Filed Under: Religion and Me
Date Created:01 Sep 2014
Last Modified:01 Sep 2014
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This is an Extract from chapter Seven of the Book What If We are Wrong?
It was in 1931 or
thereabouts, under the presidency of Judge Rutherford that the name Jehovah
took on great significance in the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses; in fact,
it was at this time that we adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As can be seen from the citation above, from around this time, the major responsibility laid on the shoulders of the Witnesses was the work of bearing witness to Jehovah’s name and to his kingdom.
This was hurled by some as a clever move, and rightly so, it was quite clever on some levels. It made the Witnesses feel like they were a one of a kind association, to wit, the only Witnesses of Jehovah.
I clearly remember an experience in the ministry where I was challenged to defend the name ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ Sitting on a lawn with a languid expression on my face, I stared at the person I and my colleague were trying to convince with a little bit of disparagement. His sentiments sounded just a little less than apostate to me, and if he was a brother, I would have written him off as wicked.
Showing us the scripture of Acts 1:8, the individual said, with quite an annoying amount of conviction, “You should be rightly called Jesus’ Witnesses. Why are you called Jehovah’s Witnesses?’
My colleague, seeing this as an opportunity to pump some sense into him, recalled the scripture of Isaiah 43:10, and reading it from our Bible, he looked up at him with a self-satisfied expression, adopting the stance that is often encouraged: you have got to let the people see it for themselves in the scriptures to make headway. This did not prove efficacious, and he soon resorted to arguing things out with the above scripture as his only reference point. At this juncture, after quietly listening, the languid expression on my face becoming worse, I decided to step in. I deemed it pointless to argue out this point from the Old Testament (or ‘Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures’ as we aptly call them. We detest the idea that there is an old and obsolete covenant that has been replaced by a new one. We regard the so-called old, in a very dubious manner, as being very much essential, hence the reason we find so many parallels in our modern day organization). Hence, I decided to use some proof from the New Testament. What line of reasoning did I use?
Sym′eon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 ‘After these things I shall return and rebuild the booth of David that is fallen down; and I shall rebuild its ruins and erect it again, 17 in order that those who remain of the men may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things,
“As you can see,” I elaborated, “God’s name is Jehovah. And so, God has chosen people out of all nations to be called by his name, Jehovah. Hence the reason we are called Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
This reason did not seem to satisfy him and he went on to emphasize Acts 1:8. Disheartened, I did not see any reason to continue trying to prove anything. I was sure I had explained everything I could, and this person was just being as antagonistic as the unbelievers can get. Evidently, my colleague felt the same way, and we left promptly thereafter, with that elusive promise to return later. But from what I recall we never did return.
Recently, about a week ago (24th August 2010), I was invited to attend a meeting at the kingdom hall by a friend who was having a student talk. The theme of the talk made for interesting contemplation: “Why Do Many Bible Translations Not Use the Personal Name of God or Use It Only a Few Times?”
Having investigated the topic to an appreciable degree, I was only too glad to be present, hoping that I would hear a more scholastic line of reasoning—anything to convince me that we are right. What I heard, however, made me feel saddened. It was presented in a dogmatic manner, appraising our stance without reference to the overall facts, facts conveniently hidden from the average witness. What saddened me more was that the ones presenting the talk were two of my very good friends, whom hitherto I had quite forgotten about, oblivious to the seriousness of the situation. Now see the irony:
In my mind, my research had revealed that as Witnesses, our insistence on calling on the name of Jehovah, has blinded us from the real issues pertaining on the ground, namely, that as Christians, the Father himself has given us the name of Jesus—that we should call upon this name, and that calling upon the name of Jehovah as elaborated in the Old Testament was pointing to the future time when people would call upon the name of Jesus for salvation, that is, our time. The sister presenting the talk, referring to the scripture of Romans Chapter 10 verse 14 pointed out that in order to be saved people have to call upon the name of Jehovah. Furthermore, she said that since God wants people to know his name (Psalms 83:18), it is the devil who has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that the illumination of the good news about the Christ might not shine through (2 Corinthians 4:4). She furthermore commented on the greatest issue at hand, which we hold to be the sanctification of Jehovah’s name; as Witnesses, we thus endeavour to sanctify that name that has been greatly maligned (Matthew 6:9).
Our obsession with the name Jehovah has been more evident in other areas too. When we hear the name being named on other platforms, say on the platform we dissociate ourselves from but call Christendom, we give ourselves a pat on the back and say: “We have really done a good thing of publishing God’s name abroad.”
I once asked one of my cousins his opinion on our strong hatred for gospel music, music that praises Jesus; and our tolerance and hence like for secular music that has been criticized and condemned by reputed Christians. He said: “Because they do not mention Jehovah in it.”
It is evident from his answer that he does not really listen to gospel, because he would have known that the name Jehovah is often named these days in gospel songs. But this answer works to show one thing: the name Jehovah is very sacred among Witnesses; it is the greatest name they know. They teach this name to everyone they come across, inculcating it into their minds. Furthermore, they make sure that they pray using this name Jehovah (the reason often given is: to differentiate him from other false Gods, but it is more literally dished out that only then can he really respond. An illustration is often given the student: suppose you were among a crowd of other people, and then someone called out ‘You, come over here!’ None of you would respond. But if he addressed you by your name, saying, ‘Johnny, come here!’ you would definitely respond. In the same way, Jehovah only responds, or is more likely to respond, if you address him by his name, Jehovah).
So you see, by lifting up a name above all others, those other names automatically become insignificant. That in effect is what has happened to the name of Jesus among Jehovah’s Witnesses. The following example will illustrate how true, and hence, serious, this really is:
On the first day of the convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses this year (2010) themed ‘Remain Close to Jehovah’, I was anywhere but at the convention. I had no heart for it. Let me put it this way: by the time of writing this section of the book, the majority of the brothers harbor great animosity towards me. There are rumours circulating around that I am no longer a Witness even though no official announcement has been made thereto. (I must confess, though, that I once attended a church service with the Pentecostals. According to the policy of the organization, this act in itself would make someone cease being a Witness. However, I have not been confronted over this yet, and I wonder how many of the brothers are aware of this), and what is so hurting and discouraging is that most of the Witnesses refrain from greeting me. This is the treatment customarily meted out to someone disfellowshipped or disassociated. Should it therefore surprise you that I found myself with no heart to attend the convention? (Eventually, I did find the heart and attended the other two days). On this first day, I was on campus looking for software to fix a computer and I had in mind a certain brother. Having talked to him the previous night, I was aware that he had already attended the convention and that he would be there to attend to me. This brother, aware that something was aloof with me, was curious enough to want to know more about what I tacitly described as a defining period of my life. I gave him a few relevant details, and noting that he was the listening sort, went on to elaborate that I have a few issues with the ‘Faithful and Discreet Slave’. One of the issues, I explained, was that the Slave does not tell us all we need to know about certain points, such as the aspect of calling upon the name of Jehovah. I showed him that the scripture of Romans 10:13 tells us we should call upon the name of Jehovah in order to be saved. I then asked him:
“I am certain you have heard of some people who say that to be saved, we have to confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord. However, would you or have you ever taught that in the ministry? Does it even sound right?”
Of course his answer was no. I then ventured to show him the scripture of Romans 10:9, saying: “But that very scripture is there in the Bible, in the same chapter!”
I could clearly see the expression on his face was that of slight disdain at how I had gotten the edge over him so easily. I ventured to show him that the scripture of Romans 10:13 and a host of others, such as Acts 2:21 really had their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. I think I should have cut him some slack, because hearing me talk like this about the name he adores, Jehovah, definitely miffed him. The expression on his face soon became listless, as if he was saying, ‘Leave me alone, you Devil!’
At first, of course, he was all ears, but now his ears were slowly gathering wax and I knew it was time to stop and leave. It had taken me about half a year to reach where I had, and here I was definitely overdoing it, trying to make the brother understand all these things in just two hours. Considering how confusing the discoveries had been on my part, all those lone hours I used to spend cramming the Bible, I could only imagine the tintinnabulation going on in his mind.
“I hope you will be okay,” I told him just before we parted.
“I can handle what I’ve heard.” He told me, but I knew only too well that I had given him some diamond-hard cud to chew at. One thing he made very clear though was that he was not going to join me any time soon in my pursuit of the truth. He preferred the bliss of believing that the Slave knows best (even if they hide certain life-saving facts from us). His most significant words were: “Why don’t you just forget about these issues and obey, subject yourself?”
Though he promised to get back to me, I knew that in his heart, he desired nothing whatsoever to do with me, and it sank in deeply, that as Witnesses, we do not quite believe the scripture of Acts 4:12, which clearly says:
“Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”
As far as we are concerned, there is only one name that has been given to us in order to get saved: “JEHOVAH.”
Do we do God’s will as far as calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus is concerned? (1 Corinthians 1:2) That is the question that merits an answer.
See the book ‘Reasoning From the Scriptures’, pg 193, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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