Jehovah’s Witness Convention 2016—Maintain Loyalty Symposium

Jehovah’s Witnesses attend various schools and assemblies. The biggest yearly assembly is the Regional Convention, where they stay in a hotel, or even travel daily, and attend a highly structured weekend of lectures. This year one of the first parts the attendees will hear is a three-part symposium. It’s purpose?

LOYALTY INVOLVES OUR ENTIRE PERSON (1 min.)

  • Our loyalty to Jehovah is motivated by our love for him
  • This symposium will consider how we can maintain our loyalty to Jehovah in the following three areas: thought, word, and action

-Convention Talk Outline for 2016; Part Number 2

I’d like to make some points about this symposium, and it is my hope that any Witness reading this may honestly think about the message they are conveying.

Maintain Loyalty in Thought

It begins with your thoughts, the most private place you can go. They give the example of Satan, who allowed, “improper thoughts to consume him.” A fear is instilled of our own thoughts because, as they say, everyone has wandering thoughts. Even if you may not be as disloyal as Satan, wandering thoughts could lead you to be like Eve who had disloyal thoughts before she sinned (Gen 3:6). Of course, you know what is going to happen to Satan and what happened to Eve – all because of their thoughts. If even perfect supernatural beings can, “face a test of loyalty in thought” then, “how much more so must we as imperfect humans” they claim.

Bring “Every Thought into Captivity”

After stirring into the audience this fear of their own minds, they cite this scripture,

For we are overturning reasoning and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ;

-2 Corinthians 10:5

The outline then makes the point that since everyone has improper thoughts, everyone needs to make constant effort to control and imprison their thoughts so that they don’t end up like Eve or Satan. That’s right, you cannot trust your own mind. How can you avoid being tricked by your own mind? They provide several ways:

  • Just like you would not hesitate to call for help in an emergency, you should pray when having disloyal thoughts.
  • Read the bible and always be thinking about what you read.
  • “Fill your mind with wholesome thoughts” by reading Watchtower literature.

And then they provide you with three examples of people to imitate from the bible:

  • David: King Saul did little to inspire deeds of loyalty but it was “unthinkable” for David to lift his hand against God’s anointed king (1Sa 24:6; 26:11)
    • David was loyal in thought, both to Saul and to Jehovah
  • Baruch: He was serving as Jeremiah’s secretary, but his mind was on “great things” for himself (Jer 45:1-5; it-1 259)
    • Baruch changed his thinking, and this preserved his life
  • Asaph: At first, the writer of the 73rd Psalm, either Asaph or one of his descendants, had difficulty in controlling his thoughts; he became envious (Ps 73:3; w07 8/15 24-25 89-11)
    • However, he brought his thoughts into captivity (Ps 73:22-24)

-Convention Talk Outline for 2016; Part Number 2

Consider a Few Points

Do you associate God (Jehovah) and the Watchtower organization as one entity? No, right? You recognize that Jehovah is not the Watchtower organization, but you believe that Watchtower is Jehovah’s organization on earth. Now let me ask you this: Who do you think Watchtower is more concerned with you having “disloyal” thoughts toward? Jehovah or Watchtower?

Is it not possible that Jehovah exists but that Watchtower isn’t true? Think about all the religions all over the world: Hinduism, Judaism, all the denominations of Christianity other than Jehovah’s Witnesses. All of them believe their religion is true, how could they ever learn otherwise without having “disloyal” thoughts and testing them to see if they are true? They are just as sure of their beliefs as you are.

Watchtower is building on the fear of being disfellowshipped. They are saying that if you let your thoughts stray you will end up like some bad example from the bible and lose all of your loved ones and friends. They hold your very family and friends over you and use fear tactics to instill loyalty to them within you. Is this something a loving organization would do? Would God’s organization resort to such tactics?

Maintain Loyalty in Word

Now we move on from what we are thinking to what we are saying. There are two primary points touched on by which you should guard your words. If there is any doubt that the loyalty they speak of is to Watchtower, the first point they make eliminates it.

The Twelve Spies

This is what they reported to Moses: “We entered the land into which you sent us, and it is indeed flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruitage. Nevertheless, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the fortified cities are very great. We also saw the Anʹa·kim there. The A·malʹek·ites are dwelling in the land of the Negʹeb, and the Hitʹtites, the Jebʹu·sites, and the Amʹor·ites are dwelling in the mountainous region, and the Caʹnaan·ites are dwelling by the sea and along the Jordan.”

Then Caʹleb tried to calm the people as they stood before Moses by saying: “Let us go up immediately, and we are sure to take possession of it, because we can surely conquer it.” But the men who went up with him said: “We are not able to go up against the people, because they are stronger than we are.” And they kept on giving the Israelites a bad report about the land that they had spied out, saying: “The land that we passed through to spy out is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of extraordinary size. And there we saw the Nephʹi·lim, the sons of Aʹnak, who are from the Nephʹi·lim, and in comparison we seemed like grasshoppers, both to us and to them.”

-Numbers 13:27-33

Negative expressions regarding, “…those whom Jehovah is using to take the lead” are a means of sowing disloyalty. Who is it that they teach Jehovah is using? Is it not the Watchtower organization? It’s elders, overseers, and, of course, the Governing Body? I am sure you would agree that they teach the means by which you are loyal to Jehovah is being loyal to them.

What is the point they are making then? Basically, don’t talk negatively about the organization – not even remotely. After all, look what happened to the entire nation of Israel just because of twelve spies. They are warning you to watch your tongue when it comes to criticizing them. Don’t think against them, and dont’ talk against them.

Sympathy or Support for Satan’s System

In what way would you show support for Satan’s world?

  • The Israelites were commanded not to mention the names of other gods
    (Ex 23:13; Jos 23:7)

    • This meant that they were not to refer to false gods with feelings of awe or in a way that would credit those gods with any existence or power
    • False gods were to be regarded with contempt, as valueless,
      shameful, detestable, and disgusting
  • Imagine the effect on others when kings and prophets made supportive
    or even sympathetic comments about false gods! (2Ki 1:2; Jer 2:8)

    • Israel’s history shows that such verbal disloyalty by those in responsible positions turned many away from true worship
    • Parents, elders, and others with a measure of authority must think carefully about how their comments about this system of things, its values, and its entertainment can affect others

-Convention Talk Outline for 2016; Part Number 3

This comparison seems to me to suggest that you shouldn’t even talk about entertainment like movies and video games. They say that the Israelites were commanded not even to mention other gods, and then they say that Witnesses should be careful with their comments about the worlds entertainment – how else can this be understood?

Opportunities to Express Loyalty in Word
  • Clarifications of our beliefs and adjustments in organizational procedures might test our loyalty
    • Are our expressions about such changes positive or negative?
    • It is possible for our emotions to hinder our loyal support

-Convention Talk Outline for 2016; Part Number 3

Yes, your reaction to changes in beliefs test your loyalty in word by your reaction to them. If your reaction is negative to a change, then this would be disloyal to Watchtower and hence to God (or such is their message). I’m going to include a link at the bottom of this article directing you to another page that thoroughly discusses the blood doctrine. This may seem out of nowhere but allow me to explain the reason.

Did you know that Watchtower once taught that it was a violation of their blood policy to accept an organ transplant? It’s true. Imagine yourself in a situation where your husband, or your wife, or some beloved member of your family needed an organ transplant or they would die. But your family is loyal to God and to the Jehovah’s Witness religion, so in faith this loved one refuses the transplant. Sadly, they die.

How would you react if a month, or even years later, the policy changed in the way that it did? Now, organ transplants were allowed. Your loved one had died for no reason. This scenario is heartbreaking to imagine I know, but it was the reality for some families all around the world. From 1967 to 1980, organ transplants had been outlawed for Witnesses on the grounds that it constituted cannibalism. If you were one of these family members, would you have remained loyal?

Maintain Loyalty in Action

  • Just as disloyalty is seen in deeds, so also is loyalty [Read Psalm 37:27, 28]
    • To remain as God’s loyal ones, we need to “turn away from bad”

-Convention Talk Outline for 2016; Part Number 4

Not very much needs to be said under this heading as it is what you would expect. It is forbidding all the usual actions, and relating the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. But there is something strange to me about what the outline says about Ittai.

  • Consider the example of Ittai the Gittite (w09 5/15 26-28)
    • During King David’s reign, Gath came under Israelite control and some Gittites became loyal supporters of David (it-1 899, 962, 1237)
    • Although a foreigner, Ittai viewed David, not as the slayer of his champion Goliath, but as a man who loved Jehovah
  • Absalom’s revolt forced David to flee Jerusalem
    • Among David’s loyal followers were foreigners—the Cherethites, the
      Pelethites, and the Gittites (2Sa 15:18)

-Convention Talk Outline for 2016; Part Number 4

To me this sounds like a contradiction to an earlier point in the symposium. You are supposed to show your loyalty in word by not giving praise to Satan’s system, which comprises all the world outside of God’s organization. Yet, David’s loyal followers were foreigners to Israel. Ittai was a Gittite not an Israelite. So the bible is reporting positively on those outside of God’s organization. How is this not the same as someone saying, “Not all worldly people are bad people,” which is tantamount to the sort of comments that were just previously discouraged?

Our Loyal Deeds Support True Worship
  • We should actively participate in deeds that support true worship and our fellow worshippers
    • Read the Bible and Bible-based publications, and avoid apostate teachings
    • Provide practical help for the elderly and the sick in the congregation
    • Rather than aimlessly using the Internet, make use of jw.org and JW Broadcasting for study and in the ministry
    • Listen to music that refreshes rather than music that debases
      • We now have some 150 Kingdom songs and a number of additional
        original songs available on jw.org, JW Broadcasting, and in JW Library
    • Spend refreshing time associating with God’s loyal ones
      • What will be the result?
      • We will “be guarded” and “will remain forever” (Ps 37:27, 28)

-Convention Talk Outline for 2016; Part Number 4

Now everything comes together for the audience. Here is the full picture of what they expect from you according to this symposium

  • Do not entertain any criticising thoughts of Watchtower. If your mind wonders to thoughts that are disloyal you should banish them and pray. Read the bible or their literature to distract yourself from these thoughts.
  • Do not say anything about them that is, to any degree, negative.
  • Do not say anything about the world or the things in the world (music, movies, games – literally anything) that is, to any degree, positive.
  • Do not do anything, of course, blatantly against bible teachings. But, this would also include things that are against the bible as Watchtower interprets it.

Yes, in short: They want to completely control your thoughts, words, and even be your only source of recreation via music, video, and internet.

Is This not a Control Group?

If you are a Jehovah’s Witness please take this heading with the concern and the care for you that is intended. I do care about you, and about your life and your loved ones. I know that the word “cult” is not one that a Witness hears without offense, and thus it may be a word that you take offense to in written form as well. I do not wish to offend you, I wish to help you. I don’t want you to lose your family, or to experience any irreparable damage to any of your relationships or to your life. This is the reason I write these articles.

Could it be a Cult?

In his book, “Combating Cult Mind Control” Steven Hassan relates his experience with the Unification Church. It’s possible you may more readily recognize them as being the, “Moonies.” He relates,

Members are subjected to workshops that thoroughly indoctrinate them into church beliefs…

-Page 41

These workshops were of varying lengths, from three days to several weeks. These were highly structured, and involved lectures being given to the attendees the entire time from morning till evening. These “workshops” are precisely what this convention is, as well as Pioneer school, Elder school, the School for Kingdom Evangelizers – all highly structured workshops, designed to, “throughly indoctrinate” you. You are herded into a large room, lectured to from morning till evening, and then you return to a hotel exhausted and get up and do it again two more times.

I strived to be the perfect son of the “True Parents” – obedient and loyal. These two virtues were valued above all else. I always did what I was told, and then some. I wanted to prove my loyalty

-Combating Cult Mind Control, by Steven Hassan; Page 63

Loyalty appears to be a common theme in a cult. To whom was Hassan encouraged to be loyal here? Was it to God? No, it was to the “True Parents.” Principally, the “True Parents” compare to the anointed Christians and the Faithful and Discreet Slave of Watchtower (the Governing Body). He was encouraged to be obedient and loyal to his “anointed” in the same way you are so being encouraged in this symposium.

In Conclusion

Look at what they are seeking to accomplish. To so thoroughly conquer every aspect of your existence, from your thoughts, the most private, to your choice of recreation. They want you to think, eat, sleep and breath Watchtower. Yet, this isn’t even something that the bible would want you to do. Did not Paul encourage…

Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.

-1 John 4:1

Is not the idea expressed here in the bible contrary to the notion that you should suppress any disloyal thoughts? Should you not criticize Watchtower in order to discover whether, “they originate with God?” Please, I encourage you to read the articles posted on this website and check the other resources section. Watchtower is not what it seems. I know that you may be convinced they are the true religion, but there are many others in the world from many other religions just as convinced of the same thing. You go to their door and you expect them to be open-minded and consider their religion is wrong. I ask you to do the same now. Can Watchtowers “truth” hold up to all the evidence and not just that which they supply? Please, find out for yourself.

-Rich

For Further Reading:

Jehovah’s Witnesses & Blood Transfusions

Freedom of Mind Resource Center | Steven Hassan’s BITE Model of Cult Mind Control

10 comments

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  • When looking at a religious organisation people always should question where the main focus of that church or organisation is. Christians should know that the Nazarene rabbi Jeshua, Jesus Christ is the way to God and should be the cornerstone of those who are following him and want to be united in the Body of Christ, which should worship the god of Jesus and his disciples, Who is the Only One true God, the God of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    No other gods may be taken, which means Jesu may not be their god nor an organisation like the WTBTS. When some one or something is given the liability to be infallible it or he or she is place on the same level as God, because He is the Only One Who knows everything and has all the Truth in Him. Not one human organisation can have all the truth and in case the JW were the only organisation appraised , adopted and guided by Jehovah, than it would never have to have changed its teachings or dates it ‘prophesied’. It is in false prophesies that we shall have to come to recognise the false teachers and be careful about them.

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    • Hi, thank you for your comment. In the interest of curiosity, the last sentence of your comment states, “It is in false prophecies that we shall have to come to recognize the false teachers and be careful about them.”

      I take from the rest of your comment, and I apologize if I’ve formed the wrong conclusion, that you are a believer. So my question: would you still believe the bible itself then if, in relation to your last sentiment, it’s prophecies were falsified?

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      • The Bible its prophesies were not falsified and only three still have to happen: The return of Jesus with the 3° World War, the judgement by Christ and the millennium, before the real beginning of an unending life for all who have been allowed to enter the Kingdom of God.

        All that happened in the past you can verify with the historical writings.

        Like

      • How would you react to knowing that almost every other religious group also has prophecies in their holy books which came true in the same way you believe the bibles?

        For example, Mormons would point to how the Book of Mormon prophesied the American Revolution. There are many sources which claim evidence this was written after the fact (the same exact evidence found the same exact way as can be used against the bible). There are also sources to discredit this evidence (in the same exact way which people discredit the same exact evidence against the bible).

        This leads me to my point. Would you accept the same evidence for these other books, and accept their truth, as you do for the bible?

        Like

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