Personal Experience: ACHILLE AVETA

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A Lack of a “Method” Destroys Faith in the “Prophet of God”

Achille Aveta
Italy, 2014

 

Achille Aveta The time was the late seventies of the last century; the place: a large city in Southern Italy; the characters: a handful of men who, altogether, had dedicated decades of their existence to faithful service in the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses believing that, in so doing, they had walked in the way of the “truth.” They had long lived in the belief that:

“These deep things are being made known by the holy spirit through the theocratic organization of Jehovah’s witnesses. As those who are responsible for supplying spiritual food for God’s people diligently search the Scriptures for accurate knowledge, the spirit broadens their understanding little by little. Thus, in a gradual way, the light of understanding of God’s Word grows brighter and brighter as we draw closer to the divinely set date for Armageddon.” (La Torre di Guardia, August 15, 1960, p. 488 corresponding to The Watchtower, February 15, 1960, p.104, quoted.)

This small group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, almost all of whom were in positions of responsibility in the congregation to which they belonged, initially found themselves tasked with the goal of counteracting the relentless anti-Jehovah’s Witness propaganda which at the time was spreading rapidly through newly formed, private TV and radio programs. However, their research activities regarding various doctrinal subjects produced an unexpected effect: the questioning of some important teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, consulting mainly the very literature published by the Watchtower Society, this group of Witnesses was gaining in-depth knowledge of the true history of the doctrines of the movement –a movement which they had enthusiastically joined– and yet, from such research, in every avenue of investigation, the same difficult question continued to emerge: How could anyone understand the “method” behind the Governing Body’s doctrinal acrobatics?

The explanation about “progressive revelation” was not very convincing, because for Jehovah’s Witnesses it’s not uncommon for a “truth” to become an error only to be replaced by a new “truth.” After some time, this new so-called “truth” will also become error, so that an even newer one must replace it. Arguing in this way, the Governing Body is doing no more than justifying all their past mistakes, only arguing that, today, their “interpretation” of the scriptures is better; but, at the same time, this concept requires the continual acceptance of a certain amount of error in the future. Tomorrow, we can expect that the Governing Body will continually be correcting the errors of today! By adopting this policy, any religious group can claim to be following “the path of the righteous” (Proverbs 4:18). It’s the same as saying, “If it is God’s will, we will correct our beliefs.” Is there any indication in the Bible that the prophets or the apostles taught the “truth” in such a changeable manner?

Furthermore, what about the assurance that the Governing Body depends upon the work of Jehovah’s Holy Spirit, if initial statements can be later followed by those which are diametrically opposed to it, and may then return right back to those initial views? Because, since 1879 (the year that the movement commenced publication of its official organ, The Watchtower magazine), there have been many of these “truths” which are different and which conflict with each other. Why would God have guided these men in all these directions away from the “truth” just to bring them back to it?

How can we forget, at this point, the biblical admonition:

“Can clean water and dirty water both flow from the same spring?  Can a fig tree produce olives or a grapevine produce figs? Does fresh water come from a well full of salt water?” (James 3:11-12, Contemporary English Version.)

The intellectual honesty of that small group of Witnesses required them write to the leaders of the Organization, letting them know from the outset that “our purpose is to enter into technical research, we want to realize the reasons: cultural, religious, and practical, that motivates the Governing Body to take certain positions on specific topics.”

The Italian branch of the Movement, in its written reply, said among other things:

“You reference ‘obvious errors that are due to excessive zeal,’ and ask how we know we can be so sure that, in following the Organization’s directives, we do not end up imitating the mistake of those who have followed the fanatical “Reverend” Jones. Honestly, brothers, it seems to us that our faith in Jehovah God and Jesus Christ should lead us to believe that they guide and oversee the visible Organization. If they allow possible human errors it is because they know it cannot truly harm God’s people, but it will, instead, result in learning useful lessons from past mistakes…. If we were prematurely expecting the end of the system of things prematurely, then this has undoubtedly helped to keep us to endure instead of falling asleep. …In essence, who can say that he was spiritually harmed by such human “mistakes”?

The written reply of these “brothers” who were involved researching these questions was explicit:

It is because we felt so fully integrated into the organizational structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses, that we now wondered: why do not feel the same zeal as before? …As long as we had full and unconditional trust in the fact that this organization could guide us in the best way possible, in the pursuit of godly Christian objectives, and we gave the best of ourselves to this organization, believing that were giving it to God; but … now we are stumped! Whoever is willing to put complete trust in someone else, must receive corresponding reasons for doing so, consisting of: clarity of ideas, honesty in relationships, and belief in the full capability and skills of the Trustee. On this basis we realized that the relationship of trust with the Organization is breaking down. What does it mean then that Jehovah …“gives you time to figure out that something is wrong”? Who is the one needing to figure it out? How does one become convinced of the error, by perhaps looking back to what he himself wrote or said? What part does God have in this process of self-convincing? Looking, at all costs, for a scriptural justification to explain changes in human views can be very risky in the long run. In fact, the test of time would render the final verdict.  What about the frequent changes, not only organizational but scriptural as well?  How can you say that human errors do not cause any real damage to the God’s people? To us it seems quite the opposite, in many cases. We are not here questioning the merits of the specific changes, however, just the fact of their occurrence itself poses specific questions. For example, when we make statements that isolate us from the whole context of science, in the broadest sense, then which specialist credentials, what expertise, would the writers of our publications offer: the inspiration of the God’s spirit? Of course not! So for example, why should we be put to shame in university classrooms for our obstinacy in asserting that man has lived on earth only 6,000 years (or very near)? Knowing that 17 sincere and zealous Christians constitute an omnipresent Governing Body is not enough at this point to require unqualified submission to all their dictates.

Unfortunately, the leadership of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses did not tolerate the presence of these “inconvenient” interlocutors and proceeded to have them expelled. Subsequently, the uproar caused by their disassociation caused dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses to leave the movement, after learning the reasons for the doubts expressed by that group of now former Witnesses.

Ultimately, the handful of researchers had to surrender before the obvious ambiguity of the Movement: it is required that individual Jehovah’s Witnesses do not judge the interpretations of the Governing Body; they must only obey; yet, the Governing Body reserves for themselves the right to be justified in their errors of interpretation due to their “human limitations.” In this way, they have outlined for us the framework of a not-to-be-questioned leader, the Governing Body, for whose errors its subjects pay their own costs, yet it is never due to their leader’s wrong decisions because God alone can judge them!

In fact, those sincere seekers came to the conclusion that, apart from the few doctrines of Christianity from which Jehovah’s Witnesses, from the beginning of their history, had distanced themselves (denial of the Trinity doctrine, of the immortality of the soul and the existence of hell), the vast majority of doctrinal ideas of the Governing Body had involved the rejection of their own Witness teachings! From a careful examination of the history of the Jehovah’s Witness Movement, a shocking truth had emerged: the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have spent most of a century of existence of the Movement trying to get rid of erroneous teachings, not those proposed by Christianity, but those which had been invented by Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves. And this was particularly true with reference to the history and establishment of 1914 as the date of fundamental historical importance for the future fate of mankind. The eschatological predictions related to dates (e.g., in addition to 1914, 1918, 1925, 1940, 1975) had not been promoted by Christianity, but had been repeatedly and obstinately promoted as the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, from which the Governing Body, in turn, had been forced by the passage of time, to amend, on pain of disqualification as a “prophet” of God.

In conclusion, taking into account the “stroke” of the centennial of the fateful 1914, what credibility can we give to Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to our doors as heralds of “the imminent end of the wicked human society”? We discover an appropriate comment from one of their own “Witness” sources:

“Jehovah, the God of the true prophets, will put all false prophets to shame either by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self-assuming prophets or by having His own prophecies fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets. False prophets will try to hide their reason for feeling shame…” (Paradise Restored to Mankind –By Theocracy!  Brooklyn, NY, 1974, pp. 353-354).

Achille Aveta

Italy

(La Torre di Guardia [Italian Watchtower], August 15, 1960, p. 488).

This small group of Jehovah’s Witnesses, almost all of whom were in positions of responsibility in the congregation to which they belonged, initially found themselves tasked with the goal of counteracting the relentless anti-Jehovah’s Witness propaganda which at the time was spreading rapidly through newly formed, private TV and radio programs. However, our research activities regarding various doctrinal arguments produced an unexpected effect: the questioning of some important teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, consulting mainly the very literature published by the Watchtower Society, this group of Witnesses was gaining in-depth knowledge of the true history of the doctrines of the movement –a movement which they had enthusiastically joined– and yet, from such research, in every avenue of investigation, the same difficult question continued to emerge: How could anyone understand the “method” behind the Governing Body’s doctrinal acrobatics?

The explanation about “progressive revelation” was not very convincing, because for Jehovah’s Witnesses it’s not uncommon for a “truth” to become an error only to be replaced by a new “truth.” After some time, this new so-called “truth” will also become error, so that an even newer one must replace it. Arguing in this way, the Governing Body is doing no more than justifying all their past mistakes, only arguing that, today, they “interpret” the scriptures better; but, at the same time, this concept requires the continual acceptance of a certain amount of error in the future. Tomorrow, we can expect that the Governing Body will continually be correcting the errors of today! By adopting this policy, any religious group can claim to be following “the path of the righteous” (Proverbs 4:18). It’s the same as saying, if it is God’s will, we will correct our beliefs. Is there any indication in the Bible that the prophets or the apostles taught the “truth” in such a changeable manner?

Furthermore, what about the assurance that the Governing Body depends upon the work of Jehovah’s Holy Spirit, if initial statements can be later followed by those which are diametrically opposed to it, and may then return right back to those initial views? Because, since 1879 (the year that the movement commenced publication of its official organ, The Watchtower magazine), there have been many of these “truths” which are different and which conflict with each other. Why would God have guided these men in all these directions away from the “truth” just to bring them back to it?

How can we forget, at this point, the biblical admonition: “Can clean water and dirty water both flow from the same spring?  Can a fig tree produce olives or a grapevine produce figs? Does fresh water come from a well full of salt water?” (James 3:11-12, Contemporary English Version.)

The intellectual honesty of that small group of Witnesses required them write to the leaders of the Organization, letting them know from the outset that “our purpose is to enter into technical research, we want to realize the reasons, the cultural and religious practices that induce the Governing Body to take certain positions on specific topics.”

The Italian branch of the Movement, in its written reply, said among other things:

Note that any obvious errors are only due to excessive zeal, and we can also ask ourselves if we have understood correctly, and note how this can also ensure that, in accordance with the Organization’s directives, we do not end up imitating the mistake of those who have followed the fanatical “Reverend” Jones. Honestly, brothers, it seems to us that our faith in Jehovah God and Jesus Christ should lead us to believe that they guide and oversee the visible Organization. Human error is permitted because it cannot really harm God’s true people, but it will, instead, result in learning useful lessons from past mistakes…. If we are, in the meantime, waiting for the end of the system of things, then this has undoubtedly helped to keep us assured instead of falling asleep. …In essence, who can say that he was spiritually harmed by such human “mistakes”?

The written reply of these “brothers” who were involved researching these questions was explicit:

Precisely because we felt so fully integrated into the organizational structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we now wonder: why do not feel the same zeal as before? …For so long, we had full, unconditional trust in the fact that this organization could guide us in the best way possible, in the pursuit of healthy Christian objectives, and we gave the best of ourselves to this organization, believing that were giving our best to God; but … now we are stumped! Whoever is willing to put complete trust in someone else, must receive corresponding reasons for doing so, consisting of: clarity of ideas, honesty in relationships, and belief in the full capability and skills of the Trustee. On this basis we realized that this breaks down the the trust relationship with the Organization. That means that Jehovah “gives you time to figure out that something is wrong”? Who is the one needing to understand? How do they become convinced of their error, by perhaps looking back to what he himself wrote or said? What part does God have in this process of self-convincing? Looking, at all costs, for a scriptural justification to explain changes in human views can be very risky in the long run. In fact, the test of time would render the final verdict.  What about the frequent changes, not only organizational but scriptural as well?  How can you say that human errors do not cause any real damage to the people of God? To us it seems quite the opposite in many cases. We are not here questioning the merits of the specific changes, however, just the fact of their occurrence itself poses specific questions. For example, when we make statements that isolate us from the whole context of science, in the broadest sense, such as from the credentials of specialists, then what expertise may would the writers of our publications offer in answer: the inspiration of the God’s spirit? Of course not! So for example, why should we be put to shame in university classrooms for our obstinacy in asserting that man has lived on earth only 6,000 years (or very near)? Knowing that 17 sincere and zealous Christians constitute an omnipresent Governing Body is not enough at this point to require unqualified submission to all their dictates.

Unfortunately, the leadership of the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses did not tolerate the presence of these “inconvenient” interlocutors and proceeded to their expulsion. Subsequently, the uproar caused the disassociation of dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses who left the movement, after learning the reasons for the doubts expressed by that group of now former Witnesses.

Ultimately, the handful of researchers had to surrender before the obvious ambiguity of “Jehovah’s Witness-ism:” we allege that individual Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot judge the interpretations of the Governing Body; they must only obey. Yet, the Governing Body reserves the right to justify their errors of interpretation due to their “human limitations.” In this way, they have outlined for us the framework of a not-to-be-questioned leader, the Governing Body, for whose errors their subjects pay their own costs, yet it is never due to the leader’s wrong decisions because judgment on their work can be given by God alone!

In fact, those sincere seekers came to the conclusion that, apart from the few doctrines of Christianity from which Jehovah’s Witnesses, from the beginning of their history, had distanced themselves (denial of the Trinity doctrine, of the immortality of the soul and the existence of hell), the vast majority of doctrinal thoughts of the Governing Body had involved the rejection of their own Witness teachings! From a careful examination of the history of the Jehovah’s Witness Movement, a shocking truth had emerged: the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have spent most of a century of existence of the Movement trying to get rid of erroneous teachings, not those proposed by Christianity, but those which had been invented by Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves. And this was particularly true with reference to the history and establishment of 1914 as the date of fundamental historical importance for the future fate of mankind. The eschatological predictions related to dates (1914, 1918, 1925, 1940, 1975, and more) had not been proposed by Christianity, but had been repeatedly and obstinately promoted as the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, from which the Governing Body, in turn, had been forced, by the passage of time, to amend, on pain of disqualification as a “prophet” of God.

In conclusion, taking into account the “stroke” of the centennial of the fateful 1914, what credibility can we give to Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to our doors as heralds of “the imminent end of the wicked human society”? We discover an appropriate comment from one of their own “Witness” sources:

“Jehovah, the God of the true prophets, will put all false prophets to shame either by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self-assuming prophets or by having His own prophecies fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets. False prophets will try to hide their reason for feeling shame…” (Paradise Restored to Mankind –By Theocracy!  Brooklyn, NY, 1974, pp. 353-354).

Achille Aveta

Italy

 

___________________

Editor’s Note:

Achille Aveta has several books published which may also be of interest to readers. The following information was found on Amazon:

achille1 I Testimoni di Geova e lo studio della Bibbia. Una guida alla conoscenza, contro l’autoritarismo, l’arroganza e la superstizione (Italian) Paperback – September 1, 2014

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