We have been greatly encouraged by the heartfelt outpouring of support that came as a result of the recent article, “Our Commenting Policy.” I had only wanted to reassure everyone that we were not about to change that which we had worked so hard to achieve. If anything, we want to make it better. To know that we are on the right path fuels our resolve to work harder. (I speak in the plural because, though I may be the foremost voice at present, there are others who labor quietly behind the scenes to support this work.)

The question now becomes, Where do we go from here.  We have a plan in the works, the outline of which I would like to share with everyone.  It begins with a realization of our key focus group: Jehovah’s Witnesses emerging from the fog of decades of indoctrination and false teachings and traditions of men.

“…the path of the righteous is like the bright morning light
That grows brighter and brighter until full daylight.” (Pr 4:18)

This Scripture, though frequently used to justify the failed prophetic interpretations of our leadership, past and present, is fitting for all of us who have awakened and come into the light. It is our love of truth that has brought us here. With truth comes freedom. (John 8:32)

When discussing these newfound truths with trusted friends and associates, you may well have been surprised and saddened—as I have been—to learn how most reject freedom, preferring instead continued enslavement to men. Many are like the ancient Corinthians:

“In fact, YOU put up with whoever enslaves YOU, whoever devours [what YOU have], whoever grabs [what YOU have], whoever exalts himself over [YOU], whoever strikes YOU in the face.” (2Co 11:20)

The process toward spiritual liberation takes time of course. One does not throw off the shackles of enslavement to the doctrines of men in a moment. For some the process is quick, while for others it can take years. Our Father is patient for he does not wish any to be destroyed. (2 Peter 3:9)

Many of our brothers and sisters are in the early stages of this process. Others have come right through it. Those of us who regularly associate here are mindful of the changes in the Organization which seem to presage a major shake-up is on the horizon. Gamaliel’s words come to mind: “…if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown…” (Acts 5:34) The works and schemes of the Organization are strongly entrenched things. Yet we must remember that Paul’s words to the subjugated Corinthians were addressed to all—to each individual, not to an organization.  The truth does not set organizations free.  It frees individuals from, among other things, enslavement to men.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. 5 For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God; and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ; 6 and we are holding ourselves in readiness to inflict punishment for every disobedience, as soon as YOUR own obedience has been fully carried out.” (2Co 10:4-6)

We have a duty to “inflict punishment for every disobedience”, but first we have to ensure that we are being obedient ourselves.

Some have suggested that our critique of Watchtower doctrine has run its course, and that we should move on to other things. Others are concerned that we might be descending into the downward spiral of JW bashing. The comments which came as a result of the previous article have restored our confidence that such is not the case. We acknowledge that the duty to “inflict punishment for every disobedience” by “overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” is not something we can shirk off simply because we ourselves have become free. We must be mindful of those who have not yet achieved this freedom, and so we’ll continue to use the Bible to expose the falsehoods that are preached in the name of God, no matter what source they come from.

Substituting for Christ

Nevertheless, we must also look to the commission given to us by our Lord when he instructed us to make disciples of him. Jehovah’s Witnesses already consider themselves to be disciples of Jesus. Indeed, all Christian faiths consider themselves to be Christ’s disciples. A Catholic, or a Baptist, or a Mormon who may answer the door at the knock of a Jehovah’s Witness would likely feel insulted were he to realize that this magazine-wielding individual was there to convert him into a disciple of Christ. Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not see it that way. Viewing all other Christian religions as false, they reason that such ones are false disciples, and that only by learning the truth as taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses can they become true disciples of Christ. I myself reasoned this way for many decades. It came as a considerable shock to realize that the reasoning I was applying to all the other religions applied equally to my own. If you feel this is untrue consider please these findings of senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse:

“The organization’s handbook for members, Organized to Do Jehovah’s Will, teaches with reference to the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ (and thus, the Governing Body) for instance, that the congregation hopes to ‘draw ever closer to Jehovah by manifesting complete trust in the channel that he is using to direct his people today.’” Submissions of Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, p. 11, par. 15

So it is through “complete trust” in the Governing Body that we can “draw ever closer to Jehovah.”  How do you think our Lord Jesus would view such a teaching?  He made it very clear that no one comes to the Father except through him. (John 14:6) There is no provision for an alternative channel by which we can draw closer to Jehovah. While giving lip service to Jesus as our King and head of the congregation, statements such as the foregoing indicate that Jehovah’s Witnesses are truly the disciples of men. Jesus has been quietly supplanted as Jehovah’s channel of communication.  Proof of that is evident in many ways as one reads the publications.  Take for example this illustration from the April 15, 2013 Watchtower, page 29.

JW Ecclesiastical Hierarchy

Where is Jesus?  If this were a corporation, Jehovah would be its owner, and Jesus, its CEO.  Yet where is he?  It seems that upper management is attempting a coup, and middle management is going along for the ride.  Jesus’ role as God’s channel has been supplanted by the  members of the Governing Body.  This is a shocking development, yet it was done with scarcely a word of protest.  We are so conditioned to this organizational paradigm that we failed to take note.  This idea has been insinuated into our minds subtly for decades.  Hence, the erroneous rendering of 2 Corinthians 5:20 wherein we insert the phrase “substituting for Christ” even though the word “substitute” does not appear in the original text.  A substitute isn’t a representative, but a replacement.  The Governing Body has come to replace Jesus in the minds and hearts of most Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It is therefore not enough for us simply to overturn false doctrine. We must make disciples of Jesus.  As we learn truths long hidden from us, we are moved by the spirit to share them with others.  Yet, we must be cautious, wary even of ourselves, for the heart is treacherous.  It is not enough to have good intentions.  Indeed, good intentions have often paved the road leading off into destruction.  Instead, we must follow the lead of the spirit; but that lead is not always easy to see due to our sinful inclinations, and eyesight clouded by years of indoctrination.  Adding to the obstacles in our path are those who will second guess our every move and call our motivation into question.  It is as if we are standing on one side of a vast minefield, but needing to cross, must pick our way through it probing cautiously and stepping gingerly.

Speaking for myself, upon understanding that many of our core doctrines – those teachings that distinguish Jehovah’s Witnesses from all other Christian religions – were unscriptural, I considered the possibility of forming another religion. This is a natural progression when one comes from an organized religion. One has the mindset that to worship God, one must belong to some religious denomination, an organization. It was only by coming to an accurate understanding of the parable of the Wheat and Weeds that I understood there is no such Scriptural requirement; in fact, quite the reverse is true.  Seeing organized religion for the snare that it is, we were able to avoid one particularly destructive landmine.

Nevertheless, we still have the commission to preach the good news. To do this, we have incurred costs. Just under a year ago we set up a nonprofit corporation as a means to allow us to receive donations while protecting our anonymity. This proved to be a very controversial decision, and some even accused us of seeking to profit from this work. The problem is that there is such a stigma attached to funding that it becomes virtually impossible to seek it out without one’s motives being questioned.  Still, most didn’t doubt our intentions and some donations came in to lighten the load.  For those we are most grateful. The fact is that the bulk of the funds needed to support this site and our ongoing work comes from the original founders.  We are self-funded.  No one has taken a single dollar out.  Given that, why do we continue to have a “Donate” feature?  Simply put, because it is not for us to deny anyone the opportunity to participate.  If in the future more funds are needed to expand this work than we can invest ourselves, the door will be open for others to help out.  In the meantime, as money comes in, we will use it to further the preaching of the good news as best we are able.

For those who accuse us of self-aggrandizement, I would give you Jesus’ words: “Whoever speaks of his own originality is seeking his own glory; but whoever seeks the glory of the one who sent him, this one is true and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (John 7:14)

According to the Governing Body, they are the faithful and discreet slave of Matthew 25:45-47. This faithful and discreet slave was appointed – again according to them – in 1919. Therefore, Judge Rutherford as the foremost member of the Governing Body (such as it was then)  was that faithful and discreet slave until his death in 1942. In the mid-1930s, he wrote entirely of his own originality when coming up with the doctrine of the “other sheep” as a separate class of Christian, one denied adoption as children of God. This was not the first time he spoke of his own originality.  According to Jesus, whose glory was he seeking?  Virtually all of the unscriptural doctrines we continue to be taught in the pages of The Watchtower originally came from Rutherford’s pen, yet they continue to be promoted and even expanded upon by the current Governing Body. Again, speaking of one’s own originality is evidence one is seeking one’s own glory and not that of God or Christ.  This tendency is not confined to the leadership of large religious organizations.  Over the years, we have had a number of people comment extensively on this site to expound their own personal interpretation on various scriptural subjects. Those who are seeking their own glory have always been manifest by a dearth of scriptural support, an unwillingness to address valid contradictory evidence, and a general intransigence of position, and a tendency to belligerence when cornered.  Watct out for these traits. (James 3:13-18)

This is not to suggest that engaging in speculation and personal opinion is wrong. In fact, it can at times lead to a better understanding of truth. However, it must always be labelled as such and never be passed off as doctrinal truth. The day you find me or anyone else on this site expound as truth that which originates from men is the day you should go elsewhere.

Plans for the Near Future

This site has the domain name of meletivivlon.com. Unfortunately, this is compiled from my online alias and therefore gives the appearance of a one-man site. That was not a problem when I started out, because back then my only goal was finding research partners.

While it is possible to change the domain name to something like beroeanpickets.com, there is a significant downside to taking that action in that it would break all outside links to our site.  Since many use internet search engines like google, ask and bing to find us, this would prove counterproductive.

Currently, meletivivlon.com aka Beroean Pickets does triple duty.  It continues to analyze and critique Watchtower publications and broadcasts using Scriptural reasoning.  It also is a place for Bible research and discussion.  Finally, the “Knowledge Base” is intended as a starting point to building a library of non-denominational doctrinal truth.

The problem with this setup is that a non-Jehovah’s Witness coming to our site will likely dismiss it for its JW-centricity and move on.  Another scenario exists where a former witness wants to move past the analysis of our publications to understand God’s word on its own, free from JW dogma and counter argument.  The ultimate goal is to provide a place where wheat-like Christians can freely associate and worship in a climate of spirit and truth, completely free of all denominational confusion.

To this end, our thought is to keep meletivivlon.com as an archive/resource site while we expand our work into other, more specialized sites.  New articles would no longer appear on meletivivlon.com and the name would be changed to “Beroean Pickets Archive”.  (By the way, nothing is carved in stone and we are open to other naming suggestions.)

There would be a new site for the Scriptural analysis of Watchtower publications and jw.org broadcasts and videos.  Perhaps that could be called “Beroean Pickets – Watchtower Commentator.”  A second site would become Beroean Pickets as it is now, but without the Watchtower Commentator category.  It would analyze and research the Scriptures to try to build a doctrinal framework that is scripturally accurate.  In doing so, it would still address false understandings, though it would not be JW-centric.  Finally, the third site would hold the results of our research; teachings we have all come to agree upon as being accurate and fully supported by Scripture.

Each of these sites would cross reference the others where applicable.

This would serve as the basis for our foray into other languages.  We would start with Spanish, in part because it is the largest target audience for our efforts and in part because a number of our group are fluent in it.  However, we would not limit ourselves to Spanish, but could expand into other languages.  The main limiting factor would be translators and moderators.  The work of a moderator is rewarding and offers an on-line substitute for the door-to-door ministry.

Again, all of this is provisional.  We look for the leading of the spirit.  Much will depend on the support we get from different ones who are able to offer their time and resources.  We can only do what we are able to do.

We look to discern what the Lord’s will is for us.

Your brother,

Meleti Vivlon