[From ws15/08 p. 9 for Sep. 28 – Oct. 4]
A number of years ago while out in the door-to-door ministry I came upon a woman, a staunch Catholic, who was utterly convinced that God had miraculously saved her from dying of breast cancer. There was no way I could have convinced her otherwise, nor did I even attempt to do so.
This is an example of anecdotal evidence. We’ve all heard it. People are convinced of divine intervention because something went their way. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Often, there is no way of knowing for sure. Thus, anyone who thinks clearly and critically rejects anecdotal evidence. In reality, it is not evidence at all. It has the probative value of a fairy tale.
This week’s Watchtower opens with several anecdotes intended to “prove” Jehovah’s love for us. Jehovah’s Witnesses will read these accounts and see them as further “proof” that Jehovah is blessing the organization. However, I can assure you that if I were to have read these same accounts to one of my JW brethren prefacing the reading by saying, “Look what I came across in this month’s Catholic Digest,” I would have received a look of derision worthy of Sheldon Cooper.
I am not suggesting that there is no proof of Jehovah’s love. Our Father’s love is enduring. That is beyond dispute. I am also not suggesting that he does not exercise his love as it pleases him and upon whom it pleases him. However, the love he shows on individuals should never be taken as an ipso facto endorsement of any organizational entity.
We should never fall prey to the thinking that we as an organization are doing well, because certain faithful ones in our midst are doing well; that we are blessed by God, because they are blessed by God. The fact is that often men and women of faith do well in spite of us, not because of us.
Appreciate the Privilege of Prayer
In paragraph 10 we encounter an example of JW doublespeak:
“A loving father takes time to listen to his children when they want to talk to him. He wants to know their concerns and anxieties because he cares about what is in their heart. Our heavenly Father, Jehovah, listens to us when we approach him through the precious privilege of prayer.” – par. 10 [Boldface added]
The problem here is that for years, the publications have been telling us that Jehovah is not our heavenly Father!
“These with earthly prospects are declared righteous and enjoy peace with God even now, not as sons, but as ‘friends of God,’ as was Abraham.” (w87 3/15 p. 15 par. 17)
“Although Jehovah has declared his anointed ones righteous as sons and the other sheep righteous as friends on the basis of Christ’s ransom sacrifice…” (w12 7/15 p. 28 par. 7)
The Organization wishes to have it both ways. They want the 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world to understand they are not God’s children, while simultaneously holding the contradictory thought that they can still call Jehovah their Father. They would have us believe that he is our Father in some kind of special way. However, the Bible speaks of no “special sense”, no secondary category of fatherhood. Scripturally speaking, God becomes the father of all those who exercise faith in the name of his son Jesus Christ. All such ones can therefore proclaim themselves as God’s children, because Jesus has given them that authority. (John 1:12)
If Jesus has given us such authority, what man or group of men would dare to take it from us?
Paragraph 11 compounds the doublespeak by stating:
“We can approach Jehovah in prayer at any time. He has placed no restrictions on us. He is our Friend who is always ready to give us a hearing ear.” – par. 11
So he goes from Father to friend in one short paragraph.
The Christian Scriptures never refer to Jehovah God as our friend. The only mention of Him as a friend is found at James 2:23 where Abraham is mentioned. No Christian – no child of God – is referred to in the Christian Scriptures as Jehovah’s friend. A man can have many friends, but he only has one true father. As Christians, we become children of God and can rightly and legally refer to him as our Father. The love a father has for a child is different from the love one friend has for another. If Jehovah had wanted us to think of him as our friend rather than our Father, Jesus would surely have said so; the Christian writers would certainly have been inspired to write that down.
Since the Christian Greek Scriptures do not use this term as a designator of a Christian’s relationship with God, why do we so often use it in the publications of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society? The answer is because it helps to shore up the false doctrine that there are two categories of Christian, one that is granted inheritance as sons, and another that is denied that inheritance.
This exclusivity is expressed in paragraph 14:
A few feel Jehovah’s enduring love in a very special way. (John 1:12, 13; 3:5-7) Having been anointed by holy spirit, they have become “God’s children.” (Rom. 8:15, 16) Paul described anointed Christians as having been ‘raised up and seated together in the heavenly places in union with Christ Jesus.’ (Eph. 2:6) [Boldface added]
The vast majority (99.9%) of Jehovah’s Witnesses who read this will immediately understand that they are excluded from the ones Paul describes. But, pray tell, where in all of Scripture does Paul describe – does any Bible writer describe – the other group of Christians? If God’s Children are referred to repeatedly, where then do we find mention of God’s Friends? The plain truth is that there is nothing in all of the Christian Scriptures that describes this special secondary class of Christian.
Disparaging the Love of God
This article is intended to extol God’s great love for us, but ultimately it does the opposite. Our teachings bring reproach by disparaging God’s love.
“For the vast majority of mankind who exercise faith in the ransom, the way is open to be Jehovah’s friends with the prospect of being adopted as children of God and living forever in the promised earthly Paradise. Thus, by means of the ransom, Jehovah shows his love for the world of mankind. (John 3:16) If we hope to live forever on earth and we continue to serve Jehovah faithfully, we can be assured that he will make life pleasant for us in the new world. How fitting it is that we view the ransom as the greatest evidence of God’s enduring love for us!” – par. 15
This paragraph encapsulates the core teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses that all humankind has before it the hope of living forever on a paradise earth. At the end of 1000 years, these ones – if they remain faithful – can attain to perfection and finally become children of God. This is put forward as evidence of God’s love. It is, in fact, quite the opposite.
Let’s say that I knock on your door and tell you that if you put faith in Jesus Christ and obey his commandments, you can live forever on earth in the New World. What happens if you don’t put faith in Jesus Christ and don’t obey his commandments? Obviously, you would not get to live in the New World. If I go to your door to offer you a hope for your salvation and you reject it, then I would naturally not expect you to get the realization of that hope in any case. If that were so, if all are going to get the prize, then why would I even bothering knocking on doors?
Therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that everyone who doesn’t respond to their preaching is going to die for all time at Armageddon.
Does that seem like the action of a loving God? Would a loving God make your eternal salvation dependent on whether or not you accept The Watchtower and Awake! magazine when strangers come to your door? And what about the Muslims and Hindus who have never heard a Jehovah’s Witness before? What about the hundreds of millions of children on earth today who couldn’t read a Watchtower if the wind blew it to their feet?
All of these and more are condemned to die eternally at Armageddon because they didn’t respond to “God’s message of love” as preached by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
God’s love is not at fault. Our teaching is at fault. Jehovah sent his son to make an offer to anyone who would respond; an offer to rule with him in the kingdom of the heavens, therein to serve as both king and priest for the healing of the nations. Those who don’t accept this hope, naturally don’t get to enjoy it. But the hope he offered isn’t a take-it-or-die offer. He was simply inviting us to enjoy a wonderful opportunity. Should we turn it down, then we simply do not get it. What remains?
What remains is the second part of what Paul spoke of at Acts 24:15 – the resurrection of the unrighteous.
The purpose of Jesus’ preaching was not the salvation of mankind at Armageddon. The purpose was to find those who would form an administration by which all mankind throughout the ages could be saved during the Judgment Day lasting 1000 years. That is the true evidence of God’s love and that is truly all-encompassing love. Love that is completely fair and just.
Under his Messianic rule, Jesus will level the playing field for all by freeing resurrected humans from oppression, slavery, physical and mental impairment, and ignorance. During the thousand year reign of Christ, all mankind will have an equal opportunity to know and accept him as their Savior. That is the true extent of God’s love, not that which is painted in The Watchtower magazine in support of a failing doctrine.