persons bearing the name "Christian" would be persecuted. Even though the courts have claimed that the ban is not for being Christian, but for other things like: "encouraging suicide" "claiming superiority over other religions, thus infringing on the freedom of conscience of others" "breaking up family associations" "enticement of minors into religious associations" "requiring that members proselytize in order to convert persons of other religions or ideologies." But at least a couple of these so-called "problems" with JWs should be intrinsic to basic Christianity. Therefore another Christian precept is to "defend and legally establish" the good news. (Philippians 1:7) 7 It is only right for me to think this regarding all of you, since I have you in my heart, you who are sharers with me in the undeserved kindness both in my prison bonds and in the defending and legally establishing of the good news. The suppression in Russia does not prove that we are the most persecuted religion on earth. (In fact, the vast majority of lands that we preach in benefit from freedom of religion laws that uphold peaceful assembly and the right to preach and live in almost any way we wish.) The suppression in Russia may end up being just another pendulum swing in the legal battles Witnesses have had with the Russian government. It could all go another way in a matter of months. (And it could get much worse.) Most of all, it does not mean anything specifically with regard to the "king of the north" or the idea that the U.N. might take a stand against all religion. We do not know who the "king of the north" is. As JTR said, all the guesses made in the past have never panned out as predicted. It's quite possible that our biggest test of faith will be the realization that the prophecy about the "king of the north" already came true two thousand years ago or more. It may also be true that we should NOT expect a special cry of peace and security. The context of Paul's letter to the Thessalonians actually makes this a real possibility. Paul may have been saying no more than "you won't be able to predict the time of the end by looking for wars and rumors of wars -- it could just as easily come during a time when at least some people are speaking about 'peace and security.'" This would be the near equivalent of what 2 Peter says: (2 Peter 3:4) . . .“Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.” That matches the way that Jesus predicted that it could occur during a time of peace and security: (Matthew 24:36-44) 36 “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. 38 For as they were in those days before the Flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, 39 and they took no note until the Flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken along and the other abandoned. 41 Two women will be grinding at the hand mill; one will be taken along and the other abandoned. 42 Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 “But know one thing: If the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 On this account, you too prove yourselves ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour that you do not think to be it. It's the kind of peace and security that keeps people from paying attention and keeping on the watch. In other words, there will be no sign. If Paul was speaking of a separate cry of peace and security, then this would be an obvious sign, which Jesus said we would not get. In fact, this was Charles Taze Russell's view of Matthew 24 prior to 1914 and it was a view that continued even after 1914. The following is from Studies in the Scriptures, Volume IV: The History of Eigtheen Centuries Briefly Foretold --Matt. 24:6-13; Mark 13:7-13; Luke 21:9-19-- "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors [threats, intrigues] of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are primary sorrows." Matt. 24:6-8 Thus briefly did our Lord summarize secular history, and teach the disciples not to expect very soon his second coming and glorious Kingdom. And how aptly: surely the world's history is just this--an account of wars, intrigues, famines and pestilences--little else. Our Lord separates the history of the true Church and states it with similar brevity, thus: "Then [during that same period, the Gospel age] they shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations [peoples] for my name's sake. And then [during that same period] many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets [teachers] shall rise and [D567] shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Matt. 24:9-13 In the light of history would it be possible to portray the course of God's true Church in fewer words? Surely not. The likeness is perfect. "Whosoever will live godly shall suffer persecution," is the Apostle's declaration; and whoever has not shared it has every reason to doubt his relationship to God as a son. (Heb. 12:8) I doubt that such a change in doctrine will happen any time soon, but this doctrine about Matthew 24 (as it was once taught in the Watch Tower publications) is probably a change in doctrine that has a good chance of being accepted again, assuming that the scene of the world does not change too significantly over the next few decades. (Chances of that seem pretty slim, too.) This leaves us exactly where we should be, trusting in Jehovah, in any and every situation, whether in favorable season or troublesome season: (Psalm 56:3-12) 3 Whatever day I get afraid, I, for my part, shall trust even in you. 4 In union with God I shall praise his word. In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? 5 All day long they keep hurting my personal affairs; All their thoughts are against me for bad. 6 They attack, they conceal themselves, They, for their part, keep observing my very steps, While they have waited for my soul. 7 On account of [their] hurtfulness cast them forth. In anger bring down even the peoples, O God. 8 My being a fugitive you yourself have reported. Do put my tears in your skin bottle. Are they not in your book? 9 At that time my enemies will turn back, on the day that I call; This I well know, that God is for me. 10 In union with God I shall praise [his] word; In union with Jehovah I shall praise [his] word. 11 In God I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid. What can earthling man do to me? 12 Upon me, O God, there are vows to you. I shall render expressions of thanksgiving to you.
  6. Absolutely, especially if there is anything new. (He's actually Ukrainian. My sloppiness in calling him Russian.) It looks like you hit on the definition closest to what the MOJ was using to rationalize the suppression of JWs. We kind of knew that, but there have been many comments, from non-JWs all over the world that see it the equivalent of "radicalized fanaticism with a propensity to violence". This actually makes the disparity seem all the more ridiculous. Technically, we aren't pacifists, but from the world's point of view, we might as well be.
  7. What happened at a practical level is exactly that: "Russian government's actions targeting and repressing . . . Jehovah's Witnesses, under the pretense of combating extremism." At some level this happens in the U.S.A. too. A local police department used 9/11 funding to put in millions of dollars in surveillance equipment that floods our suburb, block by block, reaching into the back yards of law-abiding citizens. It can't be admitted to exist, and can't even be used in open courts to prosecute crime, but it is still used to help solve crimes and track crime. And it has been used indirectly for confiscation of property. But it is not used for anything related to extremism or terrorism. Other police forces bought more visible items: tanks and "battering rams" and military equipment that can never be of much use in a low-crime suburb of 10,000 unless they all decide to start rioting against the next town over, I guess. But I've asked a Russian brother to translate some interesting commentary internal to Russia, and I've talked to him about it. I'm hoping to get a better sense of what an average Russian citizen might feel about the JW situation. Or at least what various media outlets want us to think they are feeling, or, perhaps, what they are supposed to think about it. I noticed that the usnews article links to an RT article, which has some comments that run in the same direction as what we are seeing in Russian "public" commentary. Evidently, many Russian people are not linking the word extremism the same way all of us are. It is not linked with terrorism or violence, but merely "cult-like" behavior. If it's a "sect" like the "Scientologists" then it's extreme. As was shown in earlier comments in other threads on the subject, it's more about the control of lifestyle and life choices. Of course, this is still a load of hypocrisy, because all religions have a right to do this to some extent, and there is no such thing as "totlal control" which is the specter. Some people become fanatical and totally controlled in any religion or ideology. But there is no total control of a whole group of people. It's probably the fear of choice that is driving this suppression of JWs and others, not the fear of total control. There is a fear that anyone, a poor person, a rich person, a less educated person, or even a scientist, can make a choice to leave the state-sanctioned religion and general ideologies. These persons, especially if it's your mother or son or cousin who converts to become a JW, can cause you embarrassment in a state that expects a high level of conformity among the class of people who work in government careers. The US News article had this line: The Justice Ministry showed pamphlets from the group that it argued posed "a threat to health." The link goes to RT here:
      Hello guest!
    specifically these points: Blood policy, education policies, mental health, and the idea that the "chief managing organization" takes marching orders from New York were points that were forefront in the minds of some Russians but did not come across in the review on JW Broadcasting. Evidently the lawyers had a hard time convincing the MOJ that they were really "autonomous." I'll grab a few of the comments in English, before they disappear from the RT article (comments are not necessarily from Russians, however). Also, where the indentation worked it does not mean that these are dialogues; I left off the names but they are from random people even if appears these might be back-and-forth comments. Some are likely JWs: Some of the ones I thought were most interesting already disappeared from another page I was tracking yesterday. Edited to add a couple more: Why? It is no secret that Russia has banned or made all foreign NGO's register as foreign agents, these guys are no different and there is more than just this lot coming under the same controls. The door to door activities may be seen as trying to openly subvert the population and with the US's history in doing so I can't blame them. I laugh when people say that it must be removed because its a western import. I think the only item in Russia that is not a Western import is the Vodka! lol Not a good move. Jehovah's are known around the globe as pacifists. I'm sure Russia isn't going to be winning any points with the Human Rights Council when it starts persecuting them.
  8. I saw the following in my "Notifications" and I thought the Great Tribulation had started 15 hours ago, and I had missed it:
  9. I assume that at least part of this previous post was directed at me. You know that the subject of Jesus' divinity, Christology/Soteriology is too involved to discuss under this heading. Another place would be fine.
  10. I'm glad you got right to the point. Asking "why associate with an organization that...?" clearly means that you think Christians should leave the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. You are bringing up points that could be put in a thread of their own, but I'll assume that you are tying these points to survival of the Great Tribulation, which many (most?) Witnesses conflate with any fear of a third world war or the potential of world-wide persecution. Asking that question, "why associate?" means you have given up on the idea that Jehovah's Witnesses are a true and valid representation in this twenty-first century of the Christian congregation in the first century. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with you bringing these issues up for whatever reasons. I bring up similar issues regularly for clarity, so that fellow brothers and sisters are aware of the counter-arguments to our beliefs, and so that we don't fall into the trap of dishonesty where we simply say that something can't be true if it makes us look wrong. I would be happy to engage fully with your points especially if I thought your purpose was to help remove potential error from our teachings. That said, I don't actually believe that we survive the Great Tribulation of Revelation 7 by "washing our robes" through perfectly clean teachings, but by the cleanness of our conscience, by clean conduct. Therefore honesty about doctrine is even more important than claiming to have the right doctrine: (Matthew 7:21-24) 21 “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ 24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these sayings of mine and does them will be like a discreet man who built his house on the rock. Therefore, it's a matter of what sort of persons ought we to be, not what sort of doctrines did we believe. But there is also considerable overlap between doctrines themselves and how we should honestly conduct ourselves. For example, we should trust that we don't need to participate in the world's politics and wars if we think about what it must mean to remain 'no part of this world.' That is very difficult for most people, and most religions. I won't get into dozens of other points like that here, but I'll try to get to the question of using the name "Jehovah." I have a 1-year old granddaughter who calls me g'PA and sometimes GanPA and sometimes Gam'PA and sometimes GAM'pa. She identifies me correctly when she sees a picture on their wall, or in my iPhone, or on Skype or FaceTime. She has another grandfather who she calls Papa and Poppy (she calls her father Dada and Daddy). When I come through her door a few times a week to babysit along with my wife, I smile inside and out when she calls out g'PA. That's my name to her. She doesn't use that term for anyone else. I don't mind in the least that she mispronounces "grandpa" by leaving out a couple of whole consonants, or turns two syllables to one syllable. Someday, she will probably try to distinguish her two grandfathers by including a more specific name like Grandpa Beezlebumps vs. Grandpa Hamhocker. Having her know that I have a more personal and specific name is probably not that important to me, as long as she knows me. I can understand why we could be just as happy to "know" the personal specific name for God and use it for circumstances like public prayer and discussion, and use a title like "Father" in private, in the same way that my granddaughter calls me "g'PA." But we have the example of the Israelites whose history as found in the Bible contains the specific name THOUSANDS of times. That's the reason we think it's important. Because of the Bible. Jesus used the term Father (also Aramaic, abba) in his speech and prayers. And when the apostle Paul speaks of distinguishing our God from other gods, he doesn't use the divine name, but also calls Him, "God, the Father." (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6) 5 For even though there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many “gods” and many “lords,” 6 there is actually to us one God, the Father, from whom all things are and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and we through him. No one thinks it's a magic name that must be pronounced exactly right, or exactly the same in each language. That's not the point. The point is that we try to use a name that is distinctive, based on the tetragrammaton, with whatever vowels are common and understandable, and so that others know who we mean. Also, just because Greber translates John 1:1 as we do, doesn't mean that the NWT depended on Greber or has any relationship to him. It's just an acknowledgement that other translators have translated the verse as the NWT does. People don't usually have a lot of complaints about how the Greber translation turned out, usually only two or three passages. Another one is about how the bodies turned up from an earthquake. We like Greber's version here, too. (Matthew 27:51-53) . . .. 52 And the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the holy ones who had fallen asleep were raised up 53 (and people coming out from among the tombs after his being raised up entered into the holy city), and they became visible to many people. [NWT shown, Greber presents same idea] My point is that people don't complain about the Greber Bible as a bad translation with a lot of mistakes. They only point out one or two. They also complain about a claim of "spiritism" made about his translation process. Martin Luther made similar claims. One might even say that the apostle Paul made similar claims. It's what some people expected the direction of "holy spirit" to feel like.
  11. And here he is again singing with Franz, Woodworth, Knorr, etc, at WBBR: (second from right, next to Knorr)
  12. Agree. This was going to be a win for the Witnesses no matter which way the court had ruled. Even the European Union had a statement in favor of the Witnesses. (Rejected for inclusion, of course.) Putin, although he is far from fulfilling the role, has been projected as a kind of "hitler" recently in US mainstream news. It was a perfect time for persecution by his state if we were looking for publicity. For Witnesses personally, both worldwide and in Russia, this also energizes even the most inactive among us as persecution anywhere always does. All that is really lost is some of the material benefits of having a religious organization. Spiritual ties can grow even stronger under such circumstances. But this is high profile publicity. The world has taken notice. Furthermore, as the recent post from Ann O'maly shows, it will hardly have any effect on the Russian Witnesses themselves, who will likely grow at the same rate or better.