(WDGR LESSON 4: “Who is the Devil?”)
(CONTINUED FROM A PREVIOUS DIALOGUE)
CINDY: Karen, last week, you mentioned that your mom is concerned about the fact that you are studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses because she is afraid that the Watchtower organization is a cult. I showed you the February 15, 1994 issue of The Watchtower in which the Society describes what cults are and proves that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult.
KAREN: Yes, Cindy, you had brought up the fact that the Society states: “Cult leaders are known to use manipulative methods to control the minds of their followers”1. and we had discussed how even though the Watchtower denies using manipulative methods to control the minds of their followers, they control what Jehovah’s Witnesses think and believe by claiming that “independent thinking is evidence of pride.”2. I had asked, if personal judgment of determining Scriptural truth is viewed as pride against God, how can this not be a means of controlling what people believe?
CINDY: Yes, Karen, last week we had a good discussion on that, but there are other issues in this Watchtower article that we still need to cover. One of them is found here on pages 4 and 7. The Society states: “Many of these cultic groups actually isolate themselves in communes. Their devotion to a self-proclaimed human leader is likely to be unconditional and exclusive. Often these leaders boast of having been divinely chosen.…Is there evidence that Jehovah’s Witnesses do this?… It is precisely because of this close adherence to Bible teachings that the veneration and idolization of human leaders so characteristic of cults today is not to be found among Jehovah’s Witnesses.…They follow Jesus Christ as their Leader and as Head of the Christian congregation.”
KAREN: Cindy, is the Society saying that they are not a cult because they teach the Bible and are not “following…a human leader”?
CINDY: That’s right, Karen. While cults often follow the teachings of a man, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not look to a human to lead them, but rather to Jesus Christ.
KAREN: Cindy, does the Watchtower Society discourage Jehovah’s Witnesses from reading and studying the Bible apart from their literature?
CINDY: Well, yes, Karen, they do. The Society says: “…the Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible. For this reason the Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind.”3.
KAREN: Cindy, why does the Watchtower teach that Christians cannot understand the Bible apart from their literature?
CINDY: Well, it’s because the Society says that “We all need help to understand the Bible, and we cannot find the Scriptural guidance we need outside the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ organization.” 4.You see, Karen, the Watchtower leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not just some ordinary group of men who study the Bible. Back in 1914 when “Jesus Christ was enthroned in heaven” the Society says: “Jehovah poured out his spirit upon them and assigned them the responsibility of serving as his sole visible channel, through whom alone spiritual instruction was to come.” 5.
KAREN: That’s very interesting, Cindy. Is the Watchtower teaching that the leadership of their organization was “appointed” by God to serve as His only “visible channel” of “spiritual instruction”?
CINDY: Why, yes, Karen. The Society claims that the facts prove that: “…Jehovah’s organization must henceforth be guided and directed by Jehovah’s spirit through the visible governing body made up of those servants whom Jehovah himself would appoint.”6.
KAREN: Cindy, how is this any different from cults whose “leaders boast of having been divinely chosen” and whose leaders require “exclusive” devotion to their teachings?
CINDY: I – I don’t know, Karen, but doesn’t the Bible teach in Matthew 24, that Jehovah would appoint a “faithful and discreet slave” organization to give His people spiritual “food at the proper time”?
KAREN: Cindy, if you look at the context of these verses here in Matthew 24, you will see that this passage is not talking about an organization being setup to dispense spiritual food; but rather, it is talking about every individual Christian who is faithful in sharing the Word of God to the people God has placed in his life. It is because of their service, that in the last days Jesus will call them “faithful servants” of His kingdom and give them more responsibility. But do you see anything in this passage that suggests that these believers belong to an organization that requires of its followers “exclusive devotion” to its teachings?
CINDY: Well, no, Karen, but what about the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch at Acts 8? Why would Jehovah send Philip to teach the Bible to the eunuch if he didn’t need help in understanding the Bible?
KAREN: Cindy, was the eunuch a Christian at the time when Philip went to teach him the Bible?
CINDY: No, Karen but what difference does that make?
KAREN: It makes a big difference when you consider the fact that according to the Bible, a person receives the spiritual guidance of the Holy Spirit only after he accepts Christ. Of course, the eunuch at Acts 8 needed help in understanding the Bible because he was not a Christian yet. But notice, Cindy, after Philip baptized the eunuch, what does the Bible say happened to the eunuch?
CINDY: In Acts 8:39, it says: “When they had come up out of the water, Jehovah’s spirit quickly led Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him anymore.…”
KAREN: Cindy, if true Christians need someone other than God’s Holy Spirit to teach them the Bible, why did God choose to leave the eunuch all alone without his teacher after he became a follower of Jesus Christ?
CINDY: I don’t know Karen. That’s a good question.
KAREN: Cindy, did you notice the statement the Society made regarding the members of cults described on page 3 of this issue of The Watchtower? They said: “Significantly, most of these people claimed to be Christians and professed belief in the Bible.”7 Since cults often claim that their teachings are from the Bible, how do we know that the Watchtower organization is not a cult when it requires exclusive devotion to the teachings of its leaders who also claim to have been “divinely chosen” by Jehovah God?
CINDY: I don’t know, Karen, but the Society did bring up good point when they said: “Cult members often isolate themselves from family, friends, and even society in general. Is that the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses?…they do not live in communes, isolating themselves from relatives and others.”8.
KAREN: Cindy, didn’t you tell me that your mom left the Watchtower organization several years ago? When was the last time she was able to see her grandchildren?
CINDY: You’re right, Karen. I haven’t talked to my mom since she left the organization ten years ago, but the reason Jehovah’s Witnesses do not associate with worldly friends and relatives is because the Bible warns that “bad associations spoil useful habits.”9. This is also the reason why new people who come into the organization leave their worldly friends and seek to develop new friendships among Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s because Jehovah wants His people to be clean and the way to do that is by being separate from the world.
KAREN: So let me sum this up, Cindy. First, the Watchtower Society claims that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult because they do not use “manipulative methods to control the minds of their followers,” but then we discovered that the Society controls everything Jehovah’s Witnesses believe on spiritual matters. Next, the Watchtower denies that they are a cult because they do not follow “a human leader” who claims to be “divinely chosen,” but when we examined the Society’s publications, we found that the Watchtower leadership is made up of a group of men who claim to be exclusively appointed by Jehovah God as His only “channel of communication” to mankind. And last of all, the Society claims that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult because they do not “isolate themselves from friends, family,” and “society in general,” but then you admitted that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not allowed to associate or even communicate with friends and family members who have left the organization, and that they are not allowed to have close friendships with people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m confused! You tell me Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a cult, but they control their followers in many of the ways that regular cults do. What is the difference?
Friends, the Bible teaches at 1 John 2:27 that “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”10. For free literature, please leave your name and address.
1. The Watchtower, February 15, 1994 p. 4
2. The Watchtower, January 15, 1983 pp. 22, 27
3. The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 587
4. The Watchtower, February 15, 1981, p. 19
5. The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, p. 590
6. The Watchtower, June 1, 1965, p. 352
7. The Watchtower, February 15, 1994, p. 3
8. The Watchtower, February 15, 1994, p. 6
9. 1 Corinthians 15:33, New World Translation
10. New International Version