Mahomes! Maauto! Who Leads in the Christian Congregation?
A Watchtower Study to Settle the Faith-Works ‘Debate.’

What Means Psalm 2:2-3? ‘Let us tear off their shackles And throw off their ropes!’’

Ps 2:2-3: “The kings of the earth take their stand And high officials gather together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one. They say: ‘Let us tear off their shackles And throw off their ropes!’

The terminology of ‘shackles’ and ‘ropes’ suggests reigning people in. Isn’t that what applied Christianity does? reigning people in from the belligerencies that inevitably lead to wars, reigning people in from the moralities that ignore the monogamous marriage model? Temp is okay. Gay is okay. Hookup is okay. Enough of the shackles and ropes! they say. The ‘kings’ and ‘high officials’ tire of them, particularly when it goes against their priorities.

In a relatively new twist, even to teach Bible values, even within the congregation, even to your own children, is viewed as imposing ‘shackles’ and ‘ropes’ on them. After all, the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses can hardly be seen as shackling people; all you have to do is tell them no and they go away. But within the congregation—Psalm 2:3 can also, maybe even primarily, be a reference to anti-cult zealots who say Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘shackle’ their own people. Such ones attempt to divide the Witnesses into two factions and paint an ‘us versus them’ scenario of a manipulative HQ controlling the minions, ‘forbidding’ them all that this world has to offer.

Paul wrote about how Christians “at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2) The anti-cult contention is that nobody must be denied the ‘right’ to breathe in this air to the full. Stand aside and let the air of this system do its thing! Resistance is futile and only a cult would try it. Thus, in Russia, an anti-cult faction accused the Witness organization of denying its own members their civil rights! 

The situation is not presented as the Witnesses themselves would present it, that they organize in order to get things done, to carry out things they view as core to being a Christian. Instead, it is presented as an oppressive authority that ‘steals’ the time and energy of its members and ‘makes’ them (through brainwashing!) do their own bidding. The public ministry, the building of their own places of worship, the caring of their own in times of disaster—all this is viewed as evidence of ‘enslavement,’ ‘unpaid labor,’ as though only money ought be allowed to make the world go round.

It is just a crazy way of thinking to the Witnesses themselves, and they are slow to get their heads around it. If they want to organize and take some direction from the organization they have formed, why should that be anyone’s concern but theirs? Apparently, Paul had to contend with those playing that same ‘victimization’ card, for he writes to the Corinthians that, ‘we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one,’ as though to counter murmuring that they had. (2 Corinthians 7:2) ‘We are regarded as deceivers and yet we are truthful,’ is how he put it. (2 Corinthians 6:8) Nothing has changed. Follow one path and the people that want you to follow the other will regard you as deceived.

Victimization is a stronger force today than in biblical times, so it ought not be too surprising that some select that for their identity. But, Witnesses are very much in the mode of thinking themselves ‘free agents’ choosing for themselves the path to follow. If that path includes selecting from themselves a tour guide, they don’t see why anyone should get all up in arms over it.

To be sure, people are easily influenced by others. There would not be advertising were this not so. You would almost think the anti-cultists would raise the cry against this ‘manipulative’ practice, since head-over-heels debt has destroyed many a person and relationship. But, as long as the manipulation is in accord with the greater goals of ‘rulership by man’ as opposed to the ‘rulership of ‘God’s kingdom,’ they are generally okay with it. In a sense, those who decry brainwashing are not primarily concerned about brainwashing, but brainwashing that is not theirs.

That people are easily influenced is incorporated into that Ephesians 2:2 verse; the ‘air’ has ‘authority.’ It molds people. For that reason, Christians want to stay away from it, to remain, per Jesus, ‘no part of the world.’ This, however, becomes increasingly challenging. As the greater world gets farther and farther from Christian values, it notices and takes umbrage at those not following suit, those ‘shackling’ and ‘roping’ others even within the congregation they have chosen.

You sons of men, how long will you turn my honor into humiliation?” David says two psalms later. (4:2) It is an honor to align oneself with God and His revealed values, but as the bulk of humanity move farther away, they attempt to portray that honor as humiliation. It is a contest of values. David’s next words to these ones are, How long will you love what is worthless and search for what is false?


******  The bookstore






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'


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