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Textual Criticism and the Bible

"If comparative trivialities such as changes of order, the insertion or omission of the article with proper names, and the like are set aside, the works in our opinion still subject to doubt can hardly mount to more than a thousandth part of the whole New Testament."

Then too, one must remember that Jehovah's Witnesses put great stock in the jig-saw puzzle analogy.

Even those who flatly reject them rarely attempt to point out any inconsistencies. Some mistake the certainty Jehovah's Witnesses project for pride. They should not. It's nothing haughty if the guy with the phone book claims he can find every number in the city.It may comprise half their rationale for accepting the beliefs they do. And why not? If your car runs, you don't spend as much time under the hood as your neighbor whose car doesn't run. Your car does. The individual components can't be all that defective. So JW beliefs form a network that give satisfying, consistent and coherent explanations for the important questions of our day.

So that guy next door owns an automobile of which each component is exquisitely crafted by award winning engineers, graduates of the finest engineering schools. He looks askance at that mongrel car of yours - who knows where its component parts have been? Yet for all his high pretensions, his car doesn't run. Yours does. Incredibly, this fact does not humble him. He continues to labor on his respectable yet inoperative car and loudly denounces you as a naive buffoon.

Or, take that Neil Young song which they play all the time up here: When God Made Me. Okay, so Neil Young has paid his dues and earned his place in music. I like his songs as well as anyone. But he's no theologian. He plaintively whines spiritual questions that any ten year old with Bible knowledge can answer. Yet nobody labels the lyrics as lacking depth. To the contrary, they hail him as a great spiritual seeker, a visionary on the noble quest to learn all, and so forth. Noble, perhaps. But if you've spent tons of time telling others Bible answers to questions which they have, only to have many roll their eyes at your far-too-unsophisticated message, "noble" isn't the first adjective that comes to mind.

They caught Sheepandgoats in a rash statement. He had insisted that there are no contradictions in the Bible. So he had to back off a bit.

Of course there are contradictions in the Bible, at least as it has come down to us. There are contradictions in every aspect of life. The important question is - how significant are they?

"We do not even have a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of the original." It's true enough. But it's equally true with all ancient writings....with any ancient historian, with any ancient philosopher. With all of them we have not even a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of the original. Yet are we ever admonished to discount these writings for fear that scanty manuscripts make them worthless? No. Only the Bible. Go figure. I suspect Brandon nailed it. People don't like the Bible because it roundly condemns much of what society embraces. They don't like it's conclusions. They don't like the responsibilities it places upon us. Or as James puts it:

Therefore, if one knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him. Jas 4:17

Better not to know it. Better to shoot down the source.

I might not feel this way if all ancient writings were looked at askance. But they're not. Only the Bible.

Grounds for textual criticism of the Bible are not comparable to these other secular writings. They are far superior. For example, the gap between the original writings of Thucydides and the oldest extant manuscript of his work is 1300 years. For Herodotus' writings it is 1400 years. for Tacitus, 800, Pliny: 750. Josephus, 1000. With the New Testament, however, the gap shrinks to 200 years, sometimes less. The smaller the gap, of course, the less room for errors to creep in.

Moreover, the New Testament was the source material for evangelizing. For that reason, copies increased exponentially, a fact which ensures accurate preservation. Today, there are over 4000 extant manuscripts covering portions of the NT, a number astronomically greater than the writings of other ancients. It is therefore not difficult to reconstruct the original. If you have ten copies of an original, of which nine are identical and one is different, which one do you think contains the copyist's error? That's how they ferreted out the spurious verse at 1 John 5:7 which the Trinitarians tried to slip in.

On the other hand, ancient secular writings were copied much more sparingly. Should a copyist make an error on, say, Aristotle, we're sunk. There's not the plethora of competing copies with which to compare. Still, nobody suggests these writings are so unfit that they best belong in the dumpster, as they do the Bible.

Are there errors in the Bible manuscripts? Yes, there are many thousands of them. Yet they are virtually all insignificant, a mispelling here, transposition of words or letters there, insertion or deletion of an article in another place. Note, for example, the viewpoint of Westcott and Hort, who produced the Greek master text which the most recognizable modern New Testament translations use as source material:

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Maggie Brooks Battles Internet Porn

The local TV station sent reporters to the library and filmed guys watching porn on the web. They only had to ask the librarian to unlock filtering software. Out in the open. Kids might see it. TV news led with the story.

County Executive Maggie Brooks saw the report and hit the roof! She had no idea, she said, and blasted that library director to shape up or risk losing county funding (70% if the library's budget!) Why should taxpayers fund porn?

But the next day the ACLU appeared. That library had better not cut off the porn, they countered. What about freedom of speech? What about the slippery slope? What about the lawsuit that they might file?

It wasn't the one sided issue Tom Wheatandweeds thought it might be. Lots of people took issue with Maggie. Wasn't she just grandstanding? So Wheatandweeds, that pillar of virtue, wrote City! newspaper.

Maggie Brooks is shocked over internet porn! What's wrong with that?

We're not dealing with freedom of political speech. We're not dealing with freedom of religious speech. We're not even dealing with freedom of body-beautiful artistic speech. We're dealing with hardcore internet porn, which delights in graphic copulation, sadomasochism, and bestiality, often via streaming video. Historically, patrons visited seedy places for such material, where they sought out secluded spots in which to masturbate. Must we really have our public libraries offer free competition?

Surely, internet porn is not that make-or-break issue upon which all our constitutional rights depend. That slippery slope can't be that slippery.

When the library settled matters a few weeks later, though, they paid Wheatandweeds no heed. No one ever does. They vowed business as usual, with a few minor tweaks so as to safeguard children.

Moreover, the next City! issue featured another letter rebutting Wheatandweeds! Its author had read between the lines, and was alarmed that Wheatandweeds seemed to be decrying, not just child-accessible porn, itself. People like porn, he observed, from which fact he concluded that it must be fine.

Wheatandweeds, the stubborn ox, would have none of it. "People like fast food, too," he spattered at me between bites. "That's why we all weigh 300 pounds!"

Moreover, they also liked Don Imus, that foulmouthed radio jock. How long had he been a mainstay morning guy? His mouth spawned many a tempest, but he weathered them all. Until last week when they finally canned himfor racially charged remarks about nappy headed ho's. The local radio guy, Bob Lonsberry, wondered if the library free-speech people would come to Don's defense.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Assembling the Puzzle

Learned society today strives so mightily to trash Scripture that you may have to reestablish its authority before people will even agree to investigate. But not always. Sometimes you can persuade them to suspend doubt. Not to be confused with taking a "leap of faith," for they don't discard doubt, they only suspend it.

Mathematicians do this all the time. Assume such and such a condition is true. Follow the logical thread. What deductions can be made? If the results are just so much horse manure, then just take back the assumption. No harm done.

But sometimes it pans out. Valuable math has been discovered this way. And not just math, but also science, since much scientific research these days is done by means of mathematics, the subjects of research being too tiny (atomic) or too huge (galactic) for human instruments to do the job. Scientists take advantage of the remarkable power of mathematics to describe the physical world.

Jehovah's Witnesses are known for the offer of a free home Bible study. Sometimes people agree to it even though they doubt that the Bible is what it claims to be. But they do as the mathematicians. They suspend their doubt on its authenticity; it can always reinstated later. Having done so, the person (ideally) comes to appreciate the Bible is, not an incoherent hash as he may have once supposed, but a book that makes a lot of sense, a book in which loose ends are tied up, and in which all verses contribute towards a unified theme. Important questions of life are convincingly answered. What happens when we die? Why do we grow old and die? Why does God permit evil and suffering? What is the meaning of today's worldwide chaos? What is God's purpose with regard to the earth, with regard to humanity? Satisfied on these points, our seeker revisits his original assumption about Bible authority and finds it not so compelling as he once imagined.

You might liken it to how you felt last time you completed a jig saw puzzle. There is the completed picture. Holes are filled in. No pieces left over. All is well. Should someone come along and suggest that your result is merely your interpretation of the data, it is hard for you to take him seriously, especially since his puzzle is still in the box. And when some learned puzzologist declares that the puzzle can't be solved and that trying is a waste of time, same reaction on your part. What a surprise when everyone accepts his view! You just shake your head in dismay. You look back at your completed puzzle. Yes, there it is. And yet people will not attempt the puzzle, although the invitation and path to go about it could not be easier, because the puzzologist says "no." Instead, they gobble up the puzzologist's books on the nature of the puzzle pieces and the reasons they're nonsense!

Yes, temporarily suspending doubt, so as to make an investigation, can lead to good results. In my own case, it played out well.

When I first came across the ideas of Jehovah's Witnesses in my college years, I was floored to think I had found people who actually believed in Adam and Eve! They didn't look stupid - well, maybe a few of them, but in no greater proportion than greater society. Yet all my life I had believed that only the most ignorant of the rednecks rejected evolution. A fellow from the Kingdom Hall lent me a book on the subject, now out of print, replaced by a superior version. I didn't like it. It seemed poorly written and it took some cheap shots. But everything else I was learning made much sense, so I decided to shelve the matter for the time being. Later I was able to resolve it. The evidence favoring evolution is nowhere near as compelling as its advocates would have one believe, but we are emotionally conditioned to think a certain way, and are slow to change, regardless of the evidence.

Call it the noble-minded model, neither closed-minded nor gullible.

"Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica [where the disciples were run out of town!], for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so."    Acts 17:11




Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Virginia Tech and the Blame Game

A student gunman killed 32 people on Virginia Tech campus Monday, and wounded 15 others. There were two attacks, one at 7:15 claiming two persons, and the other across campus 2 hours later. Hordes of media descended, asking all questions except the important ones. Like:

Did you ever imagine, when you came to class this morning, that such a thing would happen?

Has it sunk in yet?

The blaming began within hours. There was Katie Couric, so somber, oozing love and compassion, ever so gently probing college president Charles Steger. Didn't he bear bloodguilt, she implied, for not locking down campus immediately after the first shooting?

No, he didn't. He'd already explained the first incident bore every mark of a domestic dispute. No reason to think differently. Besides, thousands of non-resident students were just then arriving for 8AM class. "Where do you lock them down?....You can only make a decision based on the information you know at that moment in time. You don't have hours to reflect on it." West_Virginia_Flying_WV_logo.svg

That made sense to me. God help us if we start shutting down entire communities (30,000 plus at Virginia Tech) every time domestic violence flares up.

But Mr. Steger is my age, brought up in a different time. The younger you are the more likely you were to disagree. Today's students were born in the late 80's, not the domestically tranquil 40's, 50's and even 60's. A madman on rampage is not so unusual for them, so that it seemed the college should have taken this in stride. They should have known and been ready. Reporters searched until they found SWAT team experts, guys who live and breathe and dream CSI. Yes, they affirmed, the college should have known. All night, cable and satellite stations pushed the theme.

Lawyers have facilitated this thinking by successfully implanting the notion that money can compensate for life. Of course, that only happens if someone is found blameworthy. So someone must be.

On the other hand, local radio guy Bob Lonsberry found someone here who's a student there. He chatted a few minutes on air with Doug MacEvoy. Doug didn't fault anybody. Absolute madman, who could have known? totally out of the blue was all they could say from the start. But within hours, the same media folks were in full court blame press.

So maybe it's not young people at all. Maybe it's entirely lawyers and media, two groups who distinctly gain by finding parties to blame. [media, because it extends the life of the story]

For those who view such violence as, if not everyday, at least common enough that everyone should always be ready, the important question was not asked. How did society get to be this way?

In the last days, so says the apostle Paul at 2 Timothy, people will be .... without natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness.

They've always been like that, some today counter. So was Paul giving a non-prophesy? Of course he knew what people were like. But there would be a time, he advised, when such traits would be off the charts. Is such the case today? Do we not entertain the nagging suspicion that we are just this close to such events becoming absolutely routine?

Jesus said the dangerous times he foretold...times that would serve to seal the dismal record of human self-rule...would find people "faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth." [Luke 21:26] Those with faith would also be affected by events. A sign is a sign.

Yet knowing the meaning behind it all would give them a different outlook, even a hopeful one. "In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near." [vs 31]

Announcing this kingdom forms the core of Jehovah's Witnesses ministry.


Tom Irregardless and Me        No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Organization and the Internet

Much as Sheepandgoats appreciates the internet and uses it as his unlimited library card, it is an destructive force to organization of any stripe....religious, business, or political. Isn't there some UTube video floating around that shows John Edwards obsessively primping his hair? Does it really matter now what the man stands for? The primped hair jets through cyberspace at lightning speed. No longer will we focus on the man's positions (because that's hard). Instead, we'll zero in only on the ridicule (because that's easy). Who knows if he wasn't just hamming it up for pals?

All of us have full potential to say/do something asinine or inconsistent. With the internet, we can now be assured that the gaffe will be transmitted instantly to everyone and that they'll all draw snap conclusions at gut level. The truth of anything requires thought. Some find thought foreign. Some simply don't have the time. But all can drink in a quick byte of so-and-so making an ass of himself.

Is there any example anywhere of organization that has been aided by the internet? Maybe some fledgling politician, someone too small to be noticed by traditional means, and also too small for the internet to rip him apart as it's built him up. Finding instances where the internet has built up organization is a challenge. Finding instances where it tears apart we can do in our sleep. With even a horrible organization it's usually well to have a viable replacement before you tear the existing order apart. Ask them about that in Iraq.

If Christianity were simply some do-what-feels-good-at-the-moment movement, then it might be aided by the internet. But it's not. Christianity's predicated on the belief that we need guidance from a source beyond ourselves and that there is a specific channel through which that guidance comes.

Just as most everything today is desperately flawed and on life support, there are some who try to sell me on the notion that Watchtower, too, is overdue for change and that the powerful internet is just the means for such change, at long last giving "little people," a voice, and so forth. I doubt it.

In the same vein it's mentioned that letters are deluging Brooklyn for greater change. Well, I suppose they are. But when have they not? Is today's generation the first to know how to write letters? I suspect back in the days when Watchtower was constantly before the Supreme Court, letters (proportionate to population) poured in more than today. Are we to assume that the Society simply carted all letters to the dumpster until today, when their sheer weight demands attention? I don't think so. Letters from individuals have never been the primary driver of Christian policy. But neither have they ever been merely ignored. They are a source of feedback and always have been.

The Society was more regimented in days past when people were more regimented. For whatever reason, people in past generations were less fragile than they are today and enjoyed greater self-esteem. You could give your counsel blunt without their falling apart. They could take, not just the good, but also the bad without undue complaining. People are different today. Probably due to decaying society, individuals are much less secure. So an added emphasison "principles not rules, love not punishment, flexibility not unreasonableness" comes into being to meet changing times. And I'm glad to see it. But does it all come about only because Watchtower hardliners are being outmaneuvered by progressive new people with "subversive" ideas? Hogwash! Every new person brings something unique to the table, obviously, and old timers never lose sight of the tried and true. But the only model today's world can imagine is "power struggle among unyielding titans." It does not fit the Witness organization.

Because we live in a democracy and prevailing mindset is that democracy tops everything else, we get used to the idea that we should have a say in things. And as people become more individualistic, we become more insistent that our say should be heeded. But the Christian congregation is not organized that way, as it was not in it's first century beginning. The apostles sought to maintain unity and to forestall the endless sects and divisions that were to come. Thus, the Bible mentions the necessity of an older man to "reprove those who contradict" [Titus 1:9] and deal with those "wanting to be teachers of law, but not perceiving either the things they are saying or the things about which they are making strong assertions."  (1 Tim 1:7) Lots of people make "strong assertions" today and lots of people "contradict." It's a function of the unsettled times we live in, and is aided by the internet.

Not all of Jehovah's Witnesses today are 100% behind the program. Many are puzzled over this or that aspect of theocracy and many entertain their own pet ideas of how more of this, less of that, modification of this tactic, and so forth, would be beneficial. Some make suggestions via letter or traveling overseers. There's nothing new, earthshaking, or unnatural about that. It's not evidence that the organization is at some unprecedented crossroads. But in the final analysis we realize that the burden of directing things does not rest with us, but with a non-democratic channel which God has provided. We're not presumptuous. We cooperate as best we can.

The first century apostles lost that battle to maintain Christian unity. The "wheat" was oversown with "weeds," as Jesus foretold. (Matt 13:24-30) It would have happened much sooner had the internet existed back then.

As many know, Jehovah's Witnesses maintain we are in the last days of human rulership. God's rulership over the earth is soon to come, preceded by a public preaching campaign to that effect. Not everyone agrees, I realize. But looking at the state of affairs today, it clearly is not laughable that God might find human rulership lacking. Watchtower is doing their best to maintain Christian unity in the face of a increasing divisive world. And they're doing well, despite overwhelming forces to the contrary. They contrast with most churches, where unity is generally slight and rough and tumble politics is the order of the day.

I made the above remarks to some fellow who replied that he indeed understood how groups wishing to control information flow like [insert sarcasm] the Communist and the fundamentalist middle east governments wished the internet didn't exist.

Yes, that is how many think today: tyrants have abused authority so the answer is to eliminate authority. Fire all cops. Fire all teachers. Let us all live on love and self-discovery.


Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Predestination and the Last Days

If you purchase and run a car without a clue how to take care of it, and for some reason you refuse to read the owner's manual, it is certain you will end up with a pile of scrap metal. That's not predestination. It's a certain prediction, and the dealer could have made it the moment he discerned your nobody's-gonna-tell-me mindset. When it comes to the Bible and the "last days," this is the analogy that fits.

The auto-purchase analogy can be seen in the Genesis account, which most people count as a fairy tale. God did not create humans with the ability to govern themselves. Power corrupts, absolute corrupts absolutely, and so forth....God knew it all along. He did not create humans with self-rule ability, just like he did not create them with ability to fly or to walk through walls.

But the first humans ignore him and disobey the only command he has issued, [Gen 2:17] a command which symbolizes their reliance upon him. They embark on the path of self-rule.

Genesis 2:17 says: "But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.”

Disobeying, eating from the tree, means not respecting God’s right to decide good and bad. Instead, those first humans, by their actions, declare they will decide such matters themselves, in effect, rejecting God’s right to rule in favor of self-rule.

Thus begins a long experiment of human rulership, which God permits as it is the one way of permanently settling the issue of rulership. God knows how the experiment in governing will end, just as the dealer knows how your car stewardship will end. In time, the evidence mounts to the point where all but the most pig-headed can see that God had it right all along....humans just make a hash of things with self-rule. God can then bring "the end of the world" and restore matters to the default position....the one where he governs. He's not upset with the earth; he's fond of it. It's his handiwork. He's upset with those who have ruined it, and he tosses them as a landlord might toss a bad tenant. Thereafter, the earth can be brought to the paradise condition envisioned from the outset.

His rulership....this is what the Bible means by "God's Kingdom." It is proclaimed ahead of the eviction, and people are able to respond for or against. There’s no predestination. Everyone has opportunity and God’s will is for all to respond, though he knows not everybody will.

This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.               1 Tim 2:3,4

How exactly this plays out in every detail is unclear, but it certainly makes sense for a person to act in harmony with knowledge acquired.

And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.                 Matt 24:14

When the books are finally closed on the experiment, a thousand plus years from now, will humans once again get it in their heads that self-rule is the way to go? Hopefully, Mark Twain's words will apply:

A cat which sits on a hot stove will never sit on a hot stove again. In fact, it won't sit on a cold one either, for they all look hot.   


Tom Irregardless and Me                No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Year of the Big Mouth

When the TopFree Seven made news a few years back, a group of women representing a cause suggested by their name, they didn't name themselves. It was the media, ever populated with silly people eager to invent a fad, that did the deed.

Same thing with those hyphenated names that knock about. Ben-Fer for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Tom-Kat for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. And don't think you need two people for such a moniker. One will do fine. Thus, the versatile Jennifer Lopez is also J Lo. In fact, she's the first one to suffer such name sillification if memory serves me, though perhaps it doesn't.

Local media are also silly and also have egos. They, too, want to contribute. So about a year ago, there was this local youngster, an autistic lad, Jason McElwain, who scored 20 points in four minutes when the coach put him in the final season game, the only game he'd ever played. He became J-Mac, and we heard about him day in and night for weeks on end. And when a year rolled around, there he was again: "Where is J-Mac one year later?" (Having said all this, you really do have to see footage of that game. It's moving)

Even I, Tom Sheepandgoats, did not want to be left out, and so invented Bo-Mill. It comes from that young superskier Bode Miller, who was supposed to sweep the winter Olympics, so said the papers, but then bombed out in every event amidst reports of late night partying, only to counter that he, Bo-Mill, didn't care about medals anyway, but came only to savor the Olympic experience. True, Bo-Mill hasn't really caught on like J-Lo and J-Mac, but you just never know when it may. At any rate, the rush from creating pop culture gave me such a big head that even my own wife couldn't stand me and made me sleep in the garage for a week with the Buick.

Anyhow, this rambling preamble is only to establish my credentials. I can smell one of these stupid fads a mile away, and I'm starting to smell one now. It began with that movie 300. ImagesThe D&C, or was it USA Today, plastered the star Jason 300's picture on the front page.

I think I made some modest joke at work about how they had hired a new anger management consultant. But then the very next day two athletes, Joakim Noah and Greg Oden also made the front page. 8y0rxcavbosbmcawv8nh5ca7y4p0acafrdx Now, do you notice any similarities in these pictures? (Hint: it's the big mouth)

Wait a minute, that picture of Greg Owen doesn't really do him justice. Try this one. Ages

There, that's better.

It's really too soon to tell. Three pictures does not a trend make, but coming back-to-back on two successive days is worrisome. And, of course, the huge belligerent mouth is a fitting icon of today's popular culture. I'll keep an eye out for it, but you have to do your part too. If it really catches on, my wife and I will pose that way for our profile picture....what's with all this dopey grinning, anyway? And I'll pull the llama's tail, so that it, too, will show some tonsils.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Barfendogs Blows a Gasket

I had to read that Watchtower paragraph twice. (May 1, 2007) Some Christians baptized after 1935 have apparently been given the heavenly hope. Looks like we can’t set a date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends, the article said!

This is new. Until recently, there was a such a date: 1935.

This kind of thing used to send Tom Barfendogs, that perennial apostate, into orbit. You could just look at him, see him slowly redden, and then he'd explode into a tirade of.....ring!....ring!.......hello?

It was Barfendogs!

Did ya see that? Tommy, he screamed. They flipflopped! See that? Didya? What about 1935, huh?! They just changed it! Just like that! When you gonna open your eyes, pal?! When you gonna smell the music? Hah? When you gonna see....

So help me, I don't know why I give this guy the time of day. He's got an axe to grind so big it would scare off Paul Bunyan.

Actually, I don't give him the time of day. I put down the phone, and went off to check the mail, made some coffee, put a load in the wash, and cleaned out the cat litterbox. When I returned, he hadn't noticed a thing.

False prophets! That's what they are, Tommy, like I try to tell ya if ya'd just listen. But no! You'd just rather be led by the nose and just like that.....

I hung up the phone, but it made no difference! I could still hear his shrill voice!


They didn't flipflop at all. Nobody ever said adjustments like this wouldn't happen. In fact, we've been assured many times that they would, in accord with scriptures such as this:

"And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of [the] end. Many will rove about, and the [true] knowledge will become abundant."    Dan 12:4

Jehovah's Witnesses do believe we're in the "time of the end," and that "true knowledge will become abundant" during that time. With regard to prophetic matters, it's progressive. It happens by degrees.  The Watchtower has stated this innumerable times. Illustrating it with this scripture, for example:

But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established. (Prov 4:18) Just like how at dawn you can't make out too much, maybe only shapes, but as the day progresses the details steadily become more clear.

So adjustments in understanding are to be expected, same as how it happened in the first century.


When Jesus' disciples began their ministry, they spoke to no one but Jews. Why would they not? Jesus was a Jew. They themselves were Jews. Jesus, they believed, was the Messiah foretold in the Jewish scriptures. And Jews kept their distance from non-Jews. They didn't mingle.

Early congregation growth was explosive. (Acts 2:41; 4:4) Acts, the history of early Christianity, tells us:

Consequently the word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much; and a great crowd of [Jewish] priests began to be obedient to the faith.  (Acts 6:7)


Then, indeed, the congregation throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria entered into a period of peace, being built up; and as it walked in the fear of Jehovah and in the comfort of the holy spirit it kept on multiplying.   (Acts 9:31)

It all happened within the Jewish community.

The first disciples to tell the Kingdom message to non-Jews had some explaining to do. Should they really be doing that? Weren’t they stepping out of bounds? The matter was not settled by scripture. It was settled by holy spirit, and scripture was bought in afterwards to support what holy spirit was already doing. Specifically, believing non-Jews were receiving gifts of the spirit (healing, speaking in other languages, (tongues) prophesying) just like the Jewish believers. So who were those disciples to forbid what God was obviously approving?

Now the apostles and the brothers that were in Judea heard that people of the nations had also received the word of God.  So when Peter came up to Jerusalem, the [supporters] of circumcision [Jewish believers] began to contend with him, saying he had gone into the house of men that were not circumcised and had eaten with them.  At this Peter commenced and went on to explain the particulars to them, saying.......when I started to speak, the holy spirit fell upon them just as it did also upon us in [the] beginning. At this I called to mind the saying of the Lord, how he used to say, ‘John, for his part, baptized with water, but you will be baptized in holy spirit.’ If, therefore, God gave the same free gift to them as he also did to us who have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should be able to hinder God?” Now when they heard these things, they acquiesced, and they glorified God, saying: “Well, then, God has granted repentance for the purpose of life to people of the nations also.”    Acts 11:1-18

Something similar can be seen in the present day. From the standpoint of the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, only two centuries count: the first and the twentieth (plus a few years). The ones in between suffer the apostatizing of "primitive" Christianity and then witness its gradual re-awakening. The last days spoken of in the Bible are seen to have started in the early 20th century....with a bang....with World War I, and continue to the present amidst ever-worsening conditions.

As in the first century, the governing body tracks specific developments with regard to Kingdom increase today. And they make statements based on what holy spirit appears to be accomplishing, just as was done in the first century. For example, the heavenly calling, the call of certain Christians to rule with the Christ in his heavenly kingdom (manifested in their partaking of the emblems at Memorial time) has long been thought to have ceased in 1935.

Now, I freely confess it sounds weird to link a specific year to a heavenly event. Yet, it was in that year that the "great crowd" of Revelation 7:9 was identified. This is the group that survives the end of this system and lives right on under Kingdom rule on earth. There's really no point in gathering this group beforehand, since by definition, they must live long enough to survive the "great tribulation."

Prior to the 1930's, nearly all congregation members professed the heavenly calling. But in time, folks began packing in who simply didn't feel that the heavenly calling applied to them. They just didn't identify with it. Instead, the scriptures about living forever on earth is what rang true to them.

...and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.    Rev 5:10

They began to identify, not with the ones who would rule, but with the ones who would be ruled over, living forever on earth.

Revealing the identity of the great crowd (Revelation 7:9) cleared in all up, and all these ones instantly found their place. Did this all take place at the lead of the holy spirit? Today, it is rare for one of Jehovah's Witnesses not to have the earthly hope.

Since the great crowd was identified at a summer convention in 1935, that year has long been thought to be the date in which the heavenly calling ceased, since the number of that group, while large, is finite. (unlike that of the great crowd)     (Rev 7:4-10)

So in more recent years, when someone began partaking of the emblems, people didn't know what to make of it. Maybe they were nuts! Or at least unbalanced. Or presumptuous, thinking the heavenly call would give them special prestige. Some of them were genuine, no doubt, since an anointed member who falls away would have to be replaced. But, realistically, how often would that be? Not very. And you'd expect a replacement to come from the ranks of those who had served God for many decades. So if a new partaker came along who didn't fit the profile, you'd sort of scratch your head and shelve the matter, curious how it would all play out.

We still don‘t know, but that latest Watchtower advances things a bit, and the adjustment process will continue to run its course. It always has. It will continue to.

Furthermore, adjustments of understanding must always be taken in context. The essential teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, the foundational points, have remained unchanged since the movement began in the late 1800's. What is God's Kingdom? What will it do for humankind? What happens at death? Where are the dead? Why do we die? Why does God permit suffering and evil? Who is God? How may we fit in with his purpose? Who is Jesus Christ? What is the Holy Spirit?

These are the basic building block teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, the answers to which have not essentially changed in 100 years.




Tom Irregardless and Me            No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Douglas Coupland and the McJobs

How can a company improve the bottom line? Why not take the 8% or so of workers making the most can they not be dead wood....and fire them! And, just in case they're not dead wood, offer to hire them back at lower pay! Of course, no company would do such a thing, if only out of self interest, since morale and customer service would surely plummet.

Actually, yes they would! Circuit City just did, announcing they would right away can 3400 of their salespeople. (with severance) Then, after 10 weeks, they’d offer them their old jobs back at the new lower rate of pay. “This strategy strikes me as being quite cold,” said Bernard Baumohl, executive director of the Eonomic Outlook Group.

Yes, it does. And it’s hard to believe the company won’t suffer for it, though Wall Street thought otherwise and bid up the shares 1.9% that day. It’s not as if tanking employee morale won’t be noticed by customers, as it might be if workers slaved in the dungeons or somewhere out of sight. Sharpen your skills in customer service? What on earth for? the surviving salespeople have to ask themselves. Have they not been told in the clearest possible way that their jobs are dead end?

These days companies represent themselves with mission statements, in which they declare their reason for existence with regard to their industry, customer satisfaction, and employee growth. To say that the “employee growth” part is just so much horse manure would be an exaggeration. Progressive companies do exist, generally in thriving industries, where even chronically cynical malcontents are, within reason, happy to work.  But in retail, the number of such companies dwindles.

And what about WalMart? What became of their announcementback in January to implement variable employee scheduling, based on real time traffic flow data. Part time would be called in only when needed and sent home once the need subsided. So if you worked there, you’d find it very difficult to both budget and “have a life.“ If, for example, you need a babysitter while you work, good luck. There's no telling when you'll be scheduled, nor how long you'll be scheduled for. Make yourself available at all hours, which you can do when your part time job is top priority in your life, and you can expect to be called in often. Limit your availability and, well…get used to oatmeal.

Walmart, they say (and now Circuit City?), is a major force in checking consumer inflation. That's no small feat. But when it is achieved by beating the snot out of their own people, you have to consider.

A few years back I worked a spell, part time, for a retail support company that counted store inventory, a company described by one of its own (former) managers as the most selfish company he’d ever seen. This fellow had managed for awhile, decided he wanted no part of it, so dropped back to foot soldier in order to find time for school. The stockholders couldn't be blamed for this one….this was a privately held company. They lowered the starting wage, limited raises to a dime or two at a time, and found innumerable ways to nickel and dime their own employees with regard to travel time, minimum shifts, and so forth. Yet even these misers never canned their best people so as to hire them back at lower pay.

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, by Douglas Coupland, was published in 1991. It was his first novel, and yes, it was he who invented the term. Hard to believe it’s only been 16 years. Since then we’ve also been told about Generation Y, but this new label is only a rip-off, built on Mr. Coupland’s foundation.

Generation X’s characters are drawn from the disillusioned generation, the first really, to realize that their future would not be the well paying, secure, pensioned jobs of their fathers, but instead the transient, low paying big box jobs, with no benefits and no retirement. The mini-story which is Chapter 8, about the suburban planet where terrestrials do nothing but get fired from their McJobs (Coupland popularized the term, though he didn‘t invent it), is alone worth the price of the book.

One might reasonably surmise that any generation owes it to the next to leave the world in better shape than they themselves found it. Quite obviously, the present generation has failed to deliver. No wonder the younger generation disconnects.

"McJob"was added to the Miriam-Webster dictionary in 2003, much to the annoyance of McDonald's, who suggested the term might more properly be defined as “teaches responsibility,” since many of their franchise owners started as line employees. But Miriam-Webster would have none of it and stuck with their own "mcJob" definition: a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement.

The tragedy is not that these jobs exist. Realistically, not every job can put you on the fast track to the White House. The tragedy today is that not much except these jobs exist. Unless you have some college, of course, and that, over time, has been priced out of the reach of many.


Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'