Thirty years ago this week, an 81-year-old manicurist named Clara Peller became famous for uttering what was to become one of the top ten advertising catchphrases of the 20th Century: “Where’s the beef?” The phrase was used everywhere after that, even working its way into the 1984 U.S. presidential campaign when Walter Mondale used it to criticize his rival’s lack of substance during the Democratic primary.
Milk is a wholesome food, easily digested (assuming you are not lactose-intolerant) and is the food Jehovah designed to feed newborns. Paul uses milk metaphorically to show how newborn Christians are fed—those still fleshly in their outlook.[i] However, that is a temporary food. The infant soon needs “solid food such as belongs to mature people…who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.”[ii] In short, we need the meat of the word.
This week’s study article is an object lesson in what has become standard practice in our teaching, especially with the release of the study addition of The Watchtower. Since the Governing Body is now “preaching to the converted”, they seem to feel little need to provide scriptural support for any of the statements made. Like young sucklings, we are expected to just drink in the word unquestioningly; and for the most part we oblige them.
As we review highlights from this week’s study, ask yourself, “Where’s the beef?”
Par. 4 – “What a difficult thing it is to endure the ridicule and opposition of family members who do not share our faith!”
The unstated assumption is that all this ridicule and opposition from family members comes because people outside of our organization simply do not understand the truth. They are part of Satan’s world. However, this door swings both ways. There have been thousands of true Christians who have pointed out errors in our teaching and been willing to back their findings up with sound scriptural reasoning. These have encountered ridicule and opposition, even to the point of being completely cut off from family and friends. Truly, “a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.”
Par. 6 – “Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah.”
Par. 7 – “despite having come from rival nations, these worshipers have beaten “their swords into plowshares,” and they refuse to “learn war anymore.”
Again, the unstated assumption we are expected to swallow down is that this mountain of Jehovah has appeared only in our time; that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the “mountain” to which the nations are streaming.
“Where’s the beef?”
No proof is provided for this statement. We are simply expected to accept it as gospel. Yet our own version of the Bible gives a cross reference for the phrase “in the final part of the days” taken from Micah 4:1 which points to Acts 2:17. There, Peter refers to his day as fulfilling the prophecy of the “last days” or the “final part of the days”. When Jesus came and established the Christian congregation, can anyone deny that the mountain of Jehovah was established then? Was it not from that point onward that ‘people from all nations came to worship at the mountain of Jehovah’? True, unlike the majority of Christendom, we have beaten our swords into plowshares. But this process hardly started with us, nor is it exclusive to us nowadays. It has been ongoing among true Christians for the past 2,000 years.
Par. 8 – “God is giving all sorts of people the opportunity to gain “an accurate knowledge of truth”…and to be saved.” (Read 1 Timothy 2:3,4)
Here again, the unspoken assumption is that such “accurate knowledge of truth” can only be obtained through the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Salvation is made possible through the acquisition of this “accurate knowledge”. Jesus repeatedly taught that the hope of salvation for his disciples was the kingdom of the heavens; to be with him there. This is “the good news about Jesus.”[iii] However, we are taught a different good news.[iv] We are taught that this hope is denied to 99.9% of all “true Christians” today. So are we teaching accurate knowledge or inaccurate knowledge? Only one leads to life.
Par. 9 – In the near future, the nations will say “Peace and security!”
Where’s the proof? All the Bible says is, “Whenever it is that they are saying…” No mention is made of this being a proclamation at a multinational level, as paragraph 12 teaches. A small thing, you might say. But the matter is, why are we being expected to simply accept the unfounded interpretation of men?
Par. 14 – “Following the proclamation of “Peace and security!” political elements of Satan’s system will suddenly turn on false religion and wipe it out.”
Paul links the saying of “Peace and security!” as preceding the Lord’s day. Does the Lord’s day begin with the destruction of Babylon the great? It’s hard to say categorically, but the weight of evidence seems to point to a period of time following the end of Babylon after which Armageddon, the Lord’s day or Jehovah’s day, occurs. Yet we simply teach that this saying, “Peace and security!”, precedes Babylon’s destruction. Again, no evidence, not substance…just believe.
Par. 17 – “Soon, Jehovah’s day will come. Now is the time to return to our heavenly Father’s loving arms and to the congregation—the only safe haven in these last days.
Par. 18 – Loyally support those taking the lead. [Italics and boldface from the article]
Par. 19 – “…display confidence in Jehovah’s leadership”
Par. 20 – “…let us accept direction from those appointed to take the lead in Jehovah’s organization.”
Here is the crux of the study. Armageddon is coming and the only safe place to be is inside the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to do that we have to “display confidence in Jehovah’s leadership. What scripture is provided to support this statement? None. So what do they mean? According to Matthew 23:10, humans are not to be leaders. Our leader is one, the Christ. So Jehovah’s leadership is manifested in the Christ, the head of the congregation we are being urged to return to. Does the article mention Jesus in a leadership role? No. The leadership being referred to are men in positions of responsibility in the organization, the Governing Body, and its representatives.
Imagine you’re the CEO of a large, multinational organization and you learn of a memo going out to all employees urging them to follow the lead of middle management, loyally support their managers and accept whatever direction comes from them, because that’s what the owner of the corporation wants. Yet there is no mention whatsoever of your position or authority? They have just cut you out of the equation altogether. How would you feel? What would you do?
It’s easy to lap up milk. We don’t have to exert ourselves, just drink in what is feed to us. But solid food takes some work. Why are so many of us willing to drink the milk where there is far more nutritious food at hand? Food for mature people, food for adults.
Why aren’t more of us asking, “Where’s the beef?”