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Should JW's punish, disfellowship, or shun members who disagree with certain teachings?


Albert Michelson

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That's really the crux of all the problems with the organization. Rank-and-file JWs do not have the right to question any doctrines--even with Biblical support. Only the GB can correctly interpret the

I do get warm feelies here. I don't think that's a bad thing. (I don't mean here, with @The Librarianand all; I mean in Jehovah's organization) I am like most Witnesses who do not have to have ev

Like I really should watch CNN to learn the truth about Trump or Breitbart to learn the truth about Obama? I'll choose what I choose to see in proper context, neither cherry-picked nor skewed.

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1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Few things in this world are less tricky than one choosing to become a Witness.

It's actually extremely easy. One of the young kids in my hall was 10 and didn't know almost anything but her parents taught her all the right answers to the questions and she was baptized. I've seen it a hundred times. Simply  rehearse the answers and go through the questions and you're in. 

The Bible teach book doesn't even contain the words "Governing Body" and yet that's a fundamental teaching of jehovahs witnesses. 

JWs like to say that's it's hard to become a member but that's because it inflates their ego and makes them feel superior to other faiths. In reality most witnesses get baptized with a cursory understanding of the doctrines and most that I knew who had been in for upwards of 40 years still barley knew what the organization taught. It's not difficult at all. 

But as I've said repeatedly, even if it was difficult there shouldn't be a punishment for leaving after you learn that it's not true. 

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25 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

In reality most witnesses get baptized with a cursory understanding of the doctrines

Use of the word 'most' is subjective - I do not think it is 'most' - though it is certainly true anywhere that new ones do not know as much as older ones. It's not just in the field of religion. It is everywhere.

GB counsel doesn't encourage people to be shallow. It encourages them to go deep. But people do that at their own pace and sometimes not at all. You don't have to be a theocratic Rhode's scholar to be baptized - you just have to know and agree with the basics. Surely the fact that you cannot (usually) get baptized for close to a year should allay your concern - unless that concern is unallayable.

29 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

most that I knew who had been in for upwards of 40 years still barley knew what the organization taught

This is also subjective, and I do not agree with it. I suspect there are some concerns that are important in your eyes that most Witnesses do not know much of, but that is not the same thing.

But this is quibbling. You're main concern i'll speak to later. Unfortunately, I am in and out. A five minute comment I can make anytime, but if there is something that deserves more thought, I want to give it that thought. Start a separate thread on it. Seriously. It's a subject in its own right, and this thread is on something else. The threadmeister can always yank it back on topic and there will be nothing you or I can do about it.

Having said that, I've been known to hijack a thread or two in my tenure.

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17 hours ago, Albert Michelson said:

I suppose it is but the fact of the matter  is that jehovahs witnesses who cannot in good conscience teach what they personally believe to be false teachings are punished for acting in accord with their conscience.

A belief or teaching that we conscientiously hold does not have to be "thrust in the face" of someone who is not ready to accept that particular belief or teaching. This was a point that Paul made so that Gentile Christians need not offend Jewish Christians. This should be a big hint that doctrinal matters were not nearly as important as love and concern for one another. But it is important to note that on the issue of eating things sacrificed to idols, the Jerusalem "Governing Body" had included this specific item in the list of things they claimed that the "holy spirit and we ourselves" had approved. Yet apparently at some later point, Paul rejected that specific "burden" and said that this particular item did not matter to true Christians if their conscience allowed them to eat things sacrificed to idols.

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14 hours ago, JW Insider said:

have never believed that all the doctrines have to be in order as long as our motivations are out of love for God and neighbor.

 I never believe that all of them had to be correct either but the fundamental doctrines (the ones pertaining to the religion being the truth and the leaders being selected by God as his channel of communication) did have to be true in order for me to justify shunning someone for disagreeing with those leaders. 

 By your definition it really doesn't matter whether a religion is teaching the full truth or not as long as the people within it are honest hearted.  The early Bible students taught something similar but current witness doctrine states that no matter how sincere someone is in their religious believes if they are affiliated with a false religion or a religion that is teaching falsehoods then it doesn't matter. 

 I would be curious to find out from you what you believe the cut off is.  What percentage of the doctrines of a religion have to be false before it is to be considered a false religion?, and if your personal cut off is different from someone else's does that justify shunning that person?

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1 hour ago, Albert Michelson said:

JWs like to say that's it's hard to become a member but that's because it inflates their ego and makes them feel superior to other faiths. In reality most witnesses get baptized with a cursory understanding of the doctrines and most that I knew who had been in for upwards of 40 years still barley knew what the organization taught. It's not difficult at all. 

Depends on the kinds of teachings you are talking about. Most things are repeated so often that you can't miss them. Any child in the organization can rattle off a list of things we don't approve of, and they will be correct. The general idea of baptism is that the person realizes that he wants to associate with a people who have high moral standards and who are best known for getting out there and preaching the good news of the kingdom that will someday step in and solve man's problems and turn the earth into a paradise.

(By the way, I didn't include those items on a previous list of core doctrines, but I also agree that God's will through the Kingdom will be done both in heaven AND on earth, and therefore there are a "new heavens" AND a "new earth" that we are awaiting according to his promise. I also think that the basis for preaching about this good news is best done through a world-wide house-to-house ministry, wherever possible, so I should also have included this practice into the core teachings of Christianity, although I don't think that preaching and teaching is the only ministry of sacred service.)

A few months ago, our Circuit Overseer and a couple of elders were here at the house and I was thinking about something I had just written over here on the forum. It was following the funeral of an anointed sister,  and someone said something about what she might have said last week when she met "Saint Peter at the Golden Gates" in a joking manner, and I said "well now, of course, we say it's only an interesting possibility to say that Peter is already in heaven." I knew I shouldn't have said it, but the Circuit Overseer said that Peter has been in heaven since the spring of 1918. The other two elders quickly agreed, "That's right," "That's right." So I said, "Oh I thought I read somewhere that we didn't put an exact date on that any more," and I quickly changed the subject.

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19 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

I would be curious to find out from you what you believe the cut off is.  What percentage of the doctrines of a religion have to be false before it is to be considered a false religion?, and if your personal cut off is different from someone else's does that justify shunning that person?

I don't actually believe in any "organization" as religion. Some organizations will try to do some good in a certain way that is different from others, but most of what we call religions today are just different groups that used a difference in teaching as an excuse for men to claim higher spiritual authority than other religions, especially the one they just broke off from. This was the same thing when Barbour broke with other Second Adventists (1859-1875), when Russell broke it off with Barbour (1878-9), when Rutherford broke it off with Russell (1917-1927). The organization is just a tool for efficiency so that like-minded people can speak in agreement and more efficiently accomplish the same ministry.

If I was born into a Hindu religion, or a Muslim religion, I would probably still be Hindu or Muslim. This doesn't mean that Jehovah would necessarily judge me any differently. He reads the heart -- "the motivation." This is why James could say, in effect, that "true religion means looking after orphans and widows, but without being tainted by worldly motivations." The "world" creates motivations of wanting to make a "showy display," class distinctions, prejudice, pride, etc. People in all religions of the world have the same opportunity to live according to good motivations or bad motivations. (Romans 1 & 2)

But if we become acquainted with true Christianity, we are now motivated to have the Law of Christ written on our hearts. This means seeing everything that Jesus said and taught, and seeing how it fits into the royal law of "love" and "doing unto others as we would want done for ourselves." We should be aware that Jehovah's spirit will help to create the desire to serve for any who want to show love for Jehovah. When we read about what happened when He sent his Son, and we are motivated to imitate his example, because it presented the best example possible of how we can show our love for God by ministering to others. If we desire to share in a teaching ministry similar to what Jesus did, then we would look to associate with other Christians who are setting the standard for how to effectively get the word out. We would look for other Christians who try their best to follow the beliefs that Jesus and his apostles and disciples promoted in the first century.

No association is perfect, and I don't think we are really counting the percentage of true and false doctrines. We will have all of the same problems we saw in the first century and many more. We are counting on Jehovah's spirit to help us find the ministry that feels the most like what we would expect if we saw the first-century Christians trying to fit into the twenty-first century.

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2 hours ago, JW Insider said:

A belief or teaching that we conscientiously hold does not have to be "thrust in the face" of someone who is not ready to accept that particular belief or teaching. This was a point that Paul made so that Gentile Christians need not offend Jewish Christians. This should be a big hint that doctrinal matters were not nearly as important as love and concern for one another. But it is important to note that on the issue of eating things sacrificed to idols, the Jerusalem "Governing Body" had included this specific item in the list of things they claimed that the "holy spirit and we ourselves" had approved. Yet apparently at some later point, Paul rejected that specific "burden" and said that this particular item did not matter to true Christians if their conscience allowed them to eat things sacrificed to idols.

 And yet witness beliefs are thrust in my face all the time.  This society constantly throws their beliefs upon others and demand that they accept them.  If this religion allowed people to leave  voluntarily  without  The threat of disfellowshiping for joining another religion or speaking about the reasons they left then the long list of false doctrines wouldn't bother me.  Like you already said no organization is perfect and no group has everything right. But humility should come in to play.  If you can't guarantee that 100% of what you teach is true then you shouldn't punish someone for disagreeing with you or for leaving your religion.  Even if you could guarantee that it was all true it still isn't the proper way to maintain membership.  Witnesses should be members because they want to be not because they know that they will be shunned if they leave. 

 I would also strongly disagree with you about the Jerusalem Council being a governing body and that their decision had anything to do with a biblical law rather than a temporary suggestion in  light of the consciences of the Jewish Christians. 

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27 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

was born into a Hindu religion, or a Muslim religion, I would probably still be Hindu or Muslim. This doesn't mean that Jehovah would necessarily judge me any differently.

 According to the society once Armageddon hits anyone who isn't a witness is dead. 

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58 minutes ago, Albert Michelson said:

and if your personal cut off is different from someone else's does that justify shunning that person?

In life, we all "shun" people we find offensive or who we think might endanger us. In the congregation, and in life in general, there will be people with certain "poisonous" attitudes or certain motivations that we find offensive and dangerous, too. We will, in effect, "mark" such persons and try not to associate with them any more than necessary. There are also persons who have an attitude that will endanger not just ourselves but the entire congregation (pedophiles, unrepentant immoral people who try to work their way into households for immoral purposes, people who try to seduce others into drawing off followers for themselves, people who cause divisions through lying, persons who are greedy and are scheming for ways to steal or extort). To keep the congregation clean and safe it seems appropriate to "mark" the unrepentant ones for the entire congregation. Disfellowshipping is just "marking" to avoid unnecessary association. It would seem to be the loving thing to do as a way of protecting others from harm. It's for the same reason that it would be the loving thing to notify the secular authorities if a Witness has been accused of criminal behavior.

But, of course, this did not mean shunning the person as a type of psychological punishment, which is how most religions that shun tend to use the practice. In fact, Paul added: 

(1 Corinthians 5:10, 11) . . .Otherwise, you would actually have to get out of the world. 11 But now I am writing you to stop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.

These were persons who were a real danger to others, so that a way should be found to "mark" them for the entire congregation. They weren't shunned as a way to make others feel superior to them, or to use emotional blackmail to draw them back in, but just as a protection.

We also know that there was at least one teaching that was considered so poisonous and dangerous as to require "marking" that person to the extent that we don't associate with them at all, not even saying a greeting to them. This was the great danger to Christianity through people who wanted to draw off Christians to a version of Christianity that denied that Jesus had really existed in the flesh.

I'll grant you that we go beyond these Biblical guidelines mostly because we are human and want our egos to be stroked through feelings of superiority and self-righteousness. But the basic idea is still valid, just misused.

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1 hour ago, JW Insider said:

It would seem to be the loving thing to do as a way of protecting others from harm.

Or the organization protecting itself from  scrutiny. And let's not get started on the JWs failure when it comes to pedophiles

1 hour ago, JW Insider said:

I'll grant you that we go beyond these Biblical guidelines mostly because we are human and want our egos to be stroked through feelings of superiority and self-righteousness. But the basic idea is still valid, just misused.

I would disagree about your interpretation of Paul's words here. However all I see is you acknowledging the fact that the Bible isn't being followed accurately but then making excuses as to why it's ok. 

Disfellowshiping is a weapon. It is used to manipulate and control. I was repeatedly threatened with disfellowshiping simply for not following the rules our particular body of elders imposed. But in a broader context the GB uses it to prevent honest biblical examination and discussion. 

You talked earlier about your experience with the CO. I had experiences like that all the time. Any discussion that deviated from the party line was immediately shut down. It's an extremely anti intellectual environment. 

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1914 is it, to be among the JW. PERIOD! That may change but at this point in time it has not. When young Samuel was at the tabernacle, he saw the daily activities of the sons of Eli, correct? Were they appropriate in the way Jehovah wanted things done then and there? NO! But while it was allowed, the people to serve Jehovah came there and Samuel also served there, not leaving going elsewhere. It is up to Jehovah to clean this mess up, if there is such mess, not us as imperfect humans also.

 We fret and fawn over the the things we avidly complain about, but remember even perfect Jesus worshipped at the imperfect temple, where twice he threw out those he called robbers! He too allowed his Father to cleanse the mess. 

I do not worry about the date, never have. Been doing this now some 5 decades. Jesus told us to be alert, keep on the watch, teach others what he taught, and do do so to the most distant part of the earth. Simple, not hard or difficult. Whoever is trying to get this done, I am with them. Like Peter, who else has sayings of everlasting life? 

So you want to debate and argue, Albert? What do you offer better? Much like Satan, nothing! A wind bag, lots of hot air!

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