What Axiom to Start With—Unity or Disunity: A Starting Point for Theologians
The Theodicy that No One Takes Seriously Today: Is it Because it Works?

Theologians Delight: the The Priestly and Prophetic Traditions

If you get involved in politics and make a big stink over some issue so as to fix it, you are following the prophetic tradition of biblical writings. Isaiah, Amos, Jeremiah—all those fellows are your forebears. Whereas, if you just want to keep the stuffy status quo—“what is good for General Motors is good for the United States”—you are operating in the priestly tradition. So it is that theologians apply biblical writings to the modern world, whereas Jesus says that you ought not get involved in politics. “My kingdom is no part of this world,” he told Pilate.

Theologians, however, are heavily a part of it; they are all in for fixing it. It is part of human evolution—upwards, hopefully. The idea that God might one day replace governments with the rulership that is God’s kingdom makes all their efforts pointless, and for that reason they ignore that interpretation. Instead, the prophetic tradition back then warred with the priestly tradition back then, setting the template for societal struggling today. Don’t think for a moment that evolutionary theory is confined to science class.

So, why didn’t the Israelites listen to the prophets who warned of destruction at the hands of Babylon lest they mended their ways? Because they operated in separate spheres and, locked into a survival-of-the-fittest power struggle, they related to each other even less than the political parties of today. Everything is disunity in the eyes of theologians, who assume the prophetic and priestly writings were fused together later by canon editors, where they present as a frozen-in-time struggle for Darwinian theology—theologies developed entirely separately via the evolution model applied to social settings. It does not occur to them to integrate the contrasting traditions into a whole.

In contrast, see how the Watchtower puts it, in a study article designed for the congregation, an article entitled, ‘Keep Following Jehovah’s Guidance.’ (February 2024) All meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses incorporate Bible study. You can prepare for them:

“Years later, Jehovah raised up judges to guide his people. Afterward, during the time of the kings, Jehovah appointed prophets to guide his people. Faithful kings heeded the counsel of the prophets. For example, King David humbly accepted correction from the prophet Nathan. (2 Sam. 12:7, 13; 1 Chron. 17:3, 4) King Jehoshaphat relied on the prophet Jahaziel for guidance and encouraged the people of Judah to “put faith in [God’s] prophets.” (2 Chron. 20:14, 15, 20) When in distress, King Hezekiah turned to the prophet Isaiah. (Isa. 37:1-6) Each time the kings followed Jehovah’s guidance, they were blessed and the nation was protected. (2 Chron. 20:29, 30; 32:22) It should have been obvious to all that Jehovah was using his prophets to guide his people. Yet, the majority of the kings as well as the people rejected Jehovah’s prophets.”​—Jer. 35:12-15.

There. Isn’t that better? Here, there is the prophetic tradition interacting with the priestly tradition on the same plane. The latter is not really the priestly tradition per se, but is the authoritarian tradition which the priestly tradition took good care not to cross, for therein lay its power base, so in a sense the two are synonymous. It is not inherent that they fight like cats and dogs. The Watchtower paragraphs highlights times where they did not, though concluding, “the majority of the kings as well as the people rejected Jehovah’s prophets.” But they were same time, same place. They didn’t have to be shoved together after the fact by revisionist theologians.

Historians might assume it was the kings leading God’s people, at that time, the Jewish nation, back in the day—David, Solomon, Rehoboam, and so forth. Nah, even then, that was politics. God was never keen on there being kings in the first place. Judges, forerunners of the prophets, had worked just fine from his point of view:

It displeased Samuel when [the Israelites] said: “Give us a king to judge us.” Then Samuel prayed to Jehovah, and Jehovah said to [judge] Samuel: “ . . . it is not you whom they have rejected, but it is I whom they have rejected as their king. They are doing just as they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day; they keep forsaking me and serving other gods, and that is what they are doing to you. Now listen to them. However, you should solemnly warn them; tell them what the king who rules over them will have the right to demand.” (1 Samuel 8:6-9)

Whereupon, Samuel went on to point out what pains in the neck politicians would be.

It was the prophets (the prophetic tradition) leading his people back then, sometimes even correcting the kings (and sometimes not; riled kings were known to toss prophets into the hoosegow; just ask Jeremiah down there in the cistern). God hadn’t welcomed kings; they weren’t his idea, though he worked with it. So today there is also politics—not exactly the same, but close enough—often honorable people who want to solve problems (though as the world gets more and more polarized and crazy, so do they).

Now that Christianity has spread throughout the earth and there is no longer one nation to contain them, Jehovah’s Witnesses remain neutral to politics and instead focus on ‘the prophetic tradition.’ They don’t imagine that prophetic tradition exists to reform politics. They assume it exists to replace it, once the obscene experiment of human self-rule comes to its end.

 

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