“Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded YOU.. . .” (Mt 28:19, 20)
Short of the command to love one another as he loved us, is there a more important commandment from Jesus for Christians today than that found at Matthew 28:19, 20? Jehovah’s Witnesses no longer baptize their disciples in the name of the Father, Son and holy spirit, if the two baptismal questions asked of all candidates are anything to go by. But what about the commission to make disciples? They would answer that more than any other religion, they are doing this work in what they claim—without evincing even a shred of irony—is the greatest preaching campaign in history. (w15/03 p.26 par. 16)
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses making disciples of Jesus or proselytes of JW.ORG? Are they like the scribes and Pharisees?
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you travel over sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him a subject for Ge·henʹna twice as much so as yourselves.” (Mt 23:15 NWT)
Or are they truly making disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ? If JW.ORG is anything to go by, it would seem the former is the case.
After decades of resisting the use of modern technology, the Governing Body did an about face recently and embraced the internet as a tool for proselytizing. To what use have they put it? Are they imitating the first century Christians and making the declaration of the Good News about Jesus their foremost mission? What is the core message of JW.ORG?
Speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus said: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Mt 12:34) JW.ORG speaks with a very loud and far-reaching voice. But it is the abundance of the heart of its producers that it speaks. What is its message?
A quick scan of the video portion of the site would indicate that the Governing Body have seriously dropped the ball when it comes to proclaiming the Good News. If you go to the Video on Demand section, you’ll see 12 categories. As you drill down into each, you will find that even those which promise to teach you Bible truths turn out to be more about Organizational activities or counsel on how to behave. Children, teenagers, and family members are taught what to do and what not to do. Now there is nothing wrong with helping people to learn good manners, respect for others and good, neighborly conduct. Learning what God wants of us from a moral perspective is also beneficial. But all that is a by-product of the good news of the Christ. It shouldn’t be the main subject of our teachings. What is increasingly evident is that the target audience for the video portion of JW.ORG are the rank-and-file members. The Governing Body is preaching to the converted. Its main message is one of obedience, but not obedience to Jesus Christ who is rarely mentioned except as an exemplar; someone to imitate. No, it is obedience to the Governing Body which is core to the message.
So meagre is the offering relating to actual Bible instruction that it is reduced down to two videos. Click on The Bible under the Videos on Demand Section to see for yourself. The first section is “Apply Bible Principles”—more self-help and “dos and don’ts” videos. The section labelled “Bible Teachings”, which one would expect from an evangelical organization to be the largest of all, consists of only four—that’s right, 4!—videos. Even then, two of them relate to why we should study the Bible, not actual Bible teachings. In fact the only valid teaching in the entire section is the video, “Does God Have a Name?” The other offering is not really a Bible teaching at all: “A Tool to Help Us Explain Our Beliefs About 1914”.
What about the quality of the Bible instruction? The aforementioned video is an excellent case in point.
A Tellingly Weak Effort
An interesting choice of title, don’t you think? Not, “A Tool to Help Us Explain the Bible Teaching About 1914”. The producers give tacit acknowledgement that these are only “our beliefs” about 1914.
It is a short video; only 7:01 minutes. Not enough to adequately explain the 1914 teaching you might say, and you’d be right. The first half gives an abbreviated rundown of the application of the dream as it played out in Daniel’s day. The brother teaches that the seven times were seven years. This may be true, although there’s an argument that the seven times refer to seasons rather than years. What a “time” meant to a Babylonian or Jew in those days is not entirely clear. However, that is a small point.
It is at the 3:45 minute mark that the brother, in an attempt to prove that the prophecy has a secondary fulfillment, states something that is so totally untrue that it is hard not to come out and call it a blatant lie. I’m not imputing a bad motive to the actor, but that doesn’t mean what he says isn’t any less damaging to his credibility and that of the Organization producing the video.
What he states is “We know there was a larger fulfillment because Jesus himself spoke about it.” He then goes on to point to Luke 21:24 as proof. It reads:
“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.” (Lu 21:24)
Do you see anything in those words to indicate Jesus is referring to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar some six centuries earlier? Read the context of Luke 21. What destruction is he referring to? One far in his past, or one yet to come? Even his choice of verb tense is future. He does not say that Jerusalem will “continue to be trampled”, only that it “will be”. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say Jerusalem was trampled on before his arrival, nor does he ever again speak of the “appointed times of the nations”. So there is no indication as to when these appointed times began nor when they will end. There is no link whatsoever in Jesus’ words to the Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar conquered.
Using Luke 21:24 to support the gross falsehood that Jesus spoke of a secondary fulfillment of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is pure fabrication. Additionally, this is the only scripture used in an attempt to support “our beliefs about 1914”. The video ends there with a promise by the brother to return. So like the household in the video, we are all left holding our breath and waiting for a real explanation of this strange doctrine.
There is still one more very odd thing about this video. Its title contains the promise that we are going to learn of ‘a tool to help us to explain 1914’. Viewing the video, it is obvious that the brother is using a publication, but he never shows the cover nor reveals the title of the publication. I did a search on JW.ORG using 1914 as the search parameter but couldn’t find the publication he was using. So we have an instructional video to teach Jehovah’s witnesses how to use “a tool” to help them explain 1914, but we never reveal the name of the tool, nor where to find it.
This video is such a weak attempt to prove the JW belief surrounding 1914 that one can’t help but wonder if the publishers even believe it anymore. It would appear that they want to stay in the game, but don’t want to show their hand so that they don’t reveal they’ve been bluffing all this time.