QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
Regarding Disfellowshipping | Reinstatement
♦ Do I need to be reinstated into the WTBTS to have God’s favor?
On July 16, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“My question to you is being that I am DF'd and you are in support of the WTBTS (albeit with the hope of them readjusting their doctrines) is it your encouragement and understanding that I would need to seek reinstatement into the WTBTS to truly have God's favor? If you have an opinion or can shed light on this for me I would deeply appreciate it. I long to be pleasing to God and to express my love for Him and my neighbor, but do not have a platform to express such love. Therefore I find myself drawn back to the organization if for no other reason than to have a platform to express my faith and love.
I again am very grateful for your work. May Jehovah bless your continued efforts to shed light on the real good news and may He bless your efforts to reach the GB and effect a return to the original and only message of Jesus."
To the author, we thank you for your kind words. We are pleased to respond to your question.
The first thing we want to tell you (which we are sure you know) is that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society is not equivalent to Jehovah. They are separate and distinct. Truly, what group of men can accurately represent God? Jesus is the only authorized representative of the Father.
“No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him.” – John 1:18
“Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
“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.” – Acts 4:12
“In answer Peter and the [other] apostles said: ‘We must obey God as ruler rather than men.’” – Acts 5:29
“What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making [it] grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes [it] grow. Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each [person] will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building.” – 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
As such, you can very easily return to the Father – there are no procedural requirements and no hoops to jump through. You simply approach the Father in prayer, share your heartfelt concerns, and accept His love and forgiveness.
When we sin, we are the ones who separate from the Father. The Father does not leave us. When the scripture says: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), it is unconditional. It is we who have closed to door. The Father stands ever ready to forgive “in a large way.” (Isaiah 55:7) We commented on the Father’s love and forgiveness in response to a question on April 7, 2012, “I’ve sinned so much. Could I really be a son?” You might find it helpful. So you see, you do not need acceptance by any man or organization to have the Father’s favor.
At the same time, the Father allows a religious association to set their own rules for governance and conduct. But there is a difference between our spiritual relationship with the Father and our social relationship with our brothers. We read:
“Truly I say to you men, Whatever things you may bind on earth will be things bound in heaven, and whatever things you may loose on earth will be things loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 18:18
Obviously, this only pertains to procedural matters and not matters of worship since only the Father and the Christ establish those requirements. So, if you wish reinstatement in the WTBTS, you will have to follow their procedures. And given what you now know to be true, by conducting yourself wisely, you can have a positive effect on the congregation. Many who are waking up to their true hope are doing so.
We certainly understand your need for a platform to express yourself, and “field service” is an excellent platform. Keep in mind, too, that nothing prevents you from approaching people informally and sharing your hope. No one can stop you from making ‘public declaration of your faith.’ (Hebrews 10:23) You will note that several religious groups engage in the door-to-door ministry as well. So, you see, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have a patent on preaching and teaching.
The challenge is making sure you have the right message. We are doing what we can to provide subject matters for discussion among the brotherhood as well as in the ministry. We have been told that many of our brothers and sisters use only the Bible in their ministry because they cannot in good faith promote the content of many of the Watchtower magazines and publications. Whatever you decide, nothing prevents you from speaking about your faith. Remember the words of the apostles:
“But in reply Peter and John said to them: ‘Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves. But as for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard.” – Acts 4:19-20
Finally, please know that our work is causing a stir within the organization – in a good way. So please stay tuned and feel free to write us again.
♦ Does anointing need to be validated by baptism or reinstatement if a person has been disfellowshipped?
On September 1, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“I can agree with the contents of your letter No. 1 and The Assumed Earthly Hope. However, The Reality of the Earthly Hope and The Real Hope for Life on Earth contain some assumptions based on speculation in contradiction of 1 Cor. 4:6.
For example, you refer to Ezekiel 39 without citation, as though these post-Armageddon activities will be literal. However, we do not know the degree of literalness these events will have. Your comments on the few saved vs. the many destroyed at Armageddon are contradicted by 1 Pet.3:20; Mt. 24:37-39; 7;13,14. Your questioning the potential for happiness of some Armageddon survivors is contradicted by Ps. 37:11; 145:16; 2 Pt. 3:13; Rev. 21:4. Please see also Is. 55:8,9; Jer. 10:23; Gen 3:5 in reference to your speculation.”
First, we want to thank you for your email. You could just as easily have clicked away from our site, so we appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. We are happy to respond; however, our response is rather lengthy so please bear with us.
We expect the series of articles on the Cherished Earthly Hope to evoke some responses from people who are convinced that everlasting life on earth is the Father’s purpose for obedient mankind. Yet, in the article The Reality of the Earthly Hope, we have been careful to stick closely to what the Society teaches. And we agree that most of what the Society teaches about life on earth under the “new order” is speculative and that they have gone “beyond the things that are written” as Paul stated:
“Now, brothers, these things I have transferred so as to apply to myself and Apollos for your good, that in our case you may learn the [rule]: “Do not go beyond the things that are written,” in order that you may not be puffed up individually in favor of the one against the other.” – 1 Corinthians 4:6
So, if your concern is that the Society has gone beyond what is written, then we agree with you. That really is the point we are making in the article series. The earthly hope as the Society teaches is based on assumptions and speculation.
Now, as a rule, we have no problem with speculation. Speculation and assumptions are often the first steps toward finding new information. We publish a few articles speculating about what heavenly life might be like. (See The Glorious Heavenly Hope.) But, we make it clear that we are speculating and not teaching doctrine. Our readers are free to indulge in such speculations with us if they chose, or to formulation their own idea, or dismiss them entirely. Really, we see no other way to apply the scripture to ‘keep our minds fixed on the things above’ (Colossians 3:1-2) unless we use our God-given imaginations and speculate.
The problem arises when speculations and assumptions are taught as doctrine such that those who disagree with the speculations are considered apostates. That is a matter the Society needs to consider and, in our opinion, humbly back away from. They can continue to hold onto their ideas about eternal earthly life, but we believe they should refrain from disfellowshipping those who do not agree with their speculations.
But if your complaint is that we have ‘gone beyond’ the things the Society teaches (that are beyond the things that are written in the Bible), please let us know what that extra information is. We do not want to add to the Society’s assumptions and speculations, and we will promptly correct any information that misrepresents what the Society actually teaches.
You identify one such complaint when you say “For example, you refer to Ezekiel 39 without citation, as though these post-Armageddon activities will be literal. However, we do not know the degree of literalness these events will have.” Please know that these speculations do not originate from us. These are the teachings of the Society where they specifically cite to Ezekiel 39:11, 17-20. I will provide a quote from the book, Revelation Its Grand Climax at Hand! at page 285, paragraphs 20-21. It is a lengthy quote, but I believe it is necessary in order to show where these ideas originate:
“In Ezekiel’s vision, after the destruction of Gog’s crowd, the birds and the wild animals are invited to a feast! They rid the landscape of carcasses by eating the dead bodies of Jehovah’s enemies. (Ezekiel 39:11, 17-20) John’s next words bring that earlier prophecy vividly to mind: “I saw also an angle standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: ‘Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, that you may eat the fleshy parts of kings and the fleshy parts of military commanders and the fleshy parts of strong men and the fleshy parts of horses and of those seated upon them, and the fleshy parts of all, of freemen as well as of slaves and of small ones and great.’” – Revelation 19:17-18
The angel is “standing in the sun,” a commanding position for attracting the attention of the birds. He invites them to be ready to gorge themselves on the flesh of those about to be slain by the Warrior-King and his heavenly armies. The fact that the dead are to be left on the surface of the ground indicates that they will die in public shame. Like Jezebel of old, they will not have an honorable burial. (2 Kings 9:36,37) The list of those whose corpses would be left lying there shows the range of the destruction: kings, military commanders, strong men, freemen, and slaves. No exceptions. Every last trace of the rebellious word in opposition to Jehovah will be eliminated. After this, there will no more be a restless sea of confused humans. (Revelation 21:1) This is “the great evening meal of God” since it is Jehovah who invites the birds to share therein.”
So, you can see that the Society views the Ezekiel prophesy as a literal part of the post-Armageddon experience. That is what the article was explaining. We, however, agree with you that we do not know if it is literal. In fact, we are more inclined to believe that it is not literal. But whatever one believes, it is speculation at this point. We hope the Society realizes that those who disagree with it being literal should not be chastised or shunned.
Next, you state: “Your comments on the few saved vs. the many destroyed at Armageddon are contradicted by 1 Pet.3:20; Mt. 24:37-39; 7;13,14.” What we said in the article, The Real Hope for Live on Earth is that “we doubt that a loving Father would destroy 7 billion people in favor of just 7 million.” We stand firmly by that statement. We do not believe that only the 7 million or so Jehovah’s Witness are the only ones that will be saved, as the Society teaches. Neither do the scriptures you cite support that idea. Let’s look at those scriptures:
“[w]ho had once been disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in Noah’s days, while the ark was being constructed, in which a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water.” – 1 Peter 3:20
“For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” – Matthew 24:37-39 - 37
“Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” – Matthew 7:13-14
These scriptures tell us that a majority will not find the survival path. But they do not provide a formula for determining percentages or the number of those who would be saved. However, we are not inclined to believe that only Jehovah’s Witnesses will find it – especially since 99.85% of Jehovah’s Witnesses actually reject Jesus as their elder brother and joint heir, reject membership in the body of Christ, and reject God as their personal heavenly Father. While we do believe that the road leading to life is narrow, we also believe it is wide enough for all who choose life, including all Jehovah’s Witnesses who accept their relationship to the Father in the way that Jesus taught. So, the article is not at all in conflict with these scriptures.
You also state: Your questioning the potential for happiness of some Armageddon survivors is contradicted by Ps. 37:11; 145:16; 2 Pt. 3:13; Rev. 21:4. Dear brother, we do not question the happiness of some Armageddon survivors. We question the eternal happiness of some Armageddon survivors under the scenario presented by the Society. The scriptures you refer to clearly show that people will be happy on earth.
“But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” – Psalms 37:11
“You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” – Psalms 145:16
“But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” – 2 Peter 3:13
“And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
As the article The Real Hope for Earth explains, we believe that the earth will someday be a happy paradise-like place. But we do not believe that earth is faithful man’s final destination. As Paul explained, if we are not seeking the heavens as our final destination, we need to have our minds readjusted:
“I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.” – Philippians 3:14-15
Finally, you state: Please see also Is. 55:8,9; Jer. 10:23; Gen 3:5 in reference to your speculation. These scriptures state:
“For the thoughts of you people are not my thoughts, nor are my ways your ways,” is the utterance of Jehovah. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
“I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” – Jeremiah 10:23
“For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” – Genesis 3:5
These scriptures apply to ALL mankind, in all nations and all walks of life, including the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet neither of these scriptures discourage us from using our God-given imagination to bask in eternal possibilities. They are simply reminders that we cannot know all that the Father knows, and we cannot teach as doctrine mere commands and speculations of men. As Jesus stated:
“You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines.’” – Matthew 15:7-9
We do not do that. When we speculate, we openly reveal that we are speculating. We encourage the Society to do the same.
Having now addressed your concerns, we wonder whether you believe that the hope for the majority of obedient mankind is eternal life on earth.
As we have shown in numerous articles, each with significant scriptural support, it is the Father’s will that all of his obedient children be gathered to him in the Heavens. (See Who Are Led by Spirit?, Moving Forward in Faith, Hold Fast to the Sacred Secret, Freedom of the Children of God, Being Born of Spirit, and Foreordained From the Founding of the World to name a few.)
The teaching that millions will live forever on earth is a teaching that arose 1900 years after Jesus. No Christian Bible writer taught Christians to pursue life on earth. To the contrary, all the writings tell us to leave the earthly things behind and pursue the upward call. Notice these verses:
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be dissolved, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. For in this dwelling house we do indeed groan, earnestly desiring to put on the one for us from heaven.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
“Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on [it]; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead. I am pursuing down toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.” – Philippians 3:13-15
“For there are many, I used to mention them often but now I mention them also with weeping, who are walking as the enemies of the torture stake of the Christ, and their finish is destruction, and their god is their belly, and their glory consists in their shame, and they have their minds upon things of the earth. As for us, our citizenship exists in the heavens, from which place also we are eagerly waiting for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will refashion our humiliated body to be conformed to his glorious body according to the operation of the power that he has, even to subject all things to himself.” – Philippians 3:18-21
“We thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ always when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in connection with Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the holy ones because of the hope that is being reserved for you in the heavens. This [hope] you heard of before by telling of the truth of that good news which has presented itself to you, even as it is bearing fruit and increasing in all the world just as [it is doing] also among you, from the day you heard and accurately knew the undeserved kindness of God in truth.” – Colossians 1:3-6
“If, however, you were raised up with the Christ, go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above not on the things upon the earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you, who are being safeguarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last period of time.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5
Even the writer of the Revelation did not tell us to pursue earthly things. It was only in an effort to interpret the signs of Revelation that such an idea arose. You should also note that the interpretations of the signs and symbols in Revelation have changed from generation to generation. Thus, we do not believe it is wise to base our eternal hopes on signs and symbols, especially when we have the plain and open teachings of Jesus Christ and those who listened to him, as set forth in the pages of the Christian Greek Scriptures.
The most profound scripture we can refer you to on this subject is what Jesus himself said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.” – John 14:1-4
If the majority of his followers were not going to enter the heavenly abodes that he was preparing, Jesus would have told us. In all of the gospel accounts, he never did.
We hope we have addressed all your concerns, and perhaps given you food for thought. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to email us again.
♦ Does anointing need to be validated by baptism or reinstatement if a person has been disfellowshipped? And author’s follow up comment.
On September 1, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiry. On September 2, 2012, we received the author’s follow up email which is set forth after our response.
“How do those who are not part of "the Organization", or who have been disfellowshipped because of legitimate wrongdoing in the past. Does their anointing need to be validated through baptism in the organization, or reinstated back into the congregation? Thanks, Your Brother”
Thank you for your email.
The first thing we want to tell you is that our anointing is not validated by either baptism, or reinstatement or good standing in a congregation or a church. Our anointing is only validated by the Spirit of Truth. As Paul wrote:
"The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” – Romans 8:16
The ‘spirit itself’ is the Spirit of Truth; and ‘our spirit’ is the Father’s indwelling spirit as referred to by Paul:
“Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16
So, our anointing is a personal matter between us and the Father, with the witness provided by the Christ (who sent the Spirit of Truth). No man is authorized to impose on or interfere with that relationship. The Christ stands at the door to the kingdom (John 10:9), not any man. As Paul said:
“He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts. Now I call upon God as a witness against my own soul that it is to spare you that I have not yet come to Corinth. Not that we are the masters over your faith, but we are fellow workers for your joy, for it is by your faith that you are standing.” – 2 Corinthians 1:22-24
However, the Father does authorize individual groups to formulate and enforce their own rules for conduct and behavior, and administer discipline.
“Truly I say to you men, Whatever things you may bind on earth will be things bound in heaven, and whatever things you may loose on earth will be things loosed in heaven. Again I truly say to you, If two of you on earth agree concerning anything of importance that they should request, it will take place for them due to my Father in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” – Matthew 18:18
As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we know what the rules are. When we join the association, we subject ourselves to those rules. And consequently when we break those rules, we are subject to their discipline. You may want to read the Question and Response, dated July 16, 2012 on this subject.
So, a Jehovah’s Witness who has been disfellowshipped would need to be reinstated if that person wants to continue in association with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But if such a person chooses another fellowship, he or she would subject themselves to the rules of that other association instead. Either way, their anointing is not at issue.
Keep in mind, brother, that our anointing carries with it a responsibility to conduct ourselves in a way that honors the Father and respects our brothers. We are obligated to keep the laws of the Kingdom which cover every sort of wrong that would be offensive to the spirit within us:
“Jesus answered: ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.” The second is this, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” – Mark 12:29-31
So, if we are engaged in conduct that grieves the spirit, we need to pray to the Father about it, change our course, and not look back. Of course, we certainly understand that if a disfellowshipped person has not been reinstated, yet partakes at the Memorial, the organization will not count that person. But such a person should not be worried about that. If their spirit bears witness that they are a son, they are obligated to act in accord with their spirit regardless of what man thinks.
We hope we have adequately answered your question. If not, please feel free to write us again.
♦ Disfellowshipped person concerned that returning to the Kingdom Hall would grieve the Father’s spirit because they are not teaching the whole truth.
On November 29, 2012, we received the following comments and inquiries:
“I was disfellowshipped 30 years ago, but have family who are still in the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses. I have a deep love for them and also for the brotherhood of Jehovah's Witnesses. Deeper still is my love for our Heavenly Father and a desire to glorify Him.
“I have recently met with elders at the kingdom hall in my area to convey my repentance from sin and give them my testimony of all that Jehovah has done for me. Their encouragement was for me to come back to the meetings. I am reserved to do that because I am seeking my Father's will in this decision. I would be attending only to show love and light to those at the Kingdom Hall, but I am cautious about taking part in their worship because as you said, they are so far lost from the Father.
“I trust the voice of the Spirit to lead me and will take no steps unless I feel peace and leading to move forward, but a concern I have with returning to the meetings is that it will grieve my Heavenly Father.
“I appreciate the fact that you are very busy, but if you have any thoughts, I would appreciate hearing from you.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are indeed busy, but we gladly respond to all inquiries within 72 hours, if at all possible.
We agree that you are facing a difficult decision. We have heard from others who are disfellowshipped, but who have accepted their sonship with the Father and the heavenly hope. Like you, they want to return to the meetings so that they can have a share in uplifting the congregation with this good news, but they worry about being subjected to false and erroneous teachings about an earthly hope. So we completely understand your sentiments about grieving the Father’s spirit (Ephesians 4:30), especially in light of Paul’s counsel:
“‘Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’; ‘and I will take you in.’” – 2 Corinthians 6:17
As you may know, many of our brothers and sisters who are currently active publishers in their Kingdom Halls are choosing to remain in the organization to help in the healing process. Their spirits are not grieving to the point of disassociation. Rather they are exciting about being a part of a positive change in the organization. They have become acclimated to the ‘temperature’ in the Hall, whereas to those who have been away for some time, would be subjecting themselves to a ‘temperature shock.’ (We hope you understand our analogy.)
In that regard, we want to remind you that the Father’s spirit dwells within you. (1 Corinthians 3:16) So if YOU are spiritually grieving about returning, that could very well be your answer to the question of what the Father’s will is FOR YOU in that regard.
We also want to share with you the experience of another disfellowshipped person who has been emailing us about what to do. This brother decided that he would seek out a church that was in agreement with the articles on our site and join with that church. He recently emailed is to tell us that he found such a church and he shared the articles from our site with a church elder. The elder was very impressed and agreed to study the articles with the brother. The elder also told the brother he was taking the articles to the church board, ostensibly to see about teaching the information from our website to the entire church. This brother is proving to be a tremendous blessing to his new church, and he tells us he is very happy.
We thought you might find this experience interesting and encouraging since there are many lost sons throughout Christianity who need to hear the actual, authentic, open and plain teachings of Jesus Christ. Like the early Christians who were expelled from the synagogues, you can take Jesus’ message wherever you go, ‘to the most distant parts of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8)
Please feel free to write again to let us know what you decide to do.
♦ Do we approve of the Society’s disfellowshipping policy?
On December 28, 2012, we received the following comment:
“I [was] wondering if you have written an article about the wicked Disfellowshipping policy as practiced by the Society? If so, what’s the article’s name? Maybe it would be good to write an open letter to the [Governing Body] in this matter. It́s a pure evil practice, a disgrace to the Christ and the Father. If you dońt acknowledge a person as a human being, how could one expect to be forgiven their own sins? Well, they can’t.”
To the author, thank you for your email. No, we have not written an article on the matter of disfellowshipping. But we will make a few comments here to let you know our view of the matter.
Our ministry focuses on the actual, authentic, plain and open teachings of Jesus. We notice that Jesus did not discuss administrative issues in any of his discourses. He left that to the individual groups who choose to take up his ministry. He said, as recorded by Matthew:
“Truly I say to you men, Whatever things you may bind on earth will be things bound in heaven, and whatever things you may loose on earth will be things loosed in heaven. Again I truly say to you, If two of you on earth agree concerning anything of importance that they should request, it will take place for them due to my Father in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” – Matthew 18:18-20
Thus, Jesus allows each group to establish their own administrative rules. As for us, we do not consider a disfellowshipping policy in itself to be evil, wicked or a disgrace to the Father or the Christ. The Bible clearly establishes a precedent for such a procedure. We note that the apostle Paul, who formed many congregations, did establish certain administrative rules, including a rule of expelling unrepentant sinners. He wrote:
“But now I am writing you to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do you not judge those inside, while God judges those outside? ‘Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves.’” – 1 Corinthians 5:11-13
However, what we do consider disgraceful is how that policy is carried out. The apostle John spoke of one brother who misused the disfellowshipping policy:
“I wrote something to the congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us 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. Also, not being content with these things, neither does he himself receive the brothers with respect, and those who are wanting to receive them he tries to hinder and to throw out of the congregation.” – 3 John 9-10
The problem with Diotrephes was that he was arrogant, prideful and intolerant of other views. Rather than engaging in a healthful interchange, as did Paul and Barnabas when they were faced with a difference of opinion with the brothers in Jerusalem (Acts 15:2), Diotrephes sought to expel those who disagreed with him. When a religious association engages in Diotrephes-type behavior, they have gone too far.
As we see it, the solution is not the removal of a disfellowshipping policy, but the proper administration of one. That can only occur when those making the decisions are truly spirit-led individuals who understand the purpose of such a policy, and who understand the Father’s love and the Christ’s mercy. ‘Physical men’ are hardly capable of exercising judgment fairly or wisely:
“But a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know [them], because they are examined spiritually. However, the spiritual man examines indeed all things, but he himself is not examined by any man.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14-15
We believe that if those in appointed positions understood their true relationship to God, as his children, and grasped the significance of the spirit of the Father dwelling in them, they would handle matters in a much more loving manner. As Paul stated:
“Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] you people are.” – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Such spirit-led overseers would know that God’s spirit not only dwells in them, but also in the other members of the congregation. They would be far less inclined to ‘destroy the temple of God’ in their brothers by wrongly, jealousy, impatiently, and disgracefully disfellowshipping or failing to reinstate their repentant brothers and sisters.
This is why we emphasize the matter of sonship. Knowing that we are all faith sons of the Father in the heavens, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus, is the best insurance against theocratic malpractice, and religious dysfunction. It is also the best insurance against unrepentant sinful behavior because the erring one would know that he would be dragging the Father’s spirit with him into his unhealthy behavior. When we cannot find enough strength and love for ourselves to stop or avoid wrong behavior, we can often find that strength in our love for God.
Truly, sonship is the key to all matters of human behavior. And it is the ‘small rudder’ that will turn our ‘ship of faith’ toward our heavenly Father. When more of us understand and accept our sonship, fewer of us will fall into the category of unrepentance, and thus the policy of disfellowshipping will be utilized far less frequently and then only when a true danger to the spiritual health of the congregation exists.
Finally, for those among our association who find themselves in a disfellowshipped position, and are seeking to please God, we direct you to Question and Response, dated September 1, 2012, and Question and Response dated November 29, 2012. You may find some helpful suggestions in these responses.
♦ Paste here
On August 29, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“As I'm reading your site and all of these reports about [Jehovah’s Witnesses] partaking it seems very strange to me. How are subgroups getting together and partaking when the Watchtower condemns even getting together to study the Bible? How are they pushing variant teachings and not being branded as an apostate? The Organization is rather swift to stomp out any insurrection from the flock. You present this concept of this growing movement, even up to Bethel, of new partakers. This seems rather fanciful based on my experiences.”
To the author, thank you for your email. We are publishing your question and our response because we have heard that many others have the same question. It does seem odd given the history of how partakers have been treated in many congregations and continue to be treated. But we believe there are many answers to your question.
For one, in many of those congregations, members of the body of Elders or the Circuit Overseer for the congregations are partakers. So, these men certainly are not going to condemn as apostates those who accept sonship or disfellowship them. They are sons who honor the true shepherd and his flock, unlike the Elders who have the so-called ‘earthly hope’ who are merely hired men. (John 10:12-13)
Also, many who find themselves disfellowshipped often forget the counsel to make their defense with ‘mildness and deep respect’ (1 Peter 3:15), to be clothed with humility or lowliness of mind (Philippians 2:3) and the fruitage of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Partaking is not a disfellowshiping offense neither is honoring the son. But being belligerent, abusive, judgmental, or confrontational can be used as a pretext to accomplish disfellowshipping.
Another reason is because everything we encourage on this site is solidly founded on scripture and, in many instances on Watchtower publications. So there is not much a body of Elders can do unless they choose to ‘go rogue’ and venture way outside the directions of ‘the Slave.’ For example, many can point to the June 15, 2009 Watchtower, page 22, paragraph 15 which states:
“On the other hand, how should other Christians view a person who claims to have received this anointing and begins to partake of the emblems at the Memorial? He or she should not be judged. The matter is between this person and Jehovah. (Rom. 14:12)
They can also point to these scriptures which all agree refer specifically to those with the heavenly hope:
“Let us hold firmly the public declaration of our hope without wavering, for the one who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:23
“But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason for the hope you have, but doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.” – 1 Peter 3:15
This, we suspect is the reason we have not been disfellowshipped, because the Elders at the congregation we used to attend knows what we are doing and knows to contact us, as does our Circuit Overseer, and other Circuit and District Overseers who are all regular visitors to our site.
And finally, the reason could also be that there is such a large number of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are accepting sonship and partaking of the emblems that an effort to silence or disfellowship them all would cause such an uproar that the Elders and likely the Governing Body like want to avoid it.
These are just a few reasons. But whatever the case, those who have accept their sonship and no longer serve men are not very concerned about what man can do to them, including disfellowshipping them. They have decided to remain in the congregations as long as they can for the sole purpose of helping other brothers and sisters to understand the true hope. From what we have been told, they all accept the possibility that they could be disfellowshipped, and when their time to leave arises, they will leave, but not as victims, as victors.
♦ How should I understand 1 Corinthians 5:5 to hand a person over to Satan?
On November 6, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry:
“I'm researching the subject of disfellowshiping. How should I understand 1 Corinthians 5:5 which says "you must hand such a man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord"?
To the author, thank you for your email. This is an important verse and we are very happy to respond.
First, let’s look at the scripture in context. Paul wrote:
“Actually sexual immorality is reported among you, and such immorality as is not even found among the nations—of a man living with his father’s wife. And are you proud of it? Should you not rather mourn, so that the man who committed this deed should be taken away from your midst? Although absent in body, I am present in spirit, and I have already judged the man who has done this, as if I were actually with you. When you are gathered together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and knowing that I am with you in spirit along with the power of our Lord Jesus, you must hand such a man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (Revised New World Translation)
Paul had apparently heard of one particular situation involving a man in the congregation who was having sexual relations with either his mother or his stepmother. Paul was outraged that no one in the congregation seemed to mind that such a man remained in their midst. In essence, Paul said he didn’t have to have personal knowledge of all the facts, he knew this was wrong without even being there.
We can understand Paul’s disgust. There are certain sins that can be mitigated or excused based on the circumstances and mental disposition of the sinner. Some sins are committed out of weakness or ignorance. But there are other sins that are more than just wrong. They are criminal and inexcusable, such as child abuse, domestic violence, and, in this case, incest. Sins such as these require a firmer response.
In this case, Paul said to ‘hand the man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.’ What did he mean? Looking at other translations of verse 5 are helpful. For example:
“You are to deliver this man over to Satan for physical discipline [to destroy carnal lusts which prompted him to incest], that [his] spirit may [yet] be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (The Amplified Bible)
“And cast out this man from the fellowship of the church and into Satan’s hands, to punish him, in the hope that his soul will be saved when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.” (The Living Bible)
This carries the idea that certain sinners should be removed from the loving and protective association of the congregation. They should not be able to take advantage of congregational confidentiality, but should instead be allowed to suffer the punishment, indignation or discipline that the world at large would dole out for such conduct. The sinner needs to suffer the consequences in hopes that he or she might be shocked their senses.
We interpret this to mean that there are some sins that cannot and should not be handled by the congregation. There are some occasions when a sinner simply must be removed from the congregation to show that the behavior is not condoned. This could include sins that rise to the level of crimes against innocent persons, such as child abuse and domestic violence. Any person hearing about such conduct would know, without being privy to the underlying facts, that such behavior should not be tolerated in a Christian congregation. In these cases, such persons should be handed over to the governmental authorities for civil punishment so that the congregation is not aiding and abetting or becoming a ‘sharer’ in the sin.
This is a drastic measure, but with regard to certain sins, this would be the proper response. And this is what we believe Paul was referring to.
♦ Now that I have awaken, do I need to write a letter of disassociation?
On April 10, 2015, we received the following inquiry:
“Yes I have woken up and not been to my [Kingdom Hall] for about five months. As I no longer wish to be known as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, should I put it in writing, as I believe I am in a CONTRACT through being baptized? Someone else would also like to know – a sister friend. Thank you. Eager for your answer...Kind regards.”
To the author, thank you for your email. This question has been raised by others, so we publish our response here.
We are glad to hear that you have ‘woken up.’ But we wonder if that means you have awakened to sonship with God and the heavenly inheritance, or if you have only awakened to the fact that the Watchtower organization is not ‘the truth’ – what some call realizing ‘the truth about the truth (TTATT).’ If you have only awakened to TTATT, then what you should do depends upon your personal objectives. We do not know what those objectives would be, so under those circumstances, we cannot offer any valid suggestions. But if you have awakened to sonship with the Father and have begun pursuing the heavenly career, that is something we can comment on.
If you now know that you are a faith son of God, then you are not obligated to any religious organization. Whatever contract they think they have with you is illusory. It only exists in their minds and the minds of those who subject themselves to it. The Father does not recognize such mundane presumptuousness. The faith sons of God are free of all religious entanglements of all kinds. They are free to associate with any religious group they choose, but they are beholding only to the Father and Christ Jesus. Accordingly, writing a letter of disassociation to the Watchtower organization would only serve their purposes and trigger in them the need to shun you and to make sure all others in the illusory contracts shun you as well. The Watchtower organization has a vested interested in keeping our brothers and sisters asleep. But there is no need to provoke a shunning response.
As a faith son, you are also an ambassador of the heavenly kingdom with an obligation to shine your light on all so they, too, can become reconciled to God. (Matthew 5:14-16; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20) But if you provoke a shunning, you are closing the door to possibly helping those poor souls who believe they are bound to the illusory contracts. You know that Jehovah’s Witnesses will not listen to anyone but another Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are your unique ‘territory.’ So, we believe it is best to keep that door open and help as many as possible. Of course, in time they may of their own volition choose to disfellowship or disassociate you. But if so, let it be on their hands, not yours. Let them be the ones to close the door of tender affection on you, not the other way around.
Knowing you are a faith son of God is dignifying and empowering. Accept the dignified position of sonship and rise above manmade illusory entanglements. And be about the Father’s business.