Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Jehovah's Witness Great Crowd: Reader Comment

The latest issue of the Reachout newsletter, carried an article about The Watchtower Memorial Meal. The article concentrated on the division between the great majority of Jehovah's Witnesses, the Great Crowd, and the Anointed Class, the 144,000, who alone are to partake of the memorial meal. A reader sent in some comments after studying the article and shared some interesting insights into how Jehovah's Witnesses see themselves in the great scheme of things.


'I've just read with interest your article entitled 'The Memorial Meal' in the latest Reachout Trust newsletter. I was  born into the Witnesses in 1967 and remained there until about 26 years ago when I became born again. Most of my family are still in the JW organisation.

I just wanted to point out a couple of things from the article. The 'great crowd' are encouraged to see themselves as having just as close a relationship with the organisation as the 'anointed', the society in every other aspect does not distinguish between the two - neither are expected to have any special 'Jesus bond' their only allegiance from everyone in it is unswerving obedience ( not love or personal relationship - they find this concept extremely odd) to the organisation.

The other interesting fact is when you try and unpick how the 'annointed' know they are in this class - it was only  ever explained as 'they have a feeling' - if anyone partakes when they are regarded as not of this class they are indeed taken aside and firm words (they would say testing out this concept) had with elders who then discuss the validity of whether the person may or may not be 'anointed' - its usually considered to be only very elderly persons who can legitimately claim this. However an interesting aside is that a few years ago the number of supposed 'anointed ones' went up!

The 'great crowd' are fully aware of their earthly hope and encouraged to believe this is where they are mean't to be. To question this in any form ( even as a child I somehow knew I was meant to live eternally with Jesus but couldn't voice this). Questioning anything draws firm interrogation and risks public reproof or being labelled 
apostate.'


Several valuable lessons may be drawn from these comments:

Firstly, how terrible that Jehovah's Witnesses do not have, nor do they expect to have, any kind of personal relationship with God. I have pointed out many times that, where Jehovah's Witnesses use words from the Lord's prayer, 'hallowed be your name,' to underline the idea of exalting them name - Jesus taught his disciples to pray, 'Our Father...'  Where Jehovah's Witnesses are taught to be glad to know God at a distance, Jesus promised:

'If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.' (John 14:23)

The New Testament is shot through with invitation to a relationship with God. When we witness to Witnesses we are not simply entering into finer points of doctrinal arguments, we are inviting them to enter this relationship.

Secondly, one of the marks of a cult is private interpretation, understandings peculiar to the group or individual, which God has expressly forbidden (2 Peter 1:20). Cult members are bombarded with messages insisting they should simply 'know' in their hearts, and failure to 'know' is a failure of faith. I wonder what the Watchtower Society would make of this person's 'knowing' that she certainly is meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus? How would they test that claim? The Bible? The Bible would be on her side.

It can be, often is, a stressful experience trying to figure out where you fit into the scheme of a cult. Are you being faithful enough in enough things? Outward things, such as 'promotion' to places of authority are usually the only measure of your own progress and so the cult typically falls back on routine and administration to measure 'success.' Instructions come from above, you follow them unquestioningly, and hope it is enough.

Finally, consider for a moment, Thomas, 'Doubting Thomas.' Here is a man who famously doubted the resurrection saying, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.' (John 20:25)

Yet when Jesus set his face to go to the tomb of Lazarus, and the other disciples warned him of the danger of going so near Jerusalem, it was this same Thomas who said, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.' (John 11:16) Thomas did not lack conviction, he simply had questions. In such circumstances, wouldn't we all?

Yet we know that, for a Jehovah's Witness, 'Questioning anything draws firm interrogation and risks public reproof, or being labelled 
apostate.'

It is freedom from such chains, and an eternal peace with God (Romans 5:1) that this ministry strives to bring.




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