One of the seven actions subsumed under the term “apostasy” is “interfaith activities.” The basic scripture referred to is 2 Corinthians 6:17, where Paul says, “Get out from among them.” The pronoun “them” refers to idolaters and unbelievers and not to other religions. I show that according to the Christian Greek Scriptures, there is only one true religion. And Christians must follow the pattern mentioned in 2 Corinthians 6:17 and have nothing to do with false religions. However, 2 Corinthians chapter 6 does not speak about disfellowshipping, and interfaith activities are not mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Thus, the disfellowshipping offense “interfaith activities” is made up and invented by the Governing Body.
In many of the false religious groups, the thinking is “we” versus “they”; we are the true Christians that will get everlasting life, but the others will not get life. The members of the only true religion rightly believe that “we” have God’s approval and will get everlasting life. But the idea that “they,” all the others, will not get everlasting life is wrong. This is an egocentric idea that lacks Bible support.
The Christian Greek Scriptures show that by his ransom sacrifice, Jesus bought all descendants of Adam. Because of this and of Jehovah’s righteousness, every one of Adam’s descendants must get a real chance to accept the ransom sacrifice and serve Jehovah or not. All persons who are dead and have not received a real chance will get a resurrection and get their chance on Judgment Day.
It is not true that “we,” Jehovah’s Witnesses, will survive the great tribulation and that “they,” the eight billion+ persons on the earth, will be everlastingly destroyed in the great tribulation. Most of these eight billion persons have not had a real chance. On the basis of the ransom sacrifice and God’s righteousness, there are three possibilities:
1) All living persons will get a real chance to believe in Jehovah and Jesus Christ before the great tribulation.
2) Those who have not had a real chance, and who die before the great tribulation or in the great tribulation, will get a resurrection and have their chance on Judgment Day.
3) Those who have not had a real chance will survive the great tribulation and have their chance on Judgment Day.
This means that “we” will get everlasting life, and a great number of “they” will get everlasting life as well. Therefore, the contrast between “we” and “they” is much smaller and less distinct than the members of the Governing Body advocate.
The organization today is very different from what the organization was in 1972 when the elder arrangement was introduced. In the 21st century, the organization has become autocratic with all power in the hands of eight men. This means that it is possible to violate God’s will by participating in interfaith activities both outside and inside of the organization. By supporting the procedures and practices that violate Bible principles that the present Governing Body has introduced, we participate in “interfaith” activities inside the organization.
On the other hand, by being obedient to the Governing Body in all things except those that violate Bible principles, Witnesses will not be participating in interfaith activities but will be following the words of the Bible.
Seven different actions are subsumed under the umbrella term “apostasy.” One of them refers to “interfaith activities.” The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” 39 (2) says:
Participation in Interfaith Activities: (2 Cor. 6:14, 15, 17, 18) Apostate acts include bowing before altars and images and sharing in false religious songs and prayers.— Rev 18:2, 4.
Regarding the relationship between the only true religion and other religions, The Watchtower June 1, 2010, page 27, says
The early Christians lived in a multicultural and multireligious world. Yet, when writing about the mingling of different religions, Paul asked: “What portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever?” Then he warned Christians to “get out from among them.” (2 Corinthians 6:15, 17) Clearly, Paul was speaking against interfaith. Why did he do so?
The apostle explained that spiritual fellowship between one who is a true Christian and one who is not would be an uneven yoke, a misfit. (2 Corinthians 6:14) It could result only in harm to the Christian’s faith. Paul’s concerns were like those of a father who knows that some children in his neighborhood behave badly. As a concerned parent, he wisely sets limits on whom his child should play with. His restrictions may be unpopular. Under the circumstances, however, being separate would protect his child from bad influences. Similarly, Paul knew that being separate from other religions would protect Christians against their harmful practices.
In taking that stand, Paul was imitating Jesus. While Jesus set the greatest example in promoting peace among people, he did not practice interfaith. Many religious groups, such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees, were active during Jesus’ earthly ministry. In fact, these religious factions joined forces to challenge Jesus, going as far as to plot his death. Jesus, on the other hand, directed his followers to “watch out . . . for the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”—Matthew 16:12.
What about today? Is the Bible’s warning against interfaith still valid? Yes, it is. This is because differing religious beliefs cannot bond through interfaith any more than oil and water can mix simply by putting them together in a pot. For instance, when people of different religions come together to pray for peace, which god is being petitioned? Christendom’s Trinitarian God? Hinduism’s Brahma? The Buddha? Or someone else?
Most of the observations in the quotation are correct. But the words, “Paul was speaking against interfaith.” are not correct. The Online NWT13 shows that the words “Get out from among them” is a quotation from Isaiah 52:11, and it was “a prophetic command for the Jews who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon in 537.”
Paul does not tell the Corinthians to get out from other religions. But he tells them to get out from among unbelievers, from those who are worshipping idols, just as the Babylonians did. Today, we can apply these words to religions in Asia and Africa, where idols are worshipped. But we can hardly apply Paul’s words to the Norwegian Lutheran Church, to Baptists, and to Pentecostals. Of course, these are false religions because they have doctrines that contradict the Bible, and I do not advocate that members of the true religion should take part in the religious services of these religions. My point is that Paul is not speaking about the so-called Christian religions. This means that how true Christians go about dealing with this particular category of false religion must be based on other Scriptures.
However, the important point in our discussion is that Paul does not discuss disfellowshipping in 2 Corinthians chapter 6, and no passage in the Christian Greek Scriptures speak about “interfaith activities” as a disfellowshipping offense. Thus, disfellowshipping Witnesses because of interfaith activities is made up and invented by the Governing Body.
THE TRUE RELIGION VERSUS OTHER RELIGIONS
When Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17 uses the words “Get out from among them,” he referred to idolaters and unbelievers (6:14-18). What about persons who claim to be Christians but reject portions of God’s Word, the Bible? In his first letter to Timotheus 4:1-3, Paul writes:
1 However, the inspired word clearly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired statements and teachings of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, whose conscience is seared as with a branding iron. 3 They forbid marriage and command people to abstain from foods that God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth.
Paul speaks about “the faith” and “the truth” from which some “will fall away.” In his second letter to Timothy 4:3, 4 (NIV), Paul speaks in the same vein:
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
According to Paul, there is only one right religion, representing “the truth,” “the sound (or, ‘healthful’) doctrine.” This truth would not suit the desires of many people. Therefore, they would listen to teachers who said what they wanted to hear. The result would be that they would believe in myths rather than the sound or healthful doctrine. The two quotations above show that there is only one true church or congregation, and this is also shown by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:15 (NIV):
If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
The word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklēsia, which most often is translated by “congregation.” There is only one “congregation of the living God,” and it is “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” If we believe that the Bible is inspired by God, there is only one possible conclusion to draw: Of all the churches or congregations with different doctrines and different practices, only one can be the true congregation of the living God. This means that while Paul, in the context of 2 Corinthians 6:17, uses the words “Get out from among them,” in reference to unbelievers and idolaters, true Christians must also follow this pattern in connection with all false religions that are teaching doctrines that do not accord with the Bible.
That there is only one true religion is found in prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures as well. In the book of Daniel, we find the expression, “the people of the holy ones of the Most High.” (Daniel 7:27, NJB) In the last chapter of Daniel, we read that the understanding of his prophecies dealing with the time of the conclusion (end) should be sealed until this time. (Daniel 12:10–12) The angel who spoke with Daniel, also showed that God would have a people. We read:
He raised his right hand and his left hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever, ‘A time and two times, and half a time; and all these things will come true, once the crushing of the holy people’s power is over.’ (12:7, NJB)
It is obvious that in order for the power of the holy people to be crushed, they would have to be a tight-knit group that could be distinguished from all other groups so as to be readily identified and targeted.
A symbolic beast is described in Revelation chapter 13. This beast “was given authority to act for 42 months,” which is the same time when ‘the power of the holy people would be crushed,’ as mentioned in Daniel 12:7, and it should “wage war against the holy ones and conquer them.” (Revelation 13:5, 7, NWT13) The dragon would “wage war with the remaining ones of her [the symbolic woman mentioned in 12:1–2] offspring, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness concerning Jesus.” (Revelation 13:17, NWT13)
The references above unquestionably show that there is only one true religion, which is a tight-knit group of people that can be readily identified out of all other peoples. It stands to reason then, that members of the true religion would not take part in interfaith activities, but how should Christians view the members of other religions?
“WE” AND “THEY”? OR JUST “WE”?
John says that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19 NWT13). On the other hand, he says, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NWT13). The real issue on this background is whether our thinking should be that “we are inside” and “they are outside”? Or should our thinking be that we should include everyone in “we” because “we are all part of the world that God loves”? These questions do not mean that I, in some respects, advocate interfaith relationships. But the answers to the questions can help us to have a balanced view of all the individuals in the world that God loves.
The role of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus
The key expression is that “everyone exercising faith in him…[will] have everlasting life.” These words show that there is no universal salvation for every member of the world that God loves; only those who exercise faith will have everlasting life. At the same time, since Jehovah, according to 1 Timothy 2:4, wants “everyone” in the world to exercise faith in Jesus and gain everlasting life, it is self-evident that he would follow up on his desire by ensuring that “everyone” gets at least a real chance to do so.
How can a person “exercise faith in him”? Paul answers in Romans 10:14, 15.
14 However, how will they call on him if they have not put faith in him? How, in turn, will they put faith in him about whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? 15 How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent out? Just as it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!”
The only religious denomination preaching worldwide about the Kingdom of God is Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is one of the lines of evidence showing that they represent the true religion. But what is the scope of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ that makes it possible for sinners to be reconciled to God? 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 (NWT13) says:
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.
The Greek word pas (“all, every”) in the phrase “ransom for all” is used in this scripture and in Romans 8:32 and 2 Corinthians 5:15. This word can refer to all within a limited group, or it can be used in a universal sense to include all persons or all things in the whole world. Romans 5:12-21 shows the contrast between Adam and Jesus, and this shows that the word pas is used in a universal sense to include all descendants of Adam. Therefore, all descendants of Adam have been bought by Jesus. (1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Peter 2:1)
On the basis of the scope of the ransom sacrifice—that all descendants of Adam are bought—we see a dilemma. To exercise faith in Jesus Christ is a requirement for gaining everlasting life. But most of the descendants of Adam never got to hear about Jesus or had the opportunity to exercise faith in him. So how does God’s righteousness compensate for this deficit? Acts 24:15 gives the answer:
15 And I have hope toward God, which hope these men also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.
Everything God does has a purpose, and when unrighteous persons who did not know about Jesus get a resurrection, it is for the purpose of giving them this chance when they come back to life again on this earth. During a period of one thousand years, the resurrection will occur. (Revelation 20:11-14) Every descendant of Adam is bought by Jesus, and so every descendant must get a real chance to exercise faith in Jesus or reject him. This will happen during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus. But what about persons who live today in the time of the end before Jesus comes as the judge in the great tribulation? How will they get their chance?
The ransom sacrifice of Jesus applied to our time
Jesus showed that his followers would preach the good news of the Kingdom to all the inhabited earth as a witness, and then the end would come. (Matthew 24:14) On the basis of this preaching by Jehovah’s Witnesses, sincere persons may “exercise faith in Jesus.” However, we note that Jesus says that the preaching would be as a witness to all the nations and not as a witness to every person living on the earth.
This is important because in connection with the race to give a witness to each individual living on the earth before ‘the end comes,’ Jehovah’s Witnesses have already lost! Each year, more persons who have not heard the good news of the Kingdom are added to the world population compared with the year before. The reason for this is the great increase in the population of the earth year after year. Moreover, the Corona pandemic has for the last two years prevented the Witnesses to preach from house to house. And because of this, the number of persons who have not been reached with the good news of the Kingdom has increased even more.
This means that hearing the good news of the Kingdom preached by Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot be the deciding factor in who will survive the great tribulation. This is so because, with each passing year, fewer and fewer individuals will personally hear the preaching of the good news due to the sheer increase in the world population. Nevertheless, all persons living on the earth at any given time are bought by Jesus, not just those who died in the past. And so, based on Jehovah’s righteous standards, all persons alive on earth today must also get the same chance that the ‘resurrected unrighteous’ ones will be given—to decide whether they will serve Jehovah God and Jesus Christ or not (Acts 24:15).
My article, “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ” shows that 70% of the 8 billion+ that are alive when the great tribulation comes have not got the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
|Jehovah’s Witnesses have already lost the race to reach all persons on the earth with their preaching. Because of the steady increase in world population, more people are added each year that will never hear the message preached by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Therefore, hearing the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and “exercising faith” based thereon, cannot be the deciding factor in who will survive the great tribulation.|
Who will survive the great tribulation, and who will get a resurrection?
No one today can answer this question. But one thing is absolutely certain, and that is that “we,” the 12 million Jehovah’s Witnesses, will not be the only ones that survive the great tribulation, while “they,” the eight billion+ inhabitants of the earth, including older persons and children, will not survive. Why is this an absolute certainty? Because of Jehovah’s righteousness, and because Jesus has bought each one of these eight billion+ persons. A study of what the Bible says about the resurrection will make this clearer.
EXCURSUS ON THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
A study of what the Bible says about the resurrection of the dead may give us some clues as to who will survive the great tribulation. In this connection, the words of Jesus are important.
Matthew 12:41, 42
These texts show that a great number of people who did not repent of their wrong actions when they lived will, in spite of that, be resurrected on Judgment Day (the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ). This includes the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Tyre, Sidon, Nineveh, and Sodom.
But wait just a minute. The members of the Governing Body do not agree that all these persons will get a resurrection. Luke 10:12 says:
The note in NWT13 study edition says:
My reaction to this study note is that it clearly contradicts what Jesus actually said. In order to avoid entering into the realm of conjecture and guesswork when attempting to understand a Bible text, the text should always be taken at face value, i.e., literally, unless the near context clearly indicates that it is figurative or symbolic. There is nothing in the context of Matthew chapters 11 and 12 to even hint that the words of Jesus should not be taken at face value—as literal truth. It is a pity that such interpretative comments are made in a Study Bible. When we read the NWT13 study edition, we do not hear the voice of Jehovah. But we hear the voice of members of the the Governing Body, who simply rejects what the text of the Bible says.
. For a more detailed discussion, see the articles, “Snippets related to the work and views of the Governing Body” and “The members of the Governing Body do not believe in the full inspiration of the Bible.” Both are found in the category “The Governing Body.”
In contrast with the comments above, The Watchtower March 1, 1965, page 139, says regarding the resurrection:
The above quoted Watchtower article takes Jesus words in Matthew chapters 11 and 12 at face value and then reasons from there. Therefore, the article is solidly based on the words of Jesus, and so its logical conclusions based thereon are difficult to dismiss. On the other hand, it is very difficult for me to understand the logic behind the comments and the conclusion on Luke 10:12 in the NWT13 Study Edition. The only argument seemingly in favor of the conclusion of these comments is Jude verse 7, where Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned as having undergone “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire” (NWT13). However, the subject of this punishment is “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them.” These cities, themselves, were destroyed forever by fire and Sulphur, but Jude does not mention the everlasting destiny of the inhabitants of these cities.
The thematic concept of “everlasting fire” has been used elsewhere in the Bible in connection with the permanent destruction of a physical city. For example; concerning the destruction of the city of Bozrah, the capital of Edom Isaiah 34:9, 10 says:
Instead of referring to the everlasting destiny of Edom’s inhabitants, this scripture has reference to the permanent destruction of its physical city Bozrah, as if by an ‘everlasting fire’. In fulfillment of this prophecy, Edom’s capital city along with the rest of the nation “completely disappeared from the world scene as if she had been totally consumed with fire and sulfur,” says the Governing Body publication, Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! p. 210
Another physical city that was prophesied to be permanently destroyed was the city of Babylon. The Bible pointedly says that the city of Babylon would never again be inhabited. But to what extent? The Bible’s answer to that question is very interesting and revealing. Isaiah 13:19, 20a says:
Not only does this scripture clarify the extent to which Babylon would be uninhabited—totally and permanently—but it also makes clear that the “everlasting fire,” that Jude verse 7 says Sodom and Gomorrah underwent, refers to these physical cities ‘never being inhabited’ again “throughout all generations”. Therefore, the Bible provides its own internal answer to the question raised concerning the “everlasting fire” meted out to Sodom and Gomorrah. Clearly, the “punishment of everlasting fire” applies to the permanent destruction of the physical cities, themselves, and not to the eternal destiny of their inhabitants.
The reason why the inhabitants of all the mentioned cities will get a resurrection is as follows:
1) The inhabitants of Tyre, Sidon, Nineveh, Sodom, Chorazin, and Betsaida are in hades (sheol) and not in Gehenna. All persons in hades will get a resurrection. (Revelation 20:13, 14)
2) In contrast to “the wicked and adulterous generation” (Matthew 11:39) who did not repent because of the preaching of Jesus, “the men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment” and “the queen of the south will be raised up in judgment with this generation” (12:41, 42) These words explicitly say that the men of Nineveh, the queen, and this wicked and adulterous generation that opposed Jesus will have a resurrection.
3) The context in Matthew chapters 11 and 12 is Judgment Day. When Jesus in Matthew 11: 24 says that “it will be more endurable for the land of Sod’om on Judgment Day than for you [the inhabitants of Chorazin],” if we take the words at face value, this can only mean that the inhabitants of Sodom and Chorazin will get a resurrection on Judgment Day.
An important point are the words of Jesus at Matthew 11:23 that if the powerful works that took place in Chorazin had taken place in Sodom, “it would have remained until this very day.” There is no other way to interpret Jesus words here as their meaning is crystal clear; ‘If Sodom had been given the same chance to repent that Chorazin was given, some of Sodom’s inhabitants would have repented, and that city would not have been destroyed.’ What requirement did Jehovah stipulate that would have prevented Sodom from being destroyed? That 10 righteous persons should be found in the city. (Genesis 18:32) This shows without any doubt that if the powerful works that the inhabitants of Chorazin witnessed had taken place in Sodom, at least 10 persons would have repented. The Watchtower of March 1, 1965, says: “Jesus showed that Sodom, bad as it was, had not got to the state of being unable to repent.” This is the reason why the inhabitants of Sodom, as Jesus clearly indicated, will have a resurrection. To deny that is the same as to deny God’s righteousness.
The inhabitants of Chorazin and Bethsaida were even more wicked than the homosexuals of Sodom because they rejected the preaching of Jesus, as well as the powerful works that he did. But Jesus shows that even these persons had not reached the stage when they were unable to repent. But after their resurrection on Judgment Day, Jesus shows that it will be harder for them to “exercise faith in him” than for the inhabitants of Sodom. But because no person that is unable to repent will have a resurrection, the chance is there for everyone to take a stand for Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ.
Reflect on the implications of what this means: When you think about it, Chorazin and Bethsaida squandered the “minimum chance” to repent that was handed to them on the proverbial “silver platter,” by none other than Jesus Christ himself when he preached to them. Yet, despite their lack of response to Jesus preaching, they will still be given another chance to repent, a major chance, by means of the resurrection Jesus promised them. If the preaching of Jesus Christ himself, along with all the powerful works he did, was not the deciding factor regarding the everlasting salvation of those people back then, how can the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are not better teachers than Jesus, who cannot perform any miraculous signs, and who are imperfect, be the deciding factor in connection with the everlasting future of the entire world today.
When we reflect on the great number of persons who, from our perspective, were evil, but who will get a resurrection, we should also come to the realization that the eight billion people who live today, and who, from our perspective are evil, will not be destroyed in the great tribulation.
The requirement, as we have seen, is “exercising faith in him.” But at least 5 billion persons who live have not had the chance to do that. And we have no reason to believe that they are beyond repentance. Therefore, they must, in one way or another, get a real chance to take a stand for Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ. And what about persons who are mentally ill? Their illness prevents them from “exercising faith in Jesus.” But they are not beyond repentance. So, they must also get a real chance to decide for or against God and his Son.
We also learn from the words of Jesus that a person who one time, five times, or ten times has heard the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom, has not necessarily received his real chance. We can construe this from the fact that the inhabitants of Chorazin and Betsaida saw the powerful works of Jesus and heard his preaching, but still, they rejected him—and Jesus said that even these people were not beyond repentance.
Rejecting the message of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not enough to render a person beyond repentance. And if billions of evil persons will get a chance to believe after their resurrection, the billions of “evil” people living today will not just be cut off from life forever in the great tribulation without getting a real chance as well.
We cannot know what the future holds. For example, could there be a future worldwide pestilence, much more severe than COVID-19, that kills off most of the inhabitants of the earth? And they would go down to hades and consequently get a resurrection? This is very unlikely. But I use this example to show that the future holds many possibilities that we cannot imagine at present. Who could, for instance, have foreseen the Coronavirus pandemic in our scientific age? The bottom line is that every descendant of Adam is bought by Jesus Christ, and because of God’s righteousness, everyone will get a real chance to accept or reject the offer of God’s undeserved kindness through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
On the background of all these points, the contrast between “the righteous and the unrighteous,” i.e., “we” and “they” respectively, are by no means blotted out. But the contrast is much smaller and less distinct than what Jehovah’s Witnesses traditionally have been taught and believe.
Members of the true religion will not take part in interfaith activities. But being a member of a false religion does not necessarily lead to eternal death. Most of the billions living today have not at present had a real chance to “exercise faith in him.” Based on God’s righteousness and the fact that all descendants of Adam have been bought by Jesus, there are three possibilities:
- All living persons will get a real chance to believe in Jehovah and Jesus before the great tribulation.
- Those who have not had their real chance will die before the great tribulation and get a resurrection; they will have their chance on Judgment Day.
- Those who have not had a minimum chance will survive the great tribulation and receive their minimum chance on Judgment Day.
In connection with point 3 above, there is an interesting possibility implied in the teachings of the Governing Body itself, although the members will not overtly acknowledge this possibility. The Governing Body’s understanding is that the future great tribulation has three phases:
- The attack on Babylon the Great (false religion).
- The interval, i.e., a cessation, or lull, of the attack.
- The resuming of the attack leading to the destruction of all wicked persons at Armageddon.
The Governing Body believes that these three phases mirror the phases that took place in connection with the great tribulation on the Jewish system of things in the first century, as follows:
- The Roman initial attack on Jerusalem.
- The interval, i.e., a cessation, or lull, of the Roman attack.
- The return of the Roman armies that caused the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish system of things.
In the first century fulfillment of the great tribulation scenario, when the initial attack on Jerusalem was halted and the Romans inexplicably withdrew, that provided a window of opportunity for Christians to flee the city and escape to the mountains as Jesus predicted. However, this same window of opportunity allowed for anyone who believed the Christians, to flee with them. In other words, the interval between the two attacks allowed Christians and non-Christians alike to escape destruction during that first century great tribulation—yes, in the middle of that great tribulation. It certainly is conceivable that some Jewish persons whom the Christians witnessed to, but who up to that point had not yet repented and joined the Christian congregation, may have recognized the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy and joined themselves to the congregation only then, and escaped to the mountains with them.
This presents an interesting possibility in connection with the parallel great tribulation to come. After the future great tribulation begins with the attack on false religious organizations by the governments of the world, many people may recognize that Jehovah’s Witnesses had been preaching such a destiny for organized religion all along. Some may, at that crucial time, decide to repent and join themselves to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since the dismantling of false religion worldwide will no doubt stay in the headlines of the News for some time, the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses may piggy-back on that attention, putting an international spotlight on the message of Jehovah’s Witnesses unlike anything prior to it in history. In such an environment, a sudden shift in the viewpoints of people to reconsider the message of Jehovah’s Witnesses is conceivable. This could result in many more of the world’s population making an eleventh-hour conversion.
Of course, the Governing Body will not acknowledge this obvious possibility, albeit insinuated in their own great tribulation teaching. They believe that once the great tribulation starts, the window of opportunity for non-Witnesses is generally closed. Interestingly, however, the Governing Body also teach that Jesus does not come to judge the world until phase three (point 3 above) of the great tribulation begins. This, in itself, may suggest that there is still time for others to join God’s people during phases one and two (points 1 & 2 above) of the great tribulation as Jesus does not begin judging the world at this time. Therefore, implicit in the teachings of the Governing Body itself is the possibility for many more to repent even during the great tribulation itself.
It appears that the Governing Body believes it would not be fair to allow persons to repent and join Jehovah’s Witnesses once the great tribulation starts. However, we must remember that from the world’s point of view, the first two phases of the great tribulation will not appear to be of divine origin. After all, it is the governments that attack and dismantle false religion, and then they will suddenly pause their attack for no apparent reason—just like the Romans did in the first century. True, Jehovah will put it into the hearts of government officials to do this, but his divine influence, in this case, will not be observable to humans. From the world’s point of view, organized religion, like the well-known “opium of the people” will finally be getting its comeuppance—eradicated for the blight it has been upon mankind. Only a truly repented person, with great faith in God, would choose to join any religion at a time when organized religion is being phased out of existence, let alone joining the most hated religion in the world, Jehovah’s Witnesses. Therefore, such repentance at this time would have to be genuine, because the circumstances demand it. So, it would be only fair to allow such willing ones their minimum chance to repent, even during the great tribulation. I do not know if this is how things will occur in the future; I am merely showing that there are some reasonable and realistic possibilities for the billions alive today to get the same real chance to repent that the resurrected dead will be given during Judgment Day.
What I have outlined above is just a possibility, and in no way will this possibly solve the problem of how persons who have not had the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice will get this possibility. There will be around one billion children below 14 years when the great tribulation starts, as well as about half a billion mentally retarded people. We do not know what will happen to these. But in any case, they will also in one way or another get the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.
In summary, it is certain that the number of persons living today that will either survive the great tribulation or get a resurrection is many times higher than the present number of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And these persons must eventually be included in the “we” group. So in their case, it would be wrong to speak of “we” and “they.”
|The number of persons living today that will either survive the great tribulation or get a resurrection will certainly be many times higher than the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses living today.|
The destiny of those who are disfellowshipped or disassociated
How should we view a person who dedicated himself to Jehovah and was baptized, but who later started to use drugs and is at present addicted to heroin? I will illuminate the issue by comparing two different scriptures:
Hebrews 10:26, 27 (NWT13):
For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left.
Galatians 6:1 (NWT13):
Brothers, even if a man takes a false step before he is aware of it, you who have spiritual qualifications try to readjust such a man in a spirit of mildness.
Of course, no two situations are exactly alike. But I will use the following example. A young Witness may be offered a drug by a classmate. And in a thoughtless moment of weakness, he takes the drug and then takes more and suddenly he is hooked. Does this make him a wicked person? Absolutely not. This is because the body of the user of hard drugs develops a physical addiction to the drug without the consent of the drug user. The addiction to hard drugs is extremely strong, as we see in the quotation below.
When people become addicted to heroin, they crave the drug so strongly that, even when they know what consequences they face as a result of their heroin use, they are unable to stay away from the drug. This makes relapse to heroin use incredibly likely after detox. Often, those struggling with heroin addiction experience multiple episodes of relapse on their road to recovery.
Which of the two scriptures above would fit this person? It is clear that the person at the beginning took “a false step before he was aware of it.” Later other steps followed until he found himself in a situation that was extremely difficult to break free from. While it is true that he uses his free will to take the drug, I cannot say that he simply “practices sin willfully.” There is much more involved here than simple choice and free will. The craving for the drug is so strong that his will, to some extent, has been commandeered and is under extreme psychological duress. I do not say this as an excuse for the person but rather as an observation.
A person who uses hard drugs scripturally falls under the same category as a drunkard, being in a state of habitual intoxication, and so rightly should be disfellowshipped. After that, however, he is also shunned by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and therefore, he is deprived of any help from congregation members and from family members who are Witnesses. As I show in the articles in the category “Shunning not based on the Bible,” to shun a person is a human commandment that violates several Bible principles. Some persons who have been addicted to hard drugs have quit their habit. But this has been an extremely difficult struggle, and very few persons have managed to do this without receiving help from others. From a Christian viewpoint, therefore, the elders in the congregation and his Witness family should offer help to the disfellowshipped person addicted to hard drugs. This is what Christian love means.
But how does Jehovah God see this person? Jehovah knows how we are created and knows the real problems of each person. At one time, this person dedicated his life to Jehovah and served him. Now he is in an extremely difficult situation. Expressions like, “If he has enough faith, he will be able to quit his bad habit,” or “ With Jehovah’s help he will be able to serve God again,” are naively ignorant—expressed by persons who have no idea of what heroin addiction really is. Jehovah reads the hearts, and because of the ransom sacrifice, I am certain that a great number of persons who have been disfellowshipped because of addiction to hard drugs, as well as other persons who have rightly been disfellowshipped, will survive the great tribulation or get a resurrection.
Then we have another group to consider. Of the 46 disfellowshipping offenses described in the Shepherd book, 35 are made up and invented by the Governing Body and have no basis in the Bible. Those who have been disfellowshipped because of any one of the 35 disfellowshipping offenses have wrongly been disfellowshipped. And because of the ransom sacrifice, I am certain that most of these persons have Jehovah’s approval and will either survive the great tribulation or get a resurrection.
|A great number of those who have been disfellowshipped evidently have Jehovah’s approval, and they will survive the great tribulation or get a resurrection.|
. Five articles dealing with the resurrection appeared in The Watchtower of 1965: “Death and Hades to Give Up the Dead”; “The Dead Who Are in Line for Resurrection”; “For Whom There Are Resurrection Hopes”; “Who Will be Resurrected from the Dead?”; “Who Will be Resurrected—Why?” in The Watchtower of January 15, February 1, February 15, March 1, and March 15, 1965. These articles contain deep analytical Bible study at its very best.
. In connection with Matthew 11:2, the NWT Study Edition again explains away the meaning of a text in God’s Word. The verse says: “ And you, Ca·per’na·um, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to the Grave you will come.” The comment is: “Heaven: Here used metaphorically to denote a highly favored position. The Grave: Or ‘Hades,’ that is the common grave of mankind. (See glossary, ‘Grave.’) Here used figuratively to represent the debasement that Capernaum would experience.” It is true that the people of Capernaum were elevated because Jesus preached there. But the contrast of this is that they would come to hades. Jesus is speaking about Judgement Day and the resurrection. To deny that the people literally would come to hades, in reality, is a rejection of the word of God.
. God’s righteousness does not require that persons who have shown they are beyond repentance get a new chance.
A NEW SITUATION OF INTERFAITH ACTIVITIES
I have no doubt that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses that was led by C.T. Russell, J. Rutherford, and N.H. Knorr was, and is Jehovah’s organization. As I show in chapter 1 of my book, My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, all the basic doctrines of Jehovah’s Witnesses are based on the Bible. However, particularly during the past 40 years, the members of the Governing Body have made some major changes in the basic doctrines. They have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, rejected what Jesus said about the resurrection, and they no longer believe in the full inspiration of the Bible. This means that they have introduced false doctrines and have polluted “the congregation of the living God [the] pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15)
. See the articles: “The members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ”; “The implementation of the elder arrangement was a blessing — the creation of the Governing Body has been a disaster”; “The members of the Governing Body are twisting God’s thoughts,”; “The Governing Body rejects the full inspiration of the Bible.”
The new autocratic organization created by the Governing Body
Nathan H. Knorr became the president of the Watchtower Society in 1942, and until the Governing Body was formed in 1971, the organization was theocratic with Christian freedom for all Witnesses. Today the organization has become autocratic and dictatorial with very little Christian freedom for its members. I will now compare the situation among Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961, when I became a Witness, with the present situation and show that certain recent decisions of the Governing Body can be described as interfaith activities—something that Christians should avoid.
In order not to be misunderstood, I make the following qualifying comments: Jehovah’s Witnesses preach the good news of God’s Kingdom worldwide in obedience to the words of Jesus. In the congregations, generally, there is a good spirit, and the members show love for each other. Most of the things that occur in the organization are just and good. But in the last part of the 20th century and in the 21st century, important changes have occurred that violate Bible principles, and this has led the members of the congregations away from the Word of God. I will now discuss some of these changes:
- For 120 years, the Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses have believed that the whole Bible is inspired by God. Each writer chose the words of his text. But each writer was borne along by holy spirit, and therefore every word is inspired by God, and all the nuances and subtleties in the original text are important. The members of the present Governing Body have rejected the full inspiration of the Bible, and they say that a large portions of the text in the Hebrew Scriptures has no meaning for us today. We can only gather principles that can help us live good Christian lives from these texts. Moreover, the nuances and subtleties of the original text of the Bible are not important. This is one of the basic doctrines that the present Governing Body has changed, and this is a fundamental false teaching.
- As shown in “Excursion on the resurrection of the dead” above, the present Governing Body does not accept Jesus’s words about the resurrection of the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Sodom. Rejection of a part of the text of the Christian Greek Scriptures is also a fundamental false teaching.
- When the elder arrangement was introduced in 1972, the bodies of elders were to a great degree independent of the Governing Body and made their own decisions. Each member of the congregation also was admonished to make his or her own decision in different aspects of their Christian lives based on his or her conscience. After the year 1976, the power of the bodies of elders was step by step taken away from them and transferred to the Governing Body. In the year 2023, the eight men of the Governing Body have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money. They require absolute obedience, and those who are not obedient will be disfellowshipped. This is not a theocratic organization, as was the case in 1961 and 1972. But it is now an autocratic organization with all power concentrated at the top. This concentration of power upon a small body of leaders is a clear violation of several Bible principles. (Matthew 23:8-12)
- The personal viewpoints of the members of the Governing Body have been forthrightly expressed in the Watchtower literature. And that has restrained the Christian freedom of the individual. The crusade against higher education started in 2005 and still continues. Thousands of young Witnesses have been pressured not to pursue higher education, with the result being that they have difficulties in taking care of their families. In 1951 and 1954, articles reflected that the leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to give any advice regarding which kinds of work Witnesses should choose. In 1999, the Governing Body gave detailed instructions specifying which kind of work could be chosen and which kind of work could not be chosen. But the decisions rested with each Witness. In 2019, the Govening Body had given the bodies of elders such power that they could decide that the work of a Witness made him an accomplice of unbiblical actions. If the Witness did not change his work within six months, he would be thrown out of the congregation.
- Between the years 2000 and 2010, about 20 new disfellowshipping actions were introduced. The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” published in 2019, has a list of 46 disfellowshipping offenses, and 35 of these are made up and invented by the Governing Body without having any basis in the Bible.
These are some of the areas where the present Governing Body has introduced an organization that is new and different compared with the organization that existed in 1972 when the elder arrangement was introduced. The changes are so great that by supporting the Governing Bodys’s new organization, we who supported the organization in 1972, in reality, engage in interfaith activities. Thus, interfaith activities do not only exist when a Witness in some way supports another religious organization other than Jehovah’s Witnesses. But because the changes the Governing Body has made represent false religious changes, supporting these organizational changes also means that one is engaged in interfaith activities.
|Participating in interfaith activities means participating both in the true religion and in some false religion. Because the Governing Body has introduced false religious doctrines and actions into the true religion, accepting these false doctrines and participating in these false actions means to be participating in interfaith activities.|
Should the members of Jehovah’s Witnesses be obedient to the Governing Body?
Does the introduction of false teachings mean that each Witness should engage in a rebellion against the organization of the Governing Body? Absolutely not! We have a good example from the end of the second millennium BCE. Saul was appointed by Jehovah as king of Israel, and because of this, David would not in any way harm this king. In a similar way, the eight members of the Governing Body are leading Jehovah’s organization. I will not say that they have been appointed by Jehovah to be leaders; six of them were appointed by Ted Jaracz, and the last two have been appointed by those six members. But the fact on the ground is that they are leading the organization.
Most of the work that occurs inside the organization is just and good. But the viewpoints that I have mentioned above, as well as other viewpoints and actions, violate Bible principles and represent false teachings. Therefore, each Witness should serve Jehovah inside his or her congregation and be obedient to the elders in the congregation. (Hebrews 11:17) But each Witness with knowledge of the situation should not engage in interfaith activities by advocating that the Bible is not fully inspired and by disfellowshipping Witnesses on the basis of the decisions of the Governing Body that are not based on the Bible. So, being engaged in interfaith activities both outside and inside Jehovah’s organization is a form of apostasy, and a part of this apostasy is created by the present members of the Governing Body.
. See the article, “The Governing Body rejects the full inspiration of the Bible” in the category, “The Governing Body.”
. Chapter 4 of my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, has a detailed discussion of what the Governing Body has said and written about higher education.
. See the article “Disassociation because of the violation of Christian Neutrality” in the category “Disassociation.”
. Chapters 5 and 6 in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, third edition, have a detailed discussion of how the disfellowshipping practices are made up and invented by the Governing Body violate a number of Bible principles.
Christians who are members of the one true religion should not participate in interfaith activities or, in one way or another, support false religions. But no passage in the Christian Greek Scriptures says that participating in interfaith activities is a disfellowshipping offense.
There is a danger for true Christians, namely, the “we” and “they” thinking. It is true that “we,” members of the true religion, have God’s approval and prospects of everlasting life. But it is not true that “they,” the eight billion persons living on the earth, have no prospects of everlasting life.
This study has shown that because Jesus, with his ransom sacrifice, bought all of Adam’s descendants, and because of God’s righteousness, all these eight billion persons will get a real chance to accept the ransom sacrifice. They will get this real chance either before, during, or after the great tribulation. This means that a great number of “they” eventually will get everlasting life.
This study has shown that there is a new situation where Christians could potentially take part in interfaith activities inside the true religion. In the last part of the 20th century and in the 21st century, the Governing Body has introduced a number of procedures and practices that contradict the Bible. By supporting these, a Witness is taking part in interfaith activities inside this organization. Each Witness should obey the Governing Body in all things except when the Governing Body introduces something that contradicts the Bible.