A brother who was in the inner circle at Brooklyn Bethel in the 1980s recently wrote: The organization “in many ways is no longer recognizable as the religion that we knew.” This is true! The organization in the 20th century cherished Christian freedom, but the organization in the 21st century is autocratic, and the eight members of the Governing Body have ultimate power. Disobedience to the rules of these men leads to disfellowshipping.
This study shows that the reason for this dramatic change is the outcome of a power struggle inside the Governing Body that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.
When N.H. Knorr was president, the stress was on education for all and deep Bible study. In the 1980s, a project to study the subtleties and nuances of the original text of the Bible was approved by the Governing Body. However, as knowledge grew, several Governing Body members complained about this project because they felt it might threaten their position as teachers. So, this project was terminated.
At this time, a power struggle inside the Governing Body became visible. On the one side was Theodore (Ted) Jaracz, who was a hardliner. He was strongly against higher education and against intellectual brothers and sisters. On the other side was William Lloyd Barry, who was university educated, and who was against extra laws and regulations. Jaracz actively sought to acquire more power inside the organization, but he was kept in check by Barry, who had no such personal agenda. Jaracz evidently was one of the Governing Body members who had a hand in stopping the study project analyzing the original text of the Bible.
In 1999, the restraints on Jaracz were removed when Barry suddenly died, allowing Jaracz free reign to secure more power inside the Governing Body to the point of becoming an intimidating and dominant personality on the Governing Body, influencing the decisions of the other members. When new members were added to the Governing Body, Jaracz hand-picked brothers who were hardliners like himself. That is basically how the organization became autocratic in the 21st century.
Jaracz continued to dominate the Governing Body until his death in 2010. During this time, the crusade against higher education was launched, and more than 20 new disfellowshipping offenses that have no basis in the Bible were added. These were the consequences of the power struggle inside the Governing Body where Jaracz came out the winner.
In 2013, a revised version of the NWT was published. This version represents a new view of the Bible—the nuances and subtleties of the original text were no longer considered important. This new view had already been in the works since the aforementioned study project analyzing the nuances and subtleties of the original text of the Bible was mothballed in the 1980s. During his time on the Governing Body, Jaracz voiced this view, and those whom he hand-picked as Governing Body members followed suit. The 2013 revision of the New World Translation represents the embodiment of the views of Jaracz and those he hand-picked to serve as members of the Governing Body. This view calls into question the full inspiration of the Bible.
The view that the nuances of the original text are not important were augmented in 2015 in an article in The Watchtower. And the book Pure Worship of Jehovah—Restored At Last! (2018) represents a denial of the full inspiration of the Bible. Thus, both the blatant disregard of the importance of the nuances in the original text of the Bible and the denial of the full inspiration of the Bible are the outcome of the power struggle inside the Governing Body. These viewpoints are the legacy of Ted Jaracz.
This study is based on the eyewitness accounts of two brothers from the inner circle and from several other brothers who worked in different departments at Brooklyn Bethel in the 1980s and 1990s.
I became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. When we compare the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 21st century with the community in 1961, and for most of the 20th century, we see a great difference, particularly in two areas.
In the 20th century, there was a strong emphasis on deep Bible study, to the point where most Witnesses were capable of ‘making a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have.’ (1 Peter 3:15) In the 21st century, deep Bible study is not encouraged, and the Bible knowledge of individual Witnesses, elders, and pioneers, is extremely low.
In the 20th century, there was also an emphasis on Christian freedom, where each Witness was taught to make personal decisions on the basis of his or her conscience, and where there were few manmade rules outside of the laws and rules of the Bible itself. In the 21st century, Christian freedom has all but disappeared. It has been replaced with the demand that everyone must strictly obey the extra-biblical laws and rules made by the Governing Body—or else be disfellowshipped.
The first study article in The Watchtower Study Edition of February 2022 has the title: “Do you trust in Jehovah’s Way of doing things?” On pages 4 and 5 we find the following comments:
7 We no doubt wholeheartedly agree that Jehovah always does what is right. The challenge for us, however, might be to trust in his human representatives. We might wonder whether those with a measure of authority in Jehovah’s organization really act according to Jehovah’s direction or their own…The plain truth is that we cannot say that we trust in Jehovah if we do not trust in his earthly representatives—those whom Jehovah trusts.
8 Today Jehovah leads the earthly part of his organization by means of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24: 45) Like the first-century governing body, this slave oversees God’s people worldwide and gives direction to congregation elders. (Read Acts 16:4, 5.) The elders, in turn, implement the direction in the congregations. We show that we trust in Jehovah’s way of doing things by heeding the direction we receive from the organization and the elders.
11 We can strengthen our trust in the direction we receive from the elders by remembering that they pray for holy spirit when considering matters that affect the congregation. They also carefully consider relevant Bible principles and consult guidelines provided by Jehovah’s organization.
The important question is what has caused this big change. And the answer is that the change was the outcome of a power struggle inside the Governing Body—a power struggle that came into full view in the 1980s and ended in the year 1999.
After I wrote my book, My Beloved Religion—And The Governing Body, I received many letters from brothers who worked at Brooklyn Bethel when the power struggle occurred, some were young brothers, and others were part of the inner circle at Bethel. The discussion that follows is based on the eyewitness -testimonies that I have received from these brothers.
A QUEST TO FIND THE SUBTLETIES AND NUANCES OF THE ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE BIBLE
We would think that accurate Bible knowledge would always be a priority inside the true Christian congregations. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Today, there is no longer a focus on accurate knowledge among the Witnesses, and The Watchtower almost never contains an article with a deep analysis of Bible texts. I will now show how this situation had a starting point that has evolved to what it is today.
The stress on accurate knowledge in the second half of the 20th century
The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in six volumes that were published between 1950 and 1960, and were translated by scholars among Jehovah’s Witnesses, was a monumental work. Its accuracy and faithfulness to the original texts of the Bible are unsurpassed by any other translation. And the footnotes were made with the purpose of helping the English readers to come as close to the original text as possible via their mother tongue.
This translation was striking the right tone for deep Bible study that resulted in an exponential increase in accurate knowledge of the Bible. In 1942, N.H. Knorr became the president of the Watchtower Society, and according to A.H. Macmillan, Knorr launched a program with the purpose of helping every Witness to acquire this accurate knowledge.
Have you ever noticed how different ministers, representing the same religious organization, teach somewhat different ideas on the same subject? Conferences within their church systems are continually trying to iron out these differences, yet they persist. Knorr believed that not only should all Christians be ministers, but all should teach in exact unity of thought. Would this be possible without making “parrots” of them? Knorr believed it could be, and set out to do it…(some brothers in) the organization were recognized as accomplished speakers…But Knorr wanted everyone in the organization to be “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”
Now the training program began in earnest. In April of 1943 special schools were organized in every congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses which became a regular part of congregational activity. These schools provided for an intensified course in public Bible speaking. All male persons attending the meetings were invited to enroll, since training was to be voluntary, and most did. Each week an instruction talk on some feature of public speaking, composition, grammar and related subjects was considered and, later, the Bible itself was discussed from every aspect. Then three student talks were given by those enrolled, each taking his turn. They spoke on assigned Bible topics and then were given counsel for improvement by the one in charge of the school. These schools, called Theocratic Ministry Schools, are still a vital part of the program of each congregation, and as new male persons become associated they are encouraged to participate.
Having been a Witness since 1961, I can testify that the program launched by Knorr was very effective. Not only was there a course in public speaking and Christian doctrines in each congregation, but The Watchtower and different books contained a wealth of interesting material encouraging deep Bible study. In my book My Beloved Religion—And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 320-329, I give examples of how the Watchtower literature helped me and others to do interactive Bible study.
In 1969, Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures was published. It contains the text of the New World Translation on one side and the Greek text with an English word-for-word rendering of this text on the other. Now the readers got the opportunity to work with the Greek text of the Bible and better understand the translation of this text. So, here again, the focus was on the original text of the Bible.
The emphasis on interactive learning continued for a long time after the elder arrangement was instituted in 1972. The book, United in Worship of the Only True God, was published in 1983. After an interested person had studied the basic Bible study book, The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life (1968), the recommendation was that he or she should study the United in Worship book. The book invited the reader to do an interactive Bible study, and on page 27, we read:
When you read the Bible, consider—
- What each portion tells you about Jehovah as a person
- How it relates to the overall theme of the Bible
- How context affects the meaning
- How it should affect your own life
- How you can use it to help others
In addition to the questions to the paragraphs, the book has several other questions for the readers. By working with these questions and the scriptures they refer to, the readers would learn how to engage in an effective personal study of the Bible. This is the best book for true interactive learning that the Watchtower Society has published. Unfortunately, no later publication has included the excellent teaching principles of this book.
The inner circle of the organization and accurate knowledge
In 1971, the Bible lexicon Aid to Bible Understanding was published. I received this publication a short time before my vacation, and I used this vacation to read through the whole book. And I was very excited because of all the deep knowledge it contained. After some time, the Governing Body decided to create another publication that would replace Aid to Bible Understanding, and in 1988 the two-volume Insight on the Scriptures was published.
Work on the new publication was done in the middle of the 1980s, and some knowledgeable brothers and sisters were invited to come to Brooklyn Bethel to participate in the project. In connection with the subject studies for this new lexicon, a few brothers with knowledge of the original Bible languages saw the possibility of making detailed studies of these languages. Up to this point, the translation of the NWT into different languages was done from the text of the English NWT. But if the translators had lists showing the subtleties and nuances of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words, that could help them to choose the best words for the NWT in their native languages.
Computerized word and concordance lists revealing the subtleties and nuances of the original words of the Bible could be valuable tools, not only for the translators of the NWT, but also for the writers of the articles in the Watchtower literature. Moreover, the mentioned studies could also be used to create Bible study aids for all Witnesses, for example, a Hebrew/Aramaic interlinear translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. The brothers on the project wanted to work in the spirit of the original New World Bible Translation Committee, by focusing on the subtleties and nuances of the original text, in order to help the brothers and sisters to get accurate Bible knowledge.
The project was approved by the Governing Body, and skilled brothers and sisters with knowledge of the original languages and having other skills were invited to participate in this project at Brooklyn Bethel. The number of participants grew and nearly the entire sixth floor in the 25 Columbia Heights building was filled by the group and their support staff. Every member of the group was very excited because he or she worked directly with the original inspired text of the Word of God. F.W. Franz, who was the principal translator of the original NWT, was at this time in his early 90s. But he still had a clear mind, and every week he was shown the results of the studies, and he would give his comments and approval.
Franz had studied the original Bible languages, and I think that A.D. Schroeder had some limited knowledge of these languages as well. George Gangas was a native Greek-speaker, though he was not trained in biblical Greek. But apart from these three, no member of the Governing Body knew any of the Bible languages. And now a situation had arisen that could cause potential problems. On the one hand, the members of the Governing Body were the leaders of the organization, but they did not know the Bible languages. On the other hand, there was a whole new department of brothers and sisters, several of whom knew the Bible languages, and who were in the process of studying and documenting the nuances and subtleties of these languages. From an imperfect fleshly point of view, the situation was a powder keg waiting to go off! Several members of the Governing Body complained that a new “empire” in the organization was being created on the sixth floor. One brother who knew the original languages put it this way:
It seems that as our work progressed, and as Governing Body members would tour our floor and get updates on the activity there, some members starting worrying that we were creating an overly-exclusive department, that by nature of the fact that it was dealing directly with the original Bible language research, might become too influential, and as it generated new ideas and new questions, it could undermine the authority that they wanted to keep exclusively for themselves.
After some time, the complaining members of the Governing Body managed to sway the other members to stop the project—I suppose that Franz and Barry did not agree. The overseer of the department, who was the driving force behind the project, was removed and transferred to another department. The project was cancelled, and most of the results that had been reached were buried. A new department called “Translation Services” was then created. This new department was chiefly concerned only with accelerating the translation process of NWT translation teams working in various languages. As a result, they utilized only a small portion of the tools created by the original research team, mostly involving the production of computerized word lists which the translators used to make translation decisions before sitting down with the actual NWT Bible text. These lists could then be electronically poured into the target language text of the Bible, creating a virtual rough draft, and the translators would only then “clean up” the results to make each sentence grammatically correct. New overseers were brought in who did not understand anything about the work and additional research tools created by those who had preceded them on the sixth floor.
THE POWER STRUGGLE INSIDE THE GOVERNING BODY
The discussion above and the discussion that follows have one aim, namely, to shine a light on why Jehovah’s Witnesses, for most of the 20th century, were a free society with a focus on accurate Bible knowledge, but in the 21st century turned into an autocratic society promoting superficial Bible knowledge. As already mentioned, the reason is directly connected to the outcome of the power struggle inside the Governing Body that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.
The two most important men in this struggle were William Lloyd Barry and Theodore Jaracz, who had been members of the Governing Body since 1974. The two men had different personalities and backgrounds. Barry was university educated, had an open mind, had served many years as a missionary in Japan, and cherished Christian freedom, while Jaracz, according to his biographical sketch in The Watchtower of November 15, 2010, page 23, did not even attend high school. He was a hardliner who wanted to make many laws and regulations in addition to the Bible. He was strongly against higher education and did not like intellectual brothers and sisters. Barry was on the Writing Committee of the Governing Body, which supervises the Writing Department, while Jaracz was on the Service Committee.
The real catalyst of the power struggle were the actions taken by Jaracz to expand his influence in the organization and acquire more power, but he was kept in check by Barry, who reportedly showed little ambition to acquire more power.
|The power struggle: T. Jaracz worked to expand his power base and influence in the organization. But W.L. Barry kept him in check. Barry seemed satisfied with his position, and showed litle ambition to expand his influence to acquire personal power.|
A brother who came to Brooklyn Bethel in the early 1980s, when he was in his early 20s and who stayed there for 17 years, gives his characteristic assessment of each member of the Governing Body that we see in the excursus below:
EXCURSUS ON THE PERSONALITIES OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY
Frederick William Franz
“He was kind, not interested in politics or structure at all. He only focused on the Bible; he was very mild and quiet. He rarely voiced his opinion, and he was not a person interested in power. He was always people-oriented, and I could enter his office with guests at any time. He never said he was too busy to accept guests. He kept a lower profile.”
“He was [over] the Service department [a man] that was rigid and dictatorial, narrow [minded] and dogmatic. T. Jaracz was in total control, and his power was supreme. I was frightened of his rigid ways. I never got to know him other than his harsh comments at morning worship. I found him rule-oriented and a ‘law-came-first-type’. He was very aggressive and position conscious.”
William Lloyd Barry
“He was [more assertive than Franz] and did voice his opinion. But he was in charge of Writing, and all fell on his shoulders. Barry was not like Jaracz. Lloyd Barry was loved and respected by his men. He was the exact opposite of T. Jaracz. Barry was in favor of education, and Jaracz was against it.”
“He was a maverick who understood me and assisted me many times. He was not a rule-person. He was a people-person. He was the man that saved me. At times he was grumpy but a sympathetic person. He was not a fan of T. Jaracz.”
“Another rough exterior person but very nice under the exterior. I had a few wonderful experiences with him. He had a good sense of humor and could laugh [at] himself.”
“He was the kindest of them all and a fatherly type. Jack was wonderful and treated me kindly.”
“He was second to Fred Franz in Bible scholastic ability. He had a gruff cranky side, but I liked him.”
“He was also wonderful; he had a great sense of humor. He was [over] the Service Department. He was not a fan of T. Jaracz, and he did not act small-minded.”
“A very kind man whom I loved.”
“He was very dry, a quiet man. I did not get to know him.”
“He was rather dry, uninteresting. He worked on my floor. But I never spoke to him other than saying ‘hello.’ He was a Jaracz man.”
The brothers who have given detailed descriptions of life at Brooklyn Bethel in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as others who have given shorter testimonies all agree that Jaracz was a hardliner who sought to enhance his power. Because of his anti-intellectual bent, it seems clear that he was the member of the Governing Body who instigated the dissolution of the group on the sixth floor and its project to make in-depth studies of the Bible languages. Barry, on the other hand, was the overseer of the Writing Department, and both he and F.W. Franz supported this group.
Throughout the last years of the 1980s and into the 1990s, the power struggle between the two brothers became more and more visible. One brother of the inner circle wrote about:
the continuing struggle of Brother Barry against the intensifying efforts of Brother Jaracz to change the entire direction of the organization.
Because Barry was the overseer of the Writing Department, he directed the writing of articles for The Watchtower, and so Jaracz had no authority to influence these articles. But in 1999, at a district convention, Barry died suddenly, and now the way was open for Jaracz to gain control over the Governing Body and the organization. There is evidence from several sources that Jaracz systematically worked to undo every project that Barry had initiated, in an obvious attempt to eliminate Barry’s influence that persisted even after his death. One project that Barry initiated, and where I played a part, was a proactive approach towards the news media in different countries. I participated in a three-day course outlining this project. But after Barry’s death, the project was terminated.
After Barry died, Jack Barr was in charge of the Writing Department. The unanimous testimony of all who were close to him was that he was one of the kindest and most humble Christians they had met. There is evidence that Jaracz took advantage of Jack Barr’s humility and pressured Jack to accept his views. In reality, Jack opposed the views of Jaracz, but some of the ideas of Jaracz are reflected in the writings of the time.
With Barry now out of the picture, there was no one who could stand up against Jaracz, and so he became the unrivaled leader of the Governing Body. Two brothers who were close to the situation told me that Jaracz had the final say in any appointment of new members of the Governing Body, and that he hand-picked new members who were hardliners like himself. This includes the present members G. Lösch (1994), M.S. Lett and D.H. Splane (1999), and A. Morris III and G.W. Jackson (2005). But D.M. Sanderson (2012) and K.E. Cook (2018) were chosen later and are not included. Yet, they were now chosen by those men who had been hand-picked by Jaracz. The clear evidence that the mentioned five Governing Body members were hand-picked by Jaracz is that all of them reflect the same hard sentiments and views that Jaracz had, and all of them appear to be following his lead even after he is gone.
What were the consequences for the organization that Jaracz was the last man standing and thus the winner of the power struggle? One brother from the inner circle wrote:
The organization in the 1990s was slowly being taken over by Brother Jaracz and his anti-intellectual (and in my view, anti-scriptural) world-view. Once Brother Barry died, it took him only a few more years to complete his coup. The organization fundamentally changed after this, it become totally obsessed with power, authority, and control (qualities that characterized Brother Jaracz), and in many ways, is no longer recognizable as the religion that we knew.
I have no personal knowledge of what happened at Brooklyn Bethel in the 1980s and 1990s. My account builds on what different eyewitnesses have written to me and told me in private conversations. But the last part of the quotation above I have seen with my own eyes: The organization has fundamentally changed compared with the organization that I came into in 1961, when I became a Witness. And it is in many ways no longer recognizable as the religion that I knew. There are a great number of things that have changed as a direct result of Jaracz’s victory. In what follows, I will discuss the two most important changes, 1) the autocratic nature of the organization and, 2) the new view of the Bible, which is a rejection of its full inspiration.
THE NEW AUTOCRATIC NATURE OF THE ORGANIZATION
The situation today can be illustrated with some information given in a court case in California in 2012. The background of this case was that three elders in the Menlo Park congregation in the USA were removed as elders. They took the issue to court, and Calvin Rouse, the counsel of Jehovah’s Witnesses said according to the court transcript:
And I say “organization.” I am general counsel for the National Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses out of Brooklyn, New York. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be here, but this is one of our 13,000 congregations in the United States. We are a hierarchical religion structured just like the Catholic Church. And when the order from the Pope comes down in the church defrocking a priest and kicking him out, he no longer has any say in any matter in the local parish priest [sic.] — in the parish. The same is the situation here.
Of course, the brother who served as counsel for Jehovah’s Witnesses in this court case did not truly believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in every respect “a hierarchical religion structured just like the Catholic Church,” nor did he believe that the Governing Body is exactly like the Pope in power and function. However, that such a comparison even occurred to him as a defense strategy, and that it was able to stand up against cross-examination in a court of law speaks to its veracity. Like it or not, and regardless of personal perspective, the above comparison of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church is the reality that now exists, a fact that holds up under any scrutiny, apparently even that of a court of law.
To be sure, the eight members of the Governing Body function as a government for Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they have unlimited power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money. They demand absolute obedience, and those who are not obedient will be disfellowshipped. The members of the branch offices in different countries and the circuit overseers function as clergy, and they do everything that the Governing Body directs them to do without asking any questions. This is a situation that accords with the hardliner, T. Jaracz, and it contradicts the Christian freedom that was advocated by W.L. Barry. Thus, the present autocratic nature of the organization is a direct result of the outcome of the power struggle in the organization with Jaracz as the winner.
The extreme view of higher education
The extreme view of higher education is also a legacy of T. Jaracz. The crusade against higher education started in 2005 when Jaracz still was the undisputed leader of the Governing Body. It still continues, and this shows that the spirit of Jaracz is still the dominating spirit in the organization. Tens of thousands of young men and women have been pressured not to pursue higher education. And because of the lack of education, many Witnesses have a hard time finding jobs to care for their families.
One issue that was part of the power struggle in the 1980s was the view of education. Jaracz was strongly against higher education and against intellectual brothers and sisters. Since Barry was in charge of the Writing Department, he was able to counter the extreme view of Jaracz, as seen in the three articles quoted below. The Awake! magazine of August 22, 1989, page 30, says:
Our intent was not to malign university education. . . . How much secular education one pursues is entirely a personal matter.
The Watchtower of 1 November 1, 1992, pages 10-20 had two balanced articles on education, and these articles were written by Barry.
How much education does a young Christian need in order to respect these Bible principles and meet his Christian obligations? This varies from country to country. By and large, however, it seems that the general trend in many lands is that the level of schooling required to earn decent wages is now higher than it was a few years ago. (Page 17)
Who decides whether a young Christian should undertake further education or training? The Bible principle of headship comes into play here. (1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 6:1) On this basis parents will surely want to guide their children in the choice of a trade or occupation and consequently in the amount of education that will be needed. . . . So when parents and young Christians today, after carefully and prayerfully weighing the pros and cons, decide for or against postsecondary studies, others in the congregation should not criticize them. (page 19)
The Awake! magazine of March 8, 1998, page 21, says regarding education:
Just as was true in the first century, a wide variety of educational backgrounds exist among Christians today. Under the guidance of their parents, young people who complete their obligatory schooling may choose to pursue additional secular education…At any rate, such decisions are of a personal nature. Christians ought not to criticize or judge one another on this matter. James wrote, ‘Who are you to be judging your neighbor?’ (James 4:12)
During the ten years from 1989 to 1998, Barry prevented Jaracz’s extreme views of higher education to be published in the Watchtower literature. But that changed after the death of Barry in 1999. Several outlines for the talks at the Theocratic Ministry School and the Service Meeting from the year 2000 suggested that a new view of higher education had developed. This view was presented in The Watchtower of October 1, 2005, and later, in the literature, in letters from the Watchtower Society, in talks by members of the Governing Body, and in meetings between the circuit overseer and the elders. I give one example from a talk that G. Lösch gave as zone overseer in Monza (north of Milan in Italy) on May 22, 2005. In this talk, Lösch told those who were students at a college or university to drop out immediately. If not, he threatened them with Jehovah’s judgment.
We are not the masters of your faith. However, the faithful and discreet slave has the responsibility to warn against spiritual dangers and to encourage putting Kingdom interests first. So, the slave discourages from going to college for a long period of time. I have oftentimes heard experiences of individuals who were about to complete their college programs, and who dropped out when they learned the truth. Some other baptized individuals have turned down scholarships. What will you do? Which decisions will you make? Will you refuse or not? Will you get a university education or not? You will be accountable to Jehovah for this. We will like to praise those in the audience who dropped out of college when they accepted the truth, as we praise those, who after listening to this talk, will make the same decision.
Lösch then used an example of a man who tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head. But against all odds, he survived. Then Lösch said:
Yes, it is true, he survived, but would you recommend that other people imitate what the young man did? Similarly, some have survived college, but would you recommend that to others? Instead of investing in higher education, it would be advisable to grow in the knowledge of Jehovah.
Behind this talk, we can hear the echoing voice of Jaracz, that going to College is tantamount to trying to commit suicide. Contrary to Lösch’s disclaimer, the coercive and browbeating comments he made in his talk, pressuring the young people to accept his view of university education, was the very epitome of playing “masters of your faith.” And the fact that the extreme view of higher education still exists in the organization supports the claim that Jaracz selected new members of the Governing Body who were hardliners like himself.
The practice of disfellowshipping
Disfellowshipping persons who are permeated with wickedness, such as incorrigible thieves, habitual drunkards, and sexually immoral persons, is authorized in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and should be done. Chapters 5 and 6, in my book My Beloved Religion—And The Governing Body, third edition, has a detailed discussion of what the Christian Greek Scriptures say about disfellowshipping. These chapters show that there are only 11 different disfellowshipping offenses according to the Christian Greek Scriptures, while the book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) lists 46 such offenses. The expansion of the list to 46 disfellowshipping offenses is also the legacy of Jaracz, as I will show below.
In 1961, the book Questions in Connection with the Service of the Kingdom was published. It was written for judicial committees in the congregations. When I started as a circuit servant (overseer) in 1965, I received this book as a guide for my work, and I used it for many years. I count 7 disfellowshipping offenses in this book. In 1991, the book “Pay Attention To Yourselves And To All Your Flock” was published, and in this book, I count 20 disfellowshipping offenses. In 2019, the book “Shepherd The Flock Of God” was published, and in this book, I count 46 disfellowshipping offenses. Included in these are four situations where a person is said to be “disassociating himself” from the organization. But “disassociating” is really a euphemism for disfellowshipping. My book shows that 35 of the 46 disfellowshipping offenses are made up and invented by the Governing Body without any Bible basis.
After the death of Barry in 1999, the number of disfellowshipping offenses doubled. And because of the unanimous testimony regarding Jaracz as a hardliner who sought to make rules and laws in addition to the Bible, it is only natural to surmise that all the new disfellowshipping offenses were introduced under his influence. This is clearly seen by the publication of the book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” in 2010. All the 46 disfellowshipping offenses that we find in the book with the same name from 2019 are found in this book from 2010. The difference is that in the book from 2010, professional boxing was listed as a disfellowshipping offense. But this is not the case in the book from 2019. Moreover, all forms of gambling were listed in the 2010 book as disfellowshipping offenses, but only working in a gambling establishment and gambling as an expression of greed is listed as disfellowshipping offenses in the book from 2019.
The doubling of the disfellowshipping offenses had occurred particularly between 1999 and 2010 when Jaracz was the dominant voice of the Governing Body. These disfellowshipping offenses were made-up and invented by the Governing Body without any basis in the Bible, and this accords very well with the personal-rules-oriented personality and spirit of Jaracz. Last year about 80,000 Witnesses were disfellowshipped, and in my view, 90% of them should not have been if the Bible was followed. Therefore, there are good reasons to conclude that the outcome of the power struggle in the 1980s and 1990s, where Jaracz came out the winner, is the reason the lives of tens of thousands of Witnesses have been ruined by being disfellowshipped for reasons that are not based on the Bible.
On this webpage, all the 46 disfellowshipping offenses have been discussed in detail. In this context, I will comment on one category of the new disfellowshipping offenses as an example of how the members of the Governing Body have made up and invented new laws that have no basis in the Bible. This is the category “Gross uncleanness” and “Uncleanness with greediness.” I show in My Beloved Religion—And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 236-242, that these expressions are human constructs of the Governing Body and have no basis in the Bible.
Below the heading “Gross uncleanness” and “Uncleanness with greediness,” we find the following disfellowshipping offenses:
- Momentary Touching of intimate Body Parts or Caressing of Breasts.
- Immoral Conversations Over the Telephone or the Internet.
- Viewing Abhorrent Forms of Pornography.
- Misuse of Tobacco
- Use of Marijuana, Betel nut
- Abuse of Medical, Illicit, or Addictive Drugs.
- Extreme Physical Uncleanness.
- Oral and Anal copulation inside marriage
It is obvious that these disfellowshipping offenses are made up and invented by the Governing Body because none of the listed actions are mentioned in the Bible.
I will make some comments on the first point. From the time this disfellowshipping offense was introduced about 25 years ago, I have refused to be a member of a judicial committee dealing with this issue. I have also pointed out to my fellow elders that there is no basis in the Bible for this point to be considered a disfellowshipping offense. Elders can help a Witness who asks for assistance (James 5:14-16). But no passage in the Bible gives the elders the right to interrogate their fellow Witnesses about their personal lives, as point 1 above requires.
Moreover, the description of what this point actually means is ambiguous and unclear, as we see in the quotation below. This means that the decision made by the judicial committee must be arbitrary. The Watchtower of July 15, 2006, page 30, says:
Suppose an engaged couple indulged in passion-arousing heavy petting on numerous occasions. The elders might determine that even though these individuals did not manifest a brazen attitude characterizing loose conduct, there was a measure of greediness in their conduct. So the elders might take judicial action because gross uncleanness was involved. Gross uncleanness might also be appropriate grounds for handling a case involving a person who repeatedly makes sexually explicit telephone calls to another person, especially if he was previously counseled about the matter. (italics mine)
I will now discuss the expressions in this quotation. What is the meaning of passion-arousing heavy petting? How can the judicial committee find the meaning so as to determine whether the couple is guilty of this? And how many times is “on numerous occasions”? Different elders will give different answers. Then we have the expression “loose conduct” Actually, what is that? And there is something that is connected with “loose conduct,” namely, “a brazen attitude.” How can “a brazen attitude” be defined, and how is such an attitude expressed? And what about the concept of “greediness”? What does it mean, and how is it expressed?
. The article “Greed” in the category, “The eleven disfellowshipping offenses” shows that the concept “greed” is not found in the Bible and that any rendering of “greed,” that is found in the NWT13 and many other Bible translations, is a wrong translation.
When the elders have considered these questions, they must remember that a person needs not to show greediness to be guilty of sin. It is enough to show “a measure of greediness.” And how much is “a measure”? And lastly, we have the concept of “gross uncleanness”; and how much is “gross”? The quotation above uses an engaged couple as an example. So how can the committee members find out whether they are guilty of “gross uncleanness”?
We see that the whole situation is ambiguous and unclear. To judge a person, even to exclude him or her from the congregation on the basis of laws that can be interpreted in many different ways, is against the spirit of true Christianity.
In this section, the extreme view of higher education has been discussed. It has also been shown that 80% of the disfellowshipping offenses listed in the book for elders are made-up and invented by the Governing Body without any basis in the Bible. The evidence presented is a clear indication of the autocratic nature the organization has taken on in the 21st century. And this autocratic nature was also the byproduct of the power struggle inside the Governing Body, where the hardliner T. Jaracz came out the winner.
|The extreme view on higher education and the more than 20 new disfellowshipping offenses that are not based on the Bible occurred on the watch of T. Jaracz, and who was the originator. Therefore, these are the result of the power struggle inside the Governing Body where Jaracz was the winner.|
. The Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of San Mateo. Case No. CIV508137, February 2012, page 4.
. Chapter 4 in My Beloved Religion—And the Governing Body, third edition, has a detailed discussion of what the Watchtower literature has written about higher education.
. Addiction to drugs is not a disfellowshipping offense according to the Christian Greek Scriptures. But practicing intoxication by drugs may put a person in the same class as a person who practices intoxication by alcohol. Being permeated by such actions can lead to disfellowshipping.
THE NEW VIEW OF THE BIBLE
The article “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible” on this webpage shows 1) The claim that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today, 2) That they have elevated themselves to prophets by presenting what the Bible text reminds them of as spiritual food rather than the meaning of the text itself, and 3) That they reject what Jesus says about who will be resurrected from the dead in Matthew chapter 11. In this section, I show how the revised version of the New World Translation (NWT13) devalues the text of the Bible by the use of inaccurate idiomatic translation methods. This new view of the Bible is also a product of the power struggle inside the Governing Body in the 1980s and 1990s.
The members of the Governing Body as teachers of the Bible
I take the aforementioned project on the sixth floor studying the subtleties and nuances of the original text of the Bible as a point of departure. This was a project in the spirit of the original New World Bible Translation Committee, namely, for all to acquire accurate Bible knowledge. It also aligned well with the education program for all Witnesses initiated by N.H. Knorr in 1943. This program continued for a long time, as seen by the publication of the book United in Worship of the Only True God in 1983, which is an excellent tool for interactive Bible study. And in 1986, the above-mentioned project to study the details of the original languages of the Bible was approved by the Governing Body. The future looked bright for a detailed analysis of the Bible text, to the scriptural enlightenment of the whole community of Jehovah’s people. But then came the power struggle, which turned out to be the monkey wrench thrown into the plans to further the education of Jehovah’s Witnesses as its outcome led the organization in a completely different direction.
The situation that developed in the latter years of the 1980s illustrates the weaknesses of the present members of the Governing Body. They claim to be anointed brothers, and they have many years of experience in the full-time service, most of them as circuit and district overseers. Their extensive experience as Witnesses has helped them to understand the organization from the inside, and their experience in organizing circuits and districts may help them in their organizing of the worldwide community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Each of them may also have developed personal skills in different areas that they can apply in their position as leaders of the organization.
However, in one area —and this is the most important one—they come up short. None of them knows the original languages of the Bible, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. In a group of leaders, the different members have different tasks. So, we should not require that all the members of the Governing Body should be Bible scholars. But it is obvious that at least one or two of them should know the original languages of the Bible in order to be effective Bible teachers. How can they teach others the true meaning of the text of the Bible when they themselves cannot read and understand this text?
When Jaracz hand-picked the new members of the Governing Body, he looked for brothers who were hardliners like himself, and evidently, he did not look for intellectual persons with deep Bible knowledge or persons who knew the Bible languages. Because of their own lack of knowledge of the Bible languages, we can understand how human nature would cause them to view any approach similar to the former study group on the sixth floor as rivals, who, because of their deep Bible knowledge, might threaten their own position as leaders. That former group had been dissolved due to this type of concern. The lack of knowledge of the Bible languages and sufficient related education on the part of the Governing Body also accounts for their new view that the Bible is not fully inspired, and why their publications do not analyze the original text of the Bible, but rather ask what this text reminds them of. The preference of this current Governing Body towards Bible interpretation is a purely subjective, almost mystical, approach to the Scriptures, which cannot be questioned or challenged since it is based on their personal opinions and wielding their personal perceived authority. They have rejected the former analytical and methodological approaches which were based on context, linguistics, and a systematic comparison of texts and their meaning.
The revised New World Translation
The most important reason for the study project that the Governing Body terminated was to help the translators of the NWT in different countries to choose the best native words in their translations. These translators worked from the English NWT, and they did not know the original languages of the Bible. But lists of the nuances of the words in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek could be of great help for them to make the best choices. The mentioned study project would have provided the data to create such lists. But this work was stopped. And what would be the quality of the new revision? Would this revision project be a scholarly one or an amateurish one? That would depend on the qualifications of those who led the translation work and on the translation principles that were used.
The translation principles of the revised NWT
I have a University degree in applied linguistics (translation), and I have translated many documents from the Semitic languages into Norwegian and English. I have also translated a part of the Hebrew Bible text into English in the book The Fallacy of Prophetic Perfect—With Translations of Verses From the Prophets (2019). In this book, I present a strictly literal translation of verses from 115 chapters in the books of the prophets. The details and nuances of the Hebrew and Aramaic text are transferred to the English text, and when the word order indicates emphasis, this is marked in English. A comparison of my translation and NWT13 will show a great difference. From my point of view, it seems that the project with NWT13 and the translation of this English text into different languages has several amateurish traits rather than professional ones.
I start with the translation principles. Two characteristics made the original NWT such an outstanding translation, 1) Utmost care was taken to render the nuances of the verbs into the target language, and 2) One English word for every original word was used whenever that was possible. Both of these characteristics that distinguished the NWT from other translations were abandoned in NWT13. Here the amateurish nature of the NWT13 revision project is clearly seen because the translators do not even understand the meaning of Hebrew verb grammar. The Watchtower of December 15, 2015, pages 16, 17 says:
Why has the rendering of many Hebrew verbs been simplified? The two main Hebrew verb states are the imperfect, denoting continuous action, and perfect, denoting completed action. Past editions of the New World Translation consistently rendered Hebrew imperfect verbs with a verb and an auxiliary term, such as “proceeded to” or “went on to” in order to show continuous or repeated action. Emphatic expressions such as “certainly,” “must,” and “indeed” were used to show the completed action of perfect verbs.
In the 2013 revision, such auxiliary expressions are not used unless they add to the meaning. For example, there is no need to emphasize that God repeatedly said, “Let there be light,” So in the revision, the imperfect verb “say” is not rendered as continuous. (Gen. 1:3) However, Jehovah evidently called to Adam repeatedly, so this is still highlighted at Genesis 3:9 with the rendering “kept calling.” Overall, verbs are rendered in a simpler way, focusing on the action rather than on the incomplete and complete aspects reflected in the Hebrew. A related benefit is that this helps to recapture, to an extent, the terseness of the Hebrew.
The translators believed that Hebrew imperfect denotes continuous action and perfect denotes completed action. But this is wrong! Actually, both forms can denote continuous action and completed action, although imperfect denotes continuous action to a greater extent. They also believed that when the original NWT used auxiliary forms such as “proceeded to” and kept on…,” this denoted repeated action. This is also wrong. In My Beloved Religion—And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 409-417, there is a detailed discussion of how the translators misunderstood the force of the Hebrew verbs.
Both Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek verbs are rendered in an inconsistent way, and most of the nuances that we find in the original NWT are not found in NWT13. This has implications for the view of the Bible as inspired by God. While the members of the original New World Bible Translation Committee believed that God’s secretaries who wrote the books of the Bible chose the words of their books, they also believed that the nuances and subtleties of the text were directed by holy spirit and so were important. Therefore, these nuances and subtleties should be expressed in Bible translations.
The members of the Governing Body today do not believe that the nuances and subtleties of the text of the Bible have any importance, only the broader picture is relevant. This is also seen in the rejection of one English word for each word in the original text. While the original NWT encouraged deep Bible study with a focus on the original text of the Bible, the NWT13 makes such a study difficult and problematic because of its idiomatic and interpretative nature. And most important as it relates to our faith in the Bible: The translation methods used in NWT13 insinuate that the nuances and subtleties of the original text are not important and need not be studied.
This new view that the details of the text of the Bible are not important comes very close to a denial of the full inspiration of the Bible. The Watchtower of March 15, 2015, pages 7-11, shows that large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures have no meaning for us today. This amounts to a denial of the full inspiration of the Bible, and this denial is seen in detail in the book Pure Worship Of Jehovah — Restored At Last! (2018) . In this book, the Hebrew text for the most part is not analyzed and explained. But what the text reminds the Governing Body of is what is served up as spiritual food. This new view that the details of the text of the Bible are not important was already gestating in the minds of the hardliners in the late 1980s when the project on the sixth floor was terminated.
The qualifications of the translators of the revised NWT
I will now take a closer look at the qualifications of the translators of the NWT13 and its translation into other languages. The witness of Geoffrey Jackson in the court case of the Royal Commission in Australia shows that he was the Governing Body member who was in charge of the translation process. He, together with another brother, was the one who visited Norway and was the instructor of a course for the Scandinavian translators who would translate NWT13 into their languages. In his life story in The Watchtower of August 15, 2015, he relates that in 1980 he and his wife were assigned to translate the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life into Tuvaluan, the language of the Ellice Islands in the Pacific Ocean. He wrote that “We felt totally unqualified.” However, they started with the translation work, and gradually, they became good translators.
That Jackson and his wife took the challenge and learned to be translators is impressive. But this does not qualify him to be in charge of a group of Bible translators. Translation is both an art and a skill, and if a person has not studied translation theory and linguistics, he definitely is not qualified to be in charge of a group of translators. Moreover, the choice of translators of the NWT13 into other languages is strange. I know that in several countries, the experienced translators at the branch office were not asked to take part in the translation work of this Bible. Only younger and less experienced translators were chosen. This is the very opposite of the standard procedure of a professional Bible translation project—the most qualified translators are chosen.
In My Beloved Religion—And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 405-425, I have written a critical review of the English NWT13. Because Norwegian and Hebrew are languages that are close to my heart, I will outline a few problems with the translation of NWT13 into these languages.
In 1996, the original NWT was published in Norwegian. This is a very fine literal translation that is clear and understandable. In connection with the Norwegian NWT17 (a translation of the English NWT13), it seems to me that translators have cast off all restraints and have made a translation so free that it often misleads rather than enlightens the readers. I will discuss two examples, namely, Romans 13:1 and 2 Peter 3:12
Hver enkelt skal underordne seg myndighetene, for det finnes ingen myndighet som ikke er fra Gud. De eksisterende myndighetene har fått sin relative myndighet av Gud.
Every person must be in subjection to the authorities. For there is no authority except by God. The existing authorities have received their relative authority from God.
Mens dere venter på og alltid har i tankene at Jehovas dag skal komme.
Footnote: Bokst. «Jehovas dags nærvær».
As you wait and always have in mind that the day of Jehovah will come.
Footnote: “Bokst. ‘the presence of the day of Jehovah’.”
In Romans 13:1, the translators have misunderstood the text. The English text has the words “relative positions,” and there is a great difference between “relative positions” and “relative authority.” The Greek text shows that the word “relative” relates to the position between different authorities: one government comes and passes away, then another government takes its place and passes away, and then a third one takes its place, and so on. The position between these authorities is “relative.” Of course, Christians must show relative obedience to the authorities, but the translators mistakenly believed that this is the point of the verse. Therefore, the use of the rendering “sin relative myndighet” (“their relative authority”) is not only an inaccurate translation, but is also clearly the wrong meaning of the text.
The Greek word parousia should always be translated as “nærvær” (“presence”). There is no clear example in any of the Greek-English lexicons that the word has the instantaneous meaning of “come,” that it refers to the moment someone is coming. By using the Norwegian word “komme” (“coming”), the translators imply that the instantaneous meaning is possible. But if that is the case, parousia in Matthew 24:3 could also be translated as “coming,” which would mislead the readers. That the footnote has the alternative “nærvær” (“presence”) does not help. By using “coming” in the text, the translators indicate that this is a legitimate rendering of parousia, which is not true. Moreover, that the day of Jehovah will come is not Peter’s point. Rather, Peter is stressing the importance of always having the presence of Jehovah’s day in mind, whenever that day might come.
In connection with the translation of the English NWT13 into modern Hebrew, I will not point to any formulations. But I will make some comments on the translation itself. The text of Biblia Hebraica, the Hebrew Bible, has for many years been used in Israel to teach pupils in elementary school, and most people in Israel, including atheists, are familiar with portions of the text of the Biblia Hebraica. This means that when a new Bible version is translated from English into modern Hebrew with a text that differs from the text of the Bible that everyone is already very familiar with, this is a real blunder. To use this “false” text of the Bible does not appeal to those we want to preach to. So there simply is no logical purpose in translating the English NWT13 into modern Hebrew. But the members of the Governing Body do not understand this! Both for Norway and Israel, it would have been better not to translate the English NWT13 into these languages and instead to have used the good translations that already existed.
So my conclusion regarding NWT13 is that both the translation work and its distribution as a tool for preaching the good news are rather amateurish and not professional. It would have been much better to have made a revised version of the original NWT, where its literal translation principles were followed, but where the language was updated to the modern idiom.
This did not happen, and the basic reason for this is, again, the outcome of the power struggle inside the Governing Body that started in the 1980s. The members of the Governing Body who were chosen by Jaracz were not only hardliners who introduced a number of manmade laws and regulations, but they also were not persons who were used to deep Bible study. And because they did not know the original Bible languages, they were satisfied with a superficial approach to the text of the Bible.
So both the NWT13 and the new view of the Bible that it represents can be traced back to the power struggle inside the Governing Body. Both are a part of the legacy of Theodore Jaracz.
|The new view of the Bible is the result of the outcome of the power struggle inside the Governing Body where Jaracz evidently was the driving force behind the termination of the Bible study group on the sixth floor in the late 1980s. His anti-intellectual bent and non-linguistic approach to the study of the Bible left an indelible mark on the Governing Body members who were behind the NWT13.|
. See My Beloved Religion—And The Governing Body, third edition, pages 418-419.
. See “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible” in the category, “The Governing Body.”
A brother who was a part of the inner circle at Brooklyn Bethel in the 1980s recently wrote: The organization “in many ways is no longer recognizable as the religion that we knew.” In the 20th century, the organization cherished Christian freedom and deep Bible study. In the 21st century, the organization has become autocratic with all power in the hands of eight men, and where deep Bible study is no longer encouraged.
This study has shown that the reason for all of this can be traced back to the power struggle in the 1980s and 1990s between T. Jaracz and W.L. Barry, where Jaracz, who was a hardliner, came out the winner. Yes, after the death of Barry in 1999, Jaracz was able to acquire more and more power to the point where he became, to all intents and purposes, the leader of the Governing Body. He hand-picked six of the eight current members of the Governing Body, who were hardliners like himself.
The autocratic nature of the organization is seen by the over-the-top crusade against higher education that started in 2005 along with the addition of more than 20 new disfellowshipping offenses that are not based on the Bible. The seeds for these changes were initiated by Jaracz, who was the leader of the Governing Body until his death in 2010.
In the 1980s, there was a project for the study of the nuances and subtleties of the original texts of the Bible. Jaracz was one of those who disapproved of this project and caused its cancellation. This was the first overt expression of the view that the nuances and subtleties of the Bible are not important. And this unscriptural paradigm continues to be reflected in the revised NWT published in 2013 with its idiomatic and interpretative text. This view evolved in 2015 to include what amounts to a denial of the full inspiration of the Bible, and this denial is clearly expressed in the book Pure Worship of Jehovah—Restored At Last! published in 2018. These new views of the Bible are also the result of the power struggle in the 1980s where Jaracz was the winner, So, all of these negative outcomes are the true legacy of Theodore Jaracz.