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Author Topic: 'The Truth that leads to Eternal Life'  (Read 366 times) Average Rating: 0
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Symeon77
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'with fear and trembling work out your salvation.'


« on: February 05, 2013, 11:25:28 AM »

Copyright, 1968: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

Purchased this book at a thrift store yesterday because it was cheap and the novelty was just irresistable. I also hoped to gain a little insight into the thinking of Jehovah's Witnesses thereby, as I do encounter them now and then, typically every few years, and generally find they are so unsettlingly obdurate in dialogue with any fact or concept inconsistent with their prescribed narrative.

Thumbing through it, I noticed that the paragraphs are numbered and there are footnotes with rhetorical questions pertaining to what was outlined in the paragraphs, in the manner of a rudimentary textbook for self-study.

This raised a couple of questions for me. Does this literature function as a sort of catechism? More broadly, I was curious as to what their method of pedagogy consists of? And also what particular authority they ascribe to certain of the literature they produce?

Of course the whole book reeks of hucksterism. Is this sort of book indicative of the heights of their theology? If so, I fail to see how they could convince any serious-minded adult, let alone anyone with a passing familiarity with the Bible, of their fantastic claims.

Also, some of the motifs are very curious; For instance, what is their understanding of 'the Wicked System of Things' which they seem to place such a pronounced emphasis on, yet is never satisfactorily fleshed out? And what convoluted exegesis of the NT could possibly yeild the idea that Jesus was enthroned in the heavens in 1914?

Perhaps there is a more or less reliable historical treatment of the JWs and their milieu out there that someone could point me to?
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2013, 02:14:15 PM »

My wife came from a JW family, her mother was disassociated due to a divorce (from an abusive husband). Her grandfather was the first JW in the family and this was due, as he put it, to the JW concept of the hereafter. To him it was believable and he liked it. This also seems to be the main reason why many convert. They appeal to the idea of being "elect" and/ or inheriting paradise due to their faith.
The traditionally moral lifestyle makes them feel superior and able to feel as though they are on the winning side.

As for dogmatics, JW's alter theirs through issuing new Watchtowers.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 02:15:36 PM by simplygermain » Logged

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Symeon77
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'with fear and trembling work out your salvation.'


« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2013, 09:49:33 AM »

My wife came from a JW family, her mother was disassociated due to a divorce (from an abusive husband). Her grandfather was the first JW in the family and this was due, as he put it, to the JW concept of the hereafter. To him it was believable and he liked it. This also seems to be the main reason why many convert. They appeal to the idea of being "elect" and/ or inheriting paradise due to their faith.
The traditionally moral lifestyle makes them feel superior and able to feel as though they are on the winning side.

As for dogmatics, JW's alter theirs through issuing new Watchtowers.

Interesting. You say that many convert due to the JW concept of the hereafter. I will attempt to synopsize based on what I have read. There is no body/soul dualism in their view. Therefore, at the time of death, and prior to the resurrection, one simply ceases to exist. Post-resurrection, there are three alternatives: if one is faithful to JW doctrine, one will either be resurrected as one of the 'elect', literal 144,000 humans, to reign in heaven eternally with Jesus or be restored in paradise eternally, which they place here on (a perfected) earth, cleansed of evil-doers. Outside of these alternatives, one will experience a 'cutting-off', which from what I can gather, means that one simply ceases to exist. It sounds as though all non-JWs suffer this latter fate?

I fail to see what is so persuasive or desirable about this teaching. For one thing, it seems to be in flagrant contradiction of the Lord's teaching in the NT re: the eternity of suffering in hell, so I don't know how they exegete these passages to support their view.

I do see that, as you say, the sense of moral/ eschatological superiority could be appealing to our fallen, prideful psychology. It strikes me as an almost Manichaean view of humanity as divided between the good and the wicked according to rather superficial standards, which fails to take into account the reality of sin in the life of every man.

In learning about their 'theology', I am reminded throughout of the psychoanalyst Igor Caruso's characterization of the distinctive feature of neurosis as 'absolutization of the relative.'
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Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.~ Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Abba Anthony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2013, 01:21:51 PM »

I have several of these types of works myself, and I think they're primarily used as catechizing material.

It's not too dissimilar to what other pseudo-Christian groups (Armstrongists, Christadelphians, Bible Students, etc.) do. They have fluff text describing, in basic terms, their beliefs or some other claim backed up by proof-text Bible verses and passages. They then proceed to ask "questions," which are done in such a way that they will only result in the desired answer. After enough of these Q & A, the individual sometimes buys it.

By and large, these works are meant for your average rank-and-file - not the trained theologian, philosopher, etc. However, some of the other groups seem to be better at appealing to the religiously trained than the JW's do.
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Symeon77
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'with fear and trembling work out your salvation.'


« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2013, 02:23:08 PM »

I have several of these types of works myself, and I think they're primarily used as catechizing material.

It's not too dissimilar to what other pseudo-Christian groups (Armstrongists, Christadelphians, Bible Students, etc.) do. They have fluff text describing, in basic terms, their beliefs or some other claim backed up by proof-text Bible verses and passages. They then proceed to ask "questions," which are done in such a way that they will only result in the desired answer. After enough of these Q & A, the individual sometimes buys it.

By and large, these works are meant for your average rank-and-file - not the trained theologian, philosopher, etc. However, some of the other groups seem to be better at appealing to the religiously trained than the JW's do.

Which leads me to wonder: do they produce anything of a more subtle, intellectually rigorous quality? Because, apart from people who were raised JWs or are by nature credulous, I don't see how they can keep recruiting new members with such intellectually lazy, self-referential material. Are they a dying sect as people are taught more to think critically with regards to the claims of religion? Or are they growing, as we become a less theologically-informed, biblically literate society?

I would also like to get a better grasp of their take on the precise nature of the earthly paradise they envision? To all appearances, life will go on as 'normal'- i.e. man will still have some form of earthly government, familial and societal structures, still produce technology, require food and raiment, etc.- only without 'sin.' Their teaching on marriage in the age to come is, of course, hopelessly convoluted, but I wonder about the other properties of life in this hypothetical paradise.
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Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.~ Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Abba Anthony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"
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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2013, 02:29:38 PM »

Copyright, 1968: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

Purchased this book at a thrift store yesterday because it was cheap and the novelty was just irresistable. I also hoped to gain a little insight into the thinking of Jehovah's Witnesses thereby, as I do encounter them now and then, typically every few years, and generally find they are so unsettlingly obdurate in dialogue with any fact or concept inconsistent with their prescribed narrative.

You have no idea. I could tell you stories that would make your head spin.
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Symeon77
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'with fear and trembling work out your salvation.'


« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2013, 02:33:26 PM »

Copyright, 1968: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

Purchased this book at a thrift store yesterday because it was cheap and the novelty was just irresistable. I also hoped to gain a little insight into the thinking of Jehovah's Witnesses thereby, as I do encounter them now and then, typically every few years, and generally find they are so unsettlingly obdurate in dialogue with any fact or concept inconsistent with their prescribed narrative.

You have no idea. I could tell you stories that would make your head spin.

I'd like to hear of your experiences. Partially out of vulgar curiosity, perhaps, but feel free to PM me on this.
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Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.~ Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Abba Anthony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"
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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2013, 04:02:47 PM »

Which leads me to wonder: do they produce anything of a more subtle, intellectually rigorous quality? Because, apart from people who were raised JWs or are by nature credulous, I don't see how they can keep recruiting new members with such intellectually lazy, self-referential material. Are they a dying sect as people are taught more to think critically with regards to the claims of religion? Or are they growing, as we become a less theologically-informed, biblically literate society?

There are the writings of Charles Russell, like the Divine Plan of the Ages. I know the Bible Students, who like the JW's come from Russell, use his works, but I am not sure if the JW's still do. This may be the sort of thing you're looking for.

I think that sects like these thrive on the average folk, who aren't properly trained to analyze their claims. I don't think it has anything to do with being "less theologically-informed, biblically literate" since they boomed in the 19th century, and I don't believe their memberships have declined. The average person is just extremely vulnerable to sectarian claims, given the right conditions.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 04:03:17 PM by Nephi » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2013, 04:12:14 PM »



I believe the oldest living man who lived through the Holocaust is JW.

He could've opted out by simply signing a document denying his faith.

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Symeon77
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'with fear and trembling work out your salvation.'


« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2013, 05:49:33 PM »

Which leads me to wonder: do they produce anything of a more subtle, intellectually rigorous quality? Because, apart from people who were raised JWs or are by nature credulous, I don't see how they can keep recruiting new members with such intellectually lazy, self-referential material. Are they a dying sect as people are taught more to think critically with regards to the claims of religion? Or are they growing, as we become a less theologically-informed, biblically literate society?

There are the writings of Charles Russell, like the Divine Plan of the Ages. I know the Bible Students, who like the JW's come from Russell, use his works, but I am not sure if the JW's still do. This may be the sort of thing you're looking for.

I think that sects like these thrive on the average folk, who aren't properly trained to analyze their claims. I don't think it has anything to do with being "less theologically-informed, biblically literate" since they boomed in the 19th century, and I don't believe their memberships have declined. The average person is just extremely vulnerable to sectarian claims, given the right conditions.

Good points, and thank you for the link. I will look into it. It seems I have a lot to learn.
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Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.~ Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Abba Anthony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"
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