The book “Shepherd The Flock Of God” correctly lists “stealing, thievery” as a disfellowshipping offense. The disfellowshipping offenses listed in 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6 are expressed by nouns, including one substantivized adjective. This means that the words do not show what a person does—this is expressed by verbs — but they show what a person is.
A thief (kleptēs) is not a person who steals something once, twice or even a few times, but “a kleptēs is a person who is permeated by thievery, an incorrigible stealer.” Such a person deserves to be disfellowshipped.
A very serious kind of stealing is “identity theft.” This often occurs in the world around us, and it creates huge problems for the one whose identity is stolen. In our context, the members of the GB are also guilty of “identity theft.” They have taken away the identity of the Witnesses of Jehovah, which is their Christian freedom. This has created immense problems for tens of thousands of Witnesses.
To understand the nature of this identity theft, we need to understand the difference between the law of Moses and the law of Christ. I show that the law of Christ is written in the minds and hearts of God’s servants. This law includes everything that Jesus taught and did, and the understanding of God’s will for Christians on the basis of what is written in the Christian Greek Scriptures and the Hebrew Scriptures. Jehovah also expects that we shall draw conclusions regarding what we must do on the basis of what he and Jesus Christ have done. This is also a part of the Law of Christ.
By making a great number of laws and rules in the book “Shepherd The Flock Of God” and Aid to Answering Branch Office Correspondence, the members of the Governing Body have made all Jehovah’s Witness their slaves, by becoming the unwitting ‘masters over their faith’ (2 Corinthians 1:24). This means that the Governing Body has, in effect, stolen the identity of each Witness by commandeering his or her Christian freedom.
I give some examples of how the law of Christ in many instances is ignored by the members of the Governing Body. This is seen in the 37 disfellowshipping offenses that are created and invented by the Governing Bodu without any basis in the Bible. It is seen in all the situations where the consciences of individual Witnesses are overruled by the Governing Body or by the elders. And it is seen in all the extrabiblical laws and rules made by the Governing Body that takes away the Christian freedom of each Witness.
The book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” chapter 12, point 21, says regarding stealing and thievery:
- Stealing, Thievery: (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Eph. 4:28; w86 11/15 p. 14) Though all stealing is wrong, the body of elders should use discernment in weighting the circumstances and the extent of the involvement in wrongdoing to determine whether it is a judicial matter. –w10 3/1 pp 12-14; w94 4/15 pp. 19-21; jd. pp. 105-106
THE MEANING OF THE WORD KLEPTÉS
One of the disfellowshipping offenses mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:10 is expressed by the noun kleptēs, which is a verbal noun of the verb kleptō (“to steal”). This verb occurs 13 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. According to Louw and Nida, The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, the meaning of kleptō is “to take secretly and without permission the property of someone else — ‘to steal, theft.’” One example is Matthew 28:13 (NWT13)
13 and said: “Say, ‘His disciples came in the night and stole him while we were sleeping.’
This means that the verbal noun kleptēs has the same meaning as the verb, but this meaning is substantivized. According to Louw and Nida, the meaning of kleptēs is “a person who steals — ‘thief.”
The word kleptēs, like all the other nouns designating disfellowshipping offenses, including one substantivized adjective, is a nomen agentis (“agent noun”). It does not show what a person does, but describes what the person is, i.e., what the person has become. One example is John 12:6. (NWT13):
6 He [Judas Iscariot] said this, though, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box and used to steal the money put in it.
Please note that Judas did not steal money once, twice, or even a few times, but he “used to steal the money.” Thus, we have the following definition: “a kleptēs is a person who is permeated by thievery, an incorrigible stealer.”
The word kleptēs occurs 16 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, including in 1 Corinthians 6:10, where it is listed as a disfellowshipping offense. The meaning of the noun kleptēs indicates that “a thief” in the biblical sense of the word is not a person who secretly takes something belonging to another person one time, or even several times. But a thief that deserves to be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation is a habitual, incorrigible stealer.
Identifying a person who steals items not belonging to him or her, should be rather easy. To identify “stealing” in business relations is much harder. There are at least three reasons why the elders should be very reluctant to get embroiled in investigating accusations of theft in connection with business relations. First, few elders have experience with business or corporate relations, and what is right and wrong in the business arena is difficult to detect. Second, the elders are not educated in handling judicial cases, and so are prone to make wrong decisions in complicated cases. Third, and the most important reason: A judicial committee can only be formed if a business person for a long time has been cheating his partner and continues to do so. A person who has stopped with a serious sin, regardless of how often it has happened and the seriousness of the sin, cannot be disfellowshipped. Only persons who are still continuing doing a serious sin can be disfellowshipped. (See chapter 6 in My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body).
THE IDENTITY THEFT ON THE PART OF THE GOVERNING BODY
Any worldwide community must have leaders, and these leaders must direct the whole community and also make several organizational rules. Peter exhorts Christian elders ‘not to lord it over those who are God’s inheritance’. (1 Peter 5:3) But, as has occurred among most religious denominations, the Governing Body has already become the overlords of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The leaders have actually become the unwitting “masters over” the faith of God’s flock instead of being “fellow” servants of the flock (2 Corinthians 1:24). This has occurred in the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, particularly in the 21st century. And as I will show below, the members of the Governing Body have, in effect, stolen the identity of the Witnesses, which is their Christian freedom.
The difference between the law of Moses and the law of Christ
The words of Paul in Galatians 5:1 are important for Christians. The rendering of NWT13 is as follows:
1 For such freedom Christ set us free. Therefore, stand firm, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.
The word eleutheria (“freedom”) has the article. This article must be anaphoric, it refers back to something that has already been mentioned. Abraham had two sons and two wives, and the account in 4:22-31 shows that this is a type of greater things. Hagar was the servant girl, and she pictures the law covenant, while Sarah, the free woman, pictures the new covenant. Verse 32 (NWT13) represents the conclusion of the drama:
31So, brothers, we are children, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman.
We understand that the feminine article tē (“the”) before the word eleutheria (“freedom”) in 5:1 refers to the freedom of being children of the free woman. What does this mean? In 3:10-14 (NWT13) we read:
10 All those who depend on works of law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not remain in all the things written in the scroll of the Law by doing them.” 11 Moreover, it is evident that by law no one is declared righteous with God, because “the righteous one will live by reason of faith.” 12 Now the Law is not based on faith. Rather, “anyone who does these things will live by means of them.” 13 Christ purchased us, releasing us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse instead of us, because it is written: “Accursed is every man hung upon a stake.”
The contrast here is between the works of the law of Moses and the Christian faith. Because of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, the Galatians were no longer under the law of Moses. That did not mean that they were lawless because 6:2 (NWT13) says:
2 Go on carrying the burdens of one another, and in this way you will fulfill the law of the Christ.
In the margin of the NWT13 with References we find an excellent explanation of the meaning of “the law of Christ”:
The law of Christ: This law includes all that Jesus taught, as well a what God’s spirit directed Christ’s followers to write in the Christian Greek Scriptures. As foretold by Jeremiah, this law replaces the Mosaic Law covenant (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:6-13) Christ did not originate these laws and principles; he received them from the great Lawgiver, Jehovah. (John 14:10) The expression “the law of Christ” appears only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures, but similar wording, “law toward Christ,” is used at 1 Co 9:21. This law is also referred to as “the perfect law that belongs to freedom” (Jas 1:25), “the law of a free people” (Jas 2:12), and “the law of faith,” (Ro 3:27.
But there is somthing that is lacking in this definition, and the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12, 13 (NWT13) illuminates what this missing principle is:
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but she is to remain silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
At this point, you may be wondering where this line of reasoning is going, and what does this have to do with a missing element in the definition of “The law of Christ” presented in NWT13 with References quoted above. But please bear with me. The important point here is the Greek conjunction gar (”for”) at the beginning of verse 13. The reason Paul gives for his words that a woman should not teach or exercise authority over a man is that Adam was created first. But what kind of argument is this?
During the years 1974 and 1975, I was the instructor of the two-week course for elders in Norway. Because I went through the course 30 times and took notes, I still remember a number of important points from this course. The law of Christ was a prominent subject in the teaching, and in addition to the definition given in the Reference Bible, it was stressed that the law of Christ also included conclusions that spiritual Christians had to draw from what God had done. This means that God expects his servants to draw conclusions regarding what he has done and live in accordance with these conclusions. This is implied in the words of Paul.
The words in 2:13 are not formed as a law, but they express a principle, a basic truth. Paul’s point is that because of the basic fact (principle) that Adam was created before Eve, the man must be the leader, and the woman must be his counterpart. A spiritual-minded Christian should be able to draw this conclusion even when it is not written anywhere. Thus, included in the law of Christ is what we see that God has done and the way we let what we see influence our daily life.
When the law of Moses was abolished when Jesus died, that did not mean that people could do anything they wanted because there was no law. In 5:13 (NWT) we read:
13 You were called to freedom, brothers; only do not use this freedom as an opportunity to pursue fleshly desires, but through love slave for one another. 14 For the entire Law has been fulfilled in one commandment, namely: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
The point is that Christians do not need to have pointed out to them, or to be told to do, many of the commandments of the law of Moses if they love their neighbor. So, love is an important part of the law of Christ. In Galatians 5:19-21, some of the works of the flesh are listed, and by this, Paul shows what it means “to pursue fleshly desires.” The contrast is the fruitage of the spirit that we find in 5:22. In the following verses, including chapter 6, Paul refers to several sides of the law of Christ.
“Walking orderly by this rule of conduct”
Before Paul closes his letter, he connects the description of the law of Christ that we find in chapters 5 and 6 with the prophetic account of Abraham and his two women. In 6:15, 16 (NWT13), we read:
15 For neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is. 16 As for all those who walk orderly (stoikheō) by this rule of conduct (kanōn), peace and mercy be upon them, yes, upon the Israel of God.
Those who are children of the free woman, pictured by Sarah, constitute “the Israel of God,” and they are a “new creation” because they have been baptized by holy spirit and have been declared righteous.
There are two important Greek words in the verse, namely stoikheō and kanon. According to Mounce’s Greek Lexicon the meaning of kanōn is:
a measure, rule; in NT prescribed range of action or duty, 2 Cor. 10:13, 15, 16; met. rule of conduct or doctrine, Gal. 6:16
The meaning of stoikheō, according to Mounce, is:
to live in conformity with some presumed standard or set of customs — ‘to live, to behave in accordance with.’
What is implied in Mounce’s definition “conformity with some presumed standard” is seen in Romans 4:12 (NWT13):
12 and so that he might be a father to circumcised offspring, not only to those who adhere to circumcision but also to those who walk orderly (stoikheō) in the footsteps (ikhnos) of the faith that our father Abraham had while in the uncircumcised state.
In Romans 4:12, Paul admonishes his readers “to walk orderly in the footsteps (tracks) of the faith” of Abraham. The word “faith” is a state of mind. Therefore, to ‘walk in the footsteps of Abraham’s faith,’ i.e., his state of mind, requires that the word “faith” in this verse must refer to the acts of Abraham — things we can see — that were based on his faith. Abraham did not have the law of Moses. Nevertheless, he walked in faith despite not having such a law code to follow. But without the law, whose “footsteps” was Abraham following in his ‘walk of faith’? There can be only one answer to this question; Abraham’s faith was based on the actions of God that he had observed and was imitating — and so this is an important side of the law of Christ. And this is the side or aspect, that is missing from the aforementioned definition of “The law of Christ” in the NWT13 with References quoted above.
Mounce shows that the combination of the words stoikheō and ikhnos is an idiom with the meaning:
(idioms, literally ‘to walk in the tracks’ and ‘to follow in the tracks’) to behave in the same manner as someone else — ‘to imitate, to do as others do.’
When only one of the two words of an idiom is used, its alternative word can imply the same meaning as the other word in that idiom. For example, in 1 Peter 2:21, Christians are admonished to “follow (epakoloutheō) his (Jesus’) steps (ikhnos) closely.” Here the verb epakoloutheō (“follow closely”) is used instead of the verb stoikheō (“walking orderly in accord to a particular standard”), but the same idea of the verb stoikheō is indicated.
Philippians 3:16 (NWT13) says “let us go on walking orderly (stoikheō) in the same course.” The words that are translated as “in the same course” literally are “in it,” and here the idea of ikhnos (track) is implied by the alternative Greek word for “in it.” Which “course” or “track” is referred to here? The reference evidently is to verse 14 and to Paul’s words of “pressing forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call.” Pressing forward toward this goal is the same as “walking orderly (stoikheō)” in the steps of Paul.
I will now return to Galatians 6:15, 16. In these verses, we find the verb stoikheō (“walking orderly in accord to a particular standard”). Paul is not using the Greek word ikhnos (step”) in combination with stoikheō, as he does in Romans 4:12 because he is not speaking of following in the footsteps of a person. But he is using the Greek word kanon, which refers to a rule of conduct or doctrine. The word ikhnos in relation to persons expresses the same idea as does kanon in relation to scriptures — “following in the footsteps of” — “following or adhering to the rule of conduct or doctrine of.”
What, then, does kanon refer to? Because kanon is preceded by the article, the word must refer to something that already is mentioned. The point throughout the letter to the Galatians is that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but being a new creation is the important thing. So, the word kanon (rule of conduct or doctrine) includes what is written in the last part of 6:15, namely, being a new creation.
The words “new creation” do not occur elsewhere in the letter to the Galatians. But those who are new creations are sons of God, they are baptized into Christ, and they belong to Christ (3:26-29). They are also children of the free woman (4:31), and because of this, they are part of God’s Israel (6:16). And the “the rule of conduct” (kanon) that leads to becoming a new creation, a member of spiritual Israel, is the law of Christ (5:2). So it is clear that the law of Christ is the center of “this rule of conduct,” both because following this law leads to becoming a new creation and because each new creation must continue to follow the law of Christ.
It is important to note that the letter to the Galatians was written to the members of the congregations in Galatia and not only to the elders of these congregations. The marginal description in the Reference Bible of the law of Christ has a reference to Jeremiah’s words (31:31-34) about a new covenant and this reference is quoted in Hebrews 8:6-13.
Both Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10 show that the laws of this new covenant (the law of Christ) will be written in the minds and hearts of God’s servants. So, the law of Christ is something personal, a relationship between Jehovah and each of his servants. Following the law of Christ is the same as knowing Jehovah. (Galatians 4:9)
I remember an illustration that was used in The Watchtower many years ago, illustrating what it means to know God. A child about ten years old was attending school, and the teacher asked him to do something that he had never done before. His father had not discussed this situation with the child. But after a moment of thinking, the child said; “I cannot do this, because my father will not like that.” This child knew his father! In a similar way, those who know God do not need a written law for all situations because the law of Christ is written in their minds and hearts.
The letter to the Galatians was not addressed to those who took the lead in the congregations, the elders, but to each member of the congregation who followed the law of Christ. The members of the congregations in Galatia were also members of spiritual Israel, and they were set free from the law of Moses by Jesus Christ (5:1). This means that they were children of the free woman (Galatians 4:31).
Therefore, neither the members of the Governing Body nor any other human, have the right to make laws that regulate the lives of the children of the free woman. After Paul said in Galatians 5:21, “For such freedom Christ set us free,” he said: “Do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.” But this is exactly what the members of the Governing Body have done. All the extrabiblical laws and rules in the book “Shepherd The Flock Of God” and Aid to Answering Branch Office Correspondence have placed a yoke of slavery upon the shoulders of all Jehovah’s Witnesses. Paul expresses the following rule in Romans 6:16 (NWT13):
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Because the Witnesses must obey the laws and rules made by the GB under threat of being thrown out of the congregation if they do not obey, they are, according to the words of Paul, slaves of the Governing Body “because they obey” the extrabiblical laws and rules of the GB. And so, it is in this sense that I say that the members of the Governing Body have stolen the identity of each Witness, that is, his or her Christian freedom.
The difference between the laws of the Governing Body and the law of Christ
There is a saying that “power corrupts,” and this saying can be applied to the members of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 21st century. After World War II, the leading brothers of the Witnesses, such as N.H. Knorr, F.W. Franz, and A.D. Schroeder held a low profile and kept themselves in the background.
During the 27 years between 1945 and 1972, the year the elder arrangement was implemented, the community of the Witnesses followed the law of Christ. The Governing Body was for the first time instituted in 1971, and for some years after this, the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses was to a great extent governed by the law of Christ. But, during these same years of the 1970s, the GB also began introducing some manmade laws not authorized by God.
From the last part of the 20th century and during the 21st century, the freedoms in connection with the law of Christ were to a great extent repressed, and a plethora of human laws were made up and introduced into the community of the Witnesses by the members of the Governing Body.
For three decades after World War II leaders of JW were led by the law of Christ
As I have shown above, the law of Christ is essentially the conclusion we must draw on the basis of everything Jesus said and did, what the secretaries of God wrote in the Christian Greek Scriptures and the Hebrew Scriptures, and conclusions we must draw on the basis of what God has done. The law of Christ is written in the minds and hearts of God’s servants and cannot be found in written documents. In contrast to the law of Christ, the law of Moses consisted of more than 500 written commandments. As I have shown above, the book for elders, “Shepherd The Flock Of God” and Aid to Answering Branch Office Correspondence in contrast with the law of Christ, contains a great number of extrabiblical laws and regulations made up and invented by the Governing Body, that in number can be compared with the laws of Moses. I will illustrate the difference between the Shepherd book and the Branch Office Correspondence book and the law of Christ in connection with the use of tobacco, gambling, and the selling of Christmas cards and Christmas trees.
In connection with the use of tobacco, The Watchtower of 1942, page 205, says:
The use of tobacco is extremely filthy, regardless of the form in which it is used… To be sure, the Society has no power or authority or desire to say that a person who wishes to use tobacco may not do so. Nor can it say, “You may not witness for the Kingdom.”
In connection with the selling of Christmas cards and Christmas trees, The Watchtower of September 15, 1951, page 574, says:
The Watchtower Society is organized for the purpose of preaching the good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all nations, and it encourages and aids all to have a part in that work, freely advising as to the most effective procedures. As to other forms of activity or work the Society has no specific recommendation to make. To draw up rules for all the possible situations relative to secular work would embark us upon the compilation of a voluminous, Talmudlike set of regulations, seeking to make all the fine distinctions as to when and when not certain work becomes objectionable. The Lord has not laid that responsibility upon the Society; it is each individual’s responsibility to decide his own case. To illustrate the problem involved, consider the matter of selling Christmas cards or trees. If that is wrong, then what about the butcher that sells a turkey for a Christmas dinner, or the saleslady that sells a sweater to be used as a Christmas present? Where is the line to be drawn? Or, when does work become defense work? You do not have to be working on a tank assembly line to be making items used in warfare…
The Society’s silence on these matters is not to be viewed as giving consent, nor is it to be viewed as a condemnation we do not wish to openly express. It means that we think it is the individual’s responsibility to choose, not ours. It is his conscience that must be at ease for his course, not ours… So let each one accept his own responsibility and answer to his own conscience, not criticizing others or being criticized by them, when individual consciences allow different decisions on the same matter.
In connection with gambling, The Watchtower of February 1, 1954, page 94, says:
Gambling appeals to selfishness and weakens moral fiber; it tempts many into habits of cheating and crookedness… Can a Christian be employed in a gambling enterprise that is legally recognized and allowed? He may think that he can do so if he refrains from gambling himself or allowing his spiritual brothers to gamble through his services. One may be able to conscientiously do this, while another would not be able to do so in good conscience. Each one will have to decide individually whether he can or cannot do so conscientiously. It is doubtless preferable to be separate from the atmosphere surrounding such activities, and the Christian may wisely arrange to make a change in his occupation. It is a matter each one must decide for himself and in accord with his circumstances and conscience. The Watch Tower Society does not decide as to an individual’s employment, as we previously stated in the September 15, 1951, Watchtower, page 574 (Italics mine)
All three quotations covering a period of 12 years from 1942 to 1954 accords with the law of Christ. The leaders of the Society would not give any advice regarding the use of tobacco, gambling, or different forms of employment. Each Witness had to use his or her conscience to make decisions, and no one should criticize their decisions. These are examples of true Christianity that accords with the teachings of the Christian Greek Scriptures.
I became a Witness in 1961, and I was taught to make decisions along the same lines as shown by the quotations above. In 1972, the elder arrangement was introduced, and The Watchtower of October 1, 1972, page 589, shows that the law of Christ was still followed.
DIFFICULT DECISIONS OF CONSCIENCE
9 Thus there are many, many acts and practices that are specifically approved or condemned in the Bible. Many, many others are clearly in harmony with, or in violation of, principles contained therein. Yet, particularly in the modern, complex society that has developed in many parts of the earth, there remain situations and circumstances where personal decision, based on the individual conscience of the one involved, is required. So many things in life are a matter of degree. The difference between a gentle pat and a vicious blow is a matter of degree of force. The difference between simple respect—as, for example, respect to a ruler or a national emblem—and reverential worship is also a matter of degree. Where extremes are involved there is no real question. It is when the matter comes within what might be called a ‘gray area,’ approaching the borderline between what is clearly right and what is clearly wrong, that questions arise. The closer to such ‘borderline situation’ the matter comes, the greater the part the individual’s conscience must play in his decision. Faced with such circumstances, what should we do?
10 Jehovah God expects us to use our faculties of intelligence, our knowledge, understanding and judgment, and to do conscientiously what our faith points us to do. God does not place us under the conscience of some other human in such matters. We must each make our own decision in harmony with conscience—conscience molded by God’s Word. We must also take the consequences of our own decisions, not expect someone else to make the decision and bear that responsibility for us.
11 It would therefore be wrong in such matters to try to extract from someone else, from a body of elders or from the governing body of the Christian congregation, some rule or regulation that ‘draws the line’ on matters. Where God’s Word does not itself ‘draw the line,’ no human has the right to add to that Word by doing so. God in his wisdom allows us to show what we are in the “secret person of the heart,” and the decisions we make in such personal cases may reveal this. True, we may err at times without wrong motive, and God, who reads our hearts, can discern this.
There are several important points in this quotation:
- Practices that “are condemned in the Bible or violate its principles” must be avoided.
- Each one must make decisions on the basis of his or her conscience.
- Where God’s Word does not “draw the line,” neither the elders nor the Governing Body has the right to add to God’s Word by drawing the line.
In the 1970s, I will mention two situations where the members of the Governing Body “drew the line” where they had no right to do so — disfellowshipping for the use of tobacco and porneia-inside-marriage. Despite overstepping in these areas, the law of Christ with decisions based on the consciences of individual Witnesses continued to hold sway for several years in the 20th century. However, in the 21st century, the law of Christ has been put in the background and the Christian freedom of each Witness has been usurped and stolen by the members of the Governing Body.
The leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses have stolen the Christian identity of the Witnesses
When a person’s identity is stolen, it means serious problems for him or her. The thief can use the person’s identity to buy items in his name, get a loan at a bank in his name, and do many other things as if he were that person. And so, the person whose identity was stolen will be charged, and money will be demanded from him as repayment. And if he refuses to pay, he may be forced to pay it back via a debt collection agency.
Christian Witnesses for Jehovah have personal relationships with Jehovah, and they also have their Christian freedom, which means that they have the right to make a great number of different decisions in their daily lives based on their consciences. The theft of the identity of these Christians by the members of the Governing Body means that they have taken away their Christian freedom, and their right to make decisions regarding many situations, based on their consciences.
Each Christian is now in the same situation as a person whose identity has been stolen in the real world, and where the thief buys things in his name, making him liable for repayment of these purchases with the threat of being handed over to a debt collection agency if he refuses to pay. The members of the Governing Body have made a great number of laws and rules “in the name” of all the Witnesses whose identities they have stolen by expending their God-given Christian freedom to pay for it. Indeed, the Witnesses are now “charged” with the laws and rules made by the Governing Body. They must, in effect, “pay” for these laws by keeping them. The Witnesses must obey these manmade laws under threat of being handed over to the “debt collection” of a judicial committee, held liable for disfellowshipping, and thrown out of the congregation.
In what follows, I will discuss three areas where the Christian identity has been stolen from the Witnesses, and where their Christian freedom, based on the law of Christ, has been taken away:
- The Governing Body has invented disfellowshipping offenses that are not based on the Bible, and Witnesses who exercise their own Christian freedom are disfellowshipped.
- The Governing Body has overruled the consciences of individual Christians by creating extrabiblical laws, and they have also given the elders the right to do the same by enforcing these.
- The Governing Body has made several laws and regulations that are not based on the Bible, and these curtail the right of each Witness to exercise his or her Christian freedom.
The change from Christian freedom to autocratic rule exemplified by manmade disfellowshipping offenses
Below I will give three examples about exercising Christian freedom, namely, personal decisions regarding the use of tobacco, gambling, and selling items that some might connect with false religion.
The right to make personal decisions in these three areas has been removed, and those who do not follow the decisions made by the members of the Governing Body in these areas will be disfellowshipped.
Regarding tobacco, The Watchtower of June 1, 1973, page 340, says:
If persons already baptized are not willing to abandon their addiction to damaging and enslaving products, what then? Then they show that, like Esau, they do not ‘appreciate sacred things,’ preferring such habits to the privilege of being part of Jehovah’s clean people. They should therefore be removed from the congregation due to such conduct unbecoming a Christian.—1 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 12:15, 16.
Regarding gambling, “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) chapter 12, point 32 says:
An individual continuing in employment directly involved with gambling or employment making him a clear accomplice or promoter of gambling would be subject to judicial action, usually after being allowed six months to make the needed adjustments. (lvs pp. 204-209) In questionable cases, consult the Service Department.
Regarding employment promoting false religion, “Shepherd The Flock Of God” (2019) chapter 12, point 39 (5) says:
Continuing in employment that makes one an accomplice to or a promoter of false worship would subject one to disfellowshipping after being allowed six months to make the needed adjustments.—w99 4/15 pp. 28-30: lvs pp.216, 217.
Each of the three examples quoted above represents utter contradictions of Christian freedom and the application of the law of Christ. For at least three decades after 1942, the leaders of JW would not even proffer any advice in connection with the three situations. But after 1972, each of the examples became disfellowshipping offenses.
The Watchtower of October 1, 1972 says: “Where God’s Word does not itself ‘draw the line,’ no human has the right to add to that Word by doing so.” Making the three actions disfellowshipping offenses is a clear violation of these words. In these instances, the members of the Governing Body have flagrantly added their laws to God’s Word.
To be sure, the use of tobacco is against the principles of the Bible because its use may be detrimental to one’s health. But it is impossible on the basis of the Bible to argue that the use of tobacco is a disfellowshipping offense. Gambling is not mentioned in the Bible at all. And whether a Witness by his work is a promoter of false religion or politics can be viewed differently by different persons.
Disfellowshipping offenses not based on the Bible.
I will again quote the wise and salient words from The Watchtower of 1972: “Where God’s Word does not itself ‘draw the line,’ no human has the right to add to that Word by doing so.”
The fact is that chapter 12 in the book for elders “Shepherd The Flock Of God” contains 46 disfellowshipping offenses, and 36 of these were made up and introduced by the GB without any basis in the Bible. In other words, in these 35 situations, the GB has added something to the Word of God. A list of the 35 disfellowshipping offenses that are human commandments is presented below, followed by a list of the 11 disfellowshipping offenses that are based on the Bible.
THIRTY-SEVEN DISFELLOWSHIPPING OFFENSES MADE UP AND INTRODUCED BY THE GOVERNING
|1||Strong circumstantial evidence of porneia.|
|GROSS UNCLEANNESS/UNCLEANNESS WITH GREEDINESS|
|4||Momentary touching of intimate body parts or caressing of breasts.|
|5||Immoral conversations over the telephone or the Internet.|
|6||Viewing abhorrent forms of pornography.|
|7||Misuse of tobacco.|
|8||Use of marijuana, betel nut.|
|9||Abuse of medical, illicit, or addictive drugs.|
|10||Extreme physical uncleanness.|
|11||Oral or anal copulation inside marriage.|
|12||Unnecessary association with disfellowshipped or disassociated individuals.|
|13||Dating, though not Scripturally free to remarry.|
|14||Brazen conduct in different situations.|
|17||Deliberate, malicious lying; bearing false witness.|
|23||Bride price, high.|
|24||Refusal to provide for the family.|
|25||Fits of anger.
|27||Violence, domestic violence.|
|28||Celebrating false religious holidays.|
|29||Participation in interfaith activities.
|30||Causing divisions of any kind.|
|31||Employment promoting false religion.|
|34||Accepting blood transfusion.|
|35||Violating Christian neutrality.|
|NOT IN THE SHEPHERD BOOK|
|37||Disagreement with the GB in mundane issues.|
ELEVEN DISFELLOWSHIPPING OFFENSES BASED ON THE BIBLE
|pornos||A man or woman who practices sexual immorality. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|eidōlolatrēs||One who participates in idol worship. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|kleptēs||A thief. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|pleonektēs||An Exploiter (Wrongly written in the Shepherd book as “Greed,” 1 Cor. 6:10).|
|methysos||A drunkard. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|loidoros||A reviler, an abusive person. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|harpax||A rapacious person, a robber. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|anatrepō||Spreading false teachings. (2 Tim. 2:18; 1 Tim 1:20)|
|hairesis||Making or promoting a sect. (Titus 3:10)|
|planos||Joining another religious organizations. (2 John 7, 10)|
|sfazō||Mansalughter — murder. (1 John 3:12)|
. A fourth action qualifying as “disassociation” is listed in the Shepherd book (18.3.1): “Making known a firm decision to be known no longer as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” This means that a person cannot resign from JW in the normal sense of the word. If he expresses his intention to leave JW, he has disassociated himself, and that is the same as being disfellowshipped. So, a decision to leave JW could be viewed as a 49th disfellowshipping offense. But because this is a voluntary act of leaving, I have not listed it as a disfellowshipping offense
. A discussion of the two disfellowshipping offenses that are not mentioned in the Shepherd book is found in the Appendix of the article, “Jehovah’s discipline — the true regime of disfellowshipping” in the category, “Disfellowshipping.”
. Points 4, 5, and 6 are one entry in the Shepherd book. I have used three entries because the actions are different and have different consequences.
The members of the Governing Body have put up a near convincing façade of relying on the Bible in everything, yes, on the Bible alone. But the truth that we see from the two tables above is that they have made up a great number of laws and rules that have no basis in the Bible whatsoever.
Am I being too hard on the Governing Body? After all, they have done a lot of good and their intentions appear to be sincere. For the record, I have many times acknowledged the good being done by these brothers, and I am not judging their motives. However, their putting in place the 35 extrabiblical disfellowshipping offenses listed above, along with other situations reported in my book and web pages, is an indisputable indictment of their having gone rogue Scripturally in several areas. Their current stance is also a contradiction of their own official magazine, The Watchtower, as quoted above, which made clear that there was nothing in Scripture allowing the members of the Governing Body to take disfellowshipping action on such issues.
Have the recent members of the Governing Body presented any “new light” in the way of Scriptural analysis justifying their new stance to disfellowship in situations that were ruled out by previous Governing Body members? Indeed, has the current Governing Body proven that the previous members of the Governing Body were wrong in saying that ‘because the Bible is silent on these matters, nothing could be done punitively’ in connection with these issues? No, they have not presented any new Scriptural evidence! The members of the GB simply changed their minds based on human reasoning, as well as the mishandling of certain Biblical “Greek” words, and not based on any solid Scriptural analysis. They, in effect, went from one extreme to the other; one day they could do nothing punitively in connection with these offenses, then all of a sudden, the next day, they could actually condemn persons to everlasting destruction for these same offenses, by throwing such ones out of the congregation via disfellowshipping. Therefore, regardless of the actual inner thought processes or motives of the Governing Body, the facts are that their claim to base their decisions solely on the Scriptures is simply not true, ergo my comment above that such claims are a façade.
The fact that 77% of the disfellowshipping offenses are made up and invented by the Governing Body is rather shocking. This is a direct attack on the Christian freedom of the individual Witnesses, and the law of Christ has, in effect, been shelved. This is so because their right to make such decisions while remaining a part of the Christian community based on their conscience is not accepted by the leaders.
As already shown above, the law of Christ was given to individual Witnesses, and they have a personal relationship with Jehovah, not a personal relationship with the elders or the Governing Body. If someone does something that violates any of Jehovah’s principles, they should be corrected. But they should not be thrown out of the congregation if they are not permeated by actions that the Bible has clearly identified as disfellowshipping offenses.
On average, about 1% of the Witnesses are disfellowshipped each year, and this means that during the 21st century, more than 1 million Witnesses have been disfellowshipped. I assess that 90% of these were not permeated by one of the eleven disfellowshipping offenses listed in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and so should not have been disfellowshipped.
Thus, the members of the Governing Body have stolen the Christian identity of these 1 million+ Witnesses and have taken away their right to remain in the Christian congregation as servants of God.
Technological advancements aside, there is an enormous contrast between the organization today and what it was in 1972 when the elder arrangement was introduced. At that time, the organization cherished the Christian freedom of the individual Witness. They were allowed to make decisions based on their consciences, decisions that today are being made for them by the Governing Body . And while the present book for elders, “Shepherd The Flock Of God”, contains 46 disfellowshipping offenses, the book for the judicial committees, Questions in connection with the service of the Kingdom that was received in 1965, when I started as circuit overseer, contained only seven disfellowshipping offenses.
Overruling the consciences of individual Witnesses
The Watchtower of February 15, 1954, page 94 says:
The Watch Tower Society does not decide as to an individual’s employment.
The article refers to The Watchtower of September 15, 1951, page 574, which answered the question of whether a Witness could sell Christmas cards and Christmas trees. The answer was that the Watchtower Society would not give any advice regarding this issue, and we read:
So let each one accept his own responsibility and answer to his own conscience, not criticizing others or being criticized by them, when individual consciences allow different decisions on the same matter.
The comments of both articles are the epitome of Christian freedom and the application of the law of Christ. But that is not the case with what the Shepherd book says about employment promoting false religion. Selling Christmas cards and Christmas trees is now viewed as disfellowshipping offenses.
And in connection with employment promoting false religion, we see an example of multiple clashing consciences; the consciences of the three elders of the judicial committee who sit in judgment of the conscience of the brother accused. The Governing Body has given the elders in the congregations the right to superimpose their own consciences, and that of the GB, onto the situation and to overrule the conscience of the Witness to decide whether or not his employment promotes false religion.
Even if the conscience of a Witness allows him to have a certain work, the elders may decide that this work promotes false religion. And the Witness will be disfellowshipped after six months if he does not change his job.
This overruling of the conscience of individual Witnesses by the consciences of the elders is also seen in connection with other kinds of work. The Shepherd book chapter 18, point 3 (4) says that if a Witness’ “employment makes him a clear accomplice of nonneutral activities” he has to change his employment within six months or else the elders will say that he has disassociated himself from the congregation — that he of his own free will has left the congregation.
Such a situation may, in fact, also represent an overruling of the conscience of the Witness. He may work in a big factory, and a part of its production is sold to the military. The conscience of the Witness allows him to continue his work because only a small part of the factory’s production is for military purposes. But the elders may disagree. If they decide that the percentage of products sold to the military exceeds their conscience’s cut-off limit and that this makes the Witness an accomplice of nonneutral activities, he cannot object to that.
In several of the 35 disfellowshipping offenses that have been made up and introduced by the Governing Body, the conscience of the individual Witnesses is overruled. I refer to a few examples:
“Abuse of medical, illicit, or addictive drugs.”
“Brazen conduct in different situations.”
“A high bride price.”
What is the normal medical use of drugs in contrast with abuse? How can we know that the conduct of a Witness is brazen? How can the elders know that a Witness has bloodguilt if he kills someone in a car accident? How can we know when a bride price is “too high”?
It is clear that the consciences of individual Witnesses may be different from the consciences of the elders in the mentioned cases. But the elders always win. Their consciences will simply overrule the consciences of the individual Witnesses. I have mentioned four examples. But in most of the 35 disfellowshipping offenses that have no basis in the Bible, the situation is the same; the consciences of individual Witnesses should ultimately be the deciding factor. And in each case, the conscience of the Witness will be overruled.
I will give one recent example showing that the members of the Governing Body believe that they have the right to overrule the consciences of individual Witnesses. This was expressed in a letter to the Hospital Liaison Committees of 15 June 2018:
We would like to inform you of an updated policy with regard to whether a Christian may administer a blood transfusion if he is directed to do so by a superior. The previous policy was that it would be a matter for a personal, conscientious decision whether to obey such an order. However, after carefully reviewing the matter, the Governing Body has determined that administering such a transfusion is so closely linked with an unscriptural practice that one unquestionably becomes an accomplice in a wrong practice. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for a Christian to administer a blood transfusion under any circumstance.—Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:28, 29.
There can be no doubt that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses today is autocratic. The eight members of the Governing Body have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money. They claim that they have been appointed by God as his representatives. Everything that the members of the Governing Body say and write must be accepted as truth, and those who criticize the Governing Body will be disfellowshipped.
A letter from Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, INC. to all circuit and district overseers of September 1, 1980, illustrates the autocratic situation:
Help the elders discern between one who is a trouble-making apostate and a Christian who becomes weak in faith and has doubts. (2 Peter 2; Jude 22, 23) The former one should be dealt with decisively after extended efforts have been put forth to readjust him. (2 John 7-10) On the other hand, one weak in faith should be patiently and lovingly assisted to get an accurate knowledge that will solidify his faith.
“Keep in mind that to be disfellowshipped, an apostate does not have to be a promoter of apostate views. As mentioned in paragraph two, page 17 of the August 1, 1980, Watchtower. “The word ‘apostasy’ comes from a Greek term that means ‘a standing away from’, ‘a falling away, defection,’, ‘rebellion, abandonment. Therefore, if a baptized Christian abandons the teachings of Jehovah, as presented by the faithful and discreet slave, and persists in believing other doctrine despite Scriptural reproof, then he is apostatizing. Extended kindly efforts should be put forth to readjust his thinking. However, if, after such extended efforts have been put forth to readjust his thinking, he continues to believe the apostate ideas and rejects what he has been provided through the ‘slave class,’ then appropriate judicial action should be taken.
This is not to say that you or the elders should go on ‘witch hunts,’ as it were, inquiring into the personal beliefs of your brothers. Rather, if something reasonably substantial comes to the attention of the elders along this line, it would be appropriate to make a kindly, discreet inquiry so as to protect the flock. We cannot overemphasize the need to be cautious, discreet and kindly as such situations are dealt with.—James 1:19, 20
I have only recently seen this letter, and I would like to say that I have not followed the advice of this letter in my service as a circuit and district overseer. And in the congregations where I have served as an elder, we have never disfellowshipped a Witness because he did not agree with the Governing Body on one or more issues.
But this is a revealing letter for several reasons. The view among the Witnesses has been that if a person publicly criticizes the Governing Body or publicly expresses that he disagrees with something that the Watchtower literature says, only then he will be disfellowshipped. But this letter shows that if a Witness even privately expresses that he disagrees with the Governing Body in one or more teachings, then he will be disfellowshipped if he does not change his viewpoint.
This is a clear example of the suppression of the conscience of individual Witnesses and of a “military regimentation” of all the Witnesses. Different viewpoints are not tolerated, and those who do not accept that will be thrown out of the organization. That a denomination has one or more leaders who have all power is a sectarian trait, and that absolute obedience to the leader or the leaders is required is yet another typical sectarian trait.
The situations I have discussed in this section show that the members of the Governing Body have stolen the identity of the individual Witnesses. They have taken away the Witnesses’ badge of Christian freedom by overruling their consciences. And they do not allow a Witness to follow his or her conscience if this differs from the viewpoints of the members of the Governing Body.
Extrabiblical laws and rules have taken away the Christian freedom of the Witnesses
I have already mentioned the 35 disfellowshipping offenses that have been made up and introduced by the members of the Governing Body without any basis in the Bible. But there also are a great number of other laws and rules made by the Governing Body that have no basis in the Bible. A great number of these are found in the book Aid to Answering Branch Office Correspondence.
. See my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body, second edition, pages 248-263.
In the books “Shepherd The Flock Of God” and Aid to Answering Branch Office Correspondence there are hundreds of laws and rules that are made to regulate the different sides of the organization. In a worldwide organization, rules and instructions are necessary in connection with the meetings, the preaching, and the functioning of the congregations. I am not criticizing the existence of such rules and regulations. But these organizational instructions are unnecessarily detailed, to the point where the smallest action in the congregation directly or indirectly is overseen and directed by the Governing Body.
What I am criticizing are laws and rules made by the Governing Body in areas where only the conscience of the individual Witness should be the regulating force. In other words, I am pointing to laws and rules that are curtailing the Christian freedom of each Witness, laws, and rules that steal the Christian identity from the Witnesses. I will give a few examples of such laws and regulations below. By reading the Shepherd book and other Watchtower literature, one will find a number of other laws and regulations made up and invented by the Governing Body in addition to the 35 disfellowshipping offenses that they have introduced.
I have already quoted from the letter to the Hospital Liaison Committees of June 15, 2018, where the made-up rule that Witness nurses can no longer administer blood transfusions ordered by a superior. I now refer to another law in connection with blood invented by the Governing Body.
The Watchtower of October 15, 2000, page 31, says:
Occasionally, a doctor will urge a patient to deposit his own blood weeks before surgery (preoperative autologous blood donation, or PAD) so that if the need arises, he could transfuse the patient with his own stored blood. However, such collecting, storing, and transfusing of blood directly contradicts what is said in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Blood is not to be stored; it is to be poured out—returned to God, as it were. Granted, the Mosaic Law is not in force now. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s Witnesses respect the principles God included in it, and they are determined to ‘abstain from blood.’ Hence, we do not donate blood, nor do we store for transfusion our blood that should be ‘poured out.’ That practice conflicts with God’s law.
This is a rule that is made up and invented by the Governing Body without any basis in the Bible. Following this rule may, in rare situations, lead to the death of the patient. But in many situations, it will lead to the shortening of the life of the patients. The situation is that when big tumors with many outgrowths must be removed, the doctor often realizes that without the stored blood of the patient who refuses the blood of others, he will not be able to remove all the outgrowths of the tumor. The remaining outgrowths will then start to grow and threaten the life of the patient. The issue of storing one’s own blood and other issues regarding blood is discussed in the web article, “Willingly and unrepentantly accepting blood” in the category “Disassociation.”
Elders and ministerial servants are appointed, after their qualifications are reviewed, by the circuit overseers as representatives of the Governing Body. In some situations, the appointed brothers can lose their position, and here again, we have micro-managing rules made up by the Governing Body that dictate when that should happen. Some of these rules are found in the book “Shepherd The Flock Of God” chapter 8. The following heading is found before point 22 in this chapter:
Situations that may require a review of an appointed brother’s qualifications.
Point 22. Members of his household get involved in serious wrongdoing.
Point 23. Allows disfellowshipped or disassociated family member to move into his home.
Point 24. Supports the marriage of a Christian to an unbaptized person.
Point 25-27. Committed a disfellowshipping offense years in the past and the matter was never addressed.
Point 28. Viewed pornography.
Point 29. Files for bankruptcy.
Point 30. He or a member of his household pursues higher education.
I will discuss point 30 in detail. In 2005, a crusade by the members of the Governing Body against higher education started. Chapter 5 in my book My Beloved Religion — And The Governing Body is entitled “The extreme view on higher education,” and here the issue is discussed in detail. It shows how quotations regarding the danger of higher education in the Watchtower literature in almost all cases are taken out of context. They do not say what the Watchtower article claims that they say. It also shows how numerous articles question the motives of those who pursue higher education. And the literature includes strong words against higher education.
The Governing Body has gone so far as to tell the body of elders to interrogate an elder when a family member has started to study at a college or university, as point 30 shows. We read:
If an appointed brother, his wife, or his children pursue higher education, does his life pattern show that he puts Kingdom interests first in his life? (w05 10/1 p. 27 par. 6) Does he teach his family members to put Kingdom interests first? Does he respect what has been published by the faithful slave on the dangers of higher education? Do his speech and conduct reveal that he is a spiritual person? How is he viewed by the congregation? Why is he or his family pursuing higher learning? Do they have theocratic goals? Does the pursuit of higher education interfere with regular meeting attendance, meaningful participation in field service, or other theocratic activities?
Clearly, anyone would be hard-pressed to deny that the above barrage of questioning amounts to an interrogation session. Indeed, all that is missing is the restraining chair and bright light, as used by some government agencies for such purposes! Some elders have told me that they were interrogated for several hours by the other elders when one of their children attended college. In considering all the questions the elders must ask during such an interrogation, we see that the one question in the brown script above is more salient than all the others. If the elder does not agree with the warnings and other conclusions of the Governing Body against higher education, he will be typecast as one who does not put Kingdom interests first, is not a spiritual person, and does not have theocratic goals.
The reference in the quotation refers to an article in The Watchtower of 2005, which is the quintessential article that launched the Governing Body’s crusade against higher education. However, all the quotations in this article are taken out of context and do not say what the article claims they say. The article also contains many false premises that are misleading and that manipulate the readers’ thinking toward the biased conclusions of the Governing Body. So, the problem is that an intelligent elder, undergoing the mentioned interrogation, who has studied and fact-checked the sources of this and other articles cannot answer the question, ‘Do you respect what has been published by the faithful slave on the dangers of higher education?’ in the affirmative.
The members of the Governing Body show that they have no idea what higher education really is! Nevertheless, the crusade against higher education continues. Under the heading “An appeal to parents” in the article “Strengthen Your Faith in the Creator” in The Watchtower Study edition for august 2021, page 15, we read:
Parents, endeavor to know what your children are being taught in school. What if you find out that some of the teachings include philosophies that contradict the Bible? Use our publications to help your children reason on convincing evidence. Also, beware of exposing your children to universities, where belief in God is scorned by many.
In Norway, children attend primary school from the age of six, and already in third or fourth grade, they are exposed to the theory of evolution. During the last part of their ten years of required education, ideas about organic evolution are more prominent in their curriculum. The advice that parents should consider what their children are being taught and help them to learn why they should believe in the Creator is good. Also, the referenced literature includes excellent tools to build up faith in the creator.
The situation regarding the education of young children and the Governing Body’s recommendations in connection with their spiritual protection while in school completely demolishes the Governing Body’s entire argument against higher education. How so?
The Governing Body is agreeable to young children being exposed to the same teachings of evolution that college students have to face, but in this case during the child’s most vulnerable and formative years. If there is ever a time that such anti-God teachings would pose a threat to the spirituality of a Christian, this is it! — during a child’s impressionable years. And for how long will children be exposed to such teachings? In some countries, for up to 12 years of public schooling. What is the Governing Body’s response to this spiritual threat to Witness children? Do they recommend taking them out of school and home-schooling them? No. As shown in the above quotation and other articles, the GB recommends simply ‘using their Bible-based publications to, in effect, neutralize such teachings with convincing counter-arguments and reasoning.’ Of course, this makes sense in that children will be able to get a basic education while learning to grapple with other beliefs that challenge the Christian faith. There is also the added benefit that children will learn how to witness to others who may not believe in God because of the teaching of evolution.
Perhaps you can see where this line of reasoning is going. Yes, if the Governing Body is Okay with young impressionable children going to school for up to 12 years with other non-Witnesses, while being constantly exposed to the teachings of evolution and other bad influences, confident they can survive or even thrive spiritually, what on earth is the problem with adult Christians doing exactly the same thing at an adult school—a University? If impressionable children can thrive spiritually in such an environment in order to obtain a basic education, why is the pursuit of a University education in order to obtain life-sustaining work viewed by the Governing Body as an insurmountable spiritual threat that can only be won by denying it a battle, i.e., higher education should be avoided at all costs lest young adult Christians fall right out of the truth! Clearly, the Governing Body’s stance against acquiring two or more additional years of University schooling for the purpose of financially providing for oneself and one’s family not only makes no sense but utterly contradicts its own reasoning regarding the dangers of basic education in connection with Witness children. And this is also why I say that the Governing Body has no idea what higher education really is.
Indeed, the warning against universities misses the mark completely! The words in the last two clauses of the quotation, in reality, says: “Do not start studying at a university to become a nurse. If you do that, you may lose your faith in the Creator.” The same is true if you study to become a school teacher or to become one of the 200 other normal occupations that require a university exam.
The first problem with this reasoning is that the curriculum for a nurse does not contain “philosophies that contradict the Bible.” And the same is true with most of the other curriculums for students. And if a stray idea about organic evolution should find its way into the teaching, the Christian student will be able to identify it and not lose his or her faith in God.
The second problem with this reasoning is that while most university teachers in Norway believe in organic evolution and do not believe in God, the contact between a student and his teachers can be minimal. In fact, it is common for a student to attend lectures given by a teacher, and after each lecture, return home without having spoken with anyone. Or a student can get all his teaching via the Internet and only be present at the campus for his exams. This has been exemplified by the teaching methods of most universities during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The truth is that a university student need not be exposed to the ideas of those who scorn the belief in God if he does not want to be. So, a student studying to be a nurse or schoolteacher will have little to no exposure to philosophical or evolutionary teachings in comparison with even a high school student who must spend several hours every day together with his teachers and fellow students considering such matters — but I have not found any warning against high school education in the Watchtower literature.
The extreme view of the members of the Governing Body of university and college studies has great consequences for many. In some respects, the organization of JW is similar to a military organization. The order of a military superior officer must be followed without question, and the spoken or written words of the members of the Governing Body must be followed without question. The GB is appointed by God to give food at the right time, and its members are treated as if they are inspired prophets, oracles of the truth.
The crusade against higher education that began in 2005 has continued for seventeen years, and this crusade has stolen the Christian badge of freedom from tens of thousands of Witnesses — stolen their Christian identity. They have been pressured not to seek higher education. And this pressure has taken away their right to make decisions regarding their own future based on their own consciences and not on the consciences of the members of the Governing Body.
About six percent of the population in Norway is between 15 and 19 years old. If we apply this to the eight million publishers of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world, there are about 480,000 Witnesses that are between 15 and 19 years old. This is the age where people are planning for the future, either to pursue a university education, an education to become an artisan, or to get a job without pursuing any education.
In Norway, 23.4% of the population have a college or university education for up to four years, and 9.5% have had higher education for more than four years. If we consider the whole world, we may reduce the number of persons with higher education to 10% of the population. If we apply this percentage to the 480,000 Witnesses between 15 and 19 years with the assumption that 10% of them normally would consider pursuing higher education, we get the number 48,000.
If we further assume that 10% of JW youths, upon reaching the age of 15, would have considered their future education and grew up during the past 17 years when the crusade against higher education has been underway, we get the number 816,000. Statistically, most of these young people would have otherwise pursued higher education. But because of the strong pressure from the Governing Body against higher education, less than 1% of these have been disobedient to the Governing Body and have pursued higher education.
The numbers I have presented are assumptions, but the real numbers cannot be far off from these figures. We can therefore say with confidence that during the last 17 years when the crusade against higher education has lasted, tens of thousands of young brothers and sisters have been pressured not to pursue higher education.
This has had consequences that were seen particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. In many countries, jobs have disappeared both because of the changes directly resulting from the pandemic coupled with the technical revolution that continues to make many jobs redundant. Because of their extreme position on education, the members of the Governing Body have not only stolen the identity and Christian freedom of many Witnesses, but they have also made their lives more difficult. This is so because in many countries it is difficult to find a decent job if you do not have a good education. So, in many instances, it has been difficult for Witnesses to put food on their tables for their families, and this is a consequence of the extreme viewpoints of the members of the Governing Body.
The discussion above has shown three different areas where the members of the Governing Body have stolen the identity of the Witnesses by preventing them from making decisions based on their own consciences. This means that in many respects, the Witnesses have become slaves of the Governing Body instead of being slaves of God. This is ‘because they obey’ the Governing Body in matters that are outside of their jurisdiction—matters that should be decided based on each Christian’s God-given freedom to do so (Romans 6:16).
While all the basic doctrines of JW are based on the Bible, and the community has all the characteristics of being the only true religion, the organization that is being created by the Governing Body has clear sectarian traits. And all the human commandments and rules that are made by the Governing Body violate several laws and principles in the Christian Greek Scriptures.
. A detailed discussion on how the view of gambling has changed is found in my article “Gambling” in the category “Apostasy.”
. A detailed discussion of the whole issue of tobacco is found in the article, “The use of tobacco— a disfellowshipping offense not based on the Bible” in the category “Gross uncleanness with greediness.”
. Points 8, 9, and 10 are one entry in the Shepherd book. I have used three entries because the actions are different and have different consequences.
. The Watchtower of April 1, 1994, page 16, tells that 40,000 Witnesses were disfellowshipped in 1993. This means that about 1% of the Witnesses are disfellowshipped each year, and this means that more than 1 million Witnesses were disfellowshipped between 2000 and 2022.
. “Shepherd The Flock Of God” chapter 12, point 39 (5).
. See the article “Employment promoting false religion” in the category “Apostasy.”
. See the article “Disassociation because the violation of the Christian neutrality” in the category “Disassociation.”
. See the article “Abuse of medical and addictive drugs” in the category “Gross uncleanness with greediness.”
. See the article “Manslaughter” in the category “The eleven disfellowshipping offenses.
. See the article “A high bride price” in the category “Independent actions.”
. This new policy was also communicated to the congregation members.
All the disfellowshipping offenses described in 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6 refer to wicked personalities and not to actions done one or even a few times. This means that a kleptēs is a person who is permeated by thievery, an incorrigible stealer. However, neither the members of the Governing Body nor the elders understand that a person should not be disfellowshipped for what he does but for what he is — the wicked person he becomes.
A very serious kind of stealing is “identity theft,” And the members of the Governing Body have stolen the Christian identity from the Witnesses by taking away their Christian freedom to make decisions on the basis of their own consciences. The members of the Governing Body have replaced the law of Christ with a great number of their own laws and rules, and they demand that all Witnesses must keep these laws and rules under threat of being thrown out of the congregation.
Examples of the identity theft of the Governing Body are 35 disfellowshipping offenses that it has made up and invented, as well as a great number of other extrabiblical laws and rules. The Governing Body has also given the elders the right to overrule the consciences of individual Witnesses. The consequence of the actions of the Governing Body is that the Witnesses of Jehovah have become slaves of the Governing Body instead of slaves of God.
The members of the Governing Body have given themselves more and more power, and today they have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money of the organization. This means that the organization today is autocratic with several sectarian traits.