The Marcion Trap

So here I am, battling villains who insist the name Jehovah has no place in the New Testament, assisted by allies who nobly and quite properly come to my defense, when what should land in my comment inbox but a dissertation about Marcion. Who in the world is he? And what does he have to do with anything?

“In all likely-hood, Marcion actually lived in 40 AD not 140 and was the apostle John Mark, writer of both the gospel of Mark and gospel of John, as well as parts of Matthew and Luke,” says Rey, who offers the comment, “which were originally one gospel but were separated into four under the reign of Commodus because Commodus fancied himself to be a god who sits between the four winds. The first figure in church history to proclaim there are four gospel is Ireneaus, who works in the palace of Commodus, and who argues that there must be four gospels because there are four winds. Very suspicious.”

Very suspicious, indeed. But suspicious, from my point of view, because it has absolutely nothing to do with anything we'd discussed thus far (which often is grounds for my rejecting a comment, but I let it go this time).

Now, anyone familiar with the parent organization behind Jehovah's Witnesses knows that their enthusiasm for the internet is not boundless. In fact, it barely exists at all. One of the reservations they have about cyberspace is how easy it is for a person therein to hide their true identity. You'll think you're talking with your bosom chum, only to find out its really some scoundrel.....why...a wolf in sheep's clothing! I get around this reservation by assuming, up front, that everyone's a liar. That way, if it turns out they're not, it's a pleasant surprise.

But there's no reason not to answer this guy Rey. If you're a blogger, you like to receive comments. And this bit about Marcion, whoever he is, is a comment. Actually, I have only three rules regarding comments, and “agreeing with me” is not one of them. I don't mind a bit when people don't agree with me, but

1.) comments have to be reasonably respectful.
2.) they have to be reasonably “on topic”.....you just can't submit a laundry list of all you don't like about Jehovah's Witnesses, and
3.)  they can't link back to a site whose primary or substantial purpose is to tear down JW beliefs.
 
For instance, one sorehead submitted a comment positively bursting with insults and crudeness, and so I read my rules to him, and asked “are you capable of writing such a comment?” His subsequent answer showed he was not.

Sometimes I'll think of minor corollaries to my three rules along the way.....comments that choke the virus checker, for example.....but in the main, those three rules are it.

So Rey keeps carrying on about this Marcion character, and he seems sort of an oddball, both he and his namesake, pushing theology that you might expect on a Dr Who episode. But am I not a blogger? So, blog already, Tom Sheepandgoats, even if you don't know exactly where this guy is coming from. You don't have to know everything.

Moreover, when you're responding to a comment, you don't necessarily address each point made. Especially when you're talking to a lunatic. It's too taxing for the reader. No. Pick a few points, or sometimes just one. If the fellow has ten additional points, let him submit ten additional comments. Just because he thinks in a muddle doesn't mean you have to. That way, readers can readily skip over whatever they find dull. So I go back and forth with this Rey character. All the time wondering....who is this guy anyway? Is he really a  devotee of Marcion, someone I've never heard of? Ah, well....blog away Tom. Just do it. Besides, sometimes good posts emerge from such conversations. You'll know it when you see it.

So we go round and round a bit, and I point out why I think this fellow is a nutjob, when suddenly Rey tips his hand:

“I don't get why a Jehovah's Witness would find Marcionism so offensive. Why wouldn't someone from a cult started in modern America be happy to jump back to a cult that actual has at least a claim to being authentic, I mean **hello** 2nd Century here. Your cult is clearly wrong in that it didn't exist until now. That one is from the early 2nd Century, pre-dating even the New Testament Canon!”

HA! So that's what this is all about! Another cult accusation! Up till now I had never met someone who believed in Marcionism, and now I saw that I still hadn't. It was all about setting me up for a sucker punch! Just like I'd been warned. Rey just doesn't like us. If you don't like someone, they are a sect. If you really don't like them, they are a cult.

Nonetheless, what about his charge? If you “didn't exist until now,” can you really claim to link directly to first century Christianity? Especially when the Catholics will tell you that Peter was the first Pope? (even though Peter was a married man)

You can. There are any number of passages in the Bible that point out 'new and improved teachings' would commence soon after the death of the apostles, and would overrun Jesus actual teachings. The latter would not be fully restored until the final days of this system of things. For example:

1.) Jesus' parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt 13:24-30):

"Another illustration he set before them, saying: “The kingdom of the heavens has become like a man that sowed fine seed in his field. While men were sleeping, his enemy came and oversowed weeds in among the wheat, and left. When the blade sprouted and produced fruit, then the weeds appeared also. So the slaves of the householder came up and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow fine seed in your field? How, then, does it come to have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy, a man, did this.’ They said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go out and collect them?’ He said, ‘No; that by no chance, while collecting the weeds, you uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the harvest season I will tell the reapers, First collect the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them up, then go to gathering the wheat into my storehouse."

Lest anyone doubt how the verses apply, vs 36 continues:

And his disciples came to him and said: “Explain to us the illustration of the weeds in the field.” In response he said: “The sower of the fine seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; as for the fine seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; but the weeds are the sons of the wicked one, and the enemy that sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels."

Didn't Paul also say the weeds would sprout? (Acts 20:29-30): "I  know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves."

Those early Christians spoke to the general populace, like Jesus and the apostles did. But that's hard. Over time, more and more people simply didn't want to hear it. Easier to preach to the choir! Teachers taking the lead in the congregation began to specialize, preaching only to their flock, and drawing a salary....something new....for doing so! Those only marginally “keeping on the watch” quickly adjusted to the new plan: pay a preacher and go hear him out once a week. The public ministry was tough.  Easier to become “the laity” at a "church," and focus six days a week (in time, all seven) on secular activities. Preachers became like politicians....adept at seeing which way the wind blew, so as to incorporate whatever was popular, and draw in more paying parishioners.

Christians should be “no part of the world?” (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; John 17:16) Why not become fully part of the world, and thus broaden your base? Oh....and there's going to be an “end of this system of things.....a “harvest?” Can't have that....it's too much of a disruption! Better to tell people to simply “be good” and go to heaven when they die. By the time of the fourth century, when Christianity became the Roman “state religion,” it was barely recognizable.

You can trace the details if you want....in fact, you should....but even intuitively, you know it's true. After all, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Dark Ages, the Holocaust, eager clergy participation on both sides of World Wars I and II, hardly square with what Christ taught. But it's all part of religious leaders pushing to the fore.....telling people whatever they'll most readily consume so as to expand their influence.

Everyone knows it's happened, but not everyone knows the Bible said it would happen. Nearly all the NT writers predicted it:

Jude: "Beloved ones, though I was making every effort to write you about the salvation we hold in common, I found it necessary to write to exhort you to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones. My reason is that certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ." (vs 3-4)

Peter:   "However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively." (2 Peter 2:1-2)

John:  “Look out for yourselves, that you do not lose the things we have worked to produce, but that you may obtain a full reward. Everyone that pushes ahead and does not remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God. He that does remain in this teaching is the one that has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him."  (2 John 8-10)                   

and "I wrote something to the congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us [the apostle John!] with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words."   (3 John -10)

Paul: “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories." (2 Tim 4:2-3)

And another parable of Jesus. Note a long period of inactivity.....sleep, it's called.....and when the bridegroom finally does arrive, not everyone's ready to receive him. Using language common to many Bible verses, Christ's followers initially prepare to meet the bridegroom [first century] But there is a long delay, during which they fall asleep. When the cry comes "Here is the Bridegroom," towards Christ's reappearance, some are not ready, having long strayed from Christian teaching:

"Then the kingdom of the heavens will become like ten virgins that took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were discreet. For the foolish took their lamps but took no oil with them, whereas the discreet took oil in their receptacles with their lamps. While the bridegroom was delaying, they all nodded and went to sleep. Right in the middle of the night there arose a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and put their lamps in order. The foolish said to the discreet, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are about to go out.’ The discreet answered with the words, ‘Perhaps there may not be quite enough for us and you. Be on your way, instead, to those who sell it and buy for yourselves.’ While they were going off to buy, the bridegroom arrived, and the virgins that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterwards the rest of the virgins also came, saying, ‘Sir, sir, open to us!’ In answer he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you."  (Matt 25:1-11)

The prophet Daniel received many visions, which are collected in the book bearing his name. Yet they were not to be understood during his time, or even during the time of Jesus' ministry, but only in the "time of the end." ........... "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)

So, to quote Rey, is our “cult clearly wrong in that it didn't exist until now?" Frankly, in view of the above Bible verses, the more unbroken your history, the more suspect you are.

****************************

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)

Maggie Brooks Battles Internet Porn

The local TV station sent reporters to the library and filmed guys watching porn on the web. They only had to ask the librarian to unlock filtering software. Out in the open. Kids might see it. TV news led with the story.

County Executive Maggie Brooks saw the report and hit the roof! She had no idea, she said, and blasted that library director to shape up or risk losing county funding (70% if the library's budget!) Why should taxpayers fund porn?

But the next day the ACLU appeared. That library had better not cut off the porn, they countered. What about freedom of speech? What about the slippery slope? What about the lawsuit that they might file?

It wasn't the one sided issue Tom Wheatandweeds thought it might be. Lots of people took issue with Maggie. Wasn't she just grandstanding? So Wheatandweeds, that pillar of virtue, wrote City! newspaper.

Maggie Brooks is shocked over internet porn! What's wrong with that?

We're not dealing with freedom of political speech. We're not dealing with freedom of religious speech. We're not even dealing with freedom of body-beautiful artistic speech. We're dealing with hardcore internet porn, which delights in graphic copulation, sadomasochism, and bestiality, often via streaming video. Historically, patrons visited seedy places for such material, where they sought out secluded spots in which to masturbate. Must we really have our public libraries offer free competition?

Surely, internet porn is not that make-or-break issue upon which all our constitutional rights depend. That slippery slope can't be that slippery.

When the library settled matters a few weeks later, though, they paid Wheatandweeds no heed. No one ever does. They vowed business as usual, with a few minor tweaks so as to safeguard children.

Moreover, the next City! issue featured another letter rebutting Wheatandweeds! Its author had read between the lines, and was alarmed that Wheatandweeds seemed to be decrying, not just child-accessible porn, but....gasp....porn itself. People like porn, he observed, from which fact he concluded that it must be fine.

Wheatandweeds, the stubborn ox, would have none of it. "People like fast food, too," he spattered at me between bites. "That's why we all weigh 300 pounds!"

Moreover, they also liked Don Imus, that foulmouthed radio jock. How long had he been a mainstay morning guy? His mouth spawned many a tempest, but he weathered them all. Until last week when they finally canned himfor racially charged remarks about nappy headed ho's. The local radio guy, Bob Lonsberry, wondered if the library free-speech people would come to Don's defense.

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)

Conscience, Movies and the MPAA Ratings

Noah (theonlyNoahyouknow) was in town and I spoke to him about movies and he ranted how silly was the American MPAA rating system. In Germany, he said, there was no such thing.

In astonishment, I gasped: How, then, do you know what you can watch?

They read movie reviews.

If you’re a moviegoer, you want to shield yourself and family from filthy, gory or sicko films, but how do you do it? How do you avoid grossout scenes before you know they exist?

Because the American movie rating system is so easy to access, a fair number of our people have, in effect, made it their conscience. They will be safe, they feel, if they just avoid R rated films. Trouble is, the technique doesn’t work too well.

For one thing, if R’s represent the line in the sand, then anything higher on the scale must be okay. But as any moviegoer knows, a PG-13 movie can easily be more filthy than an R. Directors long ago learned to sidestep ‘R‘ triggers, even while loading their films up to the limit with stuff you don‘t want to see. And sometimes R films are so rated for relatively innocuous reasons: one too many f-bombs, for example. (a PG-13 is allowed one, which is a guarantee that one will appear, usually in the most in-your-face manner imaginable!) Of course, nobody likes f-bombs, but if you work or school in an environment where hundreds of such bombs are raining right and left, you may not even notice 3 or 4 in a movie.

Of course, R’s at their worst are nastier than PG-13’s at the worst, so if you don’t read reviews, it might be best to avoid both categories. Don’t just go see them at random, not if you care about avoiding sordid stuff. You might as well play Russian Roulette.

A lot of reviews don’t really tell you too much about what will make you gag, but some do. On the internet, kids-in-mind, and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops both serve pretty well. To be sure,  the mental image of a room packed with Catholic Bishops eagerly watching Freddy Krueger so as to slap it with a thumbs down rating (presumably) always makes me smile.

Now….all this searching and reading and screening is a lot of work just for the sake of movies. Are movies essential to life? No, they are not. “I’ll just avoid them all, unless I hear on sure testimony that this or that film is okay.”

That is a valid position, which some of our people take. For others, however, there are reviews.

Here are the two sites mentioned, both set for the film Cars: (which carries the Sheepandgoats endorsement)

http://www.kids-in-mind.com/c/cars.htm
http://www.usccb.org/movies/c/cars.shtml

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 Dangerous Internet

I read the internet is a dangerous place, full of skunks and scoundrels. Conscience stricken, I changed my profile on MySpace to confess that I wasn't really a 55 year old guy. I was really a 98 year old predator on the prowl for naive 70 year old women! After that, my conscience felt better.

.............................

I thought I was too old for MySpace but my son told me I wasn't. So I registered and got my very own space. Straight off, someone wanted to be my friend! A married woman, about 10 years my junior, who found me via alumni search; we'd gone to the same high school.

I looked at her profile. She seemed nice enough. But I thought it would look funny to have as my only friend a married woman. What would my own wife think? As one friend out of several, okay. But not the only one. So I messaged her back, tactfully as I could, and asked her to wait. Let me get a few more friends, then I'd gladly add her to the list.

She went ballistic on me! As if I had accused her of trying to hit on me! I tried to placate her......no, no, no, no, don't be offended...it's my hangup, not yours.....but it didn‘t do me a bit of good .....darn right it's your hangup, not mine she screamed.....goodbye!!!!    and cancelled her friend request!

It’s true. The internet is a dangerous place.

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)

Christians and the Internet

When Mr. Crowe came across the hateful website of that perennial apostate and general thorn in our side, Tom Barfendogs, author of Forty Years Down the Toilet: My Wasted Life With Jehovah’s Witnesses, he posted a comment in which he observed that the theme “JWs aren’t allowed to use the internet” is a recurring one among detractors like Barfendogs. What’s with that? he wanted to know.

It is true that when Watchtower mentions the internet, they don’t gush with praise. They’ve many times issued warnings to congregation members. For example, far and away, the most popular internet sites have to do with porn. Nothing comes close. So if you have any significant voyeuristic impulses, you might appreciate such a warning before you embrace the internet as a way of life. Such a warning might have helped Tom Sowenmire, who accidentally stumbled across such a site. All he wanted was online repair instructions for his 1975 AMC Hottie. We never saw him again. Enticed by explicit porn, coupled with absolute viewing privacy, we hear he eventually just collapsed from exhaustion, like one of those Skinner lab rats.

So Watchtower has warned about that danger. Why shouldn’t they?

They’ve also observed how easy it is on the internet to mask who you really are. This is timely because websites claiming to be just for Jehovah’s Witnesses keep popping up here and there. Expand your contacts of fellow servants of God, meet brothers in different lands, make new friends, even find your new wife or husband! But how do you know who you’re really speaking with? Even Tom Barfendogs has been known to post comments using the alias Tom Puppydogs! He pretends to be a loveable & harmless pal, then by subtle degrees, he tries to foist his own odorous opinions upon the incautious.

So they’ve warned about that, too.

In 1999, amidst the explosion in internet interest, the Witness organization observed that some individuals had begun to sponsor websites ostensibly for the purpose of spreading the good news. Many such brothers were being “indiscreet,” they pointed out. And, two years prior, they stated that there is no need for individuals to create websites for the purpose of explaining the beliefs and activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Accurate information in this regard could already be found on the Watchtower’s own site www.watchtower.org. All this was before blogging became popular, but there’s no reason to think that the same principles wouldn’t apply. Internet savvy Witnesses, by and large, seek to conform to direction from Jehovah’s organization. They respect it, and view their direction in the light of scriptures like Heb 13:17:

Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.

Can a Witness blog without being “indiscreet?” Some think not and stay away from that form of communication. Obviously, I am one who thinks it can be done. But you can’t be clumsy.

For example, you don’t set yourself up as “Tom the Bible Answer Man,” as if you were the ultimate source of spiritual truth. You don’t go hosting a meeting spot for Jehovah’s Witnesses; that’s what the congregation is for. You don’t give the impression that you are representing Watchtower itself. Sometimes, enthusiastic brothers post long passages, even entire articles, including artwork, from Watchtower publications. Might this be indiscreet, especially when Watchtower has not posted the article themselves? It is their words. Shouldn't they control their distribution?

Our Kingdom Ministry, a monthly bulletin distributed to congregation members, is the source for much of the internet counsel directed to our people. Why not post entire articles as they relate to the internet? Why not post the whole Kingdom Ministry, so all who want to can peruse it?

Because that would be indiscreet. Our Kingdom Ministry is not written for the general public. It is written for those who specifically have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God. Most folks using the internet don’t fall in that category. So Our Kingdom Ministry doesn‘t concern them. It’s not that Our Kingdom Ministry is confidential, or secretive, or restrictive. It’s a colossal bore, frankly, to non-Witnesses. But the title says it all. It is Our Kingdom Ministry. Is our kingdom ministry your kingdom ministry? If you are not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s not. Why would anyone post it online? It already, through the congregations, has a distribution channel.

If Sheepandgoats assures readers that he is a baptized Witness in good standing, so what? How do they know he’s not lying? And assuming he’s not, how do they know he’ll be the same tomorrow? People can change. And if he goes over to the dark side tomorrow, will he post to that effect? Barfendogs didn’t. Maybe he will park on the Kingdom Hall lawn tomorrow and the elders will tell him not to, so when he gets home he will post about how elders are mean, and why do we need elders anyway when we have Jesus who would let him park anywhere he wants? You just don’t know what individuals will do.

On the other hand, if a brother at the Society’s website goes belly-up spiritually, they can just pull him and put in someone faithful. So www.watchtower.org can guarantee both continuity and accuracy, but such is not the case with individuals.

So you don’t claim or pretend to be them. You confine yourself to being you. A single imperfect person. No guarantee of accuracy. No guarantee of being a model Witness. Just one person fully capable of being wrong. One person giving his own experiences, explaining what motivated him to do this or that. Some posts at this site are clearly meant to be humorous, and have little bearing to the actual state of things with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other posts have nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

Jesus said that those who exercised faith in him would do works greater than his. (John 14:12) Not that they could outreason or outspeak him, of course. No, but his disciples would cover greater territory over a longer period of time and so would reach more people. In time, they would also make use of inventions and technology.

There are a few things a blogger can do that the Watchtower organisation cannot. A blogger can target a specific audience. A blogger can comment on local and current events. A blogger can give his own experiences. But if you just repeat verbatim everything the Watchtower Society states, you run the risk of people thinking you are them, or represent them. And what individual can live up to that?

It may be that more direction will come to congregation members regarding the internet. But if that happens, will there be anything new? Most likely just a reiteration of what has already been stated, perhaps updated to cover new internet developments such as blogs and Utube. Contrary to what Barfendogs claims, there really are not a lot of rules in the Christian congregation. He just says that because he wanted to be big cheese and they said no. What Jehovah’s organization generally does is point out how relevant Bible principles affect this or that situation, and then leave it to individuals to choose their own course per the dictates of their own Bible-trained conscience.

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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

 

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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)

One of Us is Wrong, Buddy

Driving into a cul-de-sac. A well-heeled neighborhood, and we work the homes as we go. Retracing our route, a fellow from the first house charges across his lawn, clad in shorts only. The day is warm.

HEY!…HEY! he bellows. You left me your tract! Here’s one for you! He shoves a tract at the car. A description of our errors: Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t view Jesus as God, we don’t believe in  burning hell, we don’t send the good people to heavenly bliss.

It’s hard to know what to do with a hopped up fellow like this. JUST REMEMBER, BUDDY, he blusters, ONE OF US IS WRONG!

Ah, well, honest mistake, I counter, trying to placate him, but he’s having none of it. He hollers once more: ONE OF US IS WRONG!

I think he wants me to say. Yeah, it’s YOU, you pighead! And then we’ll blow the whole afternoon in ecclesiastical war. But there has to be better ways to spend your time.

Look, God can sort this out, I begin. We don’t have to….

READ YOUR BIBLE, PAL! And then he rams us with some favorite scriptures from memory, just as you might thrust a cross at a vampire. Apparently he thinks we’ll choke on them, and he hollers yet again: ONE OF US IS WRONG!

Sometimes you just can’t get out gracefully. So you settle for getting out. We did.

This guy doesn’t like Jehovah’s Witnesses. He has some doctrines he cherishes, all-important doctrines, and he knows we deny them all, so perhaps it’s not surprising.

Anti-Witness websites, of which there’s quite a few, fall into two categories. First is the kind this bellicose fellow might maintain. Strictly religious. Doctrinal. Absolutely intolerant, not just of us, but of anything that strays from their belief.

Then they are the secular anti-Witness sites, no friendlier, but with a different set of gripes: our neutrality, view of blood, denial of evolution in favor of creation.

One might suppose the last gripe would give us common cause with the fundamentalists, but not so. For the latter punch holes in the otherwise sound argument one can make for creation by insisting on silliness. For instance, the Hebrew term rendered “day.” in Genesis need not refer to a 24 hour day. It can, but it can also refer to an indefinite period, just as an old-timer might speak of life “back in my day.” Why, then, insist on the earth and all life on it coming about in literal days, when such a view is patent nonsense?

I’m afraid I know their answer: Because it’s in the Bible, and the Bible SAYS WHAT IT MEANS and MEANS WHAT IT SAYS! 

The thing that really irks me is that secular people mistake us for them.

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)

Some Stay and Some Leave

Last week, Birdness Buck got canned at Metro Megacorp. This week, he is starting a website entitled My Life at Metro Megacorp....the Real Truth.

Question: Will the new website be kind to Metro Megacorp?  (Hint: Not a snowball's chance in you-know-where.)

Last month, Bob Slickbottom quit Metro Megacorp. The next day he started a website entitled My Years at Metro Megacorp....the Real Scoop.

What about the Bob’s website? Will it be kind?

This one's harder to call. People job hop today. They aren't necessarily steamed, they just move on. Still, if someone goes to all the trouble of webbing, odds are he won’t be too nice. We all know it's much more fun to lambaste something than praise it. But it could go either way.

However, when grandpa Slyster Slickbottom quit Metro Megacorp 50 years ago, people didn't job hop. You worked at a place straight from school and stayed until retirement. So Sly was steamed, otherwise he would have stayed. When he started his website Twenty years a Metro Megacorp Slave,  he was not kind to his former employer.   

In fact, his site set the pattern for the Birdness Buck site, and was far more impressive, since there was no web then.

It’s like that when a person leaves Jehovah's Witnesses. Its organization represents a faith and a way of life. Like the lifetime employer of former times, people don't enter to stay a few years before moving on. If they leave, it’s likely because they’re peeved over something. Otherwise they would have stayed. And if that person finds the web, he may not be kind.

As for Birdness Buck, Jehovah's Witnesses are among the few faiths that will expel a person for serious misconduct, when persistent and unrepentant. Watch out for any websites started in that wake. There is a fair number of sourpuss websites authored by former JWs.

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)