Reclaimed Voices Foundation: Holding Watchtower to Account.
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In recent years, Watchtower’s child abuse crisis has become increasingly common knowledge across the globe.

In Australia, we have seen a Royal Commission undertake two separate investigations into the religion’s handling of child abuse, discovered that over one thousand JW child molesters in the country had not been reported to the police by Watchtower, and issued damning reports on the critical failures it uncovered. Hours of testimony, including testimony from Witness elders and Senior Watchtower officials including Governing Body Member Geoffrey Jackson, can all be viewed online.

In the UK, the Charity Commission has likewise mounted investigations into Watchtower (currently still ongoing) and has issued its first report severely critical of the religion’s handling of child abuse, and also of the religion’s attempts to shut down the investigation.

In the US, Watchtower has been embroiled in a series of disastrous and expensive lawsuits, losing case after case, and being fined by the court for refusing to turn over a database of allegedly  thousands of JW child molesters that have never been reported to the police. US Investigative news organisation RevealNews.org has been publishing the work of Journalist Trey Bundy, who has become a world expert in covering the worldwide scandal.

In Canada, Watchtower has also experienced painful media coverage of this issue, and may be facing a $68 million class action lawsuit from abuse survivors.

And now it appears the people of Holland are starting to wake up to the terrible issue of hidden child sex abuse inside the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the Netherlands, there has been been a recent surge in coverage of the issue of Watchtower’s international child sex abuse scandal. Articles have appeared in the newspaper Trouw, and reports such as this one have appeared on the Dutch TV News show RTL (click cc on the video for English subtitles.)

Much of this media exposure is down to the bravery of abuse survivors coming forward to tell their story to the media and to government, and helping them to do so are the Reclaimed Voices foundation.

Who are Reclaimed Voices?

Aswin Suierveld and Raymond Hintjes of Reclaimed Voices.

To get some background on who Reclaimed Voices are and how they came about, I spoke with two members of the foundation; Raymond Hintjes and Aswin Suierveld.

Both are former Witnesses; Raymond was raised in the religion whereas Aswin joined when she was 24 years old. Raymond moved up the ranks of the faith, eventually serving as an elder, however he ultimately left due to irreconcilable differences. He was gay, something the religion does not allow, and this led to his questioning of the religion. Since leaving he has obtained training in practical theology and a degree in religious studies.

Aswin left the religion when she was 36. She studied theology and later got a degree in practical theology which included extensive training in pastoral care. Ironically, Aswin points out that her education in this field has made her realise how poorly many JW elders perform their pastoral care duties; much of Watchtower’s advice and training in this matter to elders is, according to Aswin, a perfect example of what NOT to do.

(At this point I have to note the irony; Awsin has far more professional training and knowledge of how to care for a flock than most elders do, and yet Watchtower’s strict policy of gender role enforcement would keep Aswin from any such “shepherding” roles and would hand the role to far less qualified men purely on the basis of gender.)

The foundation originally began in an exJW facebook group, where many exJW members were sharing stories of sexual abuse inside the organisation. At the same time, the newspaper Trouw was preparing a series of articles on the 2015 Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. Members of the group agreed to share their stories with Trouw. Reclaimed Voices member Frank Huiting was one of those who did so, and he realised whilst doing so that there was a need not only to share stories and articles but to actually form an organisation to help survivors of Child Sex Abuse. He had experience working with and forming other foundations, and brought his expertise to bear on the task.

And so Reclaimed Voices was formed.

The goals of Reclaimed Voices

Angus Stewart, senior council at the Royal Commission, has delivered damning summary findings detailing Watchtower’s mishandling of child abuse

The role of Reclaimed Voices is to support survivors of child sex abuse inside the Jehovah’s Witness religion. Aswin and Raymond point out that for many survivors, contacting Reclaimed Voices is often the first chance such survivors have to ever tell their story. They receive many, many emails which are answered by Aswin, who with her degree in Pastoral Care, and is well trained to listen and give comfort. At the time of writing, Reclaimed Voices has been contacted by over 250 survivors and, interestingly, some of these are still active and believing Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Something Raymond and Aswin are very keen to stress is that thier foundation is not seeking to tear down the faith of any active JW’s; or challenge the religious teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather, they are simply helping abuse survivors cope with thier experiences and thus a JW who has experienced abuse but does not want thier religion itself attacked can feel safe contacting Reclaimed Voices.

The foundation guarantees total anonymity for those who contact it, so if you are a Witness in the Netherlands reading this, but are hesitant to reach out to the Foundation, please do not be.

Your identity will be protected and no-one will seek to undermine your faith.

The further goals of Reclaimed Voices are as follows. They want Watchtower to adopt a child centred safeguarding policy that will adopt the three main recommendations from the Australian Royal Commission, namely;

  • To no longer use the Two Witness Rule in cases of Child Sex Abuse.
  • To include women in the judicial process.
  • To not shun anyone who leaves the religion as a consequence of suffering Child Sex Abuse.

Additionally, Reclaimed Voices wants the Dutch branch of the religion to publicly acknowledge the problem that the organisation has and to apologise for past harm caused by its policies, in much the same vein as many other prominent religions have done. It would be a very healing gesture and very helpful for survivors, Raymond points out, if at the upcoming Regional conventions in the Netherlands, such a statement was read out and a prayer offered in which the organisation asked for Jehovah’s forgiveness.

How has Watchtower reacted?

A Tumblr cartoon, satirising Watchtower’s current attitude to its child abuse crisis.

Such an act would be a marked change from Watchtower’s current attitude, which is clearly very frustrating to the Foundation. Raymond mentions a cartoon that was published on Tumblr that he feels sums up Watchtower’s attitude; in the cartoon, leaders of other faiths are apologising for failing the children, whilst the Watchtower leader is complaining that the children have not yet apologised to him!

This sadly seems to capture the current Watchtower attitude very well; Watchtower seem to be convinced it has done nothing wrong, and is dismissing any claims to the contrary as “apostate lies.”

For Raymond and Aswin, this is a key point. The Watchtower claims to have the highest moral standards of all religions on the planet, but thier actions in the matter of child sex abuse are in clear conflict with this claim.

I ask a question that I’ve been very curious about: Has Watchtower’s Netherlands Branch met with Reclaimed Voices? In the Trouw article, the Watchtower Branch Spokesperson indicated that this might be possible.

It turns out that, as is so often the case with Watchtower, the organisation was saying one thing when it really meant another. Apparently, the spokesman agreed in theory to meet with them, but only under “certain conditions.” It was not mentioned what these conditions were. Reclaimed Voices wrote a letter to the Branch to initiate dialogue, which was also published as an open letter. It took four weeks for the Branch to reply but the reply gave no substantive response, simply stating that they would contact Reclaimed Voices at some future date. And so far, that has been the only reply.

“They are not keen to have this conversation at all,” says Raymond. He suspects the “conditions” are that the members of Reclaimed Voices would have to repent and return to the Watchtower religion before any conversation can take place. And then, of course, any “returned” Witness would be forbidden from challenging the religion’s Governing Body on this matter, thus effectively shutting any discussion down.

However, Reclaimed Voices have reason to think that whilst the leadership of the religion might be trying to avoid this issue altogether, there is evidence to show that the rank and file of the religion are becoming increasingly aware and unsettled by the issue.

For example, they know of one Circuit Overseer who is aware of the problem, and who thinks the religion should alter its policies. They have also heard of other belivieing Witnesses who are aware of the issue and are troubled. Petitions that have been started on this issue in the Netherlands are sometimes signed by active Witnesses.

It has become clear that this is an issue that Watchtower can no longer ignore; the issue has been brought before the Government Ministry of Justice and Safety in the Netherlands, and the Ministry is clearly concerned.

Watchtower’s child abuse crisis: Will the government respond?

Both Watchtower and Reclaimed Voices have been in discussion with the Ministry on this issue, and in the last few days the issue has been discussed in open session. You can view the footage yourself on the Reclaimed Voices youtube channel. The audio is in Dutch but you can click the “cc” button to get English language subtitles.

It’s clear in the video that the committee are deeply concerned; not only that cases of child abuse appear to be going unreported within the Witness community, but also that the Witnesses appear to be bypassing the Dutch legal system by dealing with dangerous sexual predators in their own religious courts.

It is additionally pointed out during this hearing that failing to report a serous crime once a person become aware of it is actually a criminal offence. I would therefore point out that it’s possible Watchtower’s Dutch Branch has been breaking the law for years, as have elders who have sat in Judicial committees that found a person guilty of child sexual assault, but have not reported it.

Movement on this issue is still in its early days, but the Minister in this video appears to be pushing for a number of solutions;

  • That as many of the survivors be encouraged to report to the police as possible. This will enable the department of public prosecutions to act more assertively towards the issue. It appears that without official reports to the police, the government may be limited in its response. My understanding from Reclaimed Voices is that such reports are indeed being filed and a collective prosecution may be in the pipeline.
  • There was a serious concern raised to the committee by Reclaimed Voices that Watchtower may destroy incriminating documents. Indeed, this was a major subject in the letter that arrived during the hearing but could not be read out. In response, the Minister seems very clear that such destruction would be a criminal offence and says that Watchtower has been informed of this. Additionally Reclaimed Voices is working with survivors and lawyers to get Watchtower files related to those victim’s cases released.
  • That an independent investigation be set up to look into the problem. This investigation would need to have the confidence and board support of all involved, and thus could not be an internal investigation controlled by Watchtower.
  • That the issue of Watchtower failing to report serous crimes should be investigated.
  • That the use of internal religious courts by the JW’s to keep serious offences from becoming public should also be investigated.

So this appears to be where we are right now. Things are moving quickly and further updates in this story will no doubt be coming. Speaking for myself, it’s heartening to see a modern democratic government move so swiftly to address this issue. Of course, much could still happen in the future and there is still uncertainly as to what the end result could be, but it’s clear that at this stage of the processes the Ministry seems genuinely appalled by what has been uncovered by Dutch journalists and Reclaimed Voices, and seems to be very serious about addressing the problem.

In the meantime, I urge you to follow Reclaimed Voices on twitter @reclaimedvoices, on thier youtube channel and to check out thier website at ReclaimedVoices.org.

You can also view an interview that Reclaimed Voices member Raymond Hintjes gave to the JW Survey team on the youtube channel of Senior Editor and Founder Lloyd Evans below.

 

 Follow me on twitter @covertfade

 

 

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223 Responses to Reclaimed Voices Foundation: Holding Watchtower to Account.

  1. Ted says:

    The bullies I remember usually had one or two acolytes,
    little cowards acting tough because they had this big psycho
    as a protector, I wonder why Tony Morris comes immediately
    to mind. —>

    At one branch territory where he didn’t get the respect he
    thought he deserved, as one of the 144000, didn’t he say
    “Well it’s not me they’ve got to worry about, it’s my
    BIG BROTHER”

    Then at a big convention in Helsinki he threatened non JW,s
    and the backsliders with the awesome power of Jesus and
    the anointed when they come to sort us all out, and of course
    Tony’s one of the gang. So it’s not just threatening kids with
    a few slaps if they don’t hand over their ice cream money
    its actual murder and should nauseate in the same way
    as the recent gun slaughter of school children in the U,S

    • outandabout says:

      and yet fundamentalists are completely baffled when it’s pointed out to them, Ted, that their beliefs are immoral. Our friend Ricardo back there said he waits with joy in his heart. For what? The murder of 7 billion innocent people so that he may live forever? Living forever is the goal, nothing else. Take that away and the whole thing will collapse.
      Didn’t Jesus say he would return before his apostles died? He even told the high priest that. So what we have here is a belief system based on a broken promise and a lie and can’t come to fruition without everybody being murdered and in a hideous way too. It won’t be a merciful death like being snuffed out in your sleep or anything. It has to be a terrifying death intended to frighten people into believing.
      ‘I love you but if you don’t love me back I will kill you’ are the words of a maniac and his terms should be completely unacceptable to a straight thinking person.
      Believers will hang on tooth and nail to their beliefs because as far as they’e concerned, they’re fighting for their lives. Even when their bullshit radar is screaming out to them they will override that and convince them selves it’s Satan having a go at them and can sink deeper into their belief and hang on tighter.
      Never under estimate the power of the human mind to create a reality. Take a look at the villager who goes ahead and dies just because the witch doctor pointed a bone at him. If we have the power to actually think ourselves to death, we can create a god with ease.

      • Ricardo says:

        @outandabout, I must clarify my comment. When I said I am waiting with joy in my heart, I was not referring to the destruction of 8 billion people. I am as revolted as you are at this belief and have never accepted it all my life. When I was young I asked my parents about it and both replied that God will not destroy righteous people. My father used the example of Abraham asking Jehovah about the people of Sodom, where Jehovah said he would not put a righteous person to death. My father also used the verse from Acts I think it is, that says people who do not have law keep the law because they have the law in their hearts. My father pointed out that even people who have not heard Bible principles may be living according to Bible principles, so how can God destroy them. (Our friend Messenger has pointed out that what principles they follow is not as important as accepting Jesus as savior- I am still thinking about that.)

        So it seems my parents also didn’t accept WT teaching on this matter.

        Personally I think WT is wrong and I have never taught my Bible students this wrong understanding.

        So what was I having joy in my heart about? I think I was responding to Morris, who had just stated that he predicted that the org would basically collapse in numbers and be banned in much of the West as an extremist group.

        I believe that the only way to stop the abuse going on in this religion is for it either to disband or reform. The only hope for reform is through a collapse in membership numbers.

        I trust that this explanation has clarified my statement of having joy in my heart.

        • Ricardo says:

          Just looked back to check. Morris’s prediction brought a smile to my face.

          It was the chaos in the local congregation that brought joy to my heart.

          I didn’t actually mention 7 billion people dying. Sounds incredibly sad.

          • outandabout says:

            okay then, Ricardo. you’re off the hook……mostly. Keep thinking. Be sure of all things. Cheers.

        • messenger says:

          “(Our friend Messenger has pointed out that what principles they follow is not as important as accepting Jesus as savior- I am still thinking about that.)”

          My opinion is that both actions are required to be saved. My belief is not the common one, that God’s son’s blood covers our sins except in an allegorical sense, beyond the allegorical way in which it’s accepted by most Christians. I believe Christ is spoken of as a sacrifice only because how he was to die was foreseen and allowed. I don’t believe he had to die to pay a price we owed God for being sinners. The result of his presence on Earth and a group of men’s actions caused his death, as he stated in his parable about the vineyard, vineyard owner, workers in the field, and owner’s son.

          Christ’s death is spoken of as an appeasement sacrifice, a substitutional death, because he came, gave directions so people would follow God, and got killed in the process. It was through the natural course of his Earthly presence he was killed. God would have had to intervene to stop what men would naturally do. God would need to change that future but chose not to for several reason. Jewish religious sacrifices pointed to that barbaric treatment Jesus would receive. People fail to think enough about how an ability to see future events shapes God’s behavior. Choosing to allow harm could be considered a sacrifice by a loving person.

          People receive life only for following Christ, because not to is rebellion. That thoughts all over scriptures. If they receive the second death it’s because they are rebels against God, the same as the devil. It’s as simple as that.

          WT has all JWs brainwashed that only JWs will survive the GT. But the Bible states that great crowd are seen worshiping God as Christians coming out the GT. It says nothing about them worshiping God when the GT starts. So, who are they when it starts? Why be dogmatic about something that’s not there? The scriptures clearly state the church will be taken to heaven some time before the destruction of ungodly men. So, the million dollar or life saving questions are, who is in that church, and who were the great crowd members at the start of the great tribulation?

          I’ve said accepting and following a prescribed lifestyle and set of beliefs about Bible scriptures that are not explicitly and CLEARLY taught in scripture is not as important as following Christ. People can receive God’s favor doing one but not the other. For instance, the debates I recently had with outandabout about evolution is an interesting topic, but I don’t believe a person believing in evolution or not will not affect his relationship with Christ/God, if he has a relationship with them.

          But following all Christ’s teachings about behavior without following Christ is rebellion, so following those teachings without accepting him won’t save anyone. Plus we all sin, and are going down to hell without accepting God’s grace though Christ. The Bible claims there is no grace without Christ. That thought is taught in Christianity 101 (simple teachings about Christianity).

          Look at all the effort WT puts into teaching Christ isn’t God. And WT will probably DF you you if you claim he is, and will for sure if you teach he is. That too is an example of what I speak. WT claiming Christians who believe Christ is God are apostates and other denominations teaching WT is a cult for not accepting Christ as God. The devil happy because the church is divided and accusing the each other’s denomination of apostasy over what is essentially a semantic issue.

          • Shibboleth says:

            Messenger,
            I do have a question for you…
            You have stated in so many words that those who remain Christians will eventually be going to heaven, am I right? Since there is no paradise earth hope clearly stated in the Bible then obviously if one stops being a JW and remains Christian the only hope entertained is heavenly, yes? The reason I am asking is because in reality I have no desire to go to heaven, never did, never will. So if what you say is true, according to the bible, then i am left with not believing, which is the decision I think many have taken because of the Christian belief of going to heaven. Oh well, I think i answered my own question.
            Peace to you

          • messenger says:

            Shibboleth,

            I never said that. I never said there is no paradise earth hope. And I don’t know if all Christians will eventually be taken to heaven, or if they will all be taken at the rapture. When I claimed Christ’s church will be raptured I meant the ones Christ decides to take to fulfill his purpose. Whether it will be all his followers is unclear; because the Bible doesn’t say what the great crowd members were doing when the GT starts. At that time they could be non-Christians, Christians, or a combination of the two groups. Here are a couple Bible thoughts you can think about:

            1. Jesus said many are called but few chosen. While I’m not making any definitive claim who those taken include, common sense suggests it includes those going to heaven, because Jesus spoke about the heavenly calling to his audience members often when he spoke to them. Common sense also says not everyone who thinks they are chosen will be chosen, based on that scripture and others we read in Matthew. What would they be chosen for? Probably working tasks for Christ between heaven and Earth, right? It could be Jesus included other Christians when labeling the chosen in that scripture, but probably not. (Rev 3:10). All the chosen probably go to heaven to fulfill certain tasks, similar to the way and for a reason like Christ chose his apostles.

            2. Those coming out of the great tribulation come out of events that happen on this Earth. In all probability, even though those Revelation scriptures speak of this crowd being before God’s throne, they are probably not in another dimension, but still exist where they did when the GT stops (stuck in these four dimensions on Earth). God’s throne is probably figuratively on Earth, or even literally here since God can be wherever he wants to be (that includes in any dimension he chooses while he exists in all dimensions). Plus Christ’s throne represents his father, and Christ and his church will return.

            3. The people going to heaven come back to Earth per Rev chpt 21. New Jerusalem (that heavenly city) exists in dimensions we cannot enter, but it comes down to Earth in the sense those living there can come and go between the two places. Jesus is one of those. He will be seen again, here on Earth during the 1000 years, and possibly make his presence known later also.

            4. The idea about wanting to live in either place I think is way overblown by WT and somewhat overblown by Christianity. By Christianity because many Bible writers wanted again to associate with Christ, so they wrote about that a lot. Most of those writers knew Christ or were contacted by him after Jesus died. So, their association with him was greater than yours. But look at the example of Jonah. He didn’t want to go somewhere, but God had him go anyway. So, it looks like it’s God/Christ that decides where people go, not themselves. I also believe if you were taken there you would like it. You’d probably think it nicer than staying here. And you’d be able to go there and come back here anyway. It’s possible those taken to heaven will be able to go anywhere like Christ can, any planet, any dimension.

        • Big B says:

          @ Ricardo,

          The only way there will be change in this organization is when the elders in the congregations start shepherding by informing the flock of prior misdeeds of the Watchtower Society and actually LEAD the sheep out of the Kingdom Hall and out of the organization.

          Once most of the congregation has abandoned the hall those that stay with the Watchtower will be reassigned with the Kingdom Hall sold. Those who follow the elders out of the Hall can meet elsewhere, mailing in their disassociation letters noting their dissatisfaction. The shock and awe of their actions would spread throughout the organization like wildfire although the Society will try to silence

          Other congregations would have to follow suit or threaten to leave demanding that the current leadership is corrupted, incompetent, and suffer from senility. The elders and those claiming to be of the anointed can remove the old guard by refusing further donations from the congregations until a new board is voted in.

          So basically there’s not a snowballs chance in Hell there will ever be any changes to the Society’s teachings or ineptitude. How do you boil a frog? By putting the frog in a pot of luke warm water and ever so slowly turn up the heat. Which is what has happened in the organization for the last 50 years. Why? Because “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

      • Peggy says:

        ‘So what we have here is a belief system based on a broken promise and a lie and can’t come to fruition without everybody being murdered and in a hideous way too. It won’t be a merciful death like being snuffed out in your sleep or anything. It has to be a terrifying death intended to frighten people into believing.” You nailed it Outandabout!

      • messenger says:

        Where in the Bible is Christ recorded as saying he would return before the apostles died?

        Outandabout, I think your distaste for the God of the Bible has to do with trust. You don’t trust him. Trust is labeled belief, or believe in, or faith in the Bible. Since you don’t even believe god exists you cannot believe the God of the Bible has your best interest in mind when he acts, not yours only but humanities.

        Suppose God has looked into the future and saw that without taking action himself to prevent it a nuclear third world war would take place in your lifetime. You might survive, if you were 13 miles away or more from one of those nuclear blasts, and you were inside a building. That’s if the radiation doesn’t kill you later. What kind of world would remain if you did survive? How many people might be killed in a war like that?

        How many people were already killed by smaller wars? How about just one battle in Lincoln’s day with archaic weapons, Gettysburg? About 50,000 died. And you will die anyway without God’s intervention. So, if you believed in God would you prefer he do something to help people live, or just let them die? To leave things as they are is sure death. To decide against God is to want to leave things as they are. To let people who choose against God live is to leave things as they are. How about a full blown Gettysburg with nuclear weapons? If that’s what the future could be would you prefer that or God?

        If you prefer God’s hands off you might get just what you ask for. Most Christians take what Jesus said about hell in a literal sense. And Jesus’ commentaries on hell exceed those of other Bible commentators. If taken literally Christ’s words claim people live forever in hell, and that it is a burning place. It could be a world where people are allowed to live without God and bomb themselves forever, suffering pain but not dying.

        If that happened to you after you die a natural death would God be to blame for that? Why should he when that’s what you wanted, a world without God?

        • outandabout says:

          messenger – Mathew 16: 27, 28, Mathew 24: 25,34, Mark 13:26-30, Luke 21:27-32, and to the high priest Mathew 26:63,64.

          Watchtower receives flak because of their ‘overlapping generations’ while Christendom have been doing it since forever, apparently.

          • messenger says:

            Yes I see your interpretation outanabout. Thanks for sharing it with me. I understand why you interpret those verses as you do.

            Remember when giving most of those answers you quoted Jesus giving he was addressing three separate questions? All three questions didn’t have the same answer as WT claims those questions did. Christ responded to the first, which asked when the temple would be destroyed, with a different answer than the following two questions. The answer he first gave was that when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by what he call an abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, or by encamped armies per Luke’s record at 21:20 then the temple was about to be destroyed.

            In the last two questions those disciples asked for a sign of Christ’s presence and the conclusion of the system of things per Matthew’s gospel in chapter 24. Which system did those apostles mean, the Jewish one or the worldly one? Probably the Jewish per Luke’s record at 21:7. However, It’s not stated, so we don’t know exactly what the apostles had in mind. But Jesus included the whole world system in his answer which also satisfied those two additional questions recorded in Matthew’s gospel-see chpt 24.

            Again, my belief is that he gave an answer that was a separate one from the one he gave concerning the temple’s destruction, that ended the Jewish system. See Luke 21:25-32. His answer about his presence and the end of the world includes certain things that the last generation of this world would see. And that generation-or this generation he spoke of- would not pass away before all those things happened, including Christ’s return. What generation did he speak of again? The generation that saw the sign of his presence. Signs in heaven, fear among men etc. would be part of that sign, along with some special sign of the Son of Man, no doubt something obviously supernatural. From Revelation we can tell that the fear men will experience will be caused by a great tribulation, or time of trouble. Then Christ will return and end this worldly system once that sign is clearly seen, something all people will see. That sign will to be proceeded per Christ in those scriptures and Revelation by the GT that causes men to fear, which is another sign denoting the end.

            Christian scholars believe that statement made at Matt 16: 27,28 was symbolically fulfilled when Peter, John, and James viewed Christ’s transfiguration. John also saw Jesus in his glory and kingdom when he experienced the Revelation. And more than his apostles saw him after his resurrection when he had returned to his state of glory. See John 17:1. That scripture states the hour had come for the father to glorify him. That prayer was offered the night before he was crucified. Also, apostles wrote about being subject to Christ’s kingdom while they lived on Earth. See 1Corinthians 4:19-21 or Colossians 1:13.

    • messenger says:

      Not all elders are, but Ricardo is correct, there are a lot of elders playing the bully, even working together in congregation groups while doing so. Some in their congregation bodies work with them while weaker ones sit, watch, and say nothing. To show just how disgusting they are one body singled out my 8 year old son, and refused to call on him when he’d raise his hand to comment for a year. Why? Because his dad spoke out of turn at a house meeting book study. That was the primary reason and spark, but they also resented the fact I told a two of them a couple years before that incident that I didn’t want to serve again, when they came to my home and tried to appoint me. All parties involved there denied that behavior when I turned them in. But 4 elders sent over from a neighboring congregation witnessed it and knew what they did. The CO believed it also. The CO’s response to me was, “You have a lot of ability, I want you to reach out and accept a position again, and if they bother you anymore take them on one at a time.” That CO was a nice old man. Then he was serving in a wealthy part of Orange County. In his younger years he’d served in Africa and told me there they used cow dung for floors there. Not all elders are bad Ricardo.

      That type of bullying happens a lot. It happened to me personally three times for reasons just as or even more petty. The first time was because my wife didn’t raise her hand to comment during the Watchtower studies while it was acknowledge by them that she did during the book study, and that she was a student on the school. So elders, let’s stop calling on messenger because he won’t do what we request of him, “Cut her allowance,” on told me! Messenger didn’t force his wife to comment so never call on him again, for a WT study comment. Oh, the last time all that happened was that I reminded the Saturday field service elder conductor- in a kindly way (a whisper)- that his meetings for field service were running long (I/2 hour each after he usually shoed up 10 minutes late after instructing his MS assistant not to start the meeting); that incident happened and also the presiding overseer heard me talking to a young sister who shared info about her junior college experience, during a JW gathering, outside at a park. Those are the types of petty reasons elders single JWs out for abuse. And since they rarely speak to you about your behavior because the reasons are so petty (with me the only words I ever received about any behavior was the first time about my wife commenting-and receiving directions to cut her allowance), an abuse receiver has to figure out his self what petty reason he has been been singled out for.

      All elders I have observed participating in and then spoken to about such behavior denied it. The last two, working together, even said they’ve never heard of such things happening. Though many I’ve never accused admitted to knowing about it and one said, “That’s what we used to do, but we don’t do that anymore.” But the beat down goes on. That’s not what other publishers and even some servants around here say. The behavior is undeniable. Two times I observed each elder groups’ behavior for a year before saying anything about it or leaving their petty presents. Dishonesty, and fear of getting busted, is just as big a part of these petty elders as their petty abuse practices. They are afraid of getting called on the carpet by WT. Nevertheless they engage in such behavior because of what they morally are (disgusting examples of a Christian shepherd), and because most JWs just change congregations without complaining.

      That first incident happened in South Central LA where kids grow up fighting. I was one of them. Two of those elders resented my defiant attitude. Passive aggressive is what I was, but before I would have bullied my wife I would have tried to kick that elders a++, whether I won the fight or not. I would have put the hurt to him before forcing my wife to comment. Something he and his buddy knew and resented.

      • messenger says:

        lot of mistakes this time

        Just correcting one

        presents goes to presence -next to last paragraph

      • Gameisover says:

        After reading all of these facts that have happened and millions of more abuses that happen daily in congregations, hasn’t anybody come to the conclusion that this is a sect, a cult, that preys on everyone what contradicts them, that has averyone trapped because of the shunning, that devides families apart, that has caused untold deaths because their “rules” on blood, transplants,m, and much more…how can anyone with a good conscience be a part of all this horror?
        When will these corrupt people be stopped, when will they be banned worldwide, when will all this
        brainwashed millions be liberated?

        • Big B says:

          @ Gameisover,

          To your first question, most Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that they are in a soul sucking cult. Why? They don’t know what a cult does or have little understanding of how one operates. They see Jonestown or Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas as cults, certainly not themselves, not Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have been put to sleep, mentally and every waking moment not working at a secular job is spent either preparing for meetings/ field ministry or being at meetings/ field ministry. They truly have little time to research on their own and thus are easily distracted by the siren songs of their elders (appointed by the Society) telling them “all is well, Armageddon is a commin’, buy out the opportune time”, etc.

          No other religions organization, that I am familiar with, asks (demands) so much from their adherents as Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example: How much education you can obtain, what kind of career you can pursue, whether you can carry a gun at your job, who can you date and when, when you should marry and to who you can marry, whether you can use the Kingdom Hall for your wedding, who can be a part of your wedding ceremony and what kinds of sexual acts can be performed by two married people, the list goes on ad nauseum!
          Then when you decide that enough is enough, then the congregation, including your family members, are told to ‘shun you’.

          This is the reason many do wise up and leave, they ask questions and are given answers that they MUST accept or face the consequences. This cult, like most cults, demand obedience and want complete control over their memberships lives. They gain control by FOG; fear, obligation and guilt. Those who stay in are afraid of losing unawakened family members. If the shunning would disappear so would thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society, knows it!

          Only the governments have the resources to confront this heinous cult. But they need to be informed before they can act. I have written my congressman and senators about this cult on more than one occasion and will continue to do so.

  2. Whip It says:

    Due to certain problems here a few years ago, letters being written etc, the Borg sent in a DO & CO to interview the MS, all that got involved are now no longer serving due to Bullying & in my case a witch hunt, i know they lied, it involved the slow destruction of my family, when i challenged them, they lied, so not many good ones i have come accross.

    • Morris says:

      An incident occurred when a disfellowshipped sister emailed me (our families were very close) about how unkind the body of elders were to hear. I cut and pasted part of the email (omitting her name and other details) and sent it to a close friend and commented on the email saying how I also see some of what goes on, etc … Well, long story short, the elders got a hold of this email from my close friend who was being interrogated and he used that email as proof that others see the same thing going on. I was pulled in the back room and spanked (deserved as I shouldn’t have used email for this topic) and a second meeting was scheduled to followup and finalize. A 3rd meeting was scheduled and I resisted saying we finalized this already. I then nicely pushed and said are all in agreement that this is the final meeting when the previous meeting was to be the final meeting. The agreed. I then asked “so you promise this will be the last meeting on this topic” They promised. Well, a few months passed and they wanted to talk about it again. I resisted but was curious as to how this was going to play out. They went over the same stuff. I hated to say that a promise was made last meeting and when a promise is broken then trust is broken and in essence, you lied. One of the elders (a close friend) put his head down. The other elder mentioned some of my privileges would be taken away (I could of cared less). My buddy elder then spoke saying he didn’t agree and sees nothing I did as wrong. A few months later my buddy elder was removed. Moral to the story. Some elders will say/do anything to accomplish their tasks even lying as their bigger purpose is to to God’s will. Easy to justify and use scriptures in any way they see fit to accomplish their goals. I pray that God have mercy on them during judgement day.

      • Graham says:

        In future just decline meeting with the elders. Say thanks for your concern but I am doing fine and I would rather not meet with you and discuss this again.
        They cannot make you. We are all volunteers. No one can force you to do anything.
        Ask them to put in writing what they would like to discuss.
        This Always frightens them and shuts them up. If are not willing to put it in writing then they obviously have something to fear.

  3. Ricardo says:

    So sorry to get onto elders, guys. It’s my trigger subject.

    On a different topic: Does anyone know anything about our details being added to a worldwide database for congregation publishers? Does that include inactive and d’fed members?

  4. Hi Messenger,

    Thanks for reading and responding to my post.

    [Verifiable facts can be proven, or else many processes in the world and our societies could not work.]

    I agree. We know things is because nature is reliable — symmetry shall not be broken. That is the laws of nature do not vary on whimsy. The physics of how water, earth and the sun work remains the same regardless of time and place. My post was intended to illustrate the difference between fact and theory and why using “beyond a shadow of a doubt” as a standard could exclude important knowledge.

    [One biblical fact is that many people claim, or we can say have testified that they were contacted supernaturally]

    True enough.

    [and in some instances shown the future.]

    Agreed. Some Bible authors made such claims. Since we’re talking about Bible book of Daniel, consider some of the closing words in chapter 12:

    “Now as for me, I heard, but I could not understand; so I said: ‘O my lord, what will be the outcome of these things?’ Then he said: ‘Go, Daniel, because the words are to be kept secret and sealed up until the time of the end. Many will cleanse themselves and whiten themselves and will be refined. And the wicked ones will act wickedly, and none of the wicked will understand; but those having insight will understand.’”

    This really isn’t impressive. The author himself is saying he “could not understand.” He then follows with a vague claim the words would remain “secret” until some unspecified “time of the end.” What an opening this provided for Charles Russell, Harold Camping and many others! Contrast that with science-based predictions such as “Halley’s comet will appear in the night sky in 2062.”

    [Another fact, that you don’t believe that happened does not mean it is not true that such claims were made.]

    I agree people make supernatural claims, both within the Bible and elsewhere. I only assert that such claims are not supported by compelling evidence. The reason to believe the prediction about Halley’s comet rests on our understanding of orbital mechanics and repeated past successes of such predictions. The author of Daniel ties lack of understanding and belief to “wickedness.” Real truth telling doesn’t invoke such moralist browbeating.

    [Everything that happens in the world and elsewhere is factual information and can be labeled truths, not theories.]

    This may be too either/or. There is an important distinction to be made between “fact” and “theory.” To be really picky it would be incorrect to say “evolution is a fact.” A “fact” is just a statement or piece of data that is beyond dispute. A scientific theory is much more than that. It is unfortunate we often use “theory” to speak about something that is not proven or doubtful. However, the theory of evolution uses the word “theory” in its more precise definition of “a system of ideas intended to explain something.” As such, like all successful scientific theories, it must have certain attributes. Such as, some way to prove it false, not contradicted by any known facts, have the ability to explain a large set of facts and the ability to make predictions.

    [Those men and women cannot prove some types of things you’ve stated like, “Authors cannot write about future events beyond attempts to make predictions.” So they teach that all authors cannot do that.]

    They do so because this is what we objectively observe about the world. No author I am aware of is able to identify specific individuals by name and office far prior to the actual happening. Thus, when a document names Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:1) it is safe to assume it could be written any time after Nebuchadnezzar existed by not before. In the same way no document names Ronald Regan as USA president prior to 1981. I believe so strongly in our inability to do this, that I have kept an eye out for any material evidence to the contrary, especially in regards to the Bible. So far, we’re at zero. No one has shown me or the James Randi Education Foundation a single verifiable claim of the supernatural. That said, I would be happy to explore evidence you’re aware of that I am not. Physical evidence for dating Daniel would be a good example.

    In all this there is a subtle problem we can fall victim to. The human brain has evolved into an exquisite pattern matching machine. Thus it is easy to spin tales about supposed predictions about say the 9/11 event by looking back selectively at material. The real proof though is not post hoc pattern matching, but making predictions like Halley’s comet before they happen and being precise about it.

    [I don’t believe Genesis definitively teaches God could not have used evolution when creating organisms. The book says God made organisms according to their kind, but it doesn’t say how he made them. Man from dirt yes. But Earth’s elements are in dirt.]

    True, belief in the theory of evolution doesn’t exclude belief in God or even elements of Genesis. The evolutionary mechanics effecting the flu virus is obvious and not much in doubt.

    [Personally I haven’t been convinced of macro-evolution. But as I stated above I don’t believe the Bible’s claim rules it out. I don’t say that to be agreeable but for the reasons I listed.]

    Understood.

    [The Bible doesn’t claim it was written for all or even any of us to clearly understand every written comment. Sometimes I contemplate the probability that was intentional so that people would argue over its meaning. That style certainly contributes to observations we can make about people’s acceptance of it, even on this site. And this site is a microcosm picturing the book’s acceptance or rejection throughout Earth.]

    There are of course different styles depending on which book one is reading. However I generally believe the authors wanted to communicate something. Sometimes is fairly simple stuff, like the deep love the author had for Jehovah, The Rock (Deut 32:4) to pleas of a father that his son search for God and wisdom (Prov 1:1-8). Perhaps acceptance or rejection is too either/or binary. Perhaps it is more of a case that forms of acceptance and rejection follow different paths and exist in different degrees.

    Take care Messenger,
    -Randy

  5. Graham says:

    Can anyone explain this belief our message will turn from good news to condemnation?
    Matt 24:14 says the Good news will be preached and then the end will come. How can that be taken any other way than message doesn’t change from good news ????

    • Hi Graham,

      The idea of the tone of the message switching from “good news” to “judgment” has appeared in JW literature from time to time.

      For example, the July 2015 Watchtower said:

      [The great tribulation will not be the time to preach the “good news of the Kingdom.” The time to preach that message will have passed. The time for “the end” will have come! (Matthew 24:14) God’s people will boldly declare a strong message of judgment that will affect all people. The message may be that Satan’s wicked world is about to be totally destroyed. The Bible compares this message to hailstones when it says: “Great hailstones, each about the weight of a talent, fell from heaven on the people, and the people blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, for the plague was unusually great.”​—Revelation 16:21.]

      Such ideas express a sense of “final justice” for folks who feel they’re being persecuted. In some cases the persecution is more than just a feeling, but a very real thing. The author of Revelation wrote during era when being a Christian often resulted in persecution by the Roman state.

      Cheers,
      -Randy

  6. outandabout says:

    Hi, messenger. The term ‘old bean’ is a light hearted term of endearment. I must comment on your academic abilities and achievements and congratulate you on that. Well done. Remember though – the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
    So anyway, when you find some time would you please tell me whether or not mankind has a history of inventing god’s and if so, for what purpose. Cheers.

    • messenger says:

      As I’ve previously stated I believe God and others existing in (?) I don’t know how many dimensions we cannot enter into contacted men and women. My belief is that’s where the ideas about God came from. I believe the creator initiated first contact, throughout history he sent some of his reps and also continued to contact some people himself, and that some of his adversaries contacted people also. In short the idea about God originated because of contacts from beings most people cannot see or hear.

      The idea all that people professing contact must have brain problems is because of how all our brains work. Whenever we take in information though any of our senses the brain immediately searches for what it knows about that information from past experiences. All human brains do that. Our brains always go to what we already know about what it takes in and associates the new info with that. If we have no experience with something there is nothing to go to except what we’ve been taught through other people’s experiences. Those will be psychotic diseases for people who haven’t experienced God and don’t believe in him, prophecies and scripture for people who’ve had no first hand experiences but believe in God.

      When God contacts people he does so with proof e.g. the Bible examples, like Joseph and Daniel, that skeptics refute based on what their brains have experienced. My brain works the same way. I was once like you. I once did not think God contacted people today either. Without proof I still wouldn’t believe it.

  7. Whip It says:

    Went to the Circuit Assembly on the weekend at the Brisbane Assembly Hall, good chance to catch up with many friends, as its not our circuit we were pleasantly surprised by many people, all in all it was a nice day, Kept family happy & so on. Now a lot of things bother me about the WT, Wrong Doctrine, False Prophecy & of coarse Child Abuse, but can someone enlighten me as to why the cost to run it for one day is just shy of $14000??????, the money side of things bothers me very much (we gave nothing) we own the building, we built it & paid for it, completely gob smacked.

    • Morris says:

      Same here. I dont donate a cent as God doesnt need my money. 14 bucks per person assumption. Its always about the benjamins. No expense spared with the mansion. Sell the farm, preach like the rest of us living poor like Jesus. Outsource the printing. Soon videos will be made about needing a private jet like some evangelicals on YouTube. Cant be on a commercial flight with worldly people.

      • Big B says:

        @ Whip it & Morris,

        The Watchtower Society is charging you for this seminar! Before the doors open, before the first light switch is thrown or the first toilet is flushed they have sent a form to the circuit overseer and accounts servant of how much to send the Society. The circuit overseer is their to see that the elders are compliant and collect the amount printed on the sent form per the Society’s instructions. Then the ‘sheeple’ elders send in any extra monies collected to the Society, thus having no monies for the next “seminar”.

        It makes no difference if your assembly hall has been paid off for years, they are going to charge you this per head for this seminar fee, period. Check out the explanation on Jwcriticalthinker. JT explains it as he was the accounts servant at the circuit assembly and identifies the form the Society sends.

  8. messenger says:

    The video of that Dutch ministers meeting is a very good watch. I suggest to all who have not yet seen it that you give it a viewing. One consensus reached among commenters there was that an independent committee should be set up to investigate serious crimes of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization. When will a similar investigation happen in the USA?

    The Dutch discussion was very well rounded. One comment from its legal minister was that he didn’t want to get bogged down in a litigation swampland. His concern is to handle the situation in the most effective way. For instance, several ministers want to stop internal courts (judicial committees) from ruling on sexual abuse cases. The legal minister brought up a couple good points, sharing why that could be a sticky proposition for the government to enact. I won’t repeat those reasons here. Instead enjoy the video.

  9. outandabout says:

    Blimmen hell, messenger….that reply to me was a bit dodgy. I expected something more concrete from an A student.

    But anyway, I was in the library reading up on a bit of Chuck Missler as you suggested I should and I happened to glance up and standing right there in the Philosophy section, beckoning me, was the God of Reason. I kid you not. Funny thing, I had a dream about him the previous night. Seems he wants me to be his spokesperson. Is that ok?

    • messenger says:

      Do you mean Mr. Missler (as the God of reason) was there? I’ve never read a book of his. Instead I’ve heard him teach on the radio quite a few times. It seemed his radio program might be lectures from a college class, since he refers to units and different terminology college classes use on it.

      Missler seems to be a thorough teacher. But I had only referred you to one of his books, the one that has to do with the equidistant letter skipping in the Hebrew Bible creating words (a Bible code). I’ve heard about that code some time ago, but never looked into it myself. Mr. Missler is a thorough teacher, so I don’t believe his analysis of the subject would be incorrect. Sooner or later I’ll check it out myself. If you read anything about the subject let me know. The most interesting part of the code I’ve heard about is in Isaiah chpt 53 and the last part of chpt 52. Missler claims the names of all Jesus’ apostles, 3 Mary’s, Joseph, cruxifiction, as well as other words and some phrases are all encoded in that short passage.

      Thanks outandabout.

      • outandabout says:

        No, sorry buddy. Bad grammar on my part. The God of Reason was not Chuck. Just the God of Reason, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Morgan Freeman.
        Chuck sounded impressive, mostly because I didn’t know what the hell he was on about but I found out why that was when I watched his Youtube clip where he was using a jar of peanut butter to demonstrate the impossibility of Evolution. That’s when I realized why I didn’t know what he was on about because he didn’t know what he was on about either. Sorry to get your hopes up on that. Unintentional.

  10. outandabout says:

    The problem with those scriptures I mentioned, messenger, is that there are at least eight different interpretations that I can see, including yours. Each and every one of those versions will be the absolute truth to the interpreter which presents an obvious problem in that they can’t all be right. Right?

    I don’t have the time to write out every rationalization for you but here’s one – when Jesus said “this generation will not pass away” he meant the generation living at the time of the end times tribulation. Notice Jesus didn’t say “that generation” – which would be the normal way of referring to a future generation. He said “this generation” Through common sense we know he was addressing people alive at the time.

    What we have here with all these different interpretations of the same scripture, messenger, is a refusal of Christians or the church to accept reality. It was probably the churches who kicked off the “no, no….He didn’t mean that….He meant this” because to admit that the atoms of a dead Palestinian are not going to re-assemble themselves would mean the end of the free riding on peoples backs and the end of their power, prestige and cushy lifestyle. Knowledge is power and the churches were the keepers of the knowledge. The common man was illiterate, ignorant and as superstitious as all hell. You’re trapped by a carefully crafted lie which has been finely tuned over the centuries to block off all avenues of escape. ‘Reason is the devils harlot’? Why would they drum that into you if not to control your thoughts?

    This business of codes in the bible. Are you joking, messenger? Do you seriously think that a god who wants everybody to hear his message is going to set out to deliberately deceive those people? Grasping at straws, buddy.

    No, I don’t necessarily want a world without a god. What I would like is for the bus to be backed up a bit and some common sense applied. People can believe in the god of tomato’s for all I care so long as there is no undue influence and bulls–t.

    • messenger says:

      Per Jesus’ answer to those questions recorded in Luke 21, Matt 24, and Mark 13 Christ stated certain events would occur before he returned visibly to end this world and rapture his church. Those events were not claimed to be a part of an end sign, but instead events proceeding the sign of his return covering an unspecified time period. Some of the events that had to happen first would be wars. Nations would war against nations. However, when Christ was a man the Jews lived under Roman rule. Rome ruled over many nations and kept peace among those so there would be no reason for Christ or his apostles to believe nations would war against each other during their lives as nations did during their ancestors’ lifetimes. During their ancestors’ lifetimes Jewish Bible writers referred to areas we would call cities as nations. Some of those nations were just a city or two or three cites grouped together for mutual protection from invaders. But even considering that, Roman rule would prevent those types nations from battling each other. The Roman Pax Romana’s (a time of relative peace) span was approximately 206 years (27 BC to AD 180) covering this time period of Christ’s life and his apostles’ lives.

      Christ advised his disciples (not just those alive then) not to be terrified when future wars and disorders occurred, as he claimed, those would not be a signal of the end. “These things must occur first, but the end does not occur immediately” Luke 21:9. Contrary to WT’s belief those events are not part of a sign of the last days. Christ said the opposite, that those were not part of a sign, not that those were the sign. Many scriptures claim the time period named the “last days” started in the apostles’ day. Christ gave a sign of Jerusalem’s destruction, a sign of his presence or second coming, and a sign proceeding the end of this system, not of the last days.

      ” and they ( Israelites) will be led captive into ‘all’ the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed time of the nations are fulfilled.” (Christ @ Luke 21:24) “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Christ @ Luke 21:32)

      • Shibboleth says:

        Messenger I agree with Tranquilo,
        Please stop preaching, I don’t come on this page to hear preaching, if I want to hear that I’ll go to church. Maybe you want to make up your own Reddit sub so you can feel like you are spreading the word, but I for one don’t want to hear it, I heard enough the 50 odd years of going to the hall. Everyone has their own interpretation of what the bible teaches, but I don’t think here is the appropriate place to be evangelizing. Just my opinion.

        • messenger says:

          You have no problem with apostates and atheists commenting on Bible text, and yet you do with me commenting on those-even when I’m answering comments and questions put to me by an atheist. No, I won’t comply with your wishes.

          As far as the word “this” under consideration as recorded in Matt 25, Mark13, and Luke 21 it refers to the generation that would see the sign, that’s all. Christ spoke words for all mankind to hear, in every generation. Proceeding that direct reference he said, “when you see these things starting to occur.” The generation that will see those things will be what he called “this generation.”

          Just as he could have been talking about a person that would exist in the future. In that case he could have said “this” person speaking about that one while addressing another audience. The only difference is that he was speaking of a whole generation that would see a certain sign. Neither was it necessary to say, “this generation I speak of” for most Bible readers do understand that thought given the context.

          Those of you with opposing views have too narrow an interpretation of semantics in that clause. You commenters are aware of the many parables Christ taught suggesting he would be going away for a while, without returning for a long while- virgins with lamp oil, slaves given talents, people caught by surprise like in the day of Noah, etc. Because it is so easy to see he spoke of a loooong time before his return it is my belief your narrow interpretation is offered to fulfill an agenda, one having nothing to do with semantics, but rather your own religion.

          There are billions of people who’ve read the Bible, and I’ve never heard your teaching on “this generation” except from atheists or apostates on this site. There must be a reason that the others I’ve met don’t reach your conclusion other than their religions. An obvious reason appears to be your religion not theirs.

        • Ocma says:

          I agree. I personally skip messengers comments now. It isn’t their fault, but they bore me. I heard enough long winded answers in the KH, I don’t need to read them here.

    • Hi Outandabout,

      [when Jesus said “this generation will not pass away” he meant the generation living at the time of the end times tribulation. Notice Jesus didn’t say “that generation” – which would be the normal way of referring to a future generation. He said “this generation” Through common sense we know he was addressing people alive at the time.]

      Authors can write for any audience they wish. Science fiction writers can put their characters far into the future. Or as in case of Star Wars, far in the past. But, generally the most common thing most writers do is write for a contemporary audience. Even SciFi writers tend to have a contemporary audience in mind.

      When one sees Bible interpreters get into complex arguments about hidden meaning I am now deeply suspicious. Why would the author of Matthew have Jesus say “this generation” and not just have it mean what it says?

      Would it make any sense that it had no real meaning to his contemporaries or at most a “minor” fulfillment? Then it had no meaning to those living in 500 CE, or 1500 CE, or 1820 CE? But oh, yes, those living in 2018, now those people, they are finally living in the correct era?!

      In many places it is very obvious Bible writers mean to address their contemporaries. In our family Bible reading this evening we were reading 2 Kings 14. Verse 7 has the note, “calling it Joktheel, the name it has to this day.” In 2 Kings it is common for the author to keep referring to “book of the annals of the kings of Israel” with no thought that a future audience would have no access to such material.

      There can be terrible attraction to finding deeper patterns and sophisticated meaning in the text. Alas, I now believe it is best to stay with the simple, perhaps even boring, meaning within the text that best fits the culture and audience that existed at the time of the writing. The only problem with this approach is it can defeat belief in the supernatural. The “generation” being addressed did pass away, the prediction of Son of Man coming on the clouds didn’t happen, etc. As soon as one insists Bible writers musn’t fail at prophesy, then all that is left is convoluted rationalizations about deeper meaning and future fulfillment. In all this I argue we can wind up taking away the human side of these writings and wind up divorcing ourselves of the actual deeper meaning — the human spirit that longs for justice for meaning and purpose.

      Cheers,
      -Randy

      • messenger says:

        { Alas, I now believe it is best to stay with the simple, perhaps even boring, meaning within the text that best fits the culture and audience that existed at the time of the writing.}

        But you don’t follow the advice you claim to follow in that statement. You don’t believe the meaning of those text-not the interpretation those cultures accepted. If you did you would not claim your interpretations refute the supernatural. Doesn’t everyone know the Bible texts speak of the supernatural? The people the scriptures were directly delivered to, the scripture writers, and the scriptural context all deal with the supernatural more than any other source I’ve read from.

        {The only problem with this approach is it can defeat belief in the supernatural.}

        At least be consistent !!!

        One supernatural revelation in scripture claims only God, through his spirit (his self) working with a person can cause that individual to turn to him and be his follower with enough understanding of scripture to do so. He uses messengers, human and angelic, as well as written words from the past to share his message, but without God’s involvement nothing happens is what the Bible claims. Christ spoke of those not knowing God as being dead. And no matter what a Christian shares with a dead person, he cannot resurrect him. Only God can do that. It’s not what you know, it’s whether you’ve been resurrected from those Christ claimed are dead, hence his words born again. And a person that is alive in God knows the scriptures better than a Bible scholar who is not.

        • Hi Messenger,

          [You don’t believe the meaning of those text-not the interpretation those cultures accepted.]

          I sure hope that is not true! Otherwise, I’ve wasted a large portion of my life trying to come to terms with this material and my love of Scripture is in vain.

          When the author of Matthew has Jesus use the phrase “this generation” I believe the meaning is plainly what is says. When that is then tied to a prophesy of the Son of Man coming on the clouds, I believe the meaning is more or else exactly what it says. Since Matthew was written after Jesus had died these Christians believed he would return again, in a powerful way.

          What seems to be the concern is my position that one does not need to accept claims of the supernatural regardless of who makes them. That it is okay to question supernatural claims of the Red Sea parting as much as Joseph Smith was visited by an angel. The only reason to accept any claim is because sufficient evidence is available to support the claim.

          The problem is as I mentioned. When opportunity arises to test a supernatural claim one will notice consistent failure. There is no evidence that predicted events in Matthew happened within the generation that was told they would. Nothing that Charles Russell predicted for the future actually happened. May 21, 2011 came and went despite what Harold Camping said.

          [One supernatural revelation in scripture claims only God, through his spirit (his self) working with a person can cause that individual to turn to him and be his follower with enough understanding of scripture to do so.]

          What verses are you thinking of here Messenger?

          Cheers,
          -Randy

          • messenger says:

            “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me” John 16:8

            “My son if you receive my sayings…treasure up my commandments with yourself…in that case you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom..out of his mouth is knowledge.” Proverbs 2:1-6

            “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matt 11:27

            “And the spirit and the bride keep on saying:”Come!..” Rev 22:17

            These are some.

          • Hi Messenger,

            Thanks your continued forbearance. It is possible that our discussion is from viewpoints so far apart that there is no way to bridge the chasm between.

            There are several scriptures that lay out a formula for knowledge, often connected to belief or hidden revelation. Alas, rather than find that compelling I now see it in nearly the opposite way.

            Consider the Matthew 11 reference. According to the text Jesus had performed miracles in Chorazin and Bethsaida but they did not believe. Why didn’t they believe? Well, as per Matthew, it was because the Father had hidden these things from the learned and the wise but revealed them to little children. Punching home the point we get the expression of no one knows the Son but the Father and Son chooses who to reveal him.

            Now imagine the real truth is this. While Jesus existed and had followers. At the apex of his ministry he is killed by the Romans to the shock of his followers. But his followers do not give up in telling a story that he didn’t really die and would soon return. However lots of folks just didn’t believe this fanciful story. This leaves the believer with a dilemma. Why is the story so obviously true and fervently believed by many but not others? In such a context our brains search for all sorts of rationalizations. Almost anything will do, as long as, we carefully exclude an obvious answer — that the story is wrong. Jesus died at the hands of the Romans and like all others that die, ceased to exist. When the non-belief position is excluded, then an answer of revealed-only-to-the-chosen comes to the fore. That is what I often see in such passages.

            If your belief is not that, but otherwise what you believe pushes you to look after widows and orphans in their tribulation, please continue. While I enjoy discussing this subject, I do not seek to upset anyone or denigrate what may be important to them.

            Take care Messenger,
            -Randy

          • messenger says:

            What is important to the complainers, as they’ve stated above, is reading comments that reinforce their current beliefs. As long as comments do that they’re happy. No growth in that though.

            Randy your approach to reasoning on scriptures supports my hypothesis: What I have said is that I suspect the reason many people refute scriptural claims is not that they have proof of Bible falsehoods, but that they constantly look for alternative explanation for events the scriptures claim are factual. It’s a belief built on assumptions, not proofs. According to scripture we are judged because our choice reveals our desire-not to God, because he knew that before we were born, but to us. You can see that from the many commenters here.

            According to your belief system when more than twelve people confirmed the same stories about miracles they were complicit in an agenda of deception. If it was just one Bible character claiming a supernatural experience then he had a mental problem. If there are similarities between species they must have evolved from one another. You might claim those are not the reasons for your non- belief, but if not yours are similar, as you’ve claimed above.

            In doing that you discount proofs of prophecy that every Bible reader sees, simple or complex stories sprinkled throughout the book that cannot be refuted. No doubt you discount those as coincidental, because your brain has to rationalize those some way too.

            In time all truth will be clear. We’re all here to make that choice and learn from the choices we make and the choices we observe others making. (Rev 22:14-15)

            Take care.

          • Hi Messenger,

            True enough. I was chatting with Rev. Andy at my UU church this past Wednesday. In a discussion about belief in God, or I should say, lack thereof, I said, “I’m an atheist based on faith” and then quoted Hebrews 11:1. I don’t think it is possible to prove a negative, such as the non-existence of a super being. So what I have done is pull together all the knowledge and evidence I can muster, reach a conclusion and make a bet. My gambit is our world is devoid of influence of a super being like Jehovah. That supernatural events could, if enough evidence and insight be gathered, be shown to have a natural materialist approach.

            One of the problems is judging motive. As humans we do that all the time. And when folks believe something different for ourselves then we must be super careful that we don’t start hunting for malice.

            I can’t count how many times people have told me that my motives are this or that in regards to atheism. Well I don’t relish the thought of dying and not existing forever. I would love for there to be some wonderful alternative. But at the same time I don’t wish to waste what life I have believing, and perhaps serving the interests of another, something that is wrong. Even fellow non-believers have questioned my motives in regards to continued Bible reading or especially my once-per-year trek to the Kingdom Hall to attend the memorial.

            So does my approach reveal a more plain and simple truth about the Bible text? I believe it does. Further I am not attributing bad motive to author of Matthew. What it says in Chapter 11 may be how he and the community remember Jesus responding to lack of belief in those communities. I only object that actual evidence for those miracles are lacking and philosophically the formula of hidden knowledge revealed only to the chosen is not how objective truth is known.

            The flip of my position is true too. Messenger stubbornly holds to his or her position due to some bad motive. I don’t believe that. Most people are sincere in trying to make sense of the world.

            In the end what is important is how we treat ourselves and others. Shunning, as practiced by Jehovah’s Witnesses, is both morally wrong and not supported Biblically. I will thus argue this point, but only in attempt to persuade by reason. If a Hindu’s belief in Ganesh and Karma leads them to good things, who am I to quibble? If a Catholic is inspired to help build a hospital and this in part is tied to belief in the miracle of Tobit’s[1] bird droppings induced blindness being healed, I really do not object. While I can say I don’t see evidence I also cannot dogmatically claim it is impossible.

            The journey continues.

            Take care,
            -Randy
            [1] I’ve just started the next Holy book on my bucket-list: The New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha.

          • messenger says:

            Randy,

            I whole heartedly say that in my opinion you are the most polite person on this web site, even politer than Ricardo, and that’s a very difficult thing to do. I can’t do it or even equal Ricardo’s manners. I do believe your beliefs and the quest you choose to remain on is motivated by what you believe is logical thought and moral decisions.

            While continuing this comment I’m first going to point out a couple long time WT teachings that make no sense. Because the truth, or rather lack thereof relate to what I share.
            .

            One WT teaching we used to hear all the time, which WT finally began to drop is its statement “Jehovah’s original purpose.” The statement was always contrasted with Jehovah’s changed purpose after Adam and Eve sinned. Based on Bible teachings that thought is moronic. Jehovah seeing, even living in, future events only has one purpose regarding anything he has a purpose about. No purpose of his changes, ever.

            Another one of WT’s teachings: Jesus was able to read hearts, and therefore dealt with people in certain ways because of that. While that was true the claim is also to a lesser degree nonsense. Jesus, like Jehovah, sees the future. Just like he did when he saw Thomas under that tree, before Thomas was in Christ’s presence. Therefore Christ deals with people based on what they will do as much or more than what they do during any present time, just like Jehovah does.

            With that in mind I say this. I don’t see you as having any bad motive, and to a degree all people including myself, and even animals can read hearts. (Matthew 12:34) Yet, I am not Christ, who is the ultimate judge of every human. And his judgments are based on what he knows we will be. That is why we (believing Christians) were foreordain per scripture to attain the position we have before God and Christ. God is always working long term even with short term events. And in long or short term decisions no government I’m aware of welcomes rebels. Governments want citizens that believe in them and the restriction they place on their citizens. Since God’s placed human governments to establish justice you know he places Christ’s government to do the same. Those who believe in Christ agree with that, those who don’t believe in Christ don’t. They don’t want Christ’s government. You should be able to observe that through comments on this site.

            I pray your journey leads you to the safe side of this important issue, for your sake. You don’t have to die.

            As far as no proof of miracles that satisfies your belief those happen, remember Christ refused to show miracles to people who asked they see those from him for proof. Just like we do Christ does what he decides to fulfill his and his father’s reasons. They’ve shown proofs to me. You might start by accepting the obvious, like the scriptures that state in future times some Christian sects would prevent some from marriage and eating certain foods. Are you old enough to remember fish served in public schools on Friday? Or why would Christ be killed and treated before and after death like Isaiah 53 claims the messiah would be? Why wouldn’t any of the eye witness apostle’s of Jesus claim the gospel accounts, and Acts of the Apostles contained tons of fraudulent information if those did? And why would the apostles willingly go to their deaths for following Christ?

            There is a movie that was made about an atheist journalist called A Case For Christ. He tried to prove the claimed resurrection of Jesus is fraudulent. In the process he proved to himself that it factually happened. The authors name is Lee Strobel. You might check out that DVD based on a book containing his findings.

            Take care Randy!

  11. tranquillo says:

    ok messenger, now you are not addressing to the questions and you are just evangelizing.

  12. Joe heatherton says:

    The Governing Body of Jehovas Witnesses are just Elitist Money-Addicted Trailer Park Trash. They know nothing. They do nothing. They contribute nothing of value. A cabal. A junta. If this were the year 802,701 A.D., they would be the Eloi.

    F*** the Watchtower “Society” and their Zombie Apocalypse. The Morlocks are coming for you.

    • Keiran says:

      @Joe Heatherton

      I totally concur with your assessment. Those folks are total degenerates.
      And Evolution is real.

      • Ricardo says:

        Wouldn’t Evolution be producing a higher quality of human, rather than degenerates? The idea of humans degrading is the Genesis teaching.

        • Keiran says:

          @Ricardo

          Not interested. Besides, I wasn’t talking to you, Freak Show.

          • Ricardo says:

            @Keiran,
            Again, evolution should not be producing freaks. It should be producing a higher quality of human. Yet you keep giving examples of degradation and degeneration, and yet fail to appreciate the significance of such.

          • outandabout says:

            Ricardo…..evolution happens slowly over a very very long time. In evolutionary terms it’s still early days for the likes of us. Compared to the dinosaurs who were here for 165 million yrs, we’ve just arrived and in the history of the earth there have been five mass extinctions, one which almost extinguished all life.

          • Ricardo says:

            @outandabout, if evolution happens slowly then there’s not much hope for me. I’ll be a freak show and always a freak show. Is there no way to speed it up so I can be some superior intellect?

          • outandabout says:

            no, Ricardo, but you could experience evolution of thought, wake up from your childhood indoctrination, lose the fear of eventual death and so live your life as nature intended, if you wish.

          • Ricardo says:

            @outandabout, thanks for giving me some hope.

  13. Donald J. says:

    Hey everyone. I have just had an incredible, deeply personal, possibly “religious” experience. Take it any way you like. I don’t expect anyone to believe or not believe. All I can tell you is what I experienced, which my brain processed consciously without reference to any past experience.
    I was contacted from another dimension by the Creator of Our Particular Universe. He has been watching in frustration, and finally decided to settle the issue of the Origin of Our Universe, once and for all. Perhaps because of my scientific background and credentials, He chose me as his messenger. He told me that He brought forth the universe and initiated all universal processes via a Big Bang. Then I wondered about life on Earth. I asked him about the garden of Eden and the talking snake. He said that was man-made mythology. He stated that He had never authored a book in His life. According to Him, He used the process of Evolution and Natural Selection to develop life on Earth, resulting in, well, us. So that’s it I guess. Divine Revelation? Perhaps. I don’t need any more proof than that, and neither should you. Anyone with doubts simply needs to exercise more Faith. Finally, a Win-Win situation for everyone. Praise this day! This is great. Now I can go forth and spread the message.

    • tranquillo says:

      Was it the Flying Spaghetti Monster??

      Just curious…

      • Donald J. says:

        No tranquillio, my child. It was formless, shapeless. I found myself surrounded by a kind of blue aura. The normal dimensions of time and space seemed to dissolve into irrelevancy. An incredible feeling of peace and security came over me. Also, a feeling of great power and knowledge. Knowledge of the Ages. The Ancient of Days. Then something started communicating with my brain. It wasn’t quite language as we know it. I would call it Thoughtspeak. It was like transmitting information, not through speech, but through KNOWING. It was as if someone had plugged a USB stick straight into my brain. Just like in that movie, The Matrix. You know, the scene where they have to get off the building, and there’s a helicopter, but no one can fly it. So they plug the USB thing into the port in the back of the girl’s head, and ten seconds later, she can fly the helicopter. It was just like that, my children! I witnessed the birth of the universe. I followed the ascent of man, down to that very moment. It is indeed good to know the Truth. They always said that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Well, that was indeed a strange and mysterious experience! Praise the Lord, my little ones!

  14. outandabout says:

    messenger, I have to agree with you when you point out that atheists, etc, comment here and so should you.
    Randy…….thanks for your reply.

  15. Ricardo says:

    I enjoy reading Messenger’s musings. There is something obviously missing in WT’s explanations, but we aren’t allowed to question.

    A brother asked me to read a book by Robert King: Jehovah Himself has Become King, a primer for the Apocalypse. I find the explanations brilliant. Is anyone familiar with Robert King?

  16. Vidiot says:

    This is the bit that stands out to me…

    …”failing to report a serous crime once a person become aware of it is actually a criminal offence…”

    The Org has always lauded itself as being Law-abiding – except when “Man’s Laws” contradict “God’s Laws”.

    Problem is…

    …there’s really no way they can use that excuse here, because reporting a crime committed by a JW to the secular authorities doesn’t violate “God’s Law”.