Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

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postroad
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Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #1

Post by postroad »

To be a Jehovah's Witness you must afirm Watchtower approved doctrine. This must mean that you believe they have final authority on belief. What happens when new light is revealed and previously held doctrine is overturned? Are you obligated to abandon the position previously held?

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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #2

Post by JehovahsWitness »

postroad wrote: To be a Jehovah's Witness you must afirm Watchtower approved doctrine.

No, to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses one must be dedicated and baptized worshipper of Jehovah God.

That said, we believe the present Christian congregation is organized under the delegated authority of a governing body of anointed men, also refered to as the "Faithful and Discreet Slave" (see Math 24:45). All dedicated baptized Jehovah's Witnesses recognize their authority and the main means by which they communicate bible teachings today that is through the Watchtower magazine (study edition) and other channels of teaching (meetings, schools, assemblies and conventions).

To be a Jehovah's Witness must you affirm Watchtower approved doctrine?

To affirm means to "to state positively" to assert or confirm something as true. There is no daily, monthy or yearly requirement that a Witnesses say (state) that "The teachings I read in the Watchtower are true". Such a regular confirmation is not a requirement and Witnesses face no penalty for not saying those words. Indeed the publishers of the Watchtower have never claimed infallibility and have on numerous occassions recognized that they have needed to make adjustments in their understanding of biblical topics. Although there is no numeric requirement to make a statement of affirmation, all Jehovah's Witnesses do believe the bible to be the word of God and any teaching firmly based in scritpure to be true.

[But] must you affirm Watchtower approved doctrine.

If by that you mean must someone accept the official set of beliefs of the organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses hold, in order to become one, then yes. Why else would one become one of Jehovah's Witnesses, but that they accepted the body of their beliefs. Jehovah's Witnesses have a clear set of bible based beliefs (doctrine) which is communicated through the organization to which we belong, anyone that agrees and meets bible standards can join us. Anyone that doesn't or no longer does is free to leave. At baptism, candidates are publically asked if they understand that by being baptized they will henceforth become part of the congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. They affirm understanding and desire to do this. No daily, weekly, monthly or yearly requirement of public or private affirmation thereafter is stipulated.


Further reading
http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2017283
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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #3

Post by JehovahsWitness »

postroad wrote: This must mean that you believe they have final authority on belief.
If by "they" you are referring to the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses (those that take the lead in matters of faith, and have the principle responsibility or teaching and training the worldwide brotherhood of JWs), then I would say no, we do not hold that belief. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that no one has the "final authority on belief" except Almighty God, expressed through his word the bible.

The Governing body, being the group of men that have a final say on what is published by the Watchtower Society, have no right to teach something that is not in the bible. They have never claimed their understanding of scripture to be infallible and have rightly continued to make adjustments as their understanding has increased. When they have been wrong, they have admitted it and made the necessary changes. Only the bible is "infallible", our understanding of it is not and neither the publishers of the Watchtower.

I wrote an earlier post on this topic (link below)
http://debatingchristianity.com/forum/v ... 101#840101

What happens when new light is revealed and previously held doctrine is overturned?

We move on. Mankind would still be using the horse and carriage if we didn't embrace change. Jehovah's Witnesses can be classified as a progressive religion that believe change is part of growth. When we see we have been in error in an understanding we humbly admit the wrong and try and do better in the future.

Are you obligated to abandon the position previously held?

The fundamental teachings Jehovah's Witnesses hold to be true have not really changed in 100 years. That there is no hellfire, that man doesn't have an immortal soul, that God is not a trinity, that Jesus has reigned in heaven since 1914, that Jehovah is the true God, that Christians must preach the good news... such things have remained a constant in our faith.

That said, there have also been many changes both in organizational procedure and in detail. If a new understanding is revealed nobody is obliged to believe it. If they remain unconvinced of its truth that is their right. If they come to feel they can no longer support the organization as it stands today because of the changes in understanding then they are free to leave ... or not.
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Romans 14:8

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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #4

Post by postroad »

[Replying to post 3 by JehovahsWitness]
Why are you beating around the bush on this issue. Why not simply state that in order to be a a Jehovah's Witness, one must uphold faithfully the doctrine of Jehovah as determined by his only earthly authorized representatives which is the governing body? To deny the authority and doctrine of the GB is apostasy against Jehovah himself. Which oddly enough must make them equal to God?

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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #5

Post by JehovahsWitness »

postroad wrote:To deny the authority and doctrine of the GB is apostasy against Jehovah himself.

I have never read that in any of our literature, if you have feel free to point that out to me.


As with any governing body of any organization or association, as a group they administer what the direction and standards of that group will be. Our governing body must strictly adhere to bible standards. We believe they have indeed as a group been appointed to serve this purpose by God, and we believe we (Jehovah's Witnesss) have been chosen by God to be His people. Neither they nor we are infallible in their interpretation of scripture, so to claim that to deny a doctrine is to deny Almighty God is inaccurate.

Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

The Watchtower is a printed magazine, paper and ink; paper and ink cannot determine anything. If you mean does The Governing body of Jehovah's Witness determine official "church" teachings, yes. Do you mean are these official teachings printed in the Watchtower? Yes, along with other publications. As to whether those doctrines or teachings are correct, the depends on if they accurately reflect bible truths. The Governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses do their very best to see that is the case, but they are not infallible.
I have explained the function and attitude we have towards the Governing body, I have explained where our loyalties lie and why, what role we see this group as playing, and answered each and every one of your questions line by line as to changes in doctrine and whether they have absolute authority. If you feel qualified to identify anything in my post which is inaccurate in any way feel free to point that out, otherwise, have a most excellent day.

I'll leave a link to our website, if you need any further clarification.
https://www.jw.org




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Romans 14:8

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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #6

Post by postroad »

[Replying to post 5 by JehovahsWitness]
Why bother deflecting? You know very well that any baptized member of your organization who would dare question the validity and authority of the GB and refuse to
recant would in short order be disfellowshipped and be labeled apostate. Does anyone who becomes an apostate from the Jehovah's Witness survive Armageddon? In addition, concidering that the GB is not infallible and therefore will change positions in response to new light. We now have the possibility that disfellowshipped members having rejected the previously held position of the GB in favour of a position rejected at that time but later accepted as new light by the GB ,were in fact right all along. Does the organization go back to the records and reenstate these disfellowshipped apostates? If not, why?

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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #7

Post by JehovahsWitness »

postroad wrote:
You know very well that any baptized member of your organization who would dare question the validity and authority of the GB and refuse to recant would in short order be disfellowshipped and be labeled apostate.
This is an altogether different question. Intitially your question seemed to be about the role and function of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses in the determination of official organizational doctrine. I believe I have answered those questions fully. Here you seem to be asking about apostacy.

QUESTION: What is an apostate?

An apostate for Jehovah's Witnesses is not simply someone that chooses no longer to continue in the faith or someone that has doubts about the teachings or changes in teachings they see within the organization and seek clarification by asking questions. An "apostate" is someone that actively opposes the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses from within the organization, attempting to turn others to alternative doctrine and procedure. Such actions would seriously disrupt the running of a congregation and put the spirituality of others in danger. Anyone is free to leave our organization but Jesus warned against those, like "wolves in sheeps clothing" seek to destroy it. Apostates are not tolerated in any congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. Unrepentent apostates will be disfellowshipped.

Is it true that anyone that questions the validity and authority of the GB of Jehovah's Witnesses will be disfellowshipped?

Before anyone is qualified to be baptised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses they study organizational structure. There are no surprises as to the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God has appointed a "faithful and discreet Slave", a class or group of men to provide leadership and instruction to the body of 8 million plus Jehovah's Witnesses.

If a person does not agree that Governing body, and the other spirit anointed individuals that form the nucleus of the organization, are indeed representatives of God, they have but to not become a Jehovah's Witness. The "validity and authority" of the Governing body is central to the decision whether or not one wants to become one of Jehovah's Witness, since it is a major part of how JWs are organized. Thus the moment for questions as to the validity and authority of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses is before becoming one. It rather like someone applying for a green card has to learn about how American society is structured.

Does this mean no one in the organization has the right to question the authority of the Governing body?

If by "question" you mean simply ask for clarification on matters, or even express disaccord with a particular explanation, of course they can. Indeed the Watchtower of February 2017 contains a study article dealing with questions as to this very topic (see page 26 para 10-19) and periodically Jehovah's Witnesses examine the principles and scriptural rationale behind the notion of a religion having such a body.

If by "question" what is really meant is "challenge" "defy" "rebel against" "subvert" and undermine the authority of the Governing body in the eyes of fellow believers, then no. Jesus warned, "a house divided cannot stand", nobody is forced to be part of our organization and anyone that, upon reflection does not agree with it's organizational structure or changes, is free to challenge it; from the outside but not from within.

Does the organization go back to the records and reenstate [...] disfellowshipped apostates?

Disfellowshipping is never considered definitive, no matter what the motive. Anyone that is repentant and wants to return to the organization is welcomed back with open arms. They have but to approach those in authority in the congregation and they will be helped to meet the requirements to be reinstated. My understanding is that congregational elders make periodic visits to ex-witnesses but I admit I am not clear on the details and conditions of this. Of course any ex-witness (no matter what the motive) when they return will find themselves again under the same organizational structure they left, so they must be sure that that is what they want.


Does anyone who becomes an apostate from the Jehovah's Witness survive Armageddon?

I cannot answer that question, because

1) Armageddon isn't here yet, and
2) every human, no matter what they have done will be judged by God Almighty
3) I'm not God Almighty
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"For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah" -
Romans 14:8

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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #8

Post by postroad »

[Replying to post 7 by JehovahsWitness]
I was imagining a probable situatuation in which members were disfellowshipped for advocating a position not yet held by the GB but with time became new light. What would they need to repent from? Apparently they were right all along.

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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #9

Post by JehovahsWitness »

postroad wrote:I was imagining a probable situatuation in which members were disfellowshipped for advocating a position not yet held by the GB but with time became new light. What would they need to repent from? Apparently they were right all along.
Such a thing is hardly "probable" indeed Apostacy is extremely rare, and in my 35 years as one of Jehovah's Witnesses I have never known anyone being disfellowshipped for Apostacy and their point of view eventually being vindicated. But in the event of this highly unlikely case they would may well have been right about a doctrinal issue, but wrong about how they went about dealing with it.

Instead of waiting patiently, recognizing that Jehovah is the Almighty and this organization belongs to him... and if something needs to be corrected, He will see to it in his own due time, they took measures that was harmful to both their own spirituality and express orders to be united and respectful of those in a position of leadership. Paul said "All things are lawful, but not all things build up" in other words, insisting on being right is not the most important thing; acting in harmony with bible principles are. In order to become an apostate they would have thus violated a number of serious Christian laws and principles including a failure to recognize God given authority and putting the spiritual lives of their brothers and sisters in danger. This is rather like attempting to burn your house down because you have seen a mouse or reaching over from the passenger seat and grabbing the steering wheel because you believe the driver has just missed a turn. Even if you were right, the action is foolhardy and dangerous.

They would need to recognize what they did was wrong before they would be allowed to be reinstated, if they couldn't it would be best they stayed outside and went their own way.


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Re: Does the Watchtower determine correct doctrine?

Post #10

Post by postroad »

[Replying to post 9 by JehovahsWitness] So in short the GB is the only earthly authority on Jehovah's revealation to the organization. To oppose the GB is to oppose Jehovah. Extapolating further can we say that if the Jehovah's Witnesses are the only true Church on earth, that for any person to oppose the doctrine as revealed to the GB is to oppose Jehovah?

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