My Meeting Notes: Week of March 4, 2024
My Meeting Notes: Week of 3/10/24–Psalm 18

A Watchtower Study to Settle the Faith-Works Debate: Part 2

Q: I dunno, can it really be that the faith/works debate that has raged for centuries can be cleared up in a single Watchtower Study? (See Part 1 ) It must be more complicated than that. You mean all who ‘disagree with our interpretation are either not intelligent enough to understand what is plain in Scripture, or so depraved as to deny the truth they see plainly?’


A: I think there is another explanation.

Key to me is Jesus words at Matthew 11:25

At that time Jesus said in response: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children. 

What other topic is like that, in which young children get the sense of it but the wise and intellectual ones do not? I think it means that a person ought park his/her intellectualism at the door, because it doesn’t help. Per Jesus’ words, it may even hinder.

In any academic topic I can think of, the wise and intellectual always have a leg up over the young children. Here, they lose out. Translation: Worship of God is not an academic subject and the biggest mistake one can make is to treat it as though it is.


Q: Maybe the doctrine of justification (by faith or works) does not lend itself to a simple, clear, certain, understanding, and grasp upon first reading the Bible. 

A. I think it does, though not necessarily on first reading. That is why Phillip asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading and the eunuch replied he could not unless someone guided him.  Upon receiving that guidance, he got the sense of it almost instantly. For whatever reason, the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been that source of guidance.

They’re not particularly brilliant. They don’t stand out as intellectuals. How is it they have discerned things that their academic superiors have not—things like no-trinity, kingdom over earth, no immortal soul, and so forth?

Obedience is surely one factor. God gives holy spirit to those obeying him as ruler, says Acts 5:32. I think that means if you don’t obey him, he may be stingy with the holy spirit that aids understanding. Humility would be another. Here, intellectualism actually gets in the way, for the more of it one has, the greater the assault on humility. Then, there is brotherly love and the resulting determination to remove any obstacle that gets in its way, whether it be the king stirring up emotions of national superiority, or prevailing societal  attitudes of racial, class, or educational superiority.

So, at least three factors exist that trump intellectualism: obedience, humility, and love. For the most part, those who frame discussion of faith as an intellectual endeavor make no mention whatsoever of these qualities. As often as not, they use their intellectualism as a ploy to justify doing whatever it is they want to do.

Not that there’s any virtue in being dumb. Not that if you have intellectual gifts you can’t bring them to the altar. Paul had such gifts and he was thus equipped to write 1/3 of the New Testament. But he’s not known primarily for his thinking ability, rather for his zeal,love, and humility. I like the way he takes direction from men inferior to him intellectually.


The sort relationship of faith and works does indeed lend itself to a simple, clear, certain, understanding. Granted, all the nuances will not be covered in a simple Watchtower Study article, but overall, I think it does. Some people don’t like simple and clear, for it undermines their love of debate and pontification. Some people like mystery. That way, you can put your relationship with God in that category and do whatever you want. You can forget all about ‘obedience’ and acquiesce to the contemporary view that obedience makes you a chump. You can speak of being ‘intellectually humble,’ as though it were possible to separate that quality from overall humility. 

One sister, who has derived benefit from her college degree, says, ‘I would never say that higher education is valueless, but it does have a way of taking things that are simple and making them complicated.’


These people who think they can muscle through on brainpower alone are a plague. “By their fruits you will know them,” holds no sway with them. You would think people would assess critical thinking by the world it has collectively produced. It has been the chief export of universities for some time now, and few world leaders are not university-equipped. 

Witnesses, on the other hand, though not without the minor mishaps stemming from being ‘earthen vessels,’ have achieved a peacefulness, unity, cohesiveness, that the world can only dream of. Pew Research says their membership (in the U.S.) is almost exactly 1/3 white, 1/3 black, and 1/3 Hispanic, with about 5% Asian thrown in. Translation: They have solved racism, the issue that is ripping this world apart, despite its educational advantage.

Brotherly love is a concept that works, but it does not stand well up to ‘reason,’ especially reason with evolution at its root. It is not a concept that lends itself well to ‘proof.’ The truths that are declared ‘self-evident,’ that ‘all men are created equal,’ are not at all self-evident to those evolution-based. What is self-evident to them is the 2001 SpaceOdyssey humanoid discovering he can beat the snot out of his competitor with a leg bone, whereupon he throws it into the air and out comes this spacecraft to Jupiter. 


******  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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