“Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.” (Zechariah 13:7) Why strike a single sheep knock out just one? Strike the shepherd and knock them all out! Do it the patronizing anti-cult way, that you are striking the shepherd because he is oppressing the people—depriving them of their rights.
So it is with critics that there should be an online obsession with the Witness Governing Body, somewhat akin to the ‘inside the beltway’ wonks who are eternally obsessed with who wields the power—as though such would be the first thing you look at in matters of faith.
The entire line of inquiry is ‘cart before the horse,’ 180 degrees backwards. It is inquiry more likely to wow them at theology school than to result in any significant doing of God’s will.
It’s more akin to something out of a college political science course than a primer in the worship of God. It treats specific teachings/beliefs (barely even mentioned) as though they were planks on a rising politician’s campaign platform.
The way it should work is thus: Shake the faiths down as to beliefs and teachings. Weed out those fundamentally misrepresenting the Bible, those who insist God is a trinity, for example, that Jesus is God, and those who think the earth is but a launching pad into heaven or hell. Hoe out the ones who think Adam and Eve are for simplistic chumps and who have made no attempt to integrate them into the overall picture—without which it is impossible to explain God’s overall purpose or his present permission of evil.
You’re left with very little at this point. Some might think the job is all but done. However, of what scraps remain, look for those who realize an obligation to preach the good news to everyone, not just the tech-savvy, not just the educated, not just the readers. Look for the ones who will take it directly to where people are, directly to their homes, on the theory that everyone lives somewhere.
Then look for groups conscious that the majority of people are, quite simply, not involved readers. Many have all they can do to keep body and soul together in a deteriorating world. One sixth of the world population today cannot even read. Look for someone conscious of that fact, who does not focus primarily on the educated when the Bible plainly states the greatest response will be from those who are simple and childlike. “Not many” will be “wise” and “intellectual.” (1 Corinthians 1:26)
Then, probably you can say, if the collapse of human endeavors to rule the earth really is truly fast approaching, it’s a little late to start building from the ground up. Look for those who have organized and have been at it for awhile, and who have something to show for it.
As far as I know, this leaves only Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Then and only then do you give consideration to the ones taking the lead. Primarily, you say, ‘Well they must be doing something right to be the only game in town.’
You don’t start off with consideration of those taking the lead. It’s the last thing you look at. To fixate on the last thing first is to deny God knows how to lead his people. It is to assume direction of the people of God comes through the tried and true method of this system of things: King of the Mountain,’ in which one king takes his place only by shoving the other off. Veil it as ‘academic’ king of the mountain, as many theologians appear to be framing it, but it is still king of the mountain. It is but a manifestation of the evolutionary ‘struggle for existence’ and not anything from God.
****** The bookstore