[This article was contributed by Andere Stimme]
A few years ago, when the Book Study arrangement was canceled, some friends of mine and I were discussing our theories as to why. It went without saying that the real reason was not one of the ones in the letter, and it suddenly occurred to me that there was something bigger going on: We didn’t trust the Governing Body to tell us the whole truth. At the time, we all still felt that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses was God’s organization; the one and only manifestation of true religion on earth. How had it happened that we didn’t entirely trust the GB?
As the discussion swung to answer this last question, I brought up the “Voluntary Donation” arrangement of 1990, and the more recent down-sizing at some Branches where some brothers were ‘sent back into the field’. The former case, in the wake of scandals involving televangelists, was generally thought to have been motivated by fear of taxation, and the latter by simple down-sizing, yet the official explanations included no reference to either of those factors. I could imagine why they might not want to broadcast the true reasons behind these decisions, but also felt that they owed full disclosure to the brothers and sisters who paid the bills.
Now, you may at this point be thinking that I don’t really have any way of proving my suspicions, and you’re right. I’m describing the evolution of my personal perceptions with regard to the forthrightness of the organization. However, when these issues were fresh, I discussed them with many long-time JWs and the great majority took it as a given that the organization was not being entirely forthcoming. So either there was more to these matters than they were telling, or they were communicating in a manner that engendered suspicion. Either way, the effect was the same. A deterioration of confidence that time would either confirm or erase.
Not much time went by before the “new” understanding of the “generation” of Matthew 24:34 was unveiled in 2010. It had, by then, become painfully obvious that something was fundamentally wrong with our calculations. The generation of 1914 – by any reasonable definition of a generation – had come and gone and Armageddon had not materialized. The humble and honorable thing to do, at that point, was to admit that we really didn’t know what was going on. Alas, the GB’s answer was nothing of the sort, but rather an invented definition of the word “generation” that was insultingly improbable. Our interpretation of Daniel 4 had become, like the Trinity and Hellfire to other denominations, a sacred and untouchable doctrine that had to be defended even if it meant twisting the scriptures.
Up to this point I gave the GB a certain benefit of the doubt. I considered them to be deluded, painted into a corner, overly concerned about legal repercussions, etc., but not premeditatedly dishonest. When people called them liars or deceivers, I defended them. What we had seen thus far, I argued, need not be attributed to deliberate action.
And then came the May Broadcast.
Try as I might to give the benefit of the doubt, there is an awful lot in Stephen Lett’s hour-long petition for funds that is simply not true. Furthermore, it’s unbelievable that he doesn’t know it. I have fought to hold on to my conviction that there is no malice, no deliberate deception coming from the top. Alas, I feel it slipping from my grasp.