Reining in the Parachurch

I knew he’d have a field day with this, but I didn’t know when that day would start. The ink wasn't dry on that September Kingdom Ministry when Vic Vomodog was peppering my blog with comments, haranguing me. It’s a good thing I can screen comments. Otherwise, he’d write on my blog more than I do.

“Did ya see it, Tommy? Hah, did ya? It’s right there in the question box, Tommy! Did ya see it?”

There was an article about some of our people grouping together to explore deeply this or that spiritual topic, delving where no one had delved before. They’d done extra research, released their own extra findings, to augment material coming from the existing JW organization. They’d held conferences, published books, and hosted web sites where collaborators from all over could contribute their own research. The faithful and discreet slave didn’t like the idea….didn’t like it at all, and strongly discouraged it. They cited a few scriptures, such as:

Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.      1 Cor 1:10

Might not independent research groups pose a danger to the unity Paul spoke of? In fact, there were some lone rangers back in the first century, which produced the following results:

For the disclosure was made to me about you, my brothers, by those of [the house of] Chloe, that dissensions exist among you. What I mean is this, that each one of you says: “I belong to Paul,” “But I to Apollos,” “But I to Cephas,” “But I to Christ.” The Christ exists divided. Paul was not impaled for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I am thankful I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.      vs. 11-15

Barfendogs likes the scriptures well enough, but not ones that get in his way. “It’s mind control, Tommy! A cult! ‘Don’t’ think for yourself; we’ll tell you what to think!’ That’s what they’re saying, Tommy! When’re you going to wake up?! When’re you going to free your head?! Better shut down this blog, Tommy, before they catch you! You‘re not allowed on the internet!” And I admit, even Tom Pearlsenswine seemed a little put out. He read the article over and over, grumbling as he read. I’m starting to worry about Pearlsenswine. You don’t think he’ll be the next to go bad, do you? With a name like Pearlsenswine, one never knows. He’s been engaged in top-secret Trinity research for years now. It seemed straightforwardand clear-cut at one time, but it just drags on and on.     (1 Jn 5:6,7)

Western society puts such a premium on independence, even to the point of belligerence, that any notion seen as “pulling in the reins” seems suspect, as if motivated by megalomania. But consider Ronald Sider’s observations about the evangelical community, a community which, he laments, makes a shambles of living the faith, though they do well at talking the faith. What causes does he identify?

Two are relevant. The first is today’s nirvana of independence, so prized by Barfendogs. It is anathema to the Christian congregation: “The notion - and practice - of an independent congregation with no structures of accountability to the larger body of Christ is simply heretical,” Sider writes in his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. “How can an independent “Bible church” claim to be biblical when its very refusal to submit to a larger church structure of accountability defies the essence of a biblical understanding of being the church?     Pg 111

Doesn’t that dovetail with Watchtower’s discouragement of meetings, literature, or web sites which are not produced or organized under its own oversight?

The second is what Sider calls “parachurch” organizations, groups like the Billy Graham Crusade, the Youth for Christ, groups that transcend established church organization. They accomplish a lot of good, Sider feels, but they have no accountability, and thus provide an umbrella for the scandalous conduct Sider says is endemic in the evangelical community. “Frankly, I do not know how to solve this problem,” he admits.  Pg 112

The faithful and discreet slave does. But it takes guts to implement, and it earns them taunts and abuse from soreheads like Barfendogs. Are there even some evangelicals who join in with the catcalls?

So the Christian congregation adjusts to oversight from the parent Watchtower organization, which steps on the toes of a few (ouch!) whose motives not only are not bad but are often noble, yet whose unchecked projects might, over time, lead to the mess Mr. Sider describes. But now they are being checked. Nobody is saying not to do research. But there is a clear distinction regarding plain old research and organized efforts to augment the direction given congregations today. Even this (gulp) blog comes in for soul-searching. But at present, the author consoles himself that it’s contents do not match what is being discouraged. This blog is not a collaborating spot for Witnesses, there’s no “new truths” being unearthed, and posts that touch on religion are essentially no different than what the author might say in person were he to show up on your doorstep. (which he someday might do) Alas, there may be some overlap, however.


Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Assembling the Puzzle

Learned society today strives so mightily to trash Scripture that you may have to reestablish its authority before people will even agree to investigate. But not always. Sometimes you can persuade them to suspend doubt. Not to be confused with taking a "leap of faith," for they don't discard doubt, they only suspend it.

Mathematicians do this all the time. Assume such and such a condition is true. Follow the logical thread. What deductions can be made? If the results are just so much horse manure, then just take back the assumption. No harm done.

But sometimes it pans out. Valuable math has been discovered this way. And not just math, but also science, since much scientific research these days is done by means of mathematics, the subjects of research being too tiny (atomic) or too huge (galactic) for human instruments to do the job. Scientists take advantage of the remarkable power of mathematics to describe the physical world.

Jehovah's Witnesses are known for the offer of a free home Bible study. Sometimes people agree to it even though they doubt that the Bible is what it claims to be. But they do as the mathematicians. They suspend their doubt on its authenticity; it can always reinstated later. Having done so, the person (ideally) comes to appreciate the Bible is, not an incoherent hash as he may have once supposed, but a book that makes a lot of sense, a book in which loose ends are tied up, and in which all verses contribute towards a unified theme. Important questions of life are convincingly answered. What happens when we die? Why do we grow old and die? Why does God permit evil and suffering? What is the meaning of today's worldwide chaos? What is God's purpose with regard to the earth, with regard to humanity? Satisfied on these points, our seeker revisits his original assumption about Bible authority and finds it not so compelling as he once imagined.

You might liken it to how you felt last time you completed a jig saw puzzle. There is the completed picture. Holes are filled in. No pieces left over. All is well. Should someone come along and suggest that your result is merely your interpretation of the data, it is hard for you to take him seriously, especially since his puzzle is still in the box. And when some learned puzzologist declares that the puzzle can't be solved and that trying is a waste of time, same reaction on your part. What a surprise when everyone accepts his view! You just shake your head in dismay. You look back at your completed puzzle. Yes, there it is. And yet people will not attempt the puzzle, although the invitation and path to go about it could not be easier, because the puzzologist says "no." Instead, they gobble up the puzzologist's books on the nature of the puzzle pieces and the reasons they're nonsense!

Yes, temporarily suspending doubt, so as to make an investigation, can lead to good results. In my own case, it played out well.

When I first came across the ideas of Jehovah's Witnesses in my college years, I was floored to think I had found people who actually believed in Adam and Eve! They didn't look stupid - well, maybe a few of them, but in no greater proportion than greater society. Yet all my life I had believed that only the most ignorant of the rednecks rejected evolution. A fellow from the Kingdom Hall lent me a book on the subject, now out of print, replaced by a superior version. I didn't like it. It seemed poorly written and it took some cheap shots. But everything else I was learning made much sense, so I decided to shelve the matter for the time being. Later I was able to resolve it. The evidence favoring evolution is nowhere near as compelling as its advocates would have one believe, but we are emotionally conditioned to think a certain way, and are slow to change, regardless of the evidence.

Call it the noble-minded model, neither closed-minded nor gullible.

"Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica [where the disciples were run out of town!], for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so."    Acts 17:11




Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Organization and the Internet

Much as Sheepandgoats appreciates the internet and uses it as his unlimited library card, it is an destructive force to organization of any stripe....religious, business, or political. Isn't there some UTube video floating around that shows John Edwards obsessively primping his hair? Does it really matter now what the man stands for? The primped hair jets through cyberspace at lightning speed. No longer will we focus on the man's positions (because that's hard). Instead, we'll zero in only on the ridicule (because that's easy). Who knows if he wasn't just hamming it up for pals?

All of us have full potential to say/do something asinine or inconsistent. With the internet, we can now be assured that the gaffe will be transmitted instantly to everyone and that they'll all draw snap conclusions at gut level. The truth of anything requires thought. Some find thought foreign. Some simply don't have the time. But all can drink in a quick byte of so-and-so making an ass of himself.

Is there any example anywhere of organization that has been aided by the internet? Maybe some fledgling politician, someone too small to be noticed by traditional means, and also too small for the internet to rip him apart as it's built him up. Finding instances where the internet has built up organization is a challenge. Finding instances where it tears apart we can do in our sleep. With even a horrible organization it's usually well to have a viable replacement before you tear the existing order apart. Ask them about that in Iraq.

If Christianity were simply some do-what-feels-good-at-the-moment movement, then it might be aided by the internet. But it's not. Christianity's predicated on the belief that we need guidance from a source beyond ourselves and that there is a specific channel through which that guidance comes.

Just as most everything today is desperately flawed and on life support, there are some who try to sell me on the notion that Watchtower, too, is overdue for change and that the powerful internet is just the means for such change, at long last giving "little people," a voice, and so forth. I doubt it.

In the same vein it's mentioned that letters are deluging Brooklyn for greater change. Well, I suppose they are. But when have they not? Is today's generation the first to know how to write letters? I suspect back in the days when Watchtower was constantly before the Supreme Court, letters (proportionate to population) poured in more than today. Are we to assume that the Society simply carted all letters to the dumpster until today, when their sheer weight demands attention? I don't think so. Letters from individuals have never been the primary driver of Christian policy. But neither have they ever been merely ignored. They are a source of feedback and always have been.

The Society was more regimented in days past when people were more regimented. For whatever reason, people in past generations were less fragile than they are today and enjoyed greater self-esteem. You could give your counsel blunt without their falling apart. They could take, not just the good, but also the bad without undue complaining. People are different today. Probably due to decaying society, individuals are much less secure. So an added emphasison "principles not rules, love not punishment, flexibility not unreasonableness" comes into being to meet changing times. And I'm glad to see it. But does it all come about only because Watchtower hardliners are being outmaneuvered by progressive new people with "subversive" ideas? Hogwash! Every new person brings something unique to the table, obviously, and old timers never lose sight of the tried and true. But the only model today's world can imagine is "power struggle among unyielding titans." It does not fit the Witness organization.

Because we live in a democracy and prevailing mindset is that democracy tops everything else, we get used to the idea that we should have a say in things. And as people become more individualistic, we become more insistent that our say should be heeded. But the Christian congregation is not organized that way, as it was not in it's first century beginning. The apostles sought to maintain unity and to forestall the endless sects and divisions that were to come. Thus, the Bible mentions the necessity of an older man to "reprove those who contradict" [Titus 1:9] and deal with those "wanting to be teachers of law, but not perceiving either the things they are saying or the things about which they are making strong assertions."  (1 Tim 1:7) Lots of people make "strong assertions" today and lots of people "contradict." It's a function of the unsettled times we live in, and is aided by the internet.

Not all of Jehovah's Witnesses today are 100% behind the program. Many are puzzled over this or that aspect of theocracy and many entertain their own pet ideas of how more of this, less of that, modification of this tactic, and so forth, would be beneficial. Some make suggestions via letter or traveling overseers. There's nothing new, earthshaking, or unnatural about that. It's not evidence that the organization is at some unprecedented crossroads. But in the final analysis we realize that the burden of directing things does not rest with us, but with a non-democratic channel which God has provided. We're not presumptuous. We cooperate as best we can.

The first century apostles lost that battle to maintain Christian unity. The "wheat" was oversown with "weeds," as Jesus foretold. (Matt 13:24-30) It would have happened much sooner had the internet existed back then.

As many know, Jehovah's Witnesses maintain we are in the last days of human rulership. God's rulership over the earth is soon to come, preceded by a public preaching campaign to that effect. Not everyone agrees, I realize. But looking at the state of affairs today, it clearly is not laughable that God might find human rulership lacking. Watchtower is doing their best to maintain Christian unity in the face of a increasing divisive world. And they're doing well, despite overwhelming forces to the contrary. They contrast with most churches, where unity is generally slight and rough and tumble politics is the order of the day.

I made the above remarks to some fellow who replied that he indeed understood how groups wishing to control information flow like [insert sarcasm] the Communist and the fundamentalist middle east governments wished the internet didn't exist.

Yes, that is how many think today: tyrants have abused authority so the answer is to eliminate authority. Fire all cops. Fire all teachers. Let us all live on love and self-discovery.


Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Barfendogs Blows a Gasket

I had to read that Watchtower paragraph twice. (May 1, 2007) Some Christians baptized after 1935 have apparently been given the heavenly hope. Looks like we can’t set a date for when the calling of Christians to the heavenly hope ends, the article said!

This is new. Until recently, there was a such a date: 1935.

This kind of thing used to send Tom Barfendogs, that perennial apostate, into orbit. You could just look at him, see him slowly redden, and then he'd explode into a tirade of.....ring!....ring!.......hello?

It was Barfendogs!

Did ya see that? Tommy, he screamed. They flipflopped! See that? Didya? What about 1935, huh?! They just changed it! Just like that! When you gonna open your eyes, pal?! When you gonna smell the music? Hah? When you gonna see....

So help me, I don't know why I give this guy the time of day. He's got an axe to grind so big it would scare off Paul Bunyan.

Actually, I don't give him the time of day. I put down the phone, and went off to check the mail, made some coffee, put a load in the wash, and cleaned out the cat litterbox. When I returned, he hadn't noticed a thing.

False prophets! That's what they are, Tommy, like I try to tell ya if ya'd just listen. But no! You'd just rather be led by the nose and just like that.....

I hung up the phone, but it made no difference! I could still hear his shrill voice!


They didn't flipflop at all. Nobody ever said adjustments like this wouldn't happen. In fact, we've been assured many times that they would, in accord with scriptures such as this:

"And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of [the] end. Many will rove about, and the [true] knowledge will become abundant."    Dan 12:4

Jehovah's Witnesses do believe we're in the "time of the end," and that "true knowledge will become abundant" during that time. With regard to prophetic matters, it's progressive. It happens by degrees.  The Watchtower has stated this innumerable times. Illustrating it with this scripture, for example:

But the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established. (Prov 4:18) Just like how at dawn you can't make out too much, maybe only shapes, but as the day progresses the details steadily become more clear.

So adjustments in understanding are to be expected, same as how it happened in the first century.


When Jesus' disciples began their ministry, they spoke to no one but Jews. Why would they not? Jesus was a Jew. They themselves were Jews. Jesus, they believed, was the Messiah foretold in the Jewish scriptures. And Jews kept their distance from non-Jews. They didn't mingle.

Early congregation growth was explosive. (Acts 2:41; 4:4) Acts, the history of early Christianity, tells us:

Consequently the word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much; and a great crowd of [Jewish] priests began to be obedient to the faith.  (Acts 6:7)


Then, indeed, the congregation throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria entered into a period of peace, being built up; and as it walked in the fear of Jehovah and in the comfort of the holy spirit it kept on multiplying.   (Acts 9:31)

It all happened within the Jewish community.

The first disciples to tell the Kingdom message to non-Jews had some explaining to do. Should they really be doing that? Weren’t they stepping out of bounds? The matter was not settled by scripture. It was settled by holy spirit, and scripture was bought in afterwards to support what holy spirit was already doing. Specifically, believing non-Jews were receiving gifts of the spirit (healing, speaking in other languages, (tongues) prophesying) just like the Jewish believers. So who were those disciples to forbid what God was obviously approving?

Now the apostles and the brothers that were in Judea heard that people of the nations had also received the word of God.  So when Peter came up to Jerusalem, the [supporters] of circumcision [Jewish believers] began to contend with him, saying he had gone into the house of men that were not circumcised and had eaten with them.  At this Peter commenced and went on to explain the particulars to them, saying.......when I started to speak, the holy spirit fell upon them just as it did also upon us in [the] beginning. At this I called to mind the saying of the Lord, how he used to say, ‘John, for his part, baptized with water, but you will be baptized in holy spirit.’ If, therefore, God gave the same free gift to them as he also did to us who have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should be able to hinder God?” Now when they heard these things, they acquiesced, and they glorified God, saying: “Well, then, God has granted repentance for the purpose of life to people of the nations also.”    Acts 11:1-18

Something similar can be seen in the present day. From the standpoint of the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses, only two centuries count: the first and the twentieth (plus a few years). The ones in between suffer the apostatizing of "primitive" Christianity and then witness its gradual re-awakening. The last days spoken of in the Bible are seen to have started in the early 20th century....with a bang....with World War I, and continue to the present amidst ever-worsening conditions.

As in the first century, the governing body tracks specific developments with regard to Kingdom increase today. And they make statements based on what holy spirit appears to be accomplishing, just as was done in the first century. For example, the heavenly calling, the call of certain Christians to rule with the Christ in his heavenly kingdom (manifested in their partaking of the emblems at Memorial time) has long been thought to have ceased in 1935.

Now, I freely confess it sounds weird to link a specific year to a heavenly event. Yet, it was in that year that the "great crowd" of Revelation 7:9 was identified. This is the group that survives the end of this system and lives right on under Kingdom rule on earth. There's really no point in gathering this group beforehand, since by definition, they must live long enough to survive the "great tribulation."

Prior to the 1930's, nearly all congregation members professed the heavenly calling. But in time, folks began packing in who simply didn't feel that the heavenly calling applied to them. They just didn't identify with it. Instead, the scriptures about living forever on earth is what rang true to them.

...and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.    Rev 5:10

They began to identify, not with the ones who would rule, but with the ones who would be ruled over, living forever on earth.

Revealing the identity of the great crowd (Revelation 7:9) cleared in all up, and all these ones instantly found their place. Did this all take place at the lead of the holy spirit? Today, it is rare for one of Jehovah's Witnesses not to have the earthly hope.

Since the great crowd was identified at a summer convention in 1935, that year has long been thought to be the date in which the heavenly calling ceased, since the number of that group, while large, is finite. (unlike that of the great crowd)     (Rev 7:4-10)

So in more recent years, when someone began partaking of the emblems, people didn't know what to make of it. Maybe they were nuts! Or at least unbalanced. Or presumptuous, thinking the heavenly call would give them special prestige. Some of them were genuine, no doubt, since an anointed member who falls away would have to be replaced. But, realistically, how often would that be? Not very. And you'd expect a replacement to come from the ranks of those who had served God for many decades. So if a new partaker came along who didn't fit the profile, you'd sort of scratch your head and shelve the matter, curious how it would all play out.

We still don‘t know, but that latest Watchtower advances things a bit, and the adjustment process will continue to run its course. It always has. It will continue to.

Furthermore, adjustments of understanding must always be taken in context. The essential teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, the foundational points, have remained unchanged since the movement began in the late 1800's. What is God's Kingdom? What will it do for humankind? What happens at death? Where are the dead? Why do we die? Why does God permit suffering and evil? Who is God? How may we fit in with his purpose? Who is Jesus Christ? What is the Holy Spirit?

These are the basic building block teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses, the answers to which have not essentially changed in 100 years.




Tom Irregardless and Me            No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Bend it Like the Boreans

Regarding the first century spread of Christianity, here's a scripture from Acts [Acts is the "authorized" history of the new Christian faith]: 

"Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so."    17:11

We look for the same today. You want people that are "noble-minded," not like they were in Thessalonica, where the disciples were run out of town. Noble-minded.....people who are open, who are searching, who don't assume they already know everything. Noble-minded, yes, but note....not gullible, for they "carefully examin[ed] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." They never had to take a "leap of faith" They carefully examined evidence already in existence.

In some places, that still is all that is "carefully examin[e] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." But in our part of the world, it's not always enough, since learned society invests much time in trashing authority of "the scriptures." So you have to reestablish that authority before you get some folk to benefit from examining scriptures. Often you have to reestablish that authority before you even get them to agree to make the examination.

This is not an insurmountable task, but it is an extra step. Several publications of Jehovah's Witnesses are devoted entirely to this purpose....considering the Bible via several lines of evidence to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that it is what it claims to be....God's message for our benefit.

Can't you just uncover such evidence within the university setting, since that's where people are smart? Oddly, no, for the upper echelons of human society are especially intent on denigrating matters pertaining to faith. Their motive? Essentially, they don't like conclusionsthe Bible points to and/or the personal responsibility it implies, and so they seek with all their might to undermine it. Since we operate within society, such dominant attitudes can rub fact, they certainly will unless we do something to counteract the flood of Bible-trashing propaganda.

The Bible's promise of living forever on a transformed paradise earth attracts persons of humble backgrounds. But in western lands, educated folk smile knowingly and dismiss the idea as a fairy tale. They are too clever to believe in fairy tales. Thus, this friendly fellow I trade letters with, let's call him Dan, declared he would not check into such a notion because a) he would not know how to check, and b) he feared it would be a waste of his time since c.) it struck him as a big fantasy.

Well, of course it would! Trust me, I would look askance were he, with his background, to say "This is great! Where do I sign up?!" No, it strikes him as a fantasy, as should be expected. However it will also strike him, hopefully, as an appealing fantasy.

Now, if checking into it called for some outlandish allotment of time, you would reasonably expect a person to pass. Ditto if it were expensive. Why waste time and money on a likely "fantasy?" Would that not be naive? But if checking was fast and cheap, then what's the hang-up? If it truly is fantasy, the one sharing it is the naive one, not the recipient, since the sharer does so free of charge.

Jehovah's Witnesses' signature offer is a program of home Bible study. It's free. It's an hour or so per week. And since folks here have usually not heard of the "live forever on earth" promise....well, that's why we visit people, even though some (many?) wish we would not. It’s a model as old as time: if you have something worthwhile, you must tell people about it. They rarely come to you. At any rate, the home Bible study is a viable way to check into it. It may be the only way. It certainly is the most direct.

Strangely, if the program was offered at the university, and if people had to pay a fortune for it, and devote much time, and if they could earn a degree in it, it would be enormously popular. But, as it is, who offers this program? Clods, bumpkins, Jehovah's Witnesses! What could they possibly know?

So people take odd consolation in modern day "prophets" such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-February 28, 2007), who writes: "..........because all important problems are insoluble: that is why they are important. The good comes from the continuing struggle to try and solve them, not from the vain hope of their solution."

If someone as smart as he says problems are insoluble, well, then they must be. And if another claims to have found a solution.....what, they're smarter than Mr. Schlesinger, are they? What degrees from what universities do they hold? All the more so if they come from some unsophisticated camp like Jehovah's Witnesses!

But one must be discerning and consider the nature of Christianity, which was historically a movement of the common folk....carpenters, fishermen, not the upper classes. For example:

For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are... 1 Cor: 26-28

And when the apostles were summoned before the Sanhedrin (religious leaders of the day): "Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus."                     Acts 4:13

In other words, the common folk had the answers back then, not the sophisticated ones.

In time, the upper classes hijacked Christianity. They found a way to make a buck off it. They found a way to surround it with social prestige and influence. But they so changed Christianity in doing so that it became unrecognizable, worlds apart from what Jesus taught, fully capable of acting contrary to his teachings. That is why Sam Harriscan latch onto religious conduct as raw material for his doctrine.




Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Philosophers and Theologians Strike Out

Evil and suffering are embarrassing intellectual problems that philosophers and theologians have wrestled with forever. Why, having spent all that time, do they come up empty-handed?

This statement of Jesus is key:

“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 babes."                 Matt 11:25

That's quite a trick. Just how does the “Father, Lord of heaven and earth” do it? Do we ever see that feat elsewhere, perhaps in the university settings where those philosophers and theologians hang out? Does it ever happen there that the babes understand, yet the wise and intellectual ones come up short?

No, it does not. So how can it be true in this context?

The quick answer is that we are emotional beings as well as intellectual ones. And certain qualities will absolutely short circuit one's spiritual quest. Pride will do it. As will narcissism. "Smarts" can be found in abundance in the university setting. But humility is more rare. As is the willingness to put other's interests ahead of one's own.

As long as this is the case (and I can't picture it ever changing) those philosophers and theologians will strike out every time. The answers are there. Their minds can readily grasp it, more readily than those less mentally endowed. But their dominant dispositions will never permit it.

For example, regarding the Christian message, the apostle Paul said:

For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing....For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise [men] perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual [men] I will shove aside.....we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness...    1 Cor 1:18-23

And, make no mistake, Christianity in the first century did not appeal to philosophers and theologians, any more than it does today:

For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are...       vs 26-28

Note that Paul did not say "any." He said "many" There were some Christians "wise, powerful, of noble birth," but not "many." Pride, selfishness, and concern about one's social status would thwart them almost always, completely negating any intellectual advantage.

Paul endeavored to spread Christianity in Athens, where he encountered philosophers of the Epicurean and Stoic variety. They can hardly be described as brimming with humility. “What is it this chatterer would like to tell?” they asked each other? The word "chatterer" literally means "seed-picker" and it has reference to a bird who picks up a seed here and poops it out there, and picks one up there and poops it out some other place.       Acts 17:18

No, he was not treated with much respect. Today Jehovah's Witnesses find a similar situation. They present their Christian message to everyone. Yet only humble people respond. People bursting with pride never do.

It's not hard to see why. The Bible's message is that humans do not have the answers to the world's problems, and are not capable of self-rule. Furthermore, God's Kingdom is the answer and the best way we can spend our time is to announce that Kingdom, while remaining neutral with regard to this world's affairs and politics. Just try selling that to a prideful person! They live for figuring new solutions, devising new politics and......God forbid they should spend their time speaking religion to strangers, or even be associated with those that do!

Within the humble context of Bible study, the mystery regarding suffering and evil is answered readily.   




Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Forty Years Down the Toilet!

Forty Years Down the Toilet: My Wasted Life with Jehovah’s Witnesses!

This title in the library’s new books section caught my eye. I snapped it right up and headed home because I love a good read. But only when I flopped into my armchair did I notice who the author was.

It was Tom Barfendogs, formerly a colleague and fellow member of the prestigious Carriertom Into-wishen Research Institute!

Yes, Tom Barfendogs, who once worked shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Tom Sheepandgoats, Tom Wheatandweeds, his brother Tom Weedsandwheat, Tom Fishandchips, and Tom Pearlsenswine.

Ah, his defection is a sad story. For I readily concede that he was a smart guy. But he was also kinda full of himself. We remember he started to develop some opinions he was fond of - who doesn’t? - but then, by degrees, those opinions became, not opinions, but Revealed Truth. It got so you couldn’t pass him in the Institute hallways without hearing him go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about his special close relationship with God. Naturally, he felt others should see him in the same light, and he got miffed when that didn’t happen. In time, he began to conduct his own classes: Barfendogs’ Bible Briefings, I think they were called.

Of course, this didn’t sit too well with the JW organization, which is modeled after the first century Christian congregation. There is a definite structure. It is not a free stage for independent cowboys, yahoos and hotshots.

Next thing you know, he’s quit the congregation and later resurfaces with his own website: www.BarfendogsBullhornofTruth.con, which, were you to visit it, does nothing but run down his former JW pals. I mean, he must have some other interests - all of us do - but you’d never know it from the site.

The sourpuss website syndrome is a well-documented phenomenon  affecting 5%, give or take, of those who leave Jehovah’s Witnesses. The remaining 95% is comprised of those who return, and of those who move on in life to other things.

It didn’t help that, years after he left, the JW organization actually came around to his way of thinking on a couple points! You might think that Barfendog would have returned at this point. But he had his website and book by then, and all he would tell anyone is how he Forged Ahead due to His Special Relationship with God. He didn’t need any organization. The organization needed him! Now they could kiss his you-know-what!

And he used to be such a nice guy.

Besides, why does anyone need an organization? “Me n Jesus” is enough. And what about Christian love? Didn’t Jesus stand for love? Doesn’t, love mean “nobody’s telling me what to do!”?


It’s clear that there was a human organization in the first century. Acts chapter 15 reveals the inner workings of a governing body, which was necessary to organize preaching activity and to adapt scripture to a changing world, much as the Supreme Court serves to adapt the Constitution to changing times.

Acts 16:4,5 reports on an aftermath of that meeting of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem:

Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe. So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.           New American Standard Bible

Note that the apostles and elders had authority. It wasn’t good ol boy coaching that they offered, so that you could tell them to go fly a kite. They delivered decrees. It wasn’t “me n Jesus” back then, even in those first years immediately following His resurrection!

Note, too, that God blessed the arrangement, even though the apostles and elders were men, imperfect men, fully capable of all the dopey moves common to humans:  Thus the churches were strengthened in the faith and daily their numbers increased.  Acts 16:5


Whoever assumes leadership, and does not remain in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God.    2 John 9    Berkeley Version




Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Pop Goes to the Doctor...Sort of

Pop is 85 years old. He’s in perfect health.

He attributes that perfect health to the fact that he never goes to a doctor. Not since World War II. When we got him to agree to occasional physicals, it was a major victory. But he only did it so as to be on someone’s radar screen, in case he ever needs an insurance gatekeeper.

During those physicals, the doctor suggests this or that pill. Pop ignores it all.

Doctor: Actually, we don’t have any blood work on you.

Pop: That’s right, you don’t. Pills


The Bible writer Luke was a doctor, whatever that meant back then.

“Luke the beloved physician sends you his greetings, and so does Demas.” - Col 4:11)

He writes, not unkindly, towards his own profession:      “And a woman, subject to a flow of blood for twelve years, who had not been able to get a cure from anyone, approached from behind and touched the fringe of his [Jesus’] outer garment, and instantly her flow of blood stopped.” - Luke 8:43-44

Yes, doctors had done their level best, but it hadn’t been enough. She hadn’t been able to get a cure from anyone.

But look what happens when the gospel writer Mark, not a doctor, relates the same event:

“Now there was a woman subject to a flow of blood twelve years, and she had been put to many pains by many physicians and had spent all her resources and had not been benefited but, rather, had got worse. [!]

a) put to many pains

b) spent all her resources

c) had not benefited; had gotten worse.

Mark and Pop would have gotten along well together.




Tom Irregardless and Me              No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Helix and the Cross

I traded e-mails with someone who extols the scientific method. He favors evolution. I favor creation.

We both liked the result. Did I mind if he posted the exchange on his website? No, I did not; it’s two different views expressed clearly and with mutual respect. I positively like this fellow, and may post the exchange myself, someday when I am too lazy to think up anything new.

Take a look at his site, he said. Did I approve? Well….yes….but…

For the sake of art, he used a symbol to represent himself and one to represent me. He, the man of science, grabbed the double helix. But I got stuck with the cross!

Jehovah’s Witnesses are perhaps unique among faiths (even including non-Christian) in disputing that Jesus died on a cross.

When you read “cross” in the New Testament, it is translated from one of two Greek words: stauros or xylon. Find the meanings of those two words, and you have the meaning of “cross.”

Neither refers to an upright beam with crosspiece. Stauros later came to mean beam with a crosspiece, but in the apostles day, it meant an upright stake, or piling. Xylon means timber, beam, post, stake, even tree, what have you, but not cross. The King James Bible translates xylon as follows:

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.   Acts 5:30

Also, Jesus death is a fullfillment of prophesy, as is seen at Gal 3:13: (New Testament)

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

And where is it written? Deuteronomy 21:22,23: (Old testament, 1500+ years prior to Galations, long before there was any Roman empire)

And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

So, if you wanted to make the case that Jesus died on a cross, you wouldn't be able to do it from scripture.

If you rank all of our beliefs on a scale, this one won’t rank too high. It is a detail. There’s no sense in not getting it right, but it’s not an essential element of faith. Either way, Christ’s death accomplished what it accomplished.

But it is a little odd, isn’t it, this cross fetish?  Suppose, for instance, that Jesus was run over by a truck. Would devotees wear tiny Mack truck amulets around their necks?

So, will the science person change my symbol? I hope not. And I doubt it. What would he change it to? An upright  post would look ridiculous. Even more so my profile picture. And the tetragrammaton would be presumptuous. That, I don’t think, I would like at all.

The shape of the [two-beamed cross] had it origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3rd cent. A. D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical systems pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ. - An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (London, 1962), W. E. Vine, p. 256.




Tom Irregardless and Me                 No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The First and the Last Adam

Adam was the biggest letdown, and his rebellion doomed all of us to imperfection and death. Jesus was as good as Adam was bad, and then some. How is it, then,  that he can be called the last Adam?

And so it is written; the first Adam was made a living soul; The last Adam was made a quickening spirit.  1 Cor 15:45   

If you have been conditioned to believe in the Trinity, you will never understand that scripture. Jesus, say the Trinitarians, is equal to God. He is God, only in a different form. So how can he be termed the last Adam?

Set aside the Trinity belief, and the picture clears instantly.

The key is to recognize that Jesus was a perfect man. That’s why he was born of a virgin, with Joseph merely the foster father. Had he been born in the usual manner, he would have been imperfect, same as all the rest of Adam’s descendants. He would not have corresponded in any way to Adam. It would have been apples and oranges.

And if Jesus is God, again we have apples and oranges. Adam and Jesus only correspond if we recognize that they were both perfect men, the only two perfect men that have ever been.

This is a huge point to recognize, because it enables understanding of a central Christian teaching: how does Jesus’ death benefit mankind. Without this one-to-one correspondence, all you can get is a touchy-feely answer to that question, one that pulls at the heart but does nothing for the head.

God sent his son to die, Trinitarians say, to show his love for humans. Yeah, okay, but why that and not something else?

Because God wanted to give the most precious thing he had, is the answer. Yeah, but….why not throw in all the angels as well, and the stars? Wouldn’t that show even more love?

No, that explanation may tug at the heart, but it does nothing for the head. It contributes to the John Coffey (J.C.)…like the drink, but spelled differently….image of Christianity: Christians are big on heart, with lots of hope, and boundless good will….but they’re really not too smart. 

The Trinity teaching seriously interferes, even prevents, understanding this key Bible point. But if you make Jesus a perfect man, you get a result that satisfies the heart and the mind.

Adam was not created to die. Endless life was before him. When he rebelled, he pulled the plug on himself. But not just himself, also all his offspring….all of us. No longer would anyone look forward to endless life, now their certain destiny was old age and death. He sold them, Adam did. He sold them into the slavery of sin and death. And there they must stay, unless someone can buy them back.

A perfect man sold them into slavery, another perfect man will be needed as the repurchase price. Not another disobedient one like Adam, but a faithful perfect man, as Jesus proved to be.

You can’t find any perfect men among Adam’s offspring, they’re all imperfect. Only if God sends a heavenly son, his first born, to be born as a human, of a virgin, and so free from Adam’s imperfect heritage, can that perfect man be found. And that’s what God did.

When you free a kidnapped victim, the price you pay is called the ransom. The ransom price paid to release all of us from bondage to sin and death is a perfect human life, exactly corresponding to the perfect human life Adam threw away. Offering his own perfect life, Jesus bought back what Adam lost, he died for our sins. Now the expression died for our sins makes some sense. Jesus’ life is the ransom price needed to redeem enslaved mankind, and it is the exact price required, thus ransom carries the sense of completely covering….not too much and not too little.

When it comes to righting the greatest wrong ever, God plays by the same rules he made for us: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a soul for a soul… this case, a perfect soul for a perfect soul. (Deut 19:21) Thus, the “legal” framework is in place to restore everlasting life on earth to those who desire it.

The Son Of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matt 20:28

For there is one god, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.  1 Tim 2:5,6


Tom Irregardless and Me    No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)