The Shepherd book lists “Causing divisions” and “Promoting sects” together as the same thing. But this is incorrect. The action of promoting a sect will cause divisions, but causing divisions will not automatically lead to the formation of a sect. And because of this, the two situations are not synonymous and should not be treated as such.
A sect, as it is expressed in the Christian Greek Scriptures, is a group that deviates from the Christian faith. According to Titus 3:10, a person who promotes a sect can be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation.
Romans 16:17, 18 is used in the Shepherd book to show that causing divisions is a disfellowshipping action. But I show that “divisions,” as used in that scripture, were caused by persons who promoted a sect. Indeed, the context suggests that such ones may have been sect promoters because they were causing divisions “contrary to the teaching that they had learned”. This raises an interesting question: What if those who were causing divisions in the congregation did so in their ‘insistence on sticking the teaching they had learned’? Should such ones be summarily disfellowshipped under the generic, catch-all expression “Causing divisions,” with no qualifications considered? This situation is discussed.
While promoting a sect is a violation of God’s principles, there can be situations where causing divisions could accord with the will of God. In the congregation in Corinth, some persons venerated Christian leaders and said that they belonged to a certain leader. In that case, true Christians had to make a sect by separating themselves from these persons by saying “I belong to Christ.”
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:19 show that the formation of a sect (hairesis) can be the natural consequence of a Christian sticking to Bible truth in opposition to others who have deviated from it. In such a scenario, the resulting division is a byproduct of that disagreement, and so is biblically justified. In the second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, some persons whom Paul calls the “superfine apostles” are mentioned. They have elevated themselves to apostles, and they tried to corrupt the members of the congregation. True Christians had to separate themselves from the “superfine apostles.”
A sect is a group that has deviated from another group, and from a biblical standpoint, this other group is Jehovah’s organization. There are three purposes in connection with this organization in the last days. And there are three requirements for the understanding of the Bible, 1) knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, 2) detailed knowledge of world history, and 3) detailed knowledge of the history of the people of God in the last days. These qualifications are only found in Jehovah’s organization.
Three basic purposes in God having an organization are as follows: 1) To teach the truth about God to sincere persons, and to expose Satan the Devil as the ruler of this world. To assist persons who want to serve God, but who experience pressure from Satan’s world not to do so. 2) To create a secure sheep-like pen of support for believers, as well as for added protection from Satan’s world. 3) To preach the good news of the Kingdom in all the world, and to systematically prepare persons who learn the truth, and who become a part of Jehovah’s organization, to be sent out to preach.
In Corinth, there were persons who made sects inside the congregation by saying that they belonged to Paul, to Apollos, and to Cephas. There were also elders who wanted more power and elevated themselves. I am sad to point out that the formation of sects also has occurred inside Jehovah’s organization today by the present members of the Governing Body. And so, it is customary to hear JW in effect say, ‘I belong to Jehovah, but I to Jesus, but I to “the Governing Body.” Not only is this the sentiments among many Witnesses, but often the word-of-mouth credit that should be directed to Jehovah and Jesus is often directed, instead, to the GB. A search on the words “Governing Body” on the Watchtower Online Library makes clear the ever-increasing shift in recent years regarding whom JW are saying they ‘belong to,’ and more and more the answer is, “the Governing Body”.
Just as the “superfine apostles,” the members of the GB have elevated themselves to a supreme position. They claim that they are appointed by God as his mouthpieces, and they have all power over the doctrines, the assets, and the money. They have turned what once was Jehovah’s theocratic organization into an autocratic organization. And in keeping with that autocracy, everyone who does not strictly obey the GB will be disfellowshipped.
The most dangerous sectarian decision made by the present GB is that they have rejected the full inspiration of the Bible. The way the members of the GB treats the text of the Bible is the very opposite of how the leaders of the Bible students and JW have treated this text for 120 years, since the 1870s.
The sectarian decisions of the members of the GB have also ruined the lives of tens of thousands of Witnesses. Thirty-two of the disfellowshipping offenses listed in the Shepherd book are human commandments that have no basis in the Bible. My assessment is that as much as 90% of those who have been disfellowshipped should not have been if the Bible was followed.
The GB diminishes the value and power of both the ransom sacrifice and the resurrection by rejecting the words of Jesus that the inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Sodom will get a resurrection on Judgment Day, and thus, by teaching that fewer persons will have a resurrection than the Bible actually shows.