The Making of Faith
December 29, 2022
Tom ‘wanted to believe in God but became disillusioned with religion.’ Studying the Bible led him to hope, he says. How can you not like a guy named Tom?
He is the one who studied for the priesthood, then counseled alcoholic priests, then dropped out entirely to become a ‘question authority’ professor, then came across Jehovah’s Witnesses. The one who studied with him related his intimidation at engaging with such a credentialed fellow, said, ‘I hear you have some questions,’ and Tom dumped a ton of them on his lap.
Tom was impressed that the answer to each question came straight from the Bible. Isn’t that the telling factor? It accounts for those verses on how God draws some but not others. It just intuitively resonated that the answers he sought should come from God, not men.
It made instant sense to him that a book—which everyone can read, as opposed to someone’s ‘personal revelation,’ which they cannot —would be the way God communicates with us. He had to satisfy himself that the Bible truly was what it claimed to be, of course, but he would have lapped up the evidence, not resisted it. He had had it up to here with vacillating human wisdom.
At the same Kingdom Hall meeting in which that video played, John 8:31 came up. “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples,” Jesus said. Seems a no-brainer for Witnesses (and for Tom). But for much of the world it not only is not a no-brainer, it comes across as reactionary. Steeped in humanistic, evolutionary thinking, they expect religion to fall into step, to ‘move on’ and not to be ‘stuck in the past.’ You should not ‘remain’ anywhere, even in ‘my word’—unless that word says ‘Go with the flow.’
Usually Jehovah’s Witnesses think that if they can demonstrate they’re doing something like it was done in the first century, they’re golden. With some, they are. With Tom, they were. But much of the world supposes it pathetic that one hasn’t ‘kept up’ with the times. The pull is between a heartfelt sense that God should call the shots versus a heartfelt sense that humans should call them. Reaction to that ‘remain in my word’ saying of Jesus says it all in a nutshell.
Though, the first of all questions that impressed Tom because it was addressed from the Bible was, ‘How does your organization handle child sexual abuse?’ Okay, ‘got it’ that there is recognition that such issues exist, but does the Bible specifically say anything at all about it?—other than it’s a particularly perverted ‘pornea,’ so throw the bum out (1 Corinthians) but if he snivels long enough in repentance ‘don’t let him become swallowed up with sadness.’ (2 Corinthians). It was necessary to step out from strictly Bible verse to tighten up policies too loose for today’s times.
I wrote something similar in TrueTom vs the Apostates. Opponents will grudgingly acknowledge that Watchtower child abuse policies have improved, particularly with the study article that stipulated the reproach falls upon the abuser, not the congregation, but they will say, ‘It’s because we twisted their arm.’ They will demand ‘credit.’ Give it to them, so far as I am concerned. Everything in life is action/reaction, and here their carrying on did indeed result in better policies.
‘Can anything good come out of Apostareth?’ Now that their efforts have contributed to positive change, will they return to the fold? Maybe—though you know how it is with ‘activists’—they thereafter want to be seen as ‘key players.’ But for the most part not even that. Many are on a mission to destroy. It’s our horror that anyone would willingly leave the truth that leads to an almost superstition over apostates which does not always serve us well. Malcontents are everywhere in every venue. Is it not a little naive to suppose we would not get scads of them too?
****** The bookstore