[Author: Alex Rover, Editor: Andere Stimme]
On February 9, 2014, just over a year ago, I wrote to Meleti:
I’d enjoy a forum like the well moderated jwtalk.net but with the liberty to put scripture before organization as the main difference. But it’s a lot of work to maintain, and you will need a group of people that are lovers of truth and hate true apostasy (falling away from Christ) to keep a forum within its purposed boundaries.
Just days earlier, I had discovered this blog. Perhaps like you, I immediately recognized it as something different and I wanted to help. Amazing what a difference just a year can make!
We belong to Christ. In this world, and even among our JW brothers and sisters, admitting this fact requires courage. It takes courage to say we belong to Christ in school, at work, and in the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Consider the definition of organization:
an organization is an organized body of people with a particular purpose, such as an association.
So, how do Jehovah’s Witnesses prove that God uses an organization? In the publication Reasoning from the Scriptures, under the topic “Organization” and the subheading “Does the Bible show that true Christians would be an organized people?”, you may notice the final Scripture quoted is 1 Peter 2:9, 17. As quoted in the last paragraph, it says:
“But you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. . . . Have love for the whole association of brothers.”
The scripture quote is followed by a parenthetical statement:
An association of people whose efforts are directed to accomplish a particular work is an organization.
Is that true? A quick trip to the Merriam-Webster dictionary confirms that an association is:
an organized group of people who have the same interest, job, etc.
However, the New World Translation is the only widely distributed translation using the expression “association of brothers” here. A more common translation is “brotherhood” (ESV) or “family of believers” (NIV). Whether by design or by an inadvertent quirk of translation, the insertion of a synonym for organization into the NWT distorts the biblical description of the early Christian congregation in a way that serves the interests of the JW leadership.
Granted, the footnote in the New World Translation states: “Lit., ‘brotherhood.’ Gr., a·del·phoʹte·ti“. But in choosing to translate and apply this passage as they do, Jehovah’s Witnesses use sacred scripture to promote a highly misleading idea of what Christian fellowship entails.
A Family of Believers
When a Jehovah’s Witness thinks of the expression “the Organization”, it is synonymous with “Jehovah’s Organization”, which should mean “Jehovah’s Family of Believers”. In a family, there is the Father, who carries all authority as head. So we are a family of brothers and sisters with our Heavenly Father in common. Christ is part of that family, since he is a son of God; he is our brother, obedient to the Father. Christ said: “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). These were the words of a true son of God.
The Father said in Exodus 4:22: “Israel is my firstborn son”. Jesus Christ is the root of Israel:
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star!” (Revelation 22:16)
We become part of the family of believers through our union with Christ,
“and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree” (Romans 11:17 NASB)
It is a worldwide brotherhood, not because we are part of “God’s organization”, but because we are adopted as children of the one Father, becoming the Israel of God.
What God has Joined Together
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Ephesians 5:31)
We are not just children of the Father. We are the body of Christ, joined to him and placed under his headship.
“This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:20-23)
Upon Christ’s glorification in 33 AD, the Father gave Christ to the family of believers, with a headship as a husbandly owner. Now that Christ is given to us by the Father as our head, we are joined together by the Father himself. Let no man tear this union apart. It is the will of the Father that we have no other head but Christ, and we are to place no other headship over us than that of him.
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37)
Submitting to the authority of a stranger is akin to idolatry and prostitution. The whore of Babylon the Great is a prominent example. Many religions and false Christs are actively seeking to replace Jesus Christ as our head. Submitting ourselves to such men’s rule is a perversion.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” (1 Corinthians 6: 15-16)
Being organized is not bad. Associating is not bad. But if an association ever starts luring people after themselves and away from Christ, then they have become part of the great prostitute that is Babylon the Great. What our Father joined together—ourselves and Christ—let NO man tear apart!
Association, a Human Need
Jehovah has a group of people—a family, and he is the head. Jesus has a group of people—his body, and he is the head.
These groups of people are the same; the Father gave this group to the Son as his bride class. We wish to associate with each other. How else can we show love for each other and encourage one other? (Compare Proverbs 18:1) We have a human need to spend time with fellow believers. Take Paul for example:
“For God is my witness that I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:8)
Before Rutherford, congregations were made up of local members of the family of believers who voluntarily associated together in Christian freedom. Until recently, the buildings they gathered in were owned by the local brothers and sisters. Today however, there is no difference between the Catholic Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses in that regard. The buildings are owned by a central human leadership claiming to represent Christ, and association depends on obedience to the ordinances of this channel.
We need good association. But perhaps we feel, like Elijah in 1 Kings 19:3, 4, all alone. Since discovering Beroean Pickets, I no longer feel alone. There is a healthy variety of views, as demonstrated on the forum. Yes, we do not always agree about particular teachings. But we are united in Christ and in love. In many ways discussthetruth.com has proven that it is possible to show love to one another despite our differences. We have proven that it is possible to be organized without impeding freedom of conscience and expression.
When new visitors come to our forums, they often express happiness and surprise that such a tone of respect and love is possible despite the differences. It is easy to love those who agree with you on everything, but the best friendships are between people who respect each other’s sincerely held differences.
Association, a Growing Need
Just like you, I searched the web for some years before discovering this loving association. There are now atheist ex-JW’s attacking the Governing Body at every move, without offering anything upbuilding in return. There are self-proclaimed prophets, watchmen, two-witnesses, prophets and prophetesses who offer a “better interpretation”, and usually they will view others who accept their views as saved. There are even some JW scholars who might keep the structure of the organization so long as some of the teachings are tweaked.
In 2013, Beroean Pickets had 12,000 unique visitors with 85,000 views. By 2014, that number had climbed to nearly 33,000 with 225,000 views. Despite publishing 136 articles in 2014 (about one article every 3 days), I don’t think the articles are the main reason why so many of our visitors keep returning. I believe you are the reason.
These numbers reveal a growing need of many who believe in Jehovah to associate in Christian love and freedom with others who value truth. We have no interest in forming a new religion, yet we firmly believe in the human need for good association.
Since we now regularly exceed 1,000 views on a single day, we start showing an impact in the search engines. As more and more new visitors find our uplifting association of free brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a shared responsibility toward these, to share the Good News with them in the freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)
With warm love and respect,